Colchuck Lake

Upper Enchantments

September 26 - 28, 2008  Summer is over in the mountains already, and the fall color show has started.  I spent a good part of this summer stalking the Enchantments:  circling them, hiking up to both gateways, and gazing at the surrounding mountains across valleys from every vantage point I could reach.  So when the larches started to turn golden, I took a few days off from work and made an unsuccessful bid to win the lottery for an overnight permit into the Enchantments.  I settled for a two-night permit to Colchuck Lake and day hiked into the upper basin via Aasgard Pass on a perfect fall Saturday. 

I love this area, so it was no great hardship to camp at Colchuck Lake for two nights.  I spent the first day exploring areas of Colchuck Lake I had not seen before, then set up camp at the far end of the lake.  My campsite was right on the lake shore with a front-and-center view of Aasgard Pass.  The nighttime temperatures remained mild and because the nights are starting to get long, I slept long hours both nights.   Aasgard Pass took on nightmarish proportions that first night, looming large and menacing above me like a scene from the Nutcracker.  In the morning I set an early turn around time so I could be back in camp well before dark and started up to the Pass.  Picas perched on rocks and squeaked if I came too near, and chipmunks flitted across the rocks in the most barren parts of the pass, leading me to wonder how a chipmunk makes a living in such a harsh environment.  The cairns seemed to be placed closer to the vegetation and the trail seemed easier than it did last year, and I soon found myself in the Upper Enchantments basin. 

The larches were just starting to turn golden and the ptarmigan were just starting to get their winter plumage, but there were no goats to be seen.  I limited my hike to the upper basin this trip, and I spent most of my time exploring the highest lakes that we just hiked past last summer.  All too soon it was time to begin the hike back down to Colchuck Lake, and it was an uneventful descent to my campsite. 

I encountered lots of inexperienced hikers on my hike out on Sunday.  People in jeans and street sandals, people with no water, no backpacks, and no idea where they were.  "Are there some lakes around here or something?" one asked as I hiked past him.   I gave him directions, and he was surprised when I told him he was still about 3 miles away from either of the lakes. 

 

Colchuck Lake

Upper Enchantments