Winter Storm in Enchantments

Two weeks ago I went on a trip to Enchantment Lakes. This is an area not far from where I live. It is high in the mountains, isolated and beautiful. The last two are the reason why so many backpackers want to get there. In fact so many that there is limited number of permits given each year. It helps protect fragile unique ecosystem of the area.

For three years I’ve been trying to get a permit to backpack to Enchantment Lakes during peak fall color of larches growing there. Finally, this year I got it.

Right before going to the Enchantments I got cold. But that would not stop me. The forecast was for rain. That would not stop me either. I just got more rain gear with me.

As I was walking up to Enchantments I met many people coming down telling me that there had been snow the night before. Everyone was leaving. And I was getting more excited. Snow in Enchantments – it must be beautiful.

When I got to Enchantments the snow is mostly melted. The larches were beautiful – at the peak of fall color. I was the only backpacker there.

The first night was very cold but the next day was calm and warm. The second night I learnt what winter storm meant up in the mountain, up in the Enchantments. It was freezing. The wind gusts were so loud they would wake me up. There was heavy snowfall. I had to push snow off the tents walls, so my tent would not collapse under its weight. Finally by the morning it quieted down and I could get some restful sleep.

I worried about getting back the whole night. But when I got out in the morning and looked around it was amazing. I laughed like crazy, the beauty was overwhelming. Fresh white snow, not touched, not stepped on, all around. Yellow larches. Cloudy sky with glimpses of blue. I forgot about all my worries. I forgot about getting back. I beheld the most amazing sight in my life.

There are a lot of photos to work thru now but the most important thing I took with me is an amazing experience. For now here are some images of my tent as it went thru me stay there.

Day 2. MorningDay 2. Evening before the stormDay 3. Morning after the stormDay 3. Afternoon. The site as I left it

Enchantment Lakes [17]

Day 4. Last Night

For our last night at Enchantment Lakes we setup our camp by Lake Viviane. At first we set it up on an open area by the lake. But the wind was picking up. After some discussion we relocated the camp to a site where big boulders and trees were shielding us from the wind. We’ve made a really good choice.

Later, before going to sleep, I wanted to setup camera for another long night exposure. Once I stepped out of our camp site I felt the strength of the wind and decided not to leave camera out on tripod out of worries that the wind would knock it over.

By the last night at Enchantment Lakes I finally figured out the right combination of clothe, sleeping mat pressure, face cover (from freezing air) to get a good sleep. I dropped off to sleep quickly.

I was woken up in the middle of the night by the wind gusts that were squashing down our tent. That was inside our camp site protected by boulders and trees. Outside the camp the wind was roaring. I fell asleep just to be woken up again and again by the top of the tent squashed onto me by a wind gust.

By the morning wind quieted down a little bit and I fell in deep sleep.

Enchantment Lakes [11]

Day 3. Visitors

My photographic day was cut short unexpectedly. All my batteries were dead. I had 2 original manufacture batteries and 2 cheap knockoffs. I spend half of the first original batteries on a long exposure at Snow Lake. I spend the rest of the first battery and the second original batteries photographing up to that point of the trip. And turned out that neither of knockoff batteries held the charge. I got only about 8 exposures from each of them.

I went back to the camp to have breakfast and wait for other guys. Once I got to the camp I found there 3 visitors – a family of mountain goats. They were scavenging around for salt (guess where the salt came from).

I was very disappointed with my camera not having any batteries left but then I recalled that I brought point an shoot with me. So, I used it to capture the photos of the mountain goats. A good caption for this one would be “let’s go son, this photographer is out of batteries”. By the way you can see Prusik Peak in the distance.

Eventually, John came back. Good thing that John had extra battery that he could lend to me. Thanks, John! Without your battery the rest of the trip would be without photos for me.

Enchantment Lakes [9]

Day 2. First Night at Lake Perfection Camp

As the sun dropped behind the mountains and it started getting darker, we headed back to setup our base camp.

I could not get much sleep again. I still was not very comfortable but that was not the only reason. At night I was woken up by wind gusts and what appeared to be rain. It was rain but it did not have water in it. It was rain of larch needles shaken off trees by wind gusts. I realized it once I got out of tent to get everything we had left outside into the tent.