Colchuck Lake

This is an older trip report, since I only have a few photos from last weekend. A month and a half ago, I camped at Colchuck Lake, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and, tantalizingly, on the edge of the Enchantment Lakes.

I went in on June 1st, to beat the permit season. Starting June 15 and ending October 15, you need a hard-to-get permit from USFS to camp here. Of the people I know who’ve stayed overnight either here, at Snow Lakes, or in the Enchantment Basins, the average wait has been three years. Since I’m not a very patient person, I decided to brave the cold rather than take my chances with the lottery.

The trail is very pretty; I did it for the first time last spring, and was surprised at how lush and green it was. Nearby Leavenworth feels like a desert, and many Icicle trails are semi-arid (bring lots of water), but Colchuck has dense forests and a lot of undergrowth, plus the occasional off-trail waterfall. Of course, this isn’t why people do the hike. Most people go on to the Upper Enchantment Lakes Basin, over Aasgard Pass, shown to the left on the photo below. I’ll post a trip report from the ‘Chants another day.

June 1 was a miserably cold night at Colchuck Lake. I enjoyed sunshine for most of the hike in and all evening, as I sat by the shore admiring the view. (The camps aren’t terribly obvious, they’re individual and small flat spots in the woods.) Clouds came in at some point after midnight, like a blanket in the sky, and things warmed up considerably. The trade-off was that I woke up to a rainy tent.

To make a long story short, this is a hike that should be on your to-do list, if you haven’t been here already.


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