I’m going to step away from writing about the Hoh Rainforest and return to that in a few days. Now I want to delve into the main reason we went Washington: to go to the Enchantment Lakes. Last Thanksgiving when we went to Guadalupe Mountains National Park we met Sheri and Randy in the parking lot at the McKittrick Canyon trailhead. We talked to them for a good bit and got the word that the Enchantment Lakes were a must see.
We decided that this would be a great trip for our 10th wedding anniversary so Chris put in for the permit drawings. Yep, this place is so popular you have to get a permit by drawing or by showing up on the morning of when you want to go to get a chance to get a permit—you still might not get one even then. We lucked out and got a permit for the Core Enchantment Zone. Each zone and permit allow you to camp in specific places but getting the Core permit allows you to not only to the Core Enchantment Zone but you can camp any zone, whereas the other permits require you to camp only in that zone. Sounds strict but this area is crawling with backpackers and gets heavy use.
We stayed in Wenatchee the night before we had to pick up our permit and got up early the next morning to get to the ranger’s office in Leavenworth, a Bavarian modeled town. When we arrived there were already people crowded outside waiting to get a chance for a permit, but luckily we bypassed them and went inside to pick up our own permit.
The trailhead isn’t far from Leavenworth, maybe 15 minutes via Icicle Road and then down another dirt, Forest Service road. The trailhead parking was packed, though one person was leaving as we headed down the trail.
We began on the Stuart Lake trail, which for the first couple of miles is relatively flat with some gentle slopes along the way, following Mountaineer Creek the entire way. The smell of the forest was intoxicating and reminded me so much of the Maine woods. It was such a happy smell, bringing back good memories! Chris and I easily jaunted down the trail stopping here and there to look at wildflowers and scope out a few plants we thought were orchids.
Soon enough those first miles were over and it was time to cross Mountaineer Creek for the first time. It was also a perfect time for our first snack break and to take a few photos.
But…the flatness was done and it was all up from here.