Enchantment Lakes [19]

Day 5. Descent

Our 5 day trip to Enchantment Lakes was over. It was time to go back home. After photographing sunrise we packed up and started our descent.

What a difference the 5 days spent in Enchantment Lakes made to the outside world! When we were hiking up the trees and shrubbery around us were green. When we were hiking down we discovered that they turned all kind of bright colors: yellow, orange, red. it was a feast for our eyes.

We had a goal in site: home. So, we’ve made almost no stops on the way down. It took us more than a day to get all the way to Lake Viviane. It took us only 5 hours to come down from there.

When we got down to the parking lot I was overjoyed that I lived thru such an experience. I was screaming out of the top of my lungs with joy and happiness. What an amazing trip!

Enchantment Lakes [18]

Day 5. Wake up!

Josh woke me up way before sunrise as I asked him last night. He was the only one with an alarm watch. I was hard to wake up. Morning sleep is the sweetest sleep of all! Especially after night with wind gusts waking me up every now and then.

Over night clouds moved in. This was great for photography. It was our last sunrise at Enchantments.

I tried to wake up John but he refused. He was tired and sick. It was still dark but I saw some color in the sky and took a few long exposures. I saw on the back of my camera that the sky was already red. I showed it to John and that woke him up. He went on with his plan to climb back up to Core Enchantments. And on the way there he made one of the best photos of the trip.

I went to the spot which I found the night before. The sunrise was blocked off by a small ridge on the right but I did not count on it. I was counting on Prusik Peak lighting up and photographing its reflection in Lake Viviane. Unfortunately the wind was still strong and the lake was unrestful. There was no reflection and the sky remained dark.

I lost hope to get good photo. Suddenly a cloud above the Prusik Peak lighted up with bright red. I started taking one panorama after another not sure if I got it. Only when I assembled panoramas back at home I found out that I got it in one of them! (click on the image to see it larger)


Morning at Lake Viviane

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 [16]

Day 4. Getting Closer to Home

After yet another lunch out of freeze dried bag we started moving back home. The goal was to relocate our camp back to Lake Viviane where we would spend photographing sunset and sunrise.

There was one big challenge for me on the way to Lake Viviane. At one point we needed to walk down a face of big boulder. With each step the slope was getting steeper and steeper. And the only thing that the one walking down could see was an abyss of the valley far down.

I’m afraid of heights. This place got me worried even when we were walking up. But back then I just put those worries in the back of my mind until we would head down. Now it was the time to fight my fears.

My first attempt was unsuccessful. Midway thru I panicked and turned around trying to get down on all four. Which turned both scarier and riskier. It was scarier because I could not see land under my feet at all. All I could see was the valley below. And it was riskier because I did not have full foot traction and could slid down.

Josh and John told me to climb back up. I obeyed. Josh offered me to help with backpack and I handed it over to him. While Josh walked down with y backpack I did breathing exercise to calm myself down and restore oxygen balance (I was hyperventilating at that point).

The exercise was surprisingly effective and in about a minute I made second attempt. I chose slightly different path that I was more comfortable with. I was looking strictly down to my feet. That helped and I got  down.

I cannot describe amount of joy I was experiencing. There is nothing like overcoming your own fears. (Jumping ahead when we were walking down steep rocks next day I was smiling because I was not afraid anymore.)

* * *

We had big hiking and photographing plans when we would get to Lake Viviane. When we actually got there we realized just how tired we were.

I felt tired because I did not have enough calories in my food. As strange as it may sounds I had to bring more deserts, candies and other sweet things. John got sick. Josh was the only one that had energy to move around. He went to yet another lake while John and I stayed by Lake Viviane.

I went to check on possible photo opportunities around Lake Viviane for sunrise:

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I found a small niche where I could photograph reflection of Prusik Peak in Lake Viviane. After taking a few photos with the last light of the sun I took off my clothes and plunged into the lake. The water was icy cold but after four days of sweating it felt nice and refreshing.

When I got out I put on fresh clothe getting ready for descent on the final day of the trip.

_MG_2236

Enchantment Lakes [1]

Prolog

Just like good wine I want to give photos from a good trip to settle in, give my mind time to relax and reflect, almost forget about them to have a fresh look before starting post-processing.

My story begins way before we actually stepped on the trail. It starts with learning that a group of photographer was planning an five day backpacking trip to Enchantment Lakes. I thought of going to that place for a while. The name itself – Enchantment Lakes – sounded so captivating waking up imagination. I even thought to do it as a day trip… well, I did not quite knew what I was up against.

I got on that group that had eight photographers in it including me. Since I knew it will be physically challenging trip I started running every day. That certainly helped me a lot of the trip.

I also started gathering all the right equipment and none of it was photography related: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, warm clothing, waterproof clothing and boots, backpack, and so on. One of the photographers – John Song – helped me a lot with selecting the right equipment since he has gone on backpacking trip to Enchantment Lakes before. Two days before the trip he inspected the content of my backpack and gave some final suggestions. (Thanks, John!)

As we were getting closer to the trip people started dropping off. Many were concerned about smoke due to wildfires raging in close vicinity of Enchantment Lakes. (Luckily it was not a problem at all. The wind was blowing smoke in direction opposite to Enchantment Lakes.) Only three people stepped on the trail. And I was one of them.

My trip to Enchantment Lakes was the most impressive experience of my life in many different ways: first time backpacking, first time hiking so high, first time visiting Enchantment Lakes, first time overcoming fear of heights.

All those stories are coming. For now I’ll leave you with this image I took at Lake Viviane in Lower Enchantments.