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 Post subject: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 5:08 pm 
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Joined: October 7th, 2010, 12:15 am
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Location: NW Portland
Steve and I just got back from our Enchantments Traverse, so my words may be a little brief. I know some PDX hikers are heading out there soon, so let this serve as a truncated trip report.

Conditions: The trail is in great shape, with no snow to cross until leaving the core enchantments, on a short little stretch that may be dicey in less scorching conditions. Smoke is present depending on which way the wind is blowing, but not a huge issue. For us, it was worst ascending Asgaard, and I began to get a bit of a headache. I am a huge baby with altitude sickness, though, so maybe that was it. The smoke made for interesting perspectives on the mountains, setting the larger peaks back and making them look somehow ominous. I wouldn't say it detracted from the hike at all. Asgaard itself is snow free and easy to navigate. Follow the cairns up the left side of the waterfall and you can't go wrong. If you've ever hiked the boulder field on Table Mountain, it's like doing that for two hours with better views.

Side trips: we eyeballed Little Annapurna, which you approach from the snow-free side after passing Isolation Lake. With all the haze we decided to leave it for another day. Instead, we went up Prussik Pass and scrambled up a little knob for better views of that insanely cool peak. Took maybe half an hour or so.

Crowds: We went on a Sunday and you could definitely call this a social hike, although after leaving the core zone I was surprised how few people we encountered. Two rangers asked about our intentions, but were not aggressive or suspicious in any way, probably due to my very small pack. Met these cool badass locals: http://vimeo.com/103136415

Gear: Check the forecast - when it's this hot and dry, you can and should get away with the lightest of packs. We ran into some ultrarunners with not more than their tiny shorts and a hydration belt. I carried a down jacket and emergency shelter, only because I am a nerd. My katadyn filter worked great, but I know a lot of hikers prefer the Sawyer Squeeze now.

Logistics: We arranged a shuttle, but they got the trailhead wrong, so we ended up hitching. Even in the evening, it took less than five minutes to find a couple more than willing to drive us. It was nice not to have the stress of transportation looming over us, but we did rush to meet the shuttle, which never came.

Thoughts: This trail is long. Duh. It's a good intro to the Enchantments, but after the main lakes the trail becomes a difficult slog which dampened my earlier ecstasy. I found myself cursing Snow and Nada lakes for their long, rocky, bouldery rims. It's by no means an easy hike out. Expect up and downs, a variety of terrain, boulder hopping, and lots of searching for cairns. The rebar section is pretty wild, since it appears to be a dramatic dropoff, but in dry conditions we didn't give it a second thought. And the dam between the lakes is completely dry right now, of course.

That's your quick-and-dirty. Would I do this again? No. I had to train for a marathon to even think about doing this as a dayhike, but those of you hikers on here doing 25+ mile days can bang this out. When I go back, it will be up Asgaard and down Asgaard, whether or not I camp I haven't decided. I would like to savor that amazing upper basin, but would be reticent to lug a large pack up Asgaard, and straight up nervous to go down it. But it's doable, I saw it happening and no one fell or was hurt. Happy hiking!

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Last edited by anne37 on March 10th, 2017, 9:39 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 5:40 pm 
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The first goat picture is funny, looks like he's talking to you

"Hello, I'm Mr. Ed"


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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 5:59 pm 
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Great write-up Anne! Even though brief, I found it very helpful and informative.

A little birdie must have told you that a group of us Loonies will be doing the same trip Monday of next week. We are also gluttons for punishment. I'll have to make I bring plenty of Ibuprofen.

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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 7:30 pm 
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Interesting how a couple of weeks makes such a difference. I went there July 28-31 and it was completely smoke free (we could see the smoke looking north, but it was blowing the other way).

Going up Asgaard with a pack was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, although I cannot imagine going down it with a pack. There were many sections where you were climbing, not hiking. It took us about 4 hours from the lake to the top, taking quite a few breaks along the way.

Funny you didn't like Snow and Nada Lakes. For the most part, I thought those were some of the better sections of trail - especially around upper snow lake. There were other sections of trail that were so rocky and filled with roots they were tough to get through. I'm amazed at the trail that has been carved through this area. It was not easy to build. I'm also amazed at how many people make the loop. The ranger we saw said that on a nice Saturday in the summer, it wasn't unusual to see 200-300 people at Colchuck Lake.

I think Perfection Lake was my favorite lake of them all, although when we went, there wasn't any dry spot to camp - they were still soggy from runoff. We also went up Prusik Pass and probably were on the same knob as you were. This was where I took one of my favorite pictures - Little Annapurna above Perfection Lake:

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We had a great time over the course of 4 days - my biggest complaint was the goats. They are really annoying - not aggressive, but just annoying and unrelenting. I would like to go back some day and spend more time in the upper lakes area, but do it later in the year - after the bugs have gone and it is a little cooler. We had great weather, but some days were pretty warm, even at elevation.

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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 8:13 pm 
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Few of us did this traverse last Saturday, I agree with all you said, most intense day hike I have ever done.


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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 8:27 pm 
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Joined: January 2nd, 2014, 10:45 am
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RobFromRedland--another good thing about later in the year is the larch show. Depends a bit from year to year, but somewhere between the end of Sept. and mid Oct. all the needles turn gold, quite a spectacle. It's a crap shoot up there though, sometimes by the time the larch are at prime condition it's already pretty much turned to winter up high. Other years summer lasts a long time, sunny and warm but with just a slight bit of crispiness to the air during the day (gets cold at night from what I hear). Also there isn't much relief from the crowds, the larch is a magnet for hikers/photographers.


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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 8:32 pm 
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The debate rages eternal for best approach to the Enchantments, but personally I'd rather avoid the Snow Lakes TH. 10 long miles just to get to the lower edge of the core area vs. 6 from Colchuck TH. Plus, as steep as Aasgard Pass is, Snow Lakes TH starts at such a low elevation that you aren't saving yourself any climbing going that way, you get to climb even more. Nada and Snow Lakes are actually quite nice, if they were somewhere else they would be a nice destination. But as is they are a pit stop on the way to the better stuff up above in the Enchantments.


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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 8:57 pm 
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Location: NW Portland
I honestly can't see the argument at all for the Snow Lakes approach. That hike would NOT be easy. We were at the top of the pass in less than four hours from the Stuart trailhead. :? But to each his own. As an extended backpacking trip it might change my perspective. There's something to be said for buildup, I guess.


Last edited by anne37 on August 11th, 2014, 9:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 9:01 pm 
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Joined: October 7th, 2010, 12:15 am
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Oh, and Rob, I agree about the goats completely. I got harassed by one at Colchuck last year, and we hit a herd of them on the trail after Nada, one of whom bluff charged Steve. It reminds me of the Louis CK bit about when he was a city-dweller, deer were these magical creatures, and now he thinks they're rats with hooves. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Enchantments one-Day Traverse
 Post Posted: August 11th, 2014, 9:05 pm 
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anne37 wrote:
I honestly can't see the argument at all for the Snow Lakes approach. That hike would NOT be easy. We were at the top of the pass in less than four hours from the Stuart trailhead. :? But to each his own. As an extended backpacking trip it might change my perspective. There's something to be said for buildup, I guess.


I don't get it either so I can't explain it, but going that direction has it's proponents. There have been lively debates about it on nwhikers over the years.


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