The Enchantments were on my bucket list ever since I started backpacking in 2011 and in October of 2019 a few friends snagged 6 lottery spots in the Snow Lake Zone and asked me and Oli to join the crew. Obviously I was a 100% enthusiastic yes!
Oli had not done much backpacking and most of his stuff was still in the UK, so though I had all my gear we had to get him kitted up in a couple days. Nothing some good old Seattle thrifting and REI rentals couldn’t sort out quickly.
Icicle Creek Road gave way to the Stuart Lake Trailhead parking lot where we met up with our friends and did some final prep work. We laced up, packed up, and then climbed up, up, up.
Though half the team was first timers to backpacking, and there were a few lingering aches and pains, there were no complaints and we made it to the campsite with plenty of time to enjoy the lakeview before enjoying the sunset with some wine.
Evenings and dinner time while backpacking is quite possibly my favorite thing about backpacking. A meal and wine hard earned, the pure pleasure of sitting after working so hard, the sacred silence, and in this circumstance the shenanigans of wine bag slapping. It was the perfect group of friends and energy, a few seasoned hikers happy to be back out at it, and 3 babes stoked on the new experience.
We went to bed when the light faded, happily climbing into our warm bags with a little wine buzz, full bellies & hearts looking forward to our day hike of Aasgard Pass the following morning.
Nature and a few too many glasses of wine for some, left us with a decision to be made. Though no rain had been called for, this is Washington mountains and the weather report is rarely reliable. Sadly, two of our friends set their tent up in an area where rain water collected and also forgot to put their packs in their tent when they went to bed.
Waking up soggy in the middle of the night is one of the worst moments one can have while backpacking, so those two decided to pack out and head back as it was unlikely their gear would dry out. That left me with the 3 new baby backpackers who were eager to stay and do the Aasgard Pass plan and stay another night. Since I had never hiked Aasgard myself, I was with 3 new hikers – one nursing a knee injury, and I had heard of the intensity of that section of the Enchantments, I felt apprehensive about leading the charge.
I believe that while exploring in the mountains, caution and respect for nature is paramount. We sadly made the call to pack out after only 1 night, and Aasgard remains unexplored – for now.
The hike out gifted us with sunshine, good chats, and funny memories – one of my favorite being when Kim pulled out a mostly empty glass bottle of salad dressing to dress her lunch salad! I laughed so hard it hurt. She was the one nursing the knee injury and once I went over and picked up her pack I realized why… her pack weighed double what mine weighed.
Backpacking and what people decide to pack in their bags is always a personal decision, and I don’t like to interject myself but once I realized she was packing glass bottles and her pack was incredibly heavy I made the call to assist. When I asked her if she knew how to properly strap herself in we discovered that not only had her hip belt been loose and not on her hips, she had not been using her weight bearing stabilizer straps causing her pack to sway back and forth.
Once properly strapped in, she lit up and was so excited about how much better the pack felt. This woman had not complained once about the weight or pain, she just trekked through what she thought was normal for backpacking. She gained some mad respect from me, but also taught me a lesson that when with friend who are first time backpackers that it’s okay to ask if they feel confident with what they have packed and how they have packed it.
The Enchantments was hard, but so so good and not even the video does it justice but here it is anyways.