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[TR] 20th Anniversary Enchantments Madness - Enchantment, Little Annapurna, Cannon (100/100 Smoot), McClellan, Edward's Plateau 10/07/2022


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Trip: 20th Anniversary Enchantments Madness - Enchantment, Little Annapurna, Cannon (100/100 Smoot), McClellan, Edward's Plateau

Trip Date: 10/07/2022

Trip Report:

"I love it when a plan comes together"



And boy did the plan come together the first week of October this year.  Well, actually it started in the late winter of this year when I managed to score (after 12+ years of trying) a core zone permit for Golden Week.  Then, I was able to convince my parents and in-laws to take turns harassing our boys so they could stay in school for 5 days while my wife and I went up in the hills to celebrate 20 years of insanity together.  And, after all that, managing to convince everyone to stand firm with the plan as COVID made its way through our house in the weeks leading up to the trip.  It was close.  My wife was day 6 from the start of symptoms as we shouldered packs to begin the slog up Asgaard.  Would I get it on the trip?

No time to think of that, we had ground to cover.  And cover it we did.  I hauled nearly all the group gear and alcohol (20th anniversary!) as my wife gamely hacked and gritted her way up nearly 5k to our camp for 4 nights at the base of Little Annapurna. At the last minute we had ditched all technical gear in case we weren't able to overcome sickness.  This turned out to be a good call as there was plenty in there to do without a rope. hiking in on a Tuesday, I was struck by how mellow it was -very few people on the trail and we were able to find a most excellent camp overlooking Crystal Lake not in sight or sound of anyone.  The USFS does a great job of managing the insanity up there (plus, overnight permits get rock star parking!), considering the crush of humanity that is beating down the door of the Enchantments.




Our home for 4 nights:


The next morning I was up and away to McClellan while Kim rested in camp.  The larches were prime as I traversed across the north slopes of the peak, marveling at the lack of people.  Soon, I found myself at the top (some engaging and exposed 3rd), just a couple hours after leaving camp.  It is just oh so civilized to launch from a base in the core zone!


Summit of McClellan:


I quickly jetted back to camp, had lunch, and grabbed Kim for the scenic ramble (class 2) up Little Annapurna in the late afternoon.  We waited a couple minutes for two Canadians to have their own time on top before scampering up for our turn.  The smoke below added an ethereal vibe to the scene. The Nightmare Needles below were especially cool.

Little Annapurna summit:


Nightmare Needles, including Flagpole:


And then it was back to camp for our evening ritual of wine, appetizers, and watching the sun set on Prusik and Temple:202220thEnchantments102313.JPG.1c55eea665edc23363cae14e08faa790.JPG


Day 3 was a momentous one for me.  I was able to scramble Enchantment (tiny bit of 4th at the top) and Cannon (Class 3, Smoot 100/100 for me) but also found out on the summit of Cannon that Kloke Peak had become official via a text from a reporter at the Skagit Valley Herald.  Wow!  Returning to camp in a daze it was warm enough that I was able to go for a quick swim in the tarn next to our camp.  So many good things packed into one day!

McClellan from slopes of Enchantment:


Talisman and Rune lakes:


Upper Rat Creek drainage, Edward's Plateau, Temple Ridge, Prusik from Enchantment:


North sides of Dragontail, Colchuck, Argonaut, Sherpa, and Stuart (L-R) from Enchantment:


WR of Prusik head on:


You should climb the full north ridge of Stuart:


Summit views towards Stuart from Cannon:


Smoot 100, Cannon!:


Tahoma and Colchuck.  NEBC front and center, site of my closest call ever in the mountains:


Upper WR of Prusik:


How could you not want to explore this valley?


Perfection Lake is aptly named:


On day 4 Kim was feeling a bit more recovered from Covid (day 10 since start of it) and so we set off to explore Edward's Plateau and the lakes along the way.  What an amazing valley!  I had always wanted to spend a day in there during larch season and we were not disappointed.  We saw fresh bear tracks but no people, wandering around the magical setting for hours, swimming, and scrambling up close to the Mole (It's on the list!).  We delayed returning to camp as long as possible, just getting back for appetizers as the sun set on, you guessed it, Prusik.

Inspiring reflections in Inspiration Lake:


Little Annapurna:


North side of Temple Ridge:



South face of the Mole is on the list!:




Mesa Lake:


Lake Earle:


Kim and Enchantment Peak:





Cliche for a reason.  Prusik and Gnome tarn:


And just like that, it was down to our last night.  Five days goes fast during Golden Week with perfect weather.  We drank our last wine as the moon came up over McClellan, marveling at our luck the past few days.  We had seen fewer than 75 people over the course of four days and had reveled in the scenery and solitude each day, not sharing a summit with anyone. 



Looking forward to 20 more years with this lady!:


But that was all about to change.  Waking up on Day 5 (a Saturday) we started to hear folks streaming by on the trail.  By the time we got rolling at 0900 the wave was about to crest Asgaard. Between camp and Colchuck Lake we counted (conservatively) 512 people!  And then another 273 people between the lake the the trailhead!  While it was a bit entertaining at first, it was highly annoying by the end to hike down against the tide.  Most of the people on the trail didn't really have a clue as to how to hike a climbers trail or pass people efficiently.  Many were zombie-like, stumbling upward in a fog towards anyone who looked like they were on the "trail".  Several times, I would step a few feet off the "trail" (trying to let people pass uphill) only to have someone hike directly up to me, stopping a foot away and staring. 

"Sorry...... I'm not moving, the trail is over there".

But I digress.  The Enchantments are deservedly popular, especially during larch season.  But don't bother putting your name in the lottery, you'll be dead before you pull a permit.





Oh, and I never got Covid.


Gear Notes:
Love is all you need

Approach Notes:
For the love of all things holy, please don't hike in or out on a Saturday.

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19 minutes ago, geosean said:

tell Instagram for me to stop talking about the Enchantments and Heather/Maple Passes.

From what I gathered from the folks we ran into, it is now TikTok!  Like people are showing up with nothing but a TikTok video as beta.  Pretty wild. 

I saw someone at the top of Asgaard that didn't even have a backpack, nor a running vest.  Just shorts and tee shirt, walking with friends that had very small school backpacks.  Not hard to imagine needing to depend on the kindness of strangers for something as simple as turning an ankle.  The good news (for them) was that there were several hundred strangers close by!

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2 hours ago, OlympicMtnBoy said:

I spent a lot of time up in there like 10-15 years ago before it got quite so crazy

Same with me (OK, maybe 15-25 years ago)!  I was struck by just how awesome it is up there still (esp. when you go a very short distance off the trail).  I'm fired up now for a few more routes that I've neglected due to fear of the scene....

I think if you can avoid going up or down Asgaard on Saturday it is totally workable (provided you score a permit). 

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Magical place! I'm so glad I spent some quality time up there before it got over-run with nitwits. One memorable trip in 1989 with my wife and father-in-law (who was even older then than I am now!) we did the grand tour much like you and Kim's. I was out in the middle of Shield Lake on an inflatable raft when some hikers down near the outlet called out to me: "IS   THIS   SNOW   LAKE?" 

Good times.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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On 11/26/2022 at 10:48 PM, pup_on_the_mountain said:

May be you should revive those old double statements, but with positive ones

It just doesn't feel right to be positive, after all these years. :lmao:

There were a ton of people hiking into the Enchantments that Saturday, but at least they were all getting their beta from Tik-Tok.

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On 11/2/2022 at 8:17 PM, Phil K said:

I was out in the middle of Shield Lake on an inflatable raft when some hikers down near the outlet called out to me: "IS   THIS   SNOW   LAKE?" 

True story- I turned around a couple of dudes who were descending to Shield Lake on this trip!  "Wait, this trail doesn't go to Snow Creek?"  I have no idea where they would have ended up if they didn't run into me.  I was literally the only person in that valley, that day.  It also makes zero sense that they turned up and over Prusik pass while hiking around Perfection Lake.  But hey, at least people have been screwing up like this for decades.

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