Last Friday my friend Carrie and I went for a full moon sunset hike. We started at the far NE corner of Mt. Rainier at the Sunrise parking lot of Mt. Rainier National Park, elevation 6200′. We then hiked about 3 miles gaining 1200′ elevation.
It wasn’t a difficult hike but we decided to carry 3 liters of water, a bottle of wine, our dinner, a JetBoil, fuel and then a bunch of camera equipment and then there was the workout I had done earlier, a circuit class and then 12.5 miles of hill climbing on a bike.
My legs were toast.
As we made our way to the Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout, it was more than obvious our mountain had shed its winter layer early and now looked like end of summer. The Emmons glacier, the largest on the mountain seen on the left of the photo, looked rather normal but it was the ice cap that is 300 ft. thick that was throwing a punch down the Willis Wall to the right. One of the park volunteers we stopped to chat with mentioned the rock and ice fall that had been happening all day.
That is an important piece.
Rainier is made of many glaciers. Some no longer exist. Enormous rocks the size of your neighborhood are what remain as a reminder to evidence of our changing world. Two observable areas no longer in existence, Paradise Ice Caves and the area just south of Forest Lake. In my life time lost ice and gained giant boulders with fresh evidence of not being a part of the landscape for long.
This one photo shows how these two extremes; extreme snowfall and extreme heat can create sudden mixed change that is stark and unrecognizable. Most of us PNW people are now calling the mountain naked so early in the summer season.
The Good News
Mt. Rainier is truly beautiful. The alpine meadows are beginning to reach their peak. The hills are visible and a wonderful place to experience. The starkness of the tundra and pumice. Many people from all over the world visit here for its meadows, frolicking wildlife and the fresh air and the forever changing landscape that can be experienced in a day.
We are lucky to have such a monument to nature.
My Take Away
The challenge is to take it all in. That can be a difficult task. Younger people seem to get it. Nature gives back more than it receives.
Our evening at Mt. Fremont Lookout let us experience just that. Take in what others take in. Don’t let the endless trail lock you into a way to do it fast or for time.
Being prepared comes in many shapes and forms. When you are outdoors all the time, you learn what it takes to be both comfortable and safe. Eventually you learn to do things better. This past weekend was one of those learning experiences.
What Led to Illness
Day 1~ We had just spent the day at the Crystal Lakes area of Mt. Rainier on the park boundary where it meets up with the PCT. The temperatures were climbing as we hiked over 6 miles and at least 3000′ of elevation gain. The lakes, just being melted out, were a welcome relief to our feet. We replenished our water at Upper Crystal Lakes using a pump filtration system.
Day 2~ Heading over to Mowich Lake at the NW boundary of Rainier, we set-up our camp and decided on a lovely evening hike to have dinner. Again, the lake was a fun spot to dip our feet, take in some evening stretches and a few fun Pilate moves and Yoga. We filtered more water at lovely Eunice Lake before heading out for a spectacular sunset using a gravity filtration system and then boiled water before using it to soak our dehydrated meals.
Day 3~ Overnight things were a bit windy. As I shook off my morning, thinking that my sleepiness had more to do with a flapping tent than illness. As we headed to Spray Park we decided to have lunch at a small tarn. Again, a great place to soak our feet. We had a few hard boiled eggs that were left in ice overnight in the bear locker. Also filtered water using a pump system opting for a small creek rather than the tarn that had some sediment floating on the water.
After lunch, it was truly a struggle for me to get back to camp. I felt like I was pushing myself and not really fully enjoying all that surrounded me. I hardly spoke and I felt I was turning inward and shutting down mentally.
We arrived home some time around 3 pm, said our goodbyes, holding back my internal cranky mode as it was in full tilt by then. My husband and I had had chicken skewers and salad for dinner.
The next day still feeling unsettled, with no energy I went to bed early only to be shook awake by horrible stomach cramps.
FoodPoisoning or Drinking Water?
I spent the next 6 hours vomiting with diarrhea. At some point it was so uncontrollable and unstoppable. My husband contemplated taking me to the hospital but I couldn’t get up off the bathroom floor long enough before I had to rid my body both ends. I couldn’t crawl or walk.
After that night, I had little to eat for 3 days. I drank only soda water with ice, later some pudding and jello.
Yesterday I went to the doctor after finally being able to keep fluids down and feeling somewhat recovered. I honestly was looking for answers more than anything. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that myself or my friends ate or that we all drank or shared. I wanted to know if I needed further tests if it could be something else. She assured me if I was getting better to continue to rest and drink plenty of water. She thought it was probably tied to the egg.
Recovery Day 5and Research
Today I feel better but I am still unsure about my filtration system. I’ve researched cleaning and bleaching before storage and I feel I may have gotten a little sloppy with the care but I’ve hiked for 14 days in succession before with having no ill effects and not bleaching or drying. Knowing I am just filtering bacteria is one thing and I do understand to fully be safe the use of a viral treatment such tablets or a Steripen is optimal.
This leads up to the egg. Research says eggs do not last at room temperature past two hours.
I am super excited for the launch of my entire season on podcast titled “A Year of Wonderland”. It is full of wonder and adventure set in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest on Mt. Rainier in Washington State.
You will enjoy the history, Native American lore and descriptions of my great-great uncle who came to Washington in 1843 when it was part of the Oregon Territory as I tell the story of my backpacking journey around our nations fifth nation park, Mt. Rainier National Park.
Please consider supporting my writing and podcast.
14 Days Around Mt. Rainier wasn’t an easy walk in the park. It included 150 miles at elevations between 2800′ to 6200′. When I added up the elevation gain and loss on my Garmin, it was 60,000′ up and down steep trails carrying a backpack that weighed any where from 32 pounds base weight to 38 pounds with food and water.
Prior to the leaving in August, I was training on average of six days a week for a triathlon I was was planning to participate in, in September. I worked at weight training in a high intensity interval class plus either, ran, walked with a backpack of 20 pound kitty litter or road my bike. On additional days I was off I would swim at least a mile.
Regardless, still after all the training, each night we made it into to camp, I felt like I was crawling there.
Was there something I missed in my training, nutrition or equipment selection?
Giving myself a little more credit where credit was due, I compared myself to the many younger people who do not finish and leave early off the trail due to a variety of reasons. You cannot control the weather but you can control your physical preparedness and being physically unprepared is probably the number one reason hikers leave the trail. The second being rain or adverse weather conditions.
Putting physical preparedness aside, for me it was more of a personal, emotional and mental challenge that started my ability to live in the moment and relax with all that was around me.
A Native American Tells His Story “Behold This Day”
by Black Elk Hehaka Sapa, Oglala Sioux, Lakota
Black Elk, 1863-1950, a holy man of Oglala Sioux, told the story of his life and his vision to the poet John G. Neihardt in 1931. He received the great vision by which he steered his life at the age of nine.
And a Voice said: “All over the universe they have finished a day of happiness.” And looking down I saw that the whole wide circle of the day was beautiful and green, with all fruits growing and all things kind and happy.
Then a Voice said: “Behold this day, for it is yours to make. Now you shall stand upon the center of the earth to see, for there they are taking you.”
I was still on my bay horse, and once more I felt the riders of the west, the north, the east the south, behind me in formation, as before, and we were going east. I looked ahead and saw the mountains there with rocks and forests on them, and from the mountains flashed all colors upward to the heavens. Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made on circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.
Live Your Life and Behold Each Day of Your Journey
1.If You Lack Confidence and Walk in Fear, Make a Plan
As I thought about using Nathan Olney as my first chapter, what gives me confidence is to have a plan and choreograph my moves. I used a table and on each day I had across each column, distance, elevation gain/loss, elevation of camp and miles. I memorized my map, studied each camp, planned each meal in every column and row. If this is what it takes to lessen some fear, do it. Otherwise you are the very adventuresome type who craves living on the edge.
2. When You are Faced with Humbling Challenges, The Opportunity You are Presented is to Think Things Though.
The option I chose most often was to break things in to manageable chunks. Most important, do not be in a hurry. Most of the time we arrived at camp at dinner time or later.
3. Gritis The Drive that Conquers Pain.
Beauty can be both great and small. Beauty always follows Pain, but you must keep your mind open, have enough trust and look for it. Having a Growth Mindset that you can do hard things is essential to staying with your plan and having daily reflection and practice that allows for you to seek positives in your life are essential to enjoying your journey when you need a rally.
4. Your TribeShould Be Your Allies
If you are taking others along in your journey, go for a test run. Set limits on discussion if there are sensitive topics. Nothing is worse than to have a conversation hijacked.
5. Maturity and Wisdom Matters.
Use your experiences in life to apply to solving problems.
6. Decision Making is a Combined Effort
Over and over, we discussed the possibilities and weighed outcomes over dinner each night. We checked in with each other in the morning to make sure we were still good with the plan or if something came up as we slept on it. A good night’s sleep in a cozy tent of fresh air can inspire revelations.
7. If You Are Always Hungry, Then you Must Learn to Delay Gratification
I’ve done a lot of reading on this topic. Being a retired teacher there is an abundance of research around children that can delay gratification are the most successful in life. Forage for food as much as you can, drink an abundance of water otherwise you’ll be miserable trying to pack treats and trail mix 150 miles.
8. Do not succumb to Competition. Through EmpowermentWe can Grow
Our capitalistic world has it backwards and there is nothing that shows this more completely than being on the trail together. This is your makeshift family and you all look out for each other. Any other way is a waste of energy and a distraction from what you should be focused on.
9. Experiences are what You Bring to the Table
Every person has something to offer in life no matter how young or old, little experience or well seasoned, they may have.
10. Reflection with Grace is Your Right Spot to Be.
The stories and use of Raven the trickster in Native American lore is a creature that is magical. It often transforms itself into another natural object or life form, even human. It cannot be trusted to always do the right thing and is often portrayed as an antagonist or protagonist. He keeps secrets and focuses on his own self preservation but can also be a hero.
The Tlingit story, “Raven, The River Maker”
At first, the animals had no fresh water, no water at all to drink. The water on earth was filled with salt, and the animals were thirsty. Raven was thirsty too.
With feathers white as clouds, Raven floated above earth searching for water to drink.
Just like a cloud, Raven could move about wherever he pleased, unnoticed by anyone.
Even Wolf did not see Raven as he passed over his tiny island. But Raven saw Wolf.
Raven saw Wolf fill buckets of fresh water from his well.
Raven saw Wolf carry buckets of fresh water to his house. Raven saw that all the fresh water on earth belonged to Wolf. So this was why the other animals had no fresh water no water at all to drink? Raven flew down.
This is just what Raven wanted him to do.
Soon it was dark. When Wolf fell asleep, Raven tiptoed over to the buckets of fresh water.
How thirsty he was!
Raven drank until all the buckets were empty.
Raven drank up all the fresh water in the world.
Wolf woke up. He saw that his buckets were empty. He saw Raven fly up the smoke hole to escape.
But, Raven, fat and swollen, full of water, got stuck!
Wolf lit a fire of green wood. Thick smoke quickly rose up and darkened Raven’s feathers. Now Raven was black like the night of no moon.
When Raven escaped, drops of water dripped off his feathers as he soared high above land. Each drop of water became a river. Each river split into other rivers and small streams.
Now, thanks to Raven, the thirsty animals all over earth at last have fresh water to drink.
Trust and Serving Others
When you learn you can trust others, and can be resourceful and smart, life goes a lot easier for everyone. We are lucky as humans we can problem solve, think through various scenarios and come to consensus as we work together.
Just this past weekend, I was volunteering for our local fire lookout organization, Snoqualmie Fire Lookout Association and my continual haunt was back. I had a hard time working as a team and wanted to prove myself but it is a newer tribe and a mixed group of female and male, across age groups. I guess I will always feel like I need to prove myself even though I can still pick up 40 pound rocks, move logs and dig out the sides of trails to make them wider. It is the kind of work I like doing still today at 63.
Once you know your tribe and your tribe knows you, it is easier to assume or delegate responsibility. Most importantly, you also build trust and collaborate more freely understanding each others talents and safety decisions they make.
The Wolf and The Raven can work together.
Crossing Kautz CreekOne Month Prior
Earlier in the summer, prior to the 14 days on the Wonderland, Sandy and I had gone on a scouting trip from Longmire up to this exact location at Kautz Creek Video Here.
Crossing Pyramid Creek and Kautz Creek was one of the biggest challenges we would have, I believed. Raven had done his work, the creeks had spilled over its banks multiple times this year and the footbridge was tossed over and sideways. Due to COVID and reduction of staff at the park, it was doubtful it would be able to be repaired. I realized I needed to be Raven in the clouds and have my eyes on this area, take a close look at options and the lay of the terrain.
As you leave Longmire you walk east on the Wonderland and then turn and cross the Paradise Road to go clockwise on the Wonderland. Heading up to Pyramid Creek Backcountry Camp the trail cuts steeply across a former washed out area where the bank has not grown back. The trail then skips across a younger alder grove and the trail is mostly sand here where you can watch for boot prints as they make their way around smaller and then larger and larger boulders.
As you continue to cross the delta of multiple fingers that make up Pyramid and Kautz Creek, the main creeks both become bolder hopping or if you grow tired of that, you just precariously walk across through the water. If early enough in the day the river will not be too high and difficult to balance our packs across.
Sandy and I lay out several options this day and we practice with our packs and poles, balancing, hopping on this gorgeous beautiful day.
We have lunch then head back home.
August 2020 AnAbundance of WaterCrossing Kautz Creek
In the heat of August there is an abundance of water on Rainier. The heat swells the rivers and creeks even more and we plan to leave camp early from Devil’s Dream and give ourselves plenty of time in order to cross the Pyramid area before noon.
Sandy’s sandals and taped feet and toes seem to be holding up fairly well for flat ground but in my mind as we walk the trail, I realize we are going to have to cross boulders that are round and fat and not exactly the best shape for a pair of sandals and tape in water with a backpack that weighs about 20 pounds by now. We discuss our options to find the best areas up and down the river’s bank.
As we walk and get closer, we notice a man standing on top of some very large boulders peering off in the direction down river. I holler over to him and we make our way over to talk to him. He says he is lost on which direction to go up the river bank or down, he is not sure where exactly he is. I think, he is Raven who has changed into a man.
We assure him that we had just been out to the area a month ago and could spot the cliffside where the trail traverses down on the other side as it comes out of the woods. At the point where he was standing we convinced each other the crossing would be down river , so we continue down a distance until the trail that was cut in the hillside appears on the other side. Now we just have to get across.
At this point in the day the river has risen noticeably. The farther down river we go the swifter the current. It is so swift we cannot have a conversation with each other without stopping and standing within a foot of each other.
It was obvious we would need to boulder hop, toss our backpacks across and then ford. Luckily, Sandy and I do a lot of box jumping at our gym because we are both not the longest legged ladies and our hops end up being more like powerful frog hops across the river at the swiftest part.
Next, we cross several other small ones and then another larger one where there are several fingers converging with each other into more rapids with no boulders.
As we walk down the middle of the delta we notice the grove of alders and on the other side the trail.
With feet completely soaked, our nerves completely rattled, Sandy’s sandals falling to pieces, we put our trekking poles away and begin to bend the small alders to use and trekking poles to guide us across like railings on a bridge and catapult our way across the raging water.
I never was so glad to finally be through an area in my life and if this would have been where we started, I probably would have given up on our first day.
As we make our way across, the man is gone. Raven makes water for the animals and can also be a hero as we were able to gather our thoughts and cross safely.
We arrived at Longmire just shortly after lunch, did the backpack boogie and high tailed it over to meet up with our friends from Bend and burger and fries thanks to our trickster friend.
Earlier this year I finally made it to Indian Henry’s (Soo-Too-Lick) burial site.
I never realized Indian Henry had been near me where and when I lived in Eatonville all along. He wasn’t that hard to to find either. A 4-H Club had built his monument, a few Eagle Scouts later refurbished and cleaned up his grave, and years later here he lays south of Eatonville along the Nisqually area on the side of the Mashel Prairie Road. There is a small shaker church cemetery where he and only a few others rest.
If you remember from one of my episodes back, Indian Henry had been one of the three only Indian guides who was immortalized by areas of Mt. Rainier being named after them and he probably never fully understood at the time how one person could have such a big impact.
Indian Henry came to Western Washington in the 1850s, banished from the village of Simcoe, where my great great uncle was an Indian Sub Agent on the Yakama Indian Reservation at Ft. Simcoe for killing a medicine man. Today I am unsure if their paths had crossed.
Born Soo-Too-Lick in 1825, historians aren’t sure of his tribal origin. He is believed to be of Nisqually, Cowlitz or Klickitat origin. He eventually settled on the Mashel Prairie near present-day Eatonville in 1864 among other Native Americans primarily of Nisqually and Klickitat descent.
According to Edmond Meany, when Henry Winsor, a mail carrier, met Soo-Too-Lick he asked him his name. It was unpronounceable to Winsor prompting him to joke, “that’s no name-your name is Indian Henry,” offering Soo-Too-Lick his “Boston” name. The name stuck. Indian Henry adapted well to this name as he did with many of the customs of the “Boston” settlers. He was equally as comfortable with his Native customs and had little problems living within both of these “worlds.”
Indian Henry wore western style clothing and took up farming on the Mashel Prairie. He raised horses and cows as well as cultivated grains and vegetables. He was fluent in English and several Indian languages. He converted to Christianity. He was hospitable to both natives and non-natives, establishing many friendships and companionships. Many folks who headed to Mount Rainier would stop and stay at Henry’s homestead for a night, purchase supplies from him and use his guide services.
Indian Henry became known as an excellent woodsman and guide. He led several climbing parties to Mount Rainier, but never summited the mountain. Like most area Native Americans, he held the mountain as a sacred place and would not venture onto its glaciers believing to do so would bring bad luck. Some of the notables Henry guided included James Longmire, George Bayley, Philemon Van Trump, and A.C. Ewing. In 1888, Henry guided John Muir and his party to Mount Rainier. Fay Fuller spent the evening at Indian Henry’s place on her way to the mountain for her historical ascent.
Indian Henry Had Three Wives
Indian Henry had three wives as was customary of his people at the time. One story goes that Henry was brought before Judge James Wickersham in Tacoma to explain his marriage to these women. The judge told him that he would have to give up two of his wives. He kept his first wife which he ended up having five children with including a son he named Wickersham Soo-Too-Lick. Despite the conflict of having to let go of two of his wives, he apparently didn’t harbor any ill will for the judge, naming a son after him. Henry respected that Wickersham had an understanding of native cultures. Henry’s other two wives remained nearby working for him.
Indian Henry became fairly well off. It was believed by many of the area settlers that Henry had a gold mine somewhere on Mount Rainier. He always paid for his supplies at the local mercantile with gold nuggets. Some area settlers looked for this mine around Henry’s favorite hunting grounds but to no avail. Aside from the gold, Henry made a decent living by providing travelers lodging and supplies at his farm.
Despite raising cattle and cultivating crops, Indian Henry often left his farm for periods of time to hunt and gather food for the winter; keeping within his native routines. One of his favorite spots for hunting mountain goats is a beautiful alpine meadow area splotched with sparkling tarns-a beloved place by hikers today known as Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.
Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground
Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground was one of the first hikes I took my 3 boys on.
Coming up from Kautz Creek, my then husband took our 8 year old twin boys and 6 year son on our first attempt. We started our adventure early in the day but soon the steep hill and large steps were too much for them. We ended up having lunch, treats, snacks, cookies, and just having fun playing in the forest that day.
Years later, my second attempt from Longmire was with my friend Diane. I believe it was around 90 degrees that day. We ran out of water, the bugs ate us alive, and because of the fact there was no way to treat water or filter water on me that day, I ended up jumping into snow banked Mirror Lake to cool down. If I wouldn’t have, I probably would have become so dehydrated, I wouldn’t have made it back the 17 mile round trip.
After that experience, we decided to only go in early or late summer and not during the heat. Diane and I would spend many years hiking in this area between the Nisqually entrance to Paradise and Camp Muir. It was my good fortune to have a friend like her during a difficult and challenging time of my personal life after becoming a newly divorced 40 year old with three teenage boys.
The following is a prelude to Video Episode 7 Wildflowers of Berkeley Park. You can click here to play video or read and watch at the end.
Video Synopsis: Now on the Northern Loop Trail, Episode 7 takes us through Berkeley Park wildflowers and a lovely creek that meanders parallel and gives us perfect background music to a relaxing and lovely day. Runtime 6:55
Headed for the Northern Loop Trail, we leave Sunrise Camp directly to the cache to resupply for the next 3 nights and 4 days. It is already getting warm with the extra weight but most of Berkeley Park is downhill.
We meet several groups of people enjoying the brilliant wildflower display that makes this hike so delightful in August. Like Summerland, a hill that blooms from the bottom up most of the month of August. As if planned for us our coming, the entire hill was in bloom.
I think about how each lovely arm on the north side has been nothing short of a showcase. To the far northeast of Sunrise the seven lakes glisten next to path below the Sourdough Ridge an intense blue. Forest Lake with a peek into a past glacier with enormous rocks chiseled and carved with water and freezing temperatures, the last remainder of time past. Then down the Huckleberry Creek area, a lovely jade green forest and spa camp. Now the Berkeley Park trail, showing off every color it can in a buzzing fury of insects.
We aren’t at Berkeley Camp long when a couple a long way from home arrive at camp. Berkeley Camp is a small camp like a bed and breakfast and you must walk by other sites to either go to the pit toilet or to filter water in the creek, making it impossible to avoid the other campsite.
While hanging my food at the bear pole, we exchange greetings and have a short one-sided exchange about plans. I never say too much that wouldn’t make me feel safe as a female in woods. The couple proceeds to tell me about all their forthcoming accomplishments, together they are hiking The Northern Loop, then the man was going to run around the mountain by himself supported by a commercial group he had paid that would help him. There is nothing humbling in this exchange. That means, a commercial company helps him finish, feeds him, sets up his tent, gives him encouragement, praise, food, shelter, and whatever else it takes to allow him bragging rights.
We pick a site, the one with the stump kitchen, that gives us a little forest cooking table and logs to sit on and carry on with our routine of filtering water, organizing the insides of tents, and decide to have an early evening since tomorrow is a long day.
Running the Wonderland
First, I want to say I am a runner. My runs have been at the most half marathons and 5ks. I run all winter and early spring to train for hiking season.
The last few years however, there have become more and more of supported groups of ultra runners on the Wonderland Trail. Most backpackers have something to say about them in forums on the internet. At times it seems they do not get along with one another.
While I am all about creating access to the wilderness and believe trails are for everyone. I also believe trail runners, like hikers and backpackers do cause an impact to the environment and need to adhere to trail etiquette. Since trail runners can finish so quickly with assistance, they also need a way to marshal their numbers with a permit system.
There are truly only a few really stellar endurance athletes that can run The Wonderland Trail without someone by their side or close by. My advice is if you cannot run over 100 miles at sea level do not attempt this, use it as a training ground in order to tromp the vegetation, scare the critters and ask backpackers to step off the trail or if they have an aspirin or ice pack.
The fact that runners can do this quickly means they don’t need a permit to be there. Companies that get paid good money, get away with sending literally hundreds of people to the trails.
It goes without saying , furthermore we will have nothing left of the fragile alpine meadows with this kind of attack by humans.
Trail runners also have a long way to go as far as etiquette.
On more than a few occasions during our time up a hill with heavy backpacks, we were forced off to the side. One young lady with nothing but her shorts and tank top, telling us how much she loved the wildflowers as she made her way down the narrow path through the meadow. My thought was if you have two men on the sides of you, assisting you, you do not respect the wildflowers.
Another time I was approached from behind and elbowed to make room and move. The excuse came later after the two runners could finish and get their breath.
Then there is the occasional runner who doesn’t even step off trail and stop, they just run down the meadow, or up the meadow, avoiding the trail all together.
I truly hope they do stop to look at the scenery. I truly hope they stop to appreciate the beauty of a wildflower and mostly I truly hope they advocate to protect it now that they’ve seen it.
Trail runners need to start a permit system and adhere to a code of environmental ethics and we must be respectful of one another, above all respectful of the environment that has no voice.
Known as one of the most pristine areas in Washington State, The Enchantments are conveniently tucked in the cascade range near the touristy Bavarian town of Leavenworth. I was lucky enough to be invited with a friend who has applied and was drawn through the lottery system through the USFS with applications beginning in February for the coming season.
The Enchantments have five zones when you apply. It is written, last year 2019, over 18,000 people applied for The Core permit with only 350 or so permits approved. My friend had applied for Eightmile / Caroline Lake, set on the far west side with only 300 permits applied for with most all approved.
3 Days of Enchantments
Destination: Eightmile Lake 3.3 miles/1,300 elevation gain
Our first day was carrying our packs and trekking to set-up camp. We parked at the trailhead and set off around 11 am. It was already in the 80’s and mostly exposed. The water from the last of spring run off was plentiful along the way.
Arriving around 3 pm we had enough daylight to set up our tents, hang our cache away from the critters and have a swim in Eightmile. Dangling on the line, the wind was cool and comforting and dried our dusty clothes from the day.
That evening, I quickly learned my appetite was 1/2 of a Mountain House so for my next trip I will need to divide the package into two servings so there isn’t so much trash carried out.
My cozy little tent rippled in the wind during the evening as well as a few little pitter patters of raindrops fell at night.
Destination: Caroline Lake 4.18 miles/ 2,000 elevation gain (8.5 miles round trip)
My friend Candace and me got up early to a beautiful blue sky. We decided quickly to pack our bags for the day and headed out to Caroline Lake, an additional 2,000 ft elevation gain to 6,200 ft.
Caroline Lake involves backtracking to Little Eightmile and taking a trail with signage that says Trout Cr. Following Trout Creek, you start uphill.
The Enchantment mountains of the Stuart range appeared to grow into the background as we continued to climb. It was hard not to just stop and stare at the beauty as we took our time to catch our breath.
The wildflowers were beautiful against the burn-out of pine trees as their little heads waved in the strong wind. Due to a recent fire, the soils were rich and fertile and the amount of wildflowers was more than I have ever seen in my lifetime and all at once up a 2,000 foot hillside. I took a lot of video with my GoPro this day because of the wide-angle lens, it was the right choice to take along. VIDEO LINK
We returned around 3 pm so the hike to Caroline Lake was a full day for us. Candace’s daughter was starting to get a bit concerned so make sure you let your party know it is so breathtaking you will want to take your time getting there.
We both felt so complete that this trip and portion of the zones that is most often overlooked, could just very well be just a well hidden secret as we had the hill almost completely to ourselves this day.
This night was still and calm, as we battened down the hatches, donned our repellent and bug nets and started in for the fight of our lives against hoards of mosquitos eager to get their fair share of any bit of bare skin their could find.
We finally retreated to our own tents and just hunkered down for an early evening.
Morning at Eightmile Lake
This was an amazing morning. We got up before anyone else at camp. I had my coffee and little bit to eat and we headed to the lakeshore for some reflection photos. I also shot some video of the lake which is nestled between two steep mountains.
If you are thinking about going to Eightmile Lake and The Enchantments, don’t miss this lovely section. You can view my full video here: FULL VIDEO LINK
Authors Note: Upon returning to my car, I discovered it had been broken into. LEAVE NOTHING OF VALUE in your car. Thieves know of every hiding place in your vehicle. They even knew about the secret hiding spot under my tailgate of my Jeep and the place where the carpet can easily be lifted to hide valuables. If you can leave your vehicle unlocked that is my suggestion. Luckily, the only valuable I had left was a few lug nuts and my registration and garage door opener. I made it out quick enough to call the neighbors and my husband also quickly changed our codes. Trailhead thefts are very common so remember, leave no trace and plan to leave valuables home.
I don’t know about you but, just about everyone I hike with has a trail name.
One year we decided to go with names from the American Gladiators. For those of you too young to know about this TV show. You can get up to speed on Wikipedia.
American Gladiators aired from September 1989 to May 1996. It matched gladiators against one another and other amateur athletes.
Our house went full-tilt testosterone when all my boys got a bit over-excited about watching them duel it out.
With my kids hands all over each other, I learned hearing the theme song, evoked the motion in the room to increase. In this way I know there has to be a similar parallel to a trail names.
My boss trail name became Turbo at that time with my friends, Blaze, Lace, and Red still owning their names like a boss as I write.
Recently, I decided Turbo needed a bit of a boost and thought Xena Warrior Princess was more fitting for me.
Xena has stuck for awhile.
I’ve always thought she was better at just simply being strong and beautiful then could muster up hidden strength when necessary from the gods. I’d kind of forgotten about her.
This week I decided Xena needed to be called up again. I always work out better when I have this mindful and playful attitude about kicking ass. To prove my point Xena did some serious ass kicking this past week.
Double workouts in a day. Bike rides, long runs, charging hill sprints and backpacks loaded down with 20 pounds of cat litter on neighborhood hill hikes.
I was on fire!
Because I frequently hike around the neighborhood with a 20 pound bag of cat litter stuffed inside, at some point I was jokingly saying each time, ” I am taking my cat litter on a walk.”
Since we’ve been up-close and personal, like my new best friend this past month, I decided on a name for my backpack. It’s better than taking your cat litter on a walk.
That’s where Jonny Cache was created. Jonny Cat to Jonny Cache.