May 25, 2015
We got a hare-brained idea to do a hike up into the Enchantments during our trip home to see my mom in Wenatchee. The Enchantments are a beautiful, high peaks section of the Stuart Range in the Cascade, an area peppered by pristine mountain lakes in the high alpine. The plan was to hike to Prusik Pass, then do the multi-pitch route up Prusik Peak, then book it back down in a day - we had the day kid-free to do our mini-adventure.
We knew going in that this was going to be a bit epic - the hike in was 13 or so miles, with around 4,500 feet of elevation gain. It was a lot of mileage for a one-day trip that most folks do in two or three days. Note to self: If a hike is recommended for 3 days, going to one day may be a bit much.
We got to the trailhead before 6 a.m. We made good pace, doing the first 11 miles at a decent clip with short stops, powering through on gel packs, protein bars, and an electrolyte/iodine tablet water mixture. Yummy. Near the base of Prusik Pass was an alpine lake, where we ate lunch. While we'd passed a few travelers on the way up, by this altitude, it was pretty quiet. The whole time we were eating, we were stalked by the mountain goats in residence, who we learned later were fairly aggressive. This big male would get about 5 feet from us and peer through the bushes, waiting for us to turn our backs on our meal.
It was about 800' up to the base of the pass and crag from there, scrambling over boulder fields, and we were already tired. After our short rest, we made the plunge up to the pass. The boulder field was peppered with 8-10 foot rocks, and deep snow in between.
The last mile took us a good hour, complicated by the suddenly changing weather. About 400m in, the clouds and fog rolled in fast. Then it began to snow. We hunkered down to let it blow through, and got on our way again. Another 400m, and it started to rain. We hunkered down again. After that passed, we slowly picked our way to the base of Prusik Peak, watching the weather continue to barrel in. More snow. By this time we were soaked, the rock was soaked, and time was running out.
We bailed and headed for the car. A looooooong 13 miles away. That was the longest trek ever. We did ok for the first 10 miles, booking it down at a fast walk, hopping over boulder fields and rocky terrain. About that 10 mile mark though, my stabilizer muscles in my ankles and knees gave out and the party was over. Every step became agony when the trail wasn't perfectly level. Around mile 11 began wondering if we would have to camp out and return home in the morning. Somehow we made it back to the car before nightfall. I have never been more grateful for bare feet and a beer as I was when we finished.