Enchantments

 Enjoying the first of many views to come, at Colchuck Lake. Photo by Ashley Gateless, aka #tinycrusher

Enjoying the first of many views to come, at Colchuck Lake. Photo by Ashley Gateless, aka #tinycrusher

I first saw the Enchantments back in my Seattle Running Company days when we took an annual pilgrimage each fall during larch season. Two of those trips had us on top of Asgaard pass in whiteout conditions with no view. It wasn’t until I ran the route several years later in August that I actually saw the peaks and lakes, albeit with a zillion other people with the same idea.

Last year I met a friend to run it, but in all our gabbing we missed the trail turn to Colchuck lake (oops) and due to time constraints, didn’t have the time to correct our mistake. We adjusted plans and found a stunning unnamed lake west of Stuart Lake, but I’ve been hankering to get out there again, especially before the height of summer.

Given my bump, I knew I would have to play it by ear as to whether I’d be able to do such a long adventure. Some good friends recently bought a place in Leavenworth and we had a free weekend, so we took the opportunity to head down there. Sam ran on Saturday, and I had Sunday. I have run quite a bit in the last several weeks, so I quickly gathered a couple of friends and at six am we were on our way up the trail to Colchuck. I always forget how stout the climb up Asgaard is, but it’s so beautiful that I don’t mind it. We were shaded for the whole climb and were glad to have sun when we crested the pass. After a quick break for snacks and view gawking, we began our gradual descent through the basin. I’m not one for hyperbole, but the Enchantment basin is pretty much the most spectacular place on the planet. There was still some snow, making the lakes even more blue than normal; the contrast of the white to the sky, rock, and trees, was incredible.

 Um, yeah. Photo by Ashley or Laura. (sorry)

Um, yeah. Photo by Ashley or Laura. (sorry)

In my current state, I’m subconsciously more cautious about downhills, which is unfortunate since I love them so much, but of course is fine, and if I can separate myself from not going as fast as I want, it's wild to experience how ingrained preservation of our genes is in us.  I moseyed down the trail, knowing Ashley and Laura were happily traipsing around the high country on a side trip to Prusik pass. We reconvened at Snow Lake where the final, never ending descent passed slightly faster as I tried keeping up with them, or at least not have them wait too long for me. I took an opportunity to play my favorite mind games as I desended: pretending that running downhill is what I have to do for the rest of my life so I might as well get used to it; pick a time it would me to finish that I would definitely beat; and finally, counting switchbacks. As I ended the last one, I looked up to see Ashley and Laura heading to the creek with my bag. I went straight there, swapped my shoes for flops, and went in. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day in the mountains with badass ladies.

I went into this run recognizing the very real possibility that it could be my last hurrah pre-baby. All day I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt, but in the days since, I still feel a little wiped, and think it's safe to say that I'm done with long runs until after the little one joins us in the world. I'm all for empowerment during pregnancy, but I also don't want to do anything stupid so, for me, for now, shorter forays seem like the right call. Luckily I just bought an inflatable stand up paddle board, so I can cruise around mountain lakes and enjoy doing something new.

A couple notes about clothing:  I was really glad to have my Outdoor Research Tantrum Jacket. There’s really no reason not to carry something like this, and the weight was perfect for the little bit of wind at the top of the pass, over my beloved OR echo tee. The jacket is breathable enough to never feel sticky or hot, but also gave enough protection to feel that even if we'd encountered worse weather, I would have been fine. It’s also a little stretchy, so it still fit (bonus). I had it in my pack, but it comes with a cool little stretchy belt that stows in the back pocket, so you can stuff it into said pocket and put it around your waist. For shoes, after a bit of hemming and hawing, I opted for the La Sportiva Akasha over my absolute favorite shoe of all time, the Helios, because I thought I might want a little more cushion. Sportiva has the most bomber tread and outsole material of any shoe company I’ve ever worn, and for all the scree and talus, the Akasha was perfect. You can find them at Seven Hills and Ascent Outdoors in Seattle, or Goat's Beard in Mazama.