Field Report No. 20150615SH

Topic: The Enchantments

Conditions: Alpine, lake-fed dreams


COMMENTS:  Every region has its cliches, and 3-seasons-in-a-day is ours. The dynamic weather of the Inland Northwest presents constant logistical challenges. Do we pack up the car when there is a 40% chance of rain and we can already smell damp air? A rainy hike is exhilarating, but what if hail plummets from the sky? What if the dark edges of the clouds carry thunder?

We play the odds for one reason: the Enchantments—Eastern Washington’s access to the Cascades. I feel pride for this lower-altitude range with its briery granite peaks and lakes the color of tin and steel. It has hosted my favorite alpine ascents to date.

We shoulder our packs and begin to hike as the sun dips behind Snow Creek Wall. The bright domes of tents across the lake look like lanterns swinging over fogged-up glass. We hike past the sounds of propane stoves heating water and dinner.  The last swaths of light on the horizon seep into the mountains. We gather the moon and stars fully into our gaze before turning the headlamps on, following, losing, and finding the trail over and over until it’s well after midnight. Our legs are woody and shoulders tight. We set an alarm for 5am and listen to the creek as it continues to smooth stones.

KEY FEATURES: Alpine lakes, first ascents.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Knowledge from Northwest Mountain School. Fuel before entering the wilderness from J5 Coffee. Northwest Ales to celebrate afterward from Icicle Brewing Company. Bratwurst from München Haus.

photo credit: Anna Dvorak