Enchantments Thru-Hike

Whenever I start to believe that I'm a real hiker, I come up against a trail like The Enchantments Thru-Hike. The infamous Aasgard Pass certainly put me in my place. But the rewards of this hike are much greater than the price of admission and they are difficult to fully capture or express.

A big thanks to my good friend Angela for sharing her lottery-won Core Zone permits with us and organizing our group for this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

These are the experiences and the friendships that I live for. As long as my days are full of these, I don't think I will ever have any real regrets.

Red Butte Via Duffy Lake

The night air was cool and we flipped on our headlamps in the parking lot and started the trail to Duffy Lake. The sun had just set and we were hoping to meet our friends at Duffy Lake before they turned in for the night. We moved quickly, dodging six large toads and a snake that were bedding down on the trail. We made good time, but it was too late. The sun had been down for about an hour, and everyone who was camping had retired to their tents for the night. We tried to remember what our friends’ tents looked like, but we couldn’t. It should go without saying that there was no cell service.

We decided to make camp in a flat-ish area that didn’t seem too close to any other campers, and spent the night sliding towards the bottom of the tent. When I got up, I realized that Joanna’s hunch from the night before was right: we were set up right in the middle of the trail. We hurriedly broke down the tent and packed up, ready for a lengthy excursion to find our friends. But we only made it another sixty feet before I saw my friend Angela. We had walked right by their site the night before! We made camp, once again, and had breakfast.

That day, we hiked to the top of Red Butte, with great views of the Sisters, Mt Washington, Three Fingered Jack and Mt Jefferson, and then made a detour on our return to visit Santiam Lake for a quick swim before returning to Duffy Lake. The mosquitoes were bad, but the company was good.

My photography has been feeling a little stale lately. I brought along my portrait lens on this one to mix things up.

Olympic National Park - Enchanted Valley

Our first backpacking trip of the year took us to the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park. We powered through 27 miles in two days and took in some grand views along the way: massive trees from the time of Lord Baltimore, seasonal multi-tiered waterfalls, an elk herd, the legendary chalet, and exactly zero black bears. Then we did a victory lap around the entire Olympic Peninsula (by car), and treated ourselves to veggie burgers and another night of stealth camping in a Wal-Mart parking lot. We must have looked pretty rough when we emerged from the car this morning because a nice gentleman from Jehovah’s Witness approached us and offered to help us get our lives back on track!