Enchantments, July 2012

On July 19th, Peninsula Wilderness Club members Paul Dutky, Isaac Sun and I enjoyed a wonderful 3-night backpack in the Enchantments, perhaps the most beautiful corner of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington. We were fortunate to have a permit to camp in the Core Enchantment area, the highest camping zone in the Enchantments. The Core Enchantments is a high alpine garden full of flowers, stately granite spires and island studded lakes.

The Core Enchantments are also blessed with a healthy forest of Alpine Larch (Larix lyallii), a deciduous conifer. As a deciduous tree, the larch’s soft green needles turn bright yellow in Autumn before falling off for winter. In the spring, new needles sprout out of the tree’s branches as soon as they melt out from the snow.

Another curious feature of the enchantments are its mountain goats. These gregarious goats have very little fear of humans. In fact, they crave the salt left behind from people’s urine and will rush up to within touching distance at the mere sound of an opening pants zipper. Because the goats will tear up the tundra to find salt, it’s best to relieve oneself on a large flat rock that the goats can’t destroy in their search for salty urine.

Besides the pure beauty of the place, one of the biggest attractions of the Enchantments is the good mountain climbing. There’s something for everyone here, from easy walk-ups like Little Annapurna, to steep snowfields such as Dragontail Peak, and difficult multi-pitch technical rockclimbing on Prusik Peak. With an abundance of trails connecting dozens of lakes with scenic ridges and passes, day hiking is another excellent way to enjoy this high alpine wonderland.


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