This year for The Enchantments I got the same dates as 2017 but a different zone; the Eightmile Lake/Caroline Lake zone. Last year I had a permit for the "core zone" which is a bit more difficult, and considered the best permit to win. However, as you will see from my pictures, seeing the Stuart Range from this zone is nothing short of spectacular as well.
After spending the night at Bridge Creek Campground prior to our first day, we packed up and headed for the perspective trailheads. Since we wanted to make it a thru-hike, we would be ending at Jack Creek trailhead and starting in The Enchantments zone; Eightmile Trailhead.
Our first day on the trail was a little rainy, and windy. We had about 3.2 miles to hike that day with 1300 feet of elevation gain. Fields of Lupines greeted us as we hiked higher. When we got to camp at Eightmile Lake the weather was light rain and heavy winds most of the day well into the evening.
When we woke up the next day we were pleasantly surprised it had cleared up without a cloud in the sky. Little did we know the weather would stay this way the entire trip.
After enjoying the morning sunshine we packed up and headed 4 miles to Lake Caroline, which is about 1300 feet of Elevation Gain from Eightmile Lake. As we climbed up the switchbacks, we saw more varieties of wildflowers and the entire Stuart Range behind us. From Indian Paintbrush, lupines, wild orchids, and bears grass, wildflowers were abundant! Looking back on the trip this was definitely the most tiring part of the entire trek. Most of this trail is exposed to the sun due to wildfire damage-making it quite hot when the weather is nice. Fortunately for us, the sun was shining!
Our last day hiking up to Windy Pass we anticipated to be the hardest. From Lake Caroline up, this would be our "summit" of the hike, climbing 1500 feet in 1.3 miles. The trail was a series of switchbacks, and gradual trail which was easier than we thought. The views as you approach Windy Pass get better and better. We encountered a bit of snow which made the trail harder to find. There were no foot prints to follow, along with washed out portion of the trail. Once we reached the top our summit was phenomenal, making it all worth it.
Once you descent pass Windy Pass, you are no longer in The Enchantments boundary-making it legal to camp anywhere. The Enchantment boundary requires that you camp at designated sites.
Glad I had a GPS trail downloaded as well as a map! After we enjoyed the summit and scrambled up the ridge lines- we descended down towards Trout Lake. With even more snow on this side of the mountain, trail and washed out started to look the same, causing us to get lost for the better half of an hour. We followed the GPS version of my map as we were slightly off from it-thankfully, we found our campsite which was marked on the paper map. However, please note if you do this route, there is no camping at Trout Lake. Most of the lake is marsh, but still beautiful to see nonetheless. The hike is .5 miles from the designated campsite in the forest. This is when we finally saw a "trail" sign. Phew, we are in the right place.
Last day to hike out- 1,900 feet of elevation loss and 5.2 miles to the trailhead. Rain was on the forecast and burgers in Leavenworth #1 priority, so we got out on the trail by 9am. Thankfully, the rain stayed away granting us another beautiful sunny filled day. It wasn't until we approached Icicle Creek area that we saw humans and a dog on the trail. After enjoying a bottle of champagne at our car, we all shoved into the back of my Outback over to the Eightmile Trailhead.
*ProTip: pack a cooler with dry ice and two bags of ice, fill with cold beer, La Croix, and champagne to celebrate at the end. We were also equipped with bags of snacks-the hanger was real!
Finding our way day three -lost.
Success! Despite getting lost this group kicked ass!