The Enchantments are known as one of the most beautiful hikes in the state of Washington, and maybe the United States. They are located in eastern Washington only a few miles from the small Bulgarian town of Leavenworth.
In the spring, summer, and fall months you are required to get a permit for camping in the Enchantments.
These permits aren’t always the easiest to get. And there are always more people applying for Enchantments permits than are given each year.
In previous years I had done the complete Enchantments hike over a single day. But for this trip we planned to stay in and camp for 2 nights and 3 days, and had the permit to do it.
In October the weather in the Enchantments can be very unpredictable, and the week before our departure the first large snow fall hit.
We knew snow would be on the ground, it was just a matter of how much, and would there be more coming…
The weather report predicted balmy high’s in the upper 30’s, and low’s in the mid to upper 20’s.
With 40 pound plus packs on our backs, and the warmest clothes we could find, four of us ventured into the Enchantments.
We entered via the Snow Lake side due to heavy snow on Aasgard pass, and started our slow climb.
All four of us regularly trained with heavy weights, but all were feeling the deep muscle burn, like hot concrete was being poured into our legs.
The temp actually stayed pretty high as we climbed up past Nada lake.
It wasn’t until we reached lower Snow later that it started to cool down, and we saw snow on the ground.
This time of year the lakes were all very low, and it was crazy to see the contours and different levels the lake had been at over the year.
We kept hiking up, and the snow and mud covered the trail. It was during that time that it became clear why we were hiking in October instead of August… The larches, which are one of the few deciduous pine trees were turning a bright gold. As we hiked higher, the more of them we saw, and the brighter they became.
Not only were the larches an amazing golden color, but they grew unlike most trees. I mean they all were growing up into the sky, but some took an interesting way of getting there. We saw S shaped larches, and larches with branches pointing in all directions. It was as if they grew without the rules of normal trees.
With aching buns, and hammies from about 7 hours of hiking with our heavy packs we found a campsite next to Lake Viviane. Our original plan was to hike a bit further, but with the sun dropping behind the mountains, and the unpredictable weather, we made camp.
The snow was deep, and anchoring our tents was harder than expected.
The stakes didn’t set well in the snow, which didn’t seem like a problem until the following day when we were out exploring, and the wind blew the tent into the trees. Fortunately a passerby was nice enough to secure our tent with some large rocks so it didn’t sail into the lake.
On day 2 we hiked for a few hours up to Isolation lake just below Aasgard pass where we took in the amazing scenery before heading back towards our tents.
The hike up to Isolation lake was steep and covered in feet of snow, which lead to a lot of fun sliding down on our feet, butts, and sometimes faces.
After a long day of hiking around the amazing Enchantments we moved our tent to a less windy location and climbed in. The temp was colder than the previous night, and my 15 degree sleeping didn’t seems to be working as advertised.
The cold temp made for a long night of tossing and shuffling of feet to stay warm.
On day 3 we woke up to a nice sunny day with glowing larches and sparkling snow. After eating and packing up our gear we took the 5.5 hours to to hike back out the way we came in.
Would I recommend the Enchantments in October…
If you have cold weather gear, yes. If not, stay away.
The hike is challenging, and beautiful. The larches, lakes, and snow are something that you should make a point to see. Just make sure you get your permit, and pack for very cold weather.