Of Mice and Skiers: The Enchantments Traverse Backcountry

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 5, 2017      

The Enchantments are a beautiful little corner of the Washington Cascades. For years, I’ve wanted to visit them on skis. A few weeks ago we finally made the effort.

We’ve had lots of snow and not much sun recently in Washington, so although we had a nice weather window, I knew “excellent” snow conditions were not likely. I still wanted a challenge, so a one-day ski through the Enchantments seemed like a fun outing. The “Enchantments Traverse”, from Snow Creek trailhead to the gate on 8 Mile Road, is a beautiful tour below high peaks, and across frozen alpine lakes. It’s also quite long; 17+ miles, 8,000+ vert, and book-ended by a few miles of dirt hiking on both sides.

Jeff starting the descent down Asgard pass, with Dragontail peak in the background.

Jeff starting the descent down Asgard Pass, with Dragontail peak in the background.

Julia and I met up with Jeff at the trailhead in the early morning, after staying at our friend’s house down the road in Leavenworth. We began before sunrise, and reached snow sooner than I’d guessed — less dirt hiking, a good thing. Within a few hours we were skinning to Nada Lake, our first of the day. We kept moving, and stopped for lunch once we got into the alpine area of the upper Enchantments.

As I pulled out my sandwich, I noticed that a corner had tell-tale nibble marks from a small rodent. I tore off the contaminated bit of bread, and mentioned how I hadn’t noticed that when I packed up my pack last night, then forgot about it.

After skinning across Perfection Lake, and with our high-point of Asgard Pass in sight, we decided we had time for a little side-trip. The wind picked up as we skinned up towards the 8,500 foot summit of Little Annapurna. By the time we were on top, it was whipping, but the views of the Stuart Range and the rest of the Eastern Cascades were spectacular.

Hunkered down behind a rock, I reached deep into my pack and pulled out my puffy. A blur of brown and grey shot out of my pack and landed in the snow next to me. I yelped and jumped about 10 feet. It was a mouse! Evidently the little guy had made his way into my pack, feasted on my sandwich, then met an untimely death when I sat on my pack. I was relieved to see that I could blame my slow skinning on the extra weight of rodent carry.

Jeff captured the mouse on film:

A post shared by Jeff Rich (@jeffrichski) on

Reaching our first alpine lake of the trip.

Reaching our first alpine lake of the trip.

The Enchantments in the summer. More yellow, less white.

The Enchantments in the summer. More yellow, less white, still beautiful.

Almost the same view, now with snow.

Almost the same view, now with snow.

Julia skiing down Asgard pass.

Julia skiing down Asgard Pass.

Looking back across Colchuck Lake at Dragontail Peak. Asgard pass, where we skied,is the run to the lookers left.

Looking back across Colchuck Lake at Dragontail Peak. Asgard Pass, where we skied, is the run to looker’s left.

The long, dry walk back to the car.

The long, dry walk back to the car.

We left the mouse to a sky burial, and made our way down the wind-hammered snow off the summit. The snow quality didn’t improve as we made our way down Asgard Pass to Colchuck Lake, where we found manky breakable crust. The ski out to the trailhead proved to be icy and very fast; we were walking down the dirt road to the car in no time.

The Enchantments are an incredible place. We truly enjoyed the challenge of skiing though them in one day; they are the perfect area for a long, beautiful day in the mountains.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


2 Responses to “Of Mice and Skiers: The Enchantments Traverse Backcountry”

  1. Lisa Dawson May 5th, 2017 1:09 pm

    The video is hilarious. Thanks Jeff! You guys are the true Rat Pack.

  2. Joe John May 5th, 2017 3:52 pm

    You could have put the little guy on a stick over your cooker, like they do down South…protein rich!

Anti-Spam Quiz:

While you can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box above, you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit. NOTE: BY SUBSCRIBING TO COMMENTS YOU GIVE US PERMISSION TO STORE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS INDEFINITLY. YOU MAY REQUEST REMOVAL AND WE WILL REMOVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WITHIN 72 HOURS. To request removal of personal information, please contact us using the comment link in our site menu.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version