Take exit 85 for State Hwy 970 N/State Hwy 903 N toward Wenatchee, go .3 miles.
Turn left at Sunset Hwy (signs for WA-970 E/WA-903 E/Cle Elum/Wenatchee), and go .4 miles.
Turn right at WA-970, go .2 miles.
Slight right to stay on WA-970, go another 9.7 miles
Slight right at WA-97, go 1.3 miles.
Continue on US-97, for 33.9 miles.
Turn left at US-2, go 5.6 miles. This will take you into, and through the town of Leavenworth.
Turn left at Icicle Rd, on the outskirts of town. Go another 4 miles.
Turn left into the parking lot. This is the trailhead for trail #1553, the Snow Creek Trail, which leads you up to Snow lakes, and beyond, into the Enchantments.
Maps: The Alpine Lakes Protection Society puts out a great waterproof map, of the entire Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. Check out their website at http://www.alpinelakes.org/. For higher resolution, try Topo maps, or print out a 1:24,000 scale map at one of the Kiosks at REI, or Joes, that will focus just on the areas that you want for mapping. Another good resource is offroute.com, and mytopo.com, where you can pick out the type of map you want, and they’ll print it and mail it.
Permits: Be sure to stop at the Ranger station in town, to pick up your permit, the day before, or the day of your hike. Overnight camping requires a permit, and it is a lottery process .The permitting process has now changed! As of 2011, lottery applications are now handled by www.recreation.gov, the same site that processes campground reservations & permits. They are now done online, and will be accepted from Feb. 28 to March 20. Or, call the call the Wenatchee River Ranger District’s Leavenworth office at (509) 548-6977
Finally!!! The day has arrived! Our much anticipated trip to the Enchantments, a string of lakes in the Central Cascades above the 6000ft mark, in the mountains above the town of Leavenworth, Washington…This trip will include four of us, Dan, Greg, Ed, and myself, we merry band of brothers…
Sorry, I simply couldn’t resist that…And, we arrive early, with much anticipation, on the Wednesday before our hike, in Leavenworth, as we want an early start the following morning, so we acquire accommodations at the local H.J.’s, and then hit up the local eatery for some protein and carb bulking, a necessity for the trail ahead of us…
Ok, I’m looking for any excuse to stock the ol’ pantry with a hearty slice of steak!
Thursday morning starts early, and we join the other 50 cars or so at the trail head outside of town, to begin our journey into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Only minutes into the hike, we experience our first gear failure, Dan’s Camelback has sprung a leak, and he looked a little like a water truck, dousing the dust on an old country road, as the water drooled out the bottom of his fresh, new, shiny, never been used pack…
Did I mention this was the first time Dan had hiked with us? Welcome, Dan!!! Actually, this would be the first time that all four of us had hiked together, but no matter…
By trial’s end, (and trail), we would have many opportunities to laugh, and commiserate together. After hasty repairs, we continued on to Nada lake, the first of many lakes that we would see, with our first viewing of the eastern slope of the Temple.
And, to our wonderment, here we were able to see from the banks of the lake, a monstrous outpouring of water, shooting straight out of the side of the hillside, as if a large dam had burst, geysering water in a torrent straight out!!! Truly amazing, I had never seen such an eruption of water before…
Seems that it was man made though, and all that I was able to find out was that they are using Snow Lake as a type of reservoir to regulate water flow, to help with the local fisheries. From Nada Lake on, we will only have about another 400 feet or so to climb to Upper Snow Lake, our stopping point for the night.
We found a great spot at the far end of the lake, that would shelter our two tents together, with a neck craning view of The Temple, a jagged, well-named peak that streaks skyward, decorated with several needle tipped minarets of granite, giving it the impression that it was, indeed, a temple or castle, from a bygone era.
The nights are cold now, in late September, and we have to don all that we’ve brought, to fight off the effects of dropping temperatures, a routine that we will repeat the next 2 nights, as well…