Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Enchantment Lakes Loop 9/1/04

With one dog out of commission and not wanting to be unfair and bring his brother along I was solo for the first time in a long time. Since dogs are not allowed in the Enchantments I thought this would be a great time to explore one of the crown jewels of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I managed to get my self out of bed and the unseemly hour of 4 am. I was pleased to make it the Snow Lakes trailhead by 7. I started off rather depressed, it just wasn't the same without the company of my hiking partners. As I started to get used to the fact that they weren't there I rounded a corner and was shocked to see a mountain goat eating grass in the middle of the trail. I have never seen a goat and wasn't sure what to do. I waited a bit but since the goat was content to eat his grass less than ten feet away I was forced to press the issue. The goat neither seemed afraid or agitated by my presence. As I slowly moved towards the goat he merely moved the same distance forward. Soon I had a new hiking partner as I followed ten feet behind for a quarter mile. I was sure this would have gone on longer but the goat was spooked as we passed some people. I was impressed with the goats physical stature, I have never seen anything with so much leg defintion as well as overall bulk. It was quite an amazing specimen. My goal for the day was to go over Prusik Pass and summit Cannon Mt. This is quite a long ways so I knew I had to keep a good pace. Once I passed Upper Snow Lake the trail became a bit harder to follow, but there are Cairns that easily show the way. I broke out the fly rod when I reached Leprechaun Lake, catching a few smaller cutts. I was quite amazed with the sheer amount of people in the area. I think over the entire day I must have seen 40+ people. That is more people than I usually see in a year of hiking. I fished my way along the trail until I reached the junction for Prusik Pass. This is when my plans changed, I really wanted to see the upper Enchanment basin and I always wanted to see Aasgard Pass. The problem was if I came out the Stuart Lake trail how was I going to get back to my car? I decided that I would risk having to walk the road back to my car if I couldn't get a ride. As it turns out I am quite glad I decided to do this loop. The views from Aasgard Pass are quite stunning, I was taken aback by the view of Colchuck Lake 2200ft below. I was quite worried about the descent but it is well marked and if you take your time it is much easier than want you might expect. Once reaching Lake level I picked my way to the outlet and made the drop to the Stuart Lake trailhead. It was now nearing dusk and my hopes for catching a ride were becoming quite small. I reached the parking lot at 8pm 13 hours after I started. It was now dark and there was no one to give me a ride. I donned my headlamp and sandles and started running the road. After about 3 miles a car came and I managed to squeeze into the back seat. I was so very thankful that I didn't have to walk the remaining 5 or so miles. This was my most productive day ever I passed 12 lakes and did nearly 7000ft of climb spread over 23+ miles. It surely was a day I will never forget.

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