Enchantments Fall Colors Multi-Day Hike

My Enchantments party kept shrinking until there were two of us: Dan and myself. We headed up Sunday, leaving a parking lot packed and parked cars running down the road. I basically carried too much stuff. My pack was at 45lbs which is twice what I usually carry. Part of me is proud of this: Not bad for a 50yo, but also I need more gear discipline. Many of my gear choices paid off since we had snow the second morning but it still was heavy load. I brought two camera bodies, 3 lenses and a tripod.  Didn’t end up using the tripod, but the three lenses were nice to have.  The Arcteryx Altra 75 does carry well.

A ranger was checking permits at the Stuart/Colchuck crossroads. Much appreciated and we thanked him for hanging out there being the gatekeeper.

The fall colors going up were absolutely gorgeous, and never stopped. Took a while to get up Aasgard but we reached the top with a bit of light left to find our first camp spot. Dan had mistakenly dropped our Sawyer filter down a stream chute so it was unfiltered water for the trip. I’ll get back to you on how that panned out although I’ve usually had no trouble drinking unfiltered water up there.

We found a spot around the first of the lakes and camped there. We moved the next day to something a bit more wind protected. Weather was cold and windy, with snow apparently on the way. We got the snow the next morning. I didn’t sleep well, both hearing the snow and dealing with a mouse in my tent. I thought one was trying to come in. Who could blame them? I had some seriously yummy treats in a warm dry enclosure. Turns out once he ran across my head I knew that he was trying to get out. Eventually I got that sorted.

Anyway woke up the next day with a light dusting of snow. Really beautiful landscape. Eventually it started to continue to snow for the rest of the morning and we decided to head down on Tuesday. Snow turned to rain on the pass, and continued all the way to the car and down to Leavenworth. I think it was a good decision. We shared lots of beta with various other hikers. Drove back to Seattle where my cat was very curious about my pack and its intriguing smells 🙂

Ok now some gear commentary. What I brought and thoughts on it…someone might find this useful.

Arcteryx Altra 75 Pack: Carries very well, very adjustable and comfortable. It’s so big you can get lured into bringing more stuff than you really need 🙂

Shires Tarptent Contrail: Very light, roomy and easy to set up. Tends to sag when loaded with snow and rain. Very dependent on its stakes which creates issues in soft powdery granite sand. Not much condensation when set up up facing into the breeze. I didn’t use a groundcloth this time and had no issues. Uses a hiking pole to set up. I didn’t bring poles but instead used a single 48″ zpacks carbon pole.

Western Mountaineering Versalite 10 Degree Bag: I sleep cold. I know this about myself and bring much more bag than most would. Part of this is a slower metabolism that doesn’t create as much heat in the bag as it used to. That being said, I was warm in this bag, wearing pants and a light coreloft top. My little Sea to Summit inflatable pillow and Thermarest NeoAir XTherm pad helped create a very snuggly sleeping situation.

Anker Power Port Solar Lite: I usually get a hair of a Verizon signal in the Enchantments so I bring my phone to wake up in the morning, capture candid photos and text missives of well being back home. The Anker did a great job of keeping the chargeables charged. Keep in mind that the cold is working against your batteries and often just keeping them inside the sleeping bag at night will preserve some charge.

Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry, Good to Go Dehydrated Meals: Yuck. Sorry I don’t know what to tell you. We carried an assortment of these up the hill and back down. One dinner of these was enough. One reason I love overnights is that I can bring a zip lock bag of my frozen homemade bolognese pasta sauce or meaty three bean chili and reheat.

Zipshot TR406 mini tripod. I have two monster Gitzo’s at home and they stay there when I’m headed into the Enchantments. I don’t use tripods much in the backcountry. I watch my shutter speeds and practice careful handheld technique to get sharp photos. That being said, to catch a timelapse, a small tripod helps. I like the 9oz Zipshot which basically has tent pole collapsing legs and a minimalist ball head. One secret to making this more stable that no one mentions is to spread the legs out wide enough to create some tension. That seems to help make it more solid.

Arcteryx Firebee Parka and Atom LT pants. Hiking up the hill, you are plenty warm. Its the time sitting around camp or waiting for sunrise that you need insulated layers. Like most NW natives, I have a whole closet of options. These two pieces however were essential to my warmth. I wore them constantly and was never cold, even in windchill gusts into the teens.

Endurox R4 and Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes. I like to think that I use every modern trick of nutritional chemistry to make the Enchantments a more pleasant hike. I mix Endurox into my water bottle as it does a great job of replenishing lost glycogen and helping with muscle damage and protein needs. Everyone has different thoughts on this kind of thing but Endurox makes me feel less sore the next day. Plus the banana flavor is yummy. Since I tend to sweat like a waterfall, eventually I’m going to flush out my electrolytes which leads to cramps. Putting some Endurolytes in my drink helps ward these off. A pinch of Sea Salt will do the same thing but I like the Mango flavor.

Ok that’s what I have….hope it helps

 

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Fremont Lookout Sunset Layers Photography

Ended up back at Fremont Lookout last night figuring that the Hawks game would keep traffic down a bit. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that judging from the Seahawks decorations on all the lifted trucks and so on, it would probably be a good time to be out hiking.

The sunset did look promising, with some wispy clouds in the skies. Parking lot was pretty much empty when we arrived at 7pm. Trail is very dry and dusty, and wildflowers are starting to line the path, but not enough to lure the selfie stick crowd off trail.

Beautiful night for hiking and photography…These are mostly Zeiss 50mm and 100-300mm shots.DSC04282-PanoDSC04256DSC04265-PanoDSC04302-PanoDSC04350DSC04387DSC04253

Spring Overnight Hike Along the Baker Chain Lakes Trail

I had noticed on WTA.org that the Chain Lakes Trail up around Artist’s Point had mostly melted out.  So I decided to go up there for an overnight and hopefully some nice light on Mount Baker.  My gear selection was Arcteryx M40 pack, Shires Tarptent Contrail and ZPacks 10 degree bag.  These choices turned out to be good, I was warm enough at night and the pack carries so well with about 25 lbs or so.  I have to mention that I really appreciated the Zep Peach air freshner that someone left in the bathroom at Artist’s Point.  Much appreciated as its a losing battle in the bathroom, but the Zep helped.

Iceberg lake wasnt quite totally melted out but still had a nice reflection.  I decided to scramble down the avalanche chute and try to find a spot along the lake.  I think it was definitely worth the trip.  www.mikereidphotography.com #backpacking #hiking

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…and now the timelapse I made at sunrise

Gorgeous Blanca Lake Hike in the Cascades

A few blowdowns including one massive log that required a little planning to get over. The snow shows up at the top of the switchbacks and gets deep around Virgin Lake which is still snowed over. Blanca lake itself is about 90% thawed and well worth the trip. I had hiked up with tent/sleeping bag/etc but I came back down around 5pm and there were still people hiking up in cotton/shorts/tennis shoes but who am I to judge 😉 Microspikes do help going both ways but the mud really stole the show on the way back down. http://www.mikereidphotography.com  @mikereidphotography @yourtake

Blanca Lake Washington Cascades

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Artist’s Point Sunrise Overnight

I had been meaning to hike up here for sunrise for quite some time.  By mid last week, however, I had exhausted my list of companions, so I went alone. Weather was supposed to be good;  Clouds clearing off and temps around 20 with winds gusting to 30mph.  I was also curious about some of my new winter gear and how it would perform.  So off I went to Heather Meadows parking lot.  No recent snowfall, and the snow on the ground was crunchy, so I went with my Sorels and no snowshoes.  My other gear choices:

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 tent – I knew I would need something freestanding but didn’t think I would need my Mountain Hardwear Trango Assault.
  • Zpacks 10 degree down bag and Thermarest Xlite Xtherm pad.
  • Arcteryx Naos 55 pack
  • Mountain Hardwear Phantom and Ghost Whisperer Jackets with Transition Windstopper underneath.
  • Arcteryx Windstopper shell pants with Windstopper tights underneath.
  • Delorme inReach satellite beacon
  • Sony a7r camera and Zeiss 21, 50 and 100-300 lenses with Gitzo 0540 tripod.

Climb to Artists Point was uneventful, except maybe wishing they would open the road up with so little snow.  I’ve always seen the WSDOT as being a flexible organization.  🙂

At the top, the wind came on strong.  I tried pitching my tent in two spots and it blew itself inside out.  I lashed it to a tree while I looked for a better location.  Scouting around, I noticed a group of tents near the parking lot which was under several feet of snow.  I went back to gather my stuff to join them.  It turns out that seeing me, the guys camped there set out to come see if I was ok.  We met in the middle. They helped me with my tent aka wind sail and we camped together against a bluff that blocked the wind sort of.  They had used a sled to bring up an ample supply of Coors which we dove into.

With me in it, my tent was bending 20 degrees or so in the wind, but I eventually fell asleep.  I was warm enough, figuring the wind chill at about 0 degrees.

I got up early and got some nice shots of Baker with alpenglow coming on at sunrise.  I went back and thanked my new compadres and packed up.  As I was heading down, scores of skiers were heading up.  The new day looked spectacular.DSC03286 DSC03311_stitchsmaller DSC03397

Visiting Colchuck Lake and Travelling Light

Visiting Colchuck Lake and Travelling Light

Facing a really busy July, it was time to get out a bit for a challenging overnight. My friend and I chose Colchuck for a nice outing. We had some new ultralight gear to try out. The trail is in great shape and snow free but not bug free. We found a great campsite near the boulder field and set up for the night. Encountered many other hikers and climbers. Impressed with the massive packs and loads others were carrying. A few borrowed our water filter system and others stopped to chat about conditions. Rained all night but sunny and 80s the next day. An amazing adventure. Sony a7r was a dream with the two lenses I brought: Zeiss 18mm and 50mm.  My tent was a Tarptents Contrail and my sleeping bag was a Mountain Hardwear Speed 32. The Contrail was especially impressive after a night of rain and winds.  It was still standing and dried quickly.  My Granite Gear Vapor Trail also did very well with its 25lb load and most of the time I was unaware of it on my back.

Shires Contrail