Overnighting in the the Enchantments Wilderness has been a backpacking dream of ours since we first heard about it. Accessing the Enchantments overnight during peak backpacking season is based on a lottery system or taking a chance and checking in at the ranger station to see if there are spots open. This year, Meghan won the lottery for the Colchuck Zone, the weekend of June 10th.
The PNW had an unusually harsh winter that resulted in snow sticking around a lot longer than normal. Since the Enchantments are located in the heart of the Cascades, and the snow pack reports said that there was still 10+ ft on the ground and that it was melting fast, we decided to avoid one of the tough day hikes that we were planning on doing—Aasgard pass. Especially since the weekend before our trip, a hiker fell into a crevice on the same route and sadly, didn't make it out.
We left Seattle at 8:00 Friday night and headed to the trailhead, with plans of camping at the trailhead. Our friend Colin drove his family's van which held us, Tiffany and Ryan, and Celeste. Owen met up with us later. We got to what we thought was the trailhead around midnight, saw a bunch of no camping signs, picked a spot where we couldn't see them and set up tents. Meghan woke up early the next morning and after a quick walk around where we parked, realized that we were at a different trailhead and still had about a mile to drive to the Colchuck start.
We decided to pack up and head to the real trailhead to make a quick breakfast before heading out. Turned out this hike was a lot more popular than we thought—especially with the iffy weather—and there were a bunch of other people heading out on the trail. We started off slowly, Meghan and Tiffany stopped to take pictures constantly. But the weather started to turn and we picked up the pace. The last 1/3 of the hike up to Colchuck felt like we were climbing the steepest, muddiest stairs ever and it started rain/snow/sleeting on us. Meghan's camera also stopped working at about this point, which put her into a pretty unhappy mood.
The trail finally started leveling out and we began seeing signs for toilets...and then we saw the lake. It was the brightest, clearest turquoise water and such a welcome sight. We stopped for a quick snack break and then set about finding a campsite. Like we mentioned before, the lake was a lot more crowded than we anticipated and it seemed like all the good spots were taken. We explored a little peninsula, but couldn't find enough ground that wasn't snow covered for our tents. We finally found a perfect spot where all of our tents could cluster relatively closely.
We (E & M) wandered around a bit longer, looking for a perfect spot, when Eric suddenly and concernedly said, "Meghan come over here." Turns out we were being closely followed by a mountain goat. We walked back to the trail and headed straight for camp, where everyone else was setting up their tents. The goat followed us. The mountain goats in the Cascade's high alpine biome, lack sodium and have discovered that human urine is full of it. They follow humans, hoping for liquid gold. Thankfully, the forest service has a surprising number of amenities and we didn't have any more encounters like this.
Our campsite ended up being amazing. On the backside of it, there was a little trail that lead to a big rock outcrop on the lake, with the most perfect view of Aasgard Pass and Dragon's Tail Peak. We spent our second day mostly hanging out here, watching mother nature's show and waiting for Owen to join us. We were hoping to get a small hike or just some exploring in but ended up being pretty tired from the haul up.
Before bed, we took off on our own and wandered to the base of Aasgard/Dragon's Tail. The views both up the mountain and down the lake were incredible and we were kicking ourselves for not sucking it up and wandering around more.
The next morning, we ate a quick breakfast and packed up before a quick hike down (the last mile is always the longest, though) and headed to Leavenworth for a well-deserved burger.
This was a trip we won't soon forget—but we're definitely hoping to get another permit for the Core Enchantments. Hopefully it'll be in late summer so we can get some swimming done.