Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Room with a view.

Having tried and failed two summers ago, to make it to the famed Enchantments Zone of the North Cascades, a group of us set out this weekend to attempt to hike up from the other, less terrifying direction via the Snow Lakes trail. Our previous attempt to hike from Lake Colchuck and up Aasgard Pass was an unanticipated defeat in that I felt peoples' warnings about the difficulty were probably too dramatic. I actually found a quote though from a mountaineer online where I stole the later posted elevation map saying,

"Myth has it that the Colchuck Lake approach to the Upper Enchantments, pioneered by climbers aiming at the peaks of the Dragontail group, is an easy shortcut and has solitude to boot. Don't believe it. Four things are terribly wrong with the entry via Aasgard Pass: It's not easy; actually it's a climber's route, usually requiring an ice ax, sometimes rope and crampons, and in early summer the ability to recognize avalanche instability. It's dangerous, not only from falling off cliffs or slippery boulders or snowfields or from being fallen upon by snow or rock, but also from summer storms that at these elevations can be distinctly hypothermic and from summer snowfalls the already difficult descent of boulder fields a very long nightmare...Why, then, is the route in this book? As a warning against myths. To save the innocent from being suckered in by "the easy way to the Enchantments." Also to quash the faddy notion that this is a classy and sassy way, the route of the big kids. For anyone it's a tasteless route. For hikers lacking climbing equipment and training, it's a route silly to the point of suicidal.

However, coming at it from another angle - via the Snow Lakes trail shown above - proved to be a success. But not without a huge helping of sore feet and sore shoulders today on account of our 14-mile hike up and out Sunday afternoon.

Totally worth it though as the views were some of the most spectacular I've seen in WA so far. And our group could not have been a more superb mix of goodness. Easy laughter and shared duties. I noted often how lucky I felt to be there.

Highlights include:
+ the views

+ how often I felt really grateful to be there

+ the family of goats including a teeny baby goat that we saw on the hike out

+ the wine

+ the wine AND the game of Presidents & Assholes (college drinking game) we played using a rock as our table

+ alpineLake Viviene

+ spending time with friends

+ crossing the dam over which ice-cold freezing water rushed into the lower lake. Scary.

+ the chocolate milkshake purchased in Leavenworth post-hike

1 comment:

bess said...

I just realized I totally copied your listing technique. Oops. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right? ;)