The plan was for MB, Damien and I to meet in Leavenworth and complete the Enchantment Lakes Traverse with a peak or two thrown in. As fate would have it Damien awake Saturday morning feeling nauseous. So it ended up being just the ladies, as least on Saturday.

The Snow Lakes Trail head was overflowing when we arrived to drop off Mb’s car. We continued in my vehicle to Stuart Lake TH which was equally swamped. It was about 9am by then and the day was already pretty warm. This was going to be hottest weekend we had this year. Luckily the trail is mostly in the shade until the junction where we turned onto the Colhuck Lake Trail. We stopped at the creek to dip out heads in the water before beginning 2 mile walk uphill to Colhuck Lake. Luckily that area is also shaded.

The Aquamarie hue of Colhuck Lake glistened under a perfectly turquoise sky making from a dramatic view. We could see that Aasgard Pass was mostly melted out and feel that the trek up the infamous pass was going to be rather sweltering. We decided to prepare by filtering some more water from the lake and dunking our heads in the water again.

I have heard so much about the journey up Assgard Pass. It rises 1900 ft in one mile over talus and scree terrain. There are carins to mark the way, but paths interweave and one basically chooses their own adventure (just stay to the left). I didn;t think the terrain or grade was as difficult as it is made out to be. But i did take things very slow as the sun blared overhead and sweat dripped down my face. I didnt want heat exhaustion. we stopped halfway up in a tiny patch of shade for a quick snack before carrying on. The upper section of the pass has large patches of snow. A very clear boot-path marks the way across. I welcomes them, but then again I always prefer to travel on snow.

At the top of the pass we were greeted by a magical land of craggy peaks, rocky spires and half frozen turquoise lakes. There were a good amount of folks comes down from Dragontail Peak as well off to the right. The Plateau is mostly snow covered with patches of exposed rock and dirt. Beware of the moats some of which as massive. We followed the well work boot trail to Tranquil Lake which is mostly frozen, but thawed on the edges enough to filter water. From here we could see people moving up Little Annapurna’s slopes in the distance. We headed there next, dropping our packs in a cluster of rocks before beginning the ascent.

There are several boot paths in the snow to the top. All are on the right side of the mountain though. It took us 40 minutes to reach the blocky summit where a goat was lounging nearby. The climb was easy kick-steps through snow. No crampons needed. Flatish top was mostly snow-free.

By the time we returned to our packs in was about 6pm. We walk another 1/2 mile and camped at 7300ft just above Inspiration Lake. There were a lot of snow-free sites here. Water was flowing but it was a bit of a walk away. Iyt was easy to melt snow though. I set up my tent for a mental shield against the goats (one harassed us at camp while bivying near Black Peak so I dont trust them). MB set up here tentless camp a few yards away. Damien texted me on my InReach that he felt better and was going to hike in via Snow Lakes the next morning to meet us.

We watched the sunrise over the Plateau at 4:30am the following morning and goats ambled around the camps hoping on of us would pee. We were on the move at 6am. The trail was still mostly snow with a few dry patches. The lake were all frozen of partially frozen. All were brilliant blue. I had to remove my shoes to cross Sprite Lake’s outlet. MB used the precarious log. I preferred to experience frozen feet.

Damien set a text that he was at Lake Viviane while we were paused to delayed at Leprechaun. I wrote that we would wait, but after 15 minutes of no knowing if he got the message we carried on thinking we;d meet his on the trail. The descent to Viviane is scrambly and over giant slabs. But alas when we got to Vivian we had no run into Damien and no one had seen him. We decided to wait a bit while I texted him again. Fifteen minutes later Damien came over the hill from the direction of Leprechaun! He explained that he had taken a shortcut because he thought we were waiting and had thus missed us. He had began hiking at 1:30am and climbed over 5,000 ft and walked ten miles.

Now a trio we began the long and hot descent to snow lakes over steep rocky slabs and talus. By the time we got to the shore I was sweating buckets. We all jumped at the chance to go for a swim and leaped into the inviting waters of Snow Lake which was warmer than expected (still cold). After several dives we sat in the sun and dried out on a rock before continuing on our journey.

The going is flat as the trail circles snow lake. The bridge/dam was flooded though and we had to remove our shoes to cross. From there the trail descends… and just keeps descending. My toes were killing me in my mountaineering boots. The sun was blazing. We stopped at Nada Lake and Snow Creek Wall. We drank insane amounts of water and splashed ourselves in creeks. But of course I still managed to get a dose of my yearly heat exhaustion. I noticed it on the final exposed switchbacks going down to the parking lot. First I felt slightly dizzy. I sat in the shade. Then I walked again… i felt my face get flush and felt like my body was one fire. Sat in the shade again. When the trail flattened a started getting a headache. I pressed on this time, running water was just a bit further and now there was no shade. I felt wretched until i laid in the icicle River. Then I felt GREAT!

We checked the temp a few minutes later. It was 103 degrees!

 

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