Enchantments Through Hike 08-22-2020

Colchuck Lake

There are so many trip reports and books on the Enchantments. Rather than describe all the truly magical scenery which changes across the zones, I thought I would give my recommendations and observations coming from a seasoned hiker, scrambler, and mountaineer.

First and foremost start early. I suggest no later than 5 am as the cars line up at the TH and many folks illegally parked on both sides. We arrived at about 4:15am and found a spot on the side about 5 cars back from marked spots. The main reason to start early is to avoid the sun on the way up Aasgard pass. I hit Lake Colchuck after about 2.5 hours. I was slow all day and most folks passed me. It took me another 2.5 hours to make my way up the pass with several prolonged rest breaks. Fortunately, the pass was still in the shade but the sun appeared around 10:30 casting the lake in full sun and steadily crept down the route up the pass. Fortunately, near the top, there was sufficient rock to block most of the sun. Once at the top however there is no relief from the full exposure to the sun. I highly recommend sun hoodies, pants, hats, etc, although there were many people in shorts.

There is no lack of water sources along the entire route, except the final stretch of 4 miles, where access to the outlet of Nada lake is difficult in most spots, so bring a water filter and fill up at Snow Lake on the way down to ensure you have sufficient water. 

I found I ran into and leaped frogged many parties along the route, especially in the upper core zone where there are many areas to explore. I found the route between Leprechaun Lake and Lake Viviane to be more of a scramble than a hike. The trail skirts a steep granite slabby ridge and there is the famous section of rebar steps set into the slabs for traction. It was very intimidating, as it was difficult to get a good view of the exposure, I was not expecting some scrambly bits and was tired, however, once I set down the steps, it was a well-protected Class 2 scramble down.

Be prepared however as the route all the way down from Lake Viviane is down steep slabby rocks, and steep rock and dirt path. A great spot to practice footwork on slab traction.  I am glad I was going down vs. up.

Once I gained the trail at Snow Lakes, I found the path to be a boring plod along a forested path. Few views except across Snow Lake to the crags of the Temple and surrounding peaks. At this point, there is still a lot of mileage and nearly 4000 feet of descent, much along rocky talus switchbacks. Views of Nada Lake on the way out were beautiful as the sun began to set and the lighting changed. Past Nada Lake it is a 4-mile slog downwards making for a long day.

The Core Enchantments are clearly the best and I highly recommend an early start to be able to spend as much time as possible in the area exploring the many lakes and rock formations. Ideally one would have enough time to summit Little Annapurna or Dragontail. In my opinion, I would only do the route starting at the Stuart Lake TH, ascending to Lake Colchuck and up Aasgard Pass. This is a difficult and steep hike, yet I saw hundreds of people ascending the trail upwards like a conga line of Ants. Some folks were struggling, but take a slow pace and some rest stops, hydrate, and maintain electrolytes as I saw several people stopped with cramps. Also, don’t underestimate the time and distance to finish the hike. 

I logged about 20 miles just over 15 hours including all rest stops and exploration.  Details in my AllTrails and Suunto recordings, and a good video flythrough of my route courtesy of Relive. A great way to put the hike into the perspective of the difficulty, and more so the mountains and scenery you will pass.


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