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.

Comments

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!

Got something to say? Please do so.





Anti-Spam Quiz:

You can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box to left, but 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.
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

  • Matt Kinney: Excellent work. Not sure what your up to in AK but hopefully see you in Tho...
  • Alex: Thanks Charlie! The adventure-work balance is a challenge, but persistence ...
  • Charlie Hagedorn: Congratulations on the job! The academic market is a tough one, especially ...
  • Ponderosa: OK! Thanks for the reply!...
  • pockets: Beautiful pictures! Makes me excited to try out ski touring next season....
  • daniel: For the record: Zzero4 boots size 27 Marker Tour/Dynafit original Spe...
  • See: https://www.wildsnow.com/9303/ski-boot-cuff-pivot-wear-fix-dynafit/...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Easy there pardner... after you've calmed down, just smear some epoxy on th...
  • Ponderosa: Nothing? Really? No one's ever had a similar thing happen and needed to...
  • Selko: What Sarah said! I've using the F1 since early December 2016, mostly around...
  • Eric B: That put a smile on my face! I feel the same way about my Scarpa Maestrale...
  • darin: Best thing on the internet that I've read in a while....
  • See: Comfort is key....
  • See: Helicopters, satellites, etc., have changed how we approach outdoor activit...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Pushing the envelope of "reviews!"...
  • Ricardo H: I am just about to buy a pair of these boots from Telemark Pyrenees but not...
  • Ponderosa: Hey Guys, So i was just doing the end-of-season gear inspection and notice...
  • Rudi: I'm not sure if that was a review or a poem, but it sounds like those F1s a...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I'm often the person with the repair kit, but it's minimal. Multi-use items...
  • See: Don’t get me wrong— I’ve paid for evacuation insurance more than once, and ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Actually, that's just about it. In other words, we don't carry sleeping bag...
  • See: What’s “eurostyle?” I hope not “go light and depend on helicopter.”...
  • Lisa Dawson: I hope Louie kept up the Dawson family tradition and made some hot buttered...
  • Leslie: I'm glad to hear the Asulkan is in good shape. What great conditions!...
  • Pete Anzalone: An additional observation about the C3 external lean lock mechanism ... it'...
  • Lou Dawson 2: It's a big 20, but for me my fave is around 30 liters, just because I like ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks for the comments guys, I've been busy with website backend work, the...
  • swissiphic: I have some input regarding the fit of the Cosmos for less than 'normal' fe...
  • PQ: A couple of comments. I haven't skied with the 20L Voltair, but I've skied...
  • Mark W: If external lean locks are the coming wave, some of the current crop are ve...

  Recent Posts


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.

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. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error 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