Traveler’s Spotlight: Through a Sea of Boulders Awaits Emerald Lakes

By October 15, 2018 Strategy

The Trip: Hiking and Camping in The Enchantments | 3 Days
Traveler: Shea Courtney, Marketing Copywriter


Where did you go?


My friends and I went on a hiking and camping trip to The Enchantments Zone outside of Leavenworth, Washington. The real adventure though was dominating a 20-mile day-hike (there really wasn’t a better option).


Why did you want to go there?


In 2017, my friends and I had backpacked The Enchantments around the zones 8-Mile, Colchuck, and Snow Lakes but we weren’t able to tackle the 20-mile Core Zone. So this year, it was on our bucket lists to conquer the rugged 20-mile trek that must be completed in 1-day, unless you are fortunate enough to lock-in a backpacking site in the Core Zone.


What was the best moment of the trip?


There were several ‘best moments’. Firstly, we began hiking in the dark, lush rainforest at 5:30 AM and my headlamp went out but fortunately, I met a friendly hiker on the trail who had spare AAA batteries. The next best moment was reaching the saddle after climbing an avalanche chute that gained 2,200’ elevation in 1-mile. Afterward, hiking around the 13 different lakes was absolutely stunning! Every bend and fork in the trail offered phenomenal and breathtaking views of the glacial lakes, the jagged peaks, and the changing golden larches (imagine Dr. Seuss trees).


What was the most challenging thing you did?


The last 7 miles of the hike were gnarly. Most of it was downhill and it was steep, which turned out to be more strenuous than any of us could have prepared for. There were boulders to climb over, slick dirt to skid down, and by the end of it our knees were locking up.


What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?


A mountain goat walked onto the trail about 10 feet in front of us!


What are two interesting things the average person doesn’t know about traveling in The Enchantments?


First, start hiking before 5:00 AM to beat the crowds and although autumn is truly a spectacular time, the trails are filled with people. Second, once you start climbing the avalanche chute behind Colchuck Lake, there is really no option to turn around. Going down the chute is very risky considering there are several loose rocks and boulders. Not only are you in danger of sliding down but you are likely to kick rocks onto the climbers.


When you’re in the wilderness camping, what comforts from home do you miss the most?


I miss my comfortable, spacious bed and fluffy pillows! A sleeping pad doesn’t even hold a candle to a memory foam mattress.


What was the most useful item you packed?


Turns out the most useful item I packed was a solar lamp. Not only did my headlamp die at the start of the hike but even after replacing the batteries the light died again on the way down. With 3-miles left to the parking lot and in pitch darkness, I was thankful to have the solar light to keep me on the trail and away from the ledges.


Window or aisle seat?


Hands down, the window seat. I’m fascinated by a bird’s-eye view!


If you won the lottery, where would you go and for how long?


If I won the lottery I would finally check off hikes in Patagonia and the Andes! I would stay and explore for a couple of years. I mean, what’s the rush? I just won the lotto, I can hang out for a while.