The Enchantments. I can't think of a more sought-after wilderness permit in the Pacific Northwest. I was fortunate enough to come by a few passes this year, so Jo and I invited our friend Angela to join us on our adventure.
On the first day, we day-hiked up to Eightmile Lake. I'd been fortunate enough to camp there two years ago, and was shocked to see that a wildfire had reduced one of the most beautiful camping areas I'd ever seen to tangle of burned out logs. I know that it will grow back eventually, but it was a sad thing to see.
The following morning, Angela and I spotted a bear climbing a tree in our campsite while we ate breakfast. I called out to Joanna and she bolted out of the tent to lay eyes on her very first bear. It was about the size of a Labrador, and it watched us break down camp from it's perch before climbing up further to nap on one of the branches.
The excitement of our wildlife spot quickly dissipated as we hit the trail for Stuart Lake and hiked right into a snow flurry. It was cold and wet, and the hikers coming back down the trail was soaked and shivering. We took shelter next to a large boulder and rigged a tent footprint over us for at least a little protection while our friend Angela made some tea with her Jetboil.
The weather did clear up eventually, though it took longer than two minutes. We finished our ascent to Stuart Lake and hurried to set up camp and eat dinner as the temperature dropped rapidly. We turned in before sunset and began a long, cold night of trying to sleep as other campers at a nearby campsite whooped and hollered around their illegal campfire, and several different animals visited our campsite (one of them even started pushing against the side of my tent, and I had to shout at it to make it leave).
When I awoke the next morning, I grabbed my camera and walked around the lake, enjoying the solitude and the beginnings of a much sunnier day. I found some hidden vantage points of the lake, and some rocks that were getting pretty warm from their exposure to the sun. After the chilly night we'd endured, I thought that Joanna and Angela would appreciate them too, so I brought them over to this area after breakfast, and they soaked up the warmth like a pair of lizards.
The descent was beautiful, giving us views of meadows and wilderflowers that we'd been too soggy to enjoy on our way up.