Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Enchantments

Friday we set out for the enchantment lakes area, which is kind of a big deal out here. You need a special permit to be able to camp in this area, which is available every morning by lottery, so it’s not easy to get a permit to camp at this amazing site. This is done this way by the forest service because there are so many people that want to camp there, and being the remote area it is, they need to regulate how many people are allowed to camp there to stop anymore damage from occurring to the environment there just from the presence of people and the waste left behind.

View of Colchuck lake from up the pass

The first day we hiked to Colchuck lake, which is the bluest water ive ever seen. It’s almost neon blue, it doesn’t look real. Me, Blake and Ashley saw this really big cube shaped rock across the lake, and knew immediately we had to jump off of it into the water, which im not afraid to admit, was a bit intimidating. I am guessing the rock was about 18-20ft high, and the water was far from warm. I jumped twice, and you get enough time in the air to get that weird feeling like your stomach just hit your throat while you are falling (very fun!).

Saturday we went up Asgard pass (aka “Assblaster” Pass, aka “Are you out of your mind? Im supposed to hike up that?” Pass). Asgard pass was probably one of the most challenging (mentally and physically) things ive ever done. The pass is 2000 feet high over around ¾ of a mile long, so that equals out to be a steep as hell climb. We had to build rock cairns up the entire thing. There isn’t a very defined trail, so we build these very distinguishable piles of rocks to kind of guide people up the best way to go, that way they can look ahead to see the next cairn and are able to plan their route up. What makes the pass difficult, other than the steepness, is that the entire thing is covered in boulders (big and small) and gravel/skree. This makes climbing up very scary because every other step you take you feel like you’re about to fall and become a bloody twisted mess. (Doing this wouldn’t be nearly as bad I didn’t have 45lb pack on that makes balancing a little on the tricky side) We worked on the pass for around 9 hours, then made our way up to the upper Enchantment lakes area, which is probably the most stunning scenery ive ever seen. Now, one of the interesting things about the Enchantments would be the goats… They are everywhere, and im not exaggerating. Apparently goats like salt, and have figured out that people provide a very nice supply of it for them (that would be through our urine, ug). The goats aren’t too patient about getting to the pee either. When you go to the bathroom, the goats follow you, so you are standing there trying to pee, with 5 goats within about, oh, 3 feet of you ready to pounce as soon as you pee (sometimes they don’t even want to wait for you to finish going to the bathroom, which can get a little freaky when they start fighting to get to the pee first with the other goats while you are trying to finish your business….) We camped at the top of the pass a little way into the Enchantments, where we promptly froze our asses off.

Asgard pass

Hi,we are goats and we will follow you around until you pee!

Sunday we finished building caryns and then went up a hike to Little Anna Purna. The hike up this peak wasn’t too bad, steep, but fun. Once you get to the top, you look over the other side, and there is a 2000 foot drop strait down, which was pretty freaking scary to stand on the edge of, which I did of course. Then came the fun part, getting down! There was a snow field that went almost the entire way down the side of Little Annapurna, so we decided to glissade down. Glissading is pretty much skiing down the mountain on your feet and breakneck speeds, which is quite fun and a little scary as well. Sunday night was so windy it was like the goddamn blair witch was outside shaking my tent all night. Luckily I had ear plugs so I could get some sleep with the howling wind trying to tear my tent out of the ground.

Standing on the top of little Annapurna with a 2000ft drop right behind my feet

Monday was the hike out, which meant we had to go down Asgard pass, quite a different hike than coming up. Going up the pass was very exhausting, but coming down was just plain scary. At least coming up you feel like you are in control for most of the time. Descending you are climbing down all this loose rock and boulders with this heavy as hell pack on, and every step feels like it will be your last and will send you tumbling down the mountain. Well, we all made it down, although most of us completely exhausted with our legs shaking from the hike (you use a lot of muscles not normally used when you are moving down a steep trail like that and jumping from boulder to boulder so it tires your legs our very quickly). I couldn’t believe how gross all of us were after only 4 days out working in the wilderness; I don’t even want to think about how bad we will stink after our upcoming 10 day trip…..


Amanda said...

Officially caught up on your blog. Now you can like me again.

The goat story/photo caption made me laugh out loud. And your photos are all amazing and make me jealous. You are lucky!

Anonymous said...

I too had a lol moment when reading about the goats (and seeing the pic and reading the caption).

Occasionally I have dreams that I am trying to climb up an extremely steep hill, and it just feels like I'm going to slide down forever, or fall into a bottomless abyss, every time I try to make a move. I have a feeling tonight I'm going to have one of those dreams.