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|TrailConditions||No snow. Tough glissading|
|Mailed to WacList|| |
Forsaking the Enigma Range, I spent Tuesday through Friday of last week wandering around the upper Enchantments. The area constitutes part of the 10% of the Cascades that get 90% of the use and it's easy to see why. I've visited any times before, but only ever before the June 15th cutoff. While snow is merciful on the knees, fall offers that break-your-heart light and the larch all aflame. Be prepared for a very social affair, a little like Green Lake but without the dogs (1).|
Teamed up with another solo traveler and a couple in the ranger station parking lot to increase chances of obtaining a permit in the lottery. Now in its 14th year, an old trick, but an effective one: My name was drawn first, so all four of us, Riley (2), Wolfgang and Antje (3) and I were in. We all split up initially, but ended up camping together for two nights in he upper basin not far from the south end of Freya Lake (4).
Wednesday's first trip was over to Little Annapurna (8400+) with Wolfgang and Antje, a simple hike if you don't wander up the north buttress as we did. Experienced some fine slabbing though and found a huge dance floor up there as well. Wolfgang and Antje had never scrambled before, but proved themselves game troopers (5). Riley appeared near the top (6) and returned to camp with Wolfgang and Antje. I wandered over to Dragontail, first along the ridge, then popping over to the Ingalls Creek side. Warm, enjoyed a little dog snooze in the sun at 8800+ feet. In shorts and shortsleeeves. In October. Amazing. Hoofed it back to camp, pied à plat down the icy snowfield, those lazy crampons finally earning their keep. Back at camp Reily produced some small cigars and introduced us to his friend Mr. J. Daniels. The Germans, ferrero rocher, and I Swiss power bars (7). Not too shabby. Moonrise was spectacular.
Next day we split up. McClellan called (8300+) and I started up the ridge from Rune Lake, way east of the described route. Trying to outsmart the guide book. Hit the ridge at 8000' and cliffed out in spectacular fashion. Poked around for a horrible 3rd class gully to access the basin below and easy hiking to the summit, but to no avial. Descended and wandered over to Prusik Pass to pluck the low hanging fruit of Enchantment Peak (8500+). Spent the night at Gnome Tarn, enjoying the view of Prusik, recalling the time my buddy Tom and I climbed (8) the west ridge.
Friday wandered over to Cannon Mtn. (8600+). Originally wanted to hurry over, bag it and then try my luck at McClellan again, but spent the day exploring little lakes, tiny meadows, granite benches and the high and wide Druid Plateau. No kidding, rapturous wandering in a unique setting. Saw no one that day until I returned to the main basin.
Set up camp that eve in the middle basin on a nice flat rock (9). Stationed myself on the front porch as it were, tea in hand, a chatted with the neighbors, human and capricorn, as they ambled on by. The latter obligingly presented all the canonical poses for my camera: Billy, Nanny, Got your and Great Northern.
Saturday I intended to attempt McClellan, but storm clouds rapidly began to move in (10). Scooted down Aasgard (11), only to have it clear by the time I arrived at Colchuck. Wanted to hit Gustav's, but there was some kind of festival in Leavenworth (12)--no parking, traffic jams, so I drove to der gas station, bought die gasoline and got das heck out of there.
Good trip and a nice way to end the summer. Now it's time for SNOW!!!!!!
(1) Try Enchantments Espresso at the north end of Brynhild Lake. In addition to coffee and biscotti, you can buy Tupperware containers, those
little faux carabiners and peel-off, paste-on American flags. Remember, as of November 1st, federal law dictates that all surfaces of more than one square yard must display the American flag.
(2) Riley MOOdy. Claims to have been raised by cows near Portland. I understand a lot of that kind of thing goes on down there.
(3) Schildbach. Of Nürnberg. Much easier to pronounce after a visit with Mr. J. Daniels.
(4) Recreating 20th century Americans have bestowed two sets of nomenclature upon the area, the more staid USGS names: Perfection Lake, Tranquil Lake, etc. Did I say staid? I mean insipid. Bill and Peg Stark, Mountaineers members and frequent visitors to the area in the 1960s borrowed from Norse mythlogy, Brynhild Lake, Freya Lake, etc., for the upper lakes, and English mytho-history for the lower, Viviane, for example. IMHO much more evocative of the landscape. These names appear in Becky's guide.
(5) Does anyone know what "Verdammte Scheiße! Wo führt uns dieses Arschloch nun denn hin?" means? They kept saying this.
(6) Encountered two Brits up there. Great accents. Got them to say "The Larch," "The parrot's not dead, he's resting" and Oh, [expletive], it's Mr. Creosote" for me.
(7) Lindt, no less.
(8) OK, OK, Tom climbed it, I was basically short roped up that exposed slab, that little knob being just out reach for me.
(9) This footnote for rent. I could use the money about now.
(10) Saw a Mountaineers group ascending into the fog toward Dragontail. "When traveling, wear too many clothes, stand too close together and sweat a lot." Freedom of the Hills, 3rd ed., pg. 77ff.
(11) One hour down, two hours up from Colchuck. Can't imagine what this would be like with bulletproof ice and no crampons.
(12) Corpulent Tourists in Frighteningly Revealing Attire Days