Enchantment Lakes

Cascades, Washington

October 2009

Dave and Jill


Jill admires the view across the Enchantment Plateau toward Temple Ridge.

Each day I pass the Leavenworth Ranger Station on my bike on my way to work.  So, on Thursday I stopped and picked up a permit for a weekend in the Enchantments.  My long-term memory had failed to remind me that it actually costs money for the permits.  I swallowed hard, handed over $40, and accepted the outrageous fee - after all, I had a job.  The way I saw it, I may have been sitting on the best teaching job in all of Washington State.  I was over a month into making the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders of Leavenworth fatter and dumber - as the middle school PE teacher.  I wasn't qualified in any way to teach PE and was measuring my success by the number of broken bones achieved during class.  I must be a real natural as a gym teacher I thought to myself, these kids are really putting out - just look at all the injuries.  I was sure the principal would notice the job I was doing.  Unfortunately he was, and a curt email said, "We need to talk.  We've had more injuries in two weeks of PE than we normally get in a year."

Jill on the other hand was teaching students fresh out of the juvenile detention center the basics of solving for x.  As we were about to depart for the trailhead on Friday afternoon she melted down.  In addition to serving as my maternal partner she has had to put up with a lot of other crap in the past two years, and once in awhile she needs to cry.  I have learned the recipe for making these situations pass quickly - cuddle, listen, and soothe with reassuring words.  Even so, the meltdown set us back long enough to force a morning departure.

We started up the trail at dawn towards Colchuck Lake with a horde of other hikers.  The atmosphere was like that of an organized race rather than the solitude we had hoped for.  The Enchantment Lakes loop is popular, but I would never have expected the crowds we encountered throughout the day.  Most were day hiking the loop.  I would estimate well over 100 made the trip to the Enchantments on Saturday alone.  Crowds and record bitter cold October temps made the trip less ideal.  After arriving in early afternoon Jill and I hiked around the plateau visiting some old favorite spots and checking out a new one.  I was concerned about staying warm since nighttime temperatures were supposed to dip into the single digits and all I had was summer gear.  A couple of shots of 151 and a warm water bottle on my crotch allowed me to sleep surprisingly well.

We hiked out Snow Creek to a second car we parked at the trailhead.  I had to smile when I realized it was twice as far to drive back up to the pick up my truck at the Stuart Lake Trailhead than it was to drive back to our condo.  The smile was gone when I discovered a $75 on the windshield of my truck.  Trips close to home should be cheap and easy.  Not all trips live up to our expectations, but I have yet to regret one.

-written December 2009

Bird's eye view of our camp on a knoll above Leprechaun Lake.  Fantastic.




Scenes around the plateau.  The larch trees turn yellow in fall making what is already an incredible landscape that much better.




A lot is made of staying warm by using layers and expensive coats.  We combated the frigid cold by attacking from the inside - straight shots of 151.  Jill wasn't interested until she saw how warm I looked. 



Above: Looking south from our camp on the knoll towards McClellan Peak and Leprechaun Lake.

Below: Looking north from camp over Lake Vivian and Prusik Peak.


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