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The Enchantments loop draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and it’s easy to see why. Through in fiery-gold larch trees and a fresh dusting of snow, and you’ve got yourself a truly beautiful place. Although 3/4 of our group was working early the next day, we still laced up our boots and cruised through the 18-mile hike, sore knees and black-and-blue ankles be damned.

This trip’s group was comprised of myself and 3 good friends and coworkers: Nate, David and Jack. We were dropped at the Stuart/Colchuck Lake trailhead by Nate’s brother, Bob, and we set off at 0830. I was gunning for a sunset-ish shot of Prusik Peak with the golden larches surrounding it and we planned on headlamping out after that. What we didn’t plan on was the snow, which accumulated at 6″ deep up top in the Enchantments basin. This, coupled with the fleeting sunlight that was blocked by a very stubborn fog bank, meant the shot I had in my mind likely wasn’t going to happen. Add to this the fact that we would have roughly 10 miles of headlamp descent to get out of the Enchantments via the Snow Lake route. In the end, we simply thru-hiked it, and I took what photos were available as we made our way along. Always leave yourself a reason to come back was the mentality.

So far, it sounds like the trip was kind of a bummer. Not so. This was probably my favorite lap through this area. It was truly unique with the golden larches and the fresh snow. For two of our group, David and Jack, it was their first time in the Enchantments or the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in general. It was exciting to get to share one of my favorite places in the world with these fellas.

We did end up headlamping the last 2 miles down to the Snow Lake trailhead where we had dropped David’s car that morning on the way up. Eleven hours and twenty minutes, taking our time. Heidelburger has never tasted so good.



Colchuck Lake:


Enchantments Core: