In August 1993 Ben and I decided weīd do a backpacking trip together.  Iīd rented out a place in Leavenworth to watch the Persied Meteor shower from,  since we were there we decided to follow it with a four day backpacking trip..

The plans were vague, Ben had heard great things about an area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness called the Enchantments, and being the persuasive sort he was he talked me into it.  I got out early the next morning, got in line at the Ranger Station, and soon had the appropriate permits in hand.

We knew it was about a 30 mile, one way hike from trailhead to trailhead.  Paul was nice enough to ferry us between the car we dropped at the end of the hike and the trailhead into Snow Lake, and we were off.  We figured weīd walk in at Snow and out from Colchuck.  We knew it would be steep at times, we knew weīd be hiking down the Aasgard Pass, but knew nothing about what that meant. Big mistake.

The pass is steep. Very steep.  Elevation drops over 2000 feet in about 1/4 mile. 

Youīve got to be a lunatic or clueless to do the route that way.  Not sure which category we fall into...

At the end of that trip, following a long death march over the avalanche fields at Colchuck, being stung by bees, and barely hobbling out at the trailhead, I vowed "never again!"

Ben at the Aasgard Pass

Ben, about to start down the Pass, 1993...

Amazing how quickly one forgets.....

Time heals all wounds, and by March of 1999 the painful memories had faded enough for Ben to talk me into trying it that summer...

This time, we had some company in the form of Steve - Benīs friend from way back and an experienced backpacker himself.  The three of us quickly decided the only way to do it was round-tripping to the Upper Basin, stopping at the very edge of the pass, and then back.  No hiking down the pass this time.

The overall elevation gain from trailhead (1290 ft) to our highest campsite (7190 feet) was "only" about 6000 feet. It would not be an easy hike but not the killer I remembered.  I hoped.


Starting at the trailhead to Snow Lake the trail heads up immediately. After a brief break on level ground around Nada Lake, the trail works itīs way upward again, to Snow Lake.

During the trip in 1993 we camped here, worn out from the hike up. This time, for some reason the same uphill climb didnīt wear us out nearly as much so we continued onward...

Enchantments Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile, Trailhead to campsite at Inspiration Lake


Steve and Ben on the trail to Snow Lake

Looking down to Nada Lake


From Snow, the climb up to the Lower Enchantments basin really starts.  Switchbacking up the hill in the woods gradually gives way to finding your way through rocky slopes, marked by rock cairns.


Steve crossing the dam at Snow Lake

We ran into a bit of excitement on this part of the trail. As we were heading up, someone came quickly down the trail heading towards us, asking if anyone had a cell phone. We didnīt, but fortunately the group behind us had a radio.

Turns out a member of their group had slipped on a steep section a bit further up the trail and slid down to hit is head on the rocks below.  When we got there a rescue team had already been dropped and was working on him, we were in prime position to watch him being evacuated via helicopter.  Not exactly a happy experience but unusual.

Heading upward from there, we reached Lake Vivianne, the beginning of the Lower Basin of the Enchantments.


The day was starting to get a bit long, but we pushed onward.  Past Leprechaun lake our progress began to work itīs way more to a steady trudge..

Finally, around 7pm, we made it to the campsite we were looking for, on the edge of Inspiration Lake.


Inspiration Lake


Our Neighbors, Inspiration Lake

The site is a great one at the north end of Inspiration Lake, back off the trail enough to be private, overlooking a tremendous view of Perfection Lake and the peaks surrounding the Enchantments - with a herd of mountain goats for neighbors.

We settled in, set up camp and made dinner as quickly as we could. We were tired, it was getting cold...

One would think the exact middle of August would be about the safest bet one can make for good weather in Seattle.  Part of the objective here was to catch the tail end of the Persied meteor shower.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy - and damn cold.

Good sleeping bags take care of that, off to sleep for us.

Continue up the trail...

Go home.