The Enchantments. A beautiful piece of the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington.
- 22 mile Loop - Starting at the Stuart side, ending at the Snow Creek side
- Highest Point: 7,800 ft
- Total Elevation Gain: 6,500 ft
- Total Elevation Loss: 7,800 ft
It started as a conversation at a summer BBQ, a group of adventurous women wanting to plan a getaway. Some of us, like myself, are newer to Spokane and the Pacific Northwest, and can’t wait to experience all it has to offer. So then and there, the planning began.
We were pretty on top of this planning business. We found a weekend that worked for all of us (September 29 - Oct 1st), found an airbnb (which was a little tricky because it was October fest in Leavenworth), and then waited until the day! Places in Leavenworth get booked up quick, so if you’re planning a getaway, book in advance!
September 29th snuck up quicker than we thought! I was nervous in the weeks leading up to it because I had started to go “all in” with my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery in August, so I was going into this from 2 months of no training. And I didn’t want to put to much stress on my body since part of recovery is avoiding physical stressors. Well my plan was to stay well fueled the entire hike, and taking it as easy as possible on the days leading up to the hike, and the days after the hike. I really didn’t want to miss out on this!
My friends are rad and they were on top of everything. Checking on weather, fire blockage, conditions, shuttle system, packing lists. If you do this hike, choose your crew wisely!
Ideal hiking buddy:
- someone who stays positive through thick and thin
- someone who can make you laugh
- someone with strong legs, and not afraid of a little pain
- someone who takes awesome pictures of the crew and the scenery, capturing all the great moments along the way
- Someone who will run back up the trail to give you a head lamp when yours has run out of battery
- Someone who will share their poop shovel with you
- Someone who shares their cream cheese and triscuits with you when you’re sick of granola bars and all you want is something salty.
- Someone who doesn’t get mad when you make a wrong turn adding a little extra climb to your hike.
- Someone who shares their poles with you when yours are broken
- Someone who will bring a birthday cake granola bar and candles for you if you’re hiking on your birthday.
The list goes on. These girls are amazing!
So we met up at a home base in Spokane, and then loaded up into one big Denali. Amorette even brought homemade kombucha for us to pop open on the way there. We arrived in Leavenworth around 7. We ate at the München Haus which has amazing Brauts, saurkraut, pretzels, and mustard (too many mustard flavors to choose from)! Fun atmosphere too. We sat outside, the table had fire on it to keep you nice and warm. Everyone was in Lederhausens and dresses, it was awesome. Leavenworth is an awesome place to be during Octoberfest. The cute little shops close around 8 so don’t expect to do any shopping after that.
After dinner and quick trip to the grocery store we headed back to our condo. We tried to get to bed early that night. Me and Kera kept getting the giggles and couldn't fall asleep, thinking about if no one set their alarms because they thought someone else would and we all just slept in. I don’t know why but it was really funny to us at the time haha.
We woke up at 3:30 to be out the door by 3:45. I was surprised with how energetic we all were at that time of day. I think the hiking adrenaline had kicked in a bit. We put the finishing touches on packing our bags, I ate a banana and some peanut butter, and we were out the door around 4:00.
The trail head was pretty packed. It took a while to find a parking spot so we were glad we got there when we did. We had to drop off the big car at the end parking lot, and then we all crammed into the little audi to get back to the starting trail head.
When you go for the day you have to fill out a day hike permit (1 for the group). Also don’t forget the Washington Parks “all pass”, or you pay $10 for a day permit. We took care of those little details, got out our head lamps on, visited the outhouse, and then we were off! Kind of crazy starting off in the dark, I kept tripping over rocks and roots. It was much warmer than we thought starting off! It was about 55 degrees which felt real nice. We even stripped down to our tank tops after about 45 minutes into the hike. It starts off pretty steep so your body heats up in no time.
It was so beautiful going through the trees while the sun was rising, we slowly watched the world wake up. It took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to Colchuck Lake. It was a little bit overcast, but still beautiful! We definitely layered back up to our puff coats by that time. The lake is bright blue and looks awesome against the light grey rocks and the yellow larches. Definitely a spot to stop for a snack and some pics. In the summer time I would’ve loved to jump in, but in the fall…. not so much.
We continued on towards the famous Aasgard Pass. I had been mentally preparing for this bad boy which definitely helped. Kera and Julie (who were our fearless and experienced leaders) had been prepping us for this. Just to give you a quick glimpse, you gain 2500 feet of elevation in 3/4 of a mile. So think of going on a stair stepper for 1 hour and 15 minutes (or longer), and stepping on every other stair so you’re having to take giant steps. Your butt gets burning real quick. I just put on my music and tried not to stop. We started getting some snow flurries as we got near the top. Then the wind picked up and it got pretty cold. We finally made it to the top and I fueled up with some crackers, turkey, and cheese. It tasted sooo good. I definitely recommend packing some salty snacks amongst all the bars and fruit. That’s what we all were craving!
The top of the pass looks like you’re walking on the moon, kind of. Big bolders, red & orange moss, and snow flurries. By this time we were all in beanies, gloves, and puff coats. So grateful for layers!
We made our way to our lunch spot, right by one of the lakes, with a beautiful view of Prusik Peak. I think the winner for the best lunch was Amorette with her smoked trout, cream cheese, and triscuits. My dark chocolate peanut butter cups were pretty bomb as well.
We carried on around and through the lakes. This section was probably my favorite part of the hike. The Larches were AMAZING! The girls who had done it in the summer said that this time of year was by far their favorite because of all the colors. So if you can go in early October, I highly recommend it.
Continuing on through boulders, wood bridges, rock paths through streams, steep rocks, for hours and hours. For me, the scenery got even more beautiful as the hike went on. Just when you think the scenery can’t get any better, you turn a corner and come to another breathtaking back drop. The trail does have occasional outhouses along the way. Don’t be expecting much privacy, but it is an upgrade from squatting on the ground and the high chance of getting it all over yourself (or maybe thats just my struggle).
After we passed Nada lake, my legs and knees were starting to hurt, we were starting to lose our sunlight, and the best scenery was behind us. This is where the mental toughness really kicks in. Be prepared for about 6 miles of switch backs and false hopes haha. You can see your car, but the trail keeps winding back further away from it, then wraps back around, giving you a glimpse of the end, just teasing you. This was by far the most brutal part of the hike. The constant down hill takes a real toll on your knees, so I highly recommend having trekking poles for this very reason. I had never used trekking poles in my life, and actually thought they were kind of silly. Well I was humbled and I stand corrected. They’re awesome and saved my legs. I’m pretty sure I was using them as crutches by the end.
So after a couple of hours of winding back and forth down the switch backs from hell, we finally made our way to the last bridge to the parking lot. I really thought my legs couldn’t take another step and almost died when we walked up what we thought was the hill to the parking lot, but ended up being a dead end that said “turn around, the parking lot is behind you”. So DON’T make that mistake :) After the bridge turn LEFT!
The sight of a parking lot had never brought me such joy. We made it down just in time, it started down pouring! We all huddled under a little shelter while waiting for the hustlers who ran down the trail to get the car for the rest of us. Again, we had an AWESOME crew. The hike was so rewarding, exhausting, breathtaking, body aching, and awesome all at the same time. Hardest physical thing I’ve ever done, but one of the most rewarding for sure.
We hit up the München house for round 2 that night. The buttery salted pretzels hit the spot. After fantasizing about the hot tub all day, we almost had a breakdown when we ran out to it in the rain to find it locked up for the night. We were devastated. But the awesome gate keeper heard our cries and rescued us. He let us in after hours and I’ve never been so grateful for a hot tub in my life ha, it was pure bliss. Pretty sure we all slept like little cherubs that night.
Sunday was a beautiful day in Leavenworth. We hobbled around the town on our sore legs. We had the best breakfast at The Wild Huckleberry restaurant. They have GIANT pancakes that are seriously the size of a pizza. Walking around Leavenworth is so much fun. They had live music going on, and it was just a beautiful sunny Fall day!
Such a fun weekend, amazing views, awesome friends, good chats, great food, the best memories, and I HIGHLY recommend putting this trip on your list ASAP.
- Dress in LAYERS. (I wore: thin wool blend long socks, running leggings, tank top, long sleeve -sweat wicking, no cotton-, a light pull over puffer coat, a beanie, gloves, a rain jacket, and my altra Lone Peak trail shoes.)
- Bring Collapsable Trekking poles
- I packed a 3L camelback pouch and 2 water bottles but only drank through probably 3/4’s of the pouch. If it was warmer I would’ve definitely drank more! You will want a water purifier if you don't want to pack all your water.
- Brink lights. Some girls had these collapsable solar powered lights that were awesome!
- If you can, stay the night in a place with a hot tub afterwards :)
- Bring real food other than just nuts and granola bars. Cheese and crackers was delicious. And bring plenty of calories!
- Go with a Rad group of friends
- Be prepared for all times of weather - rain, snow, wind, sun
- Be prepared to have your mind blown with beauty
and here's an awesome video recap!