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New Meetup: Colchuck Lake 1 Night Backpacking Trip (Possible Enchantments Add-on)

From: Shabnam
Sent on: Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:36 AM
Announcing a new Meetup for Eastside Hikers Meetup Group!

What: Colchuck Lake 1 Night Backpacking Trip (Possible Enchantments Add-on)

When: Saturday, May 29,[masked]:00 AM

Eastgate Park & Ride
14244 SE Eastgate Way[masked] N[masked] W
Bellevue, WA 98007

Hi All,
The enchantments permit season opens June 15th so we are able to do this trip without getting permits.. yaay. There will be snow on this trip, so for all that would be joining I would recommend some sort of traction devices. We will be camping at Colchunk Lake and then looking at heading up Asgard Pass to check out the enchantments. We will make the decesion about conditions once we get up there on the Enchantments portion. To give you an idea of what snow conditions were like last year when I went at this time; we camped on snow at Colchunk Lake and basically walked up the snow steps going up Asgard Pass. If you have an ice axe you can glacede down Asgard Pass.. it is quite fun:)

This trip will be a 1 night backpacking trip. We will leave Saturday morning at 7am from the Eastgate P&R and return lake Sunday night. Be warned that Asgard Pass is a steep snow scramble so be prepared. Please give me a call if you are running late.. [masked]-6096.

Here is the details on Colchunk Lake:
Roundtrip 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain 2200 ft
Highest Point 5600 ft

Here is the details on the Echantments via the Aasgard/Colchuck route:
15 miles round-trip
with a gain of 4,410 feet in, 670 feet out.

Trail Decription (Colchunk Lake):
Set in a granite bathtub beneath spiraling peaks dabbed with shimmering strings of glacial ice, Colchuck ranks as one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in all of Washington. And one of the most popular too! Can you resist the lure of Colchuck's sparkling cobalt waters? Or being mesmerized by her glacial-scoured surroundings that appear right out of the High Sierra? I didn't think so. But before joining the boot-beating brigade, be forewarned. The hike isn't easy. It involves a knee knocking ascent over some pretty steep and rocky terrain.

Immediately entering cool, dark forest, the trail starts off easy enough, following alongside sensory-pleasing Mountaineer Creek. Soon after crossing into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, transition into open lodgepole pine forest.

On decent tread and good grade, weave through big boulders and cross bubbling side creeks, all while staying within constant eyesight and earshot of tumbling Mountaineer Creek. At about 1.75 miles (elev. 4000 ft) cross Mountaineer Creek on an attractive log bridge spanning deep pools fed by crashing rapids. The trail now begins to climb in earnest-through fields of big boulders, up and around granite ledges, and through open forest granting views of the craggy Enchantment peaks. You'll notice a considerable increase in temperature too on these sun-kissed slopes.

The way eases before coming to a junction at 2.5 miles (elev. 4500 ft). The main trail continues straight for a fairly easy amble to Lake Stuart. Hang left instead for the more challenging and more scenic journey. Cross Mountaineer Creek once again, and then work your way through a boulder field alongside the creek, maintaining balance and dry boots. The trail reenters forest to cross a devil's club-cloaked creek, makes a big sweep up ledges, recrosses the creek, and then heads up a steep rocky stretch, passing a small cascade.

Now ascending a series of granite ledges between steep stretches of rocky and rooty tread, the way continues its abrupt climb. A short drop of 50 feet or so may dampen spirits. But growing views of the valley and surrounding peaks should help recharge them. The sheer volume of scoured granite above and below may give California transplants a Yosemite flashback or two.

But all will rejoice upon reaching the deep rocky pocket cradling the lake. A short spur takes off left 0.1 mile to a small lagoon on Colchuck's south end, where breathtaking views of the backdrop spires Dragontail and Colchuck peaks can be enjoyed. Tucked between that pair of precipitous peaks is the Colchuck Glacier, one of the many icy sources feeding the chilling waters of the lake. Colchuck is derived from the Chinook Jargon meaning "cold water."

Feel free to explore the lakeshore, looking for sunny slabs, perfect for snacking and napping. But treat this area with care. Despite the durable appearance, plants have a tough time surviving in this harsh environment. Keep to rock and use the available backcountry privy if nature calls.

Trail Decription (Enchantments):
Truth is, there is no easy way to reach the Enchantment Lakes Basin, at 7,000 to 7,500 feet one of the most spectacular and popular spots in the Cascade Range.

Like paths in a fairy tale, the two trails to the Enchantments lead to beauty and magic, but the ways are challenging and can be dangerous.

You will travel across mountains black with lichen, through sleeping meadows and deep forests, crystal streams and frozen tarns.

The Aasgard Pass route is a difficult, steep scramble.

Most hikers will spend two days getting there, but the Enchantments -- part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness -- are nonetheless world renowned, and so popular the Forest Service limits entry via a permit system.

"People come from all over the world," says Kerith Cornell, wilderness permit coordinator at the Leavenworth Ranger Station. "By the time you get up there, you've earned the view."

The Enchantments are in a diverse landscape of deep valleys, rock spires, glaciers, lakes set in basins and meadows ringed with alpine larch. Much of the high country is barren, with a scant layer of soil. The Enchantment Peaks (also known as the Cashmere Crags) overlook rocky basins polished by glaciers.

The upper basin is often referred to as the Lost World Pleateau.

Summer is short and intense in the Enchantments. By October, the snow level is coming down. Cornell notes that by now "almost all the time you'll have snow, maybe up to a foot."

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