The Enchantment’s Backpacking, October 2018

Linna and I were fortunate to be asked to come a long on a two night backpacking trip in the Enchantments, near Leavenworth, Washington.  Linna’s Chinese friends were lucky enough to win the lottery for overnight camping in the upper Snow Lakes near the core of the Enchantments.  We met up with the other 6 Chinese friends at the Snow Lakes trail-head on Friday morning and started around 8:00 a.m. on a cool sunny day.

Our group chose the very South end of upper Snow Lakes, which was 8.2 miles from the trail-head with 4,700 feet gain.  We were completely surprised how low the lake was, it was difficult scurrying down the lake bank for water especially after carrying a 40 lb. pack all day.

One of the Chinese guys brought a liter of Bai Jiu liquor and Linna brought a pint of Scotch, which encourage a lot of loud obnoxious singing that I am sure the other backpackers around the lake could hear but not understand.

We spent all day Saturday exploring the core of the Enchantments and taking a zillion pictures of the beautiful lakes and Larches.  After a long day of accent and decent from the core, we were in our warm sleeping bags right after a hot bag of Mountain House Chili Mac.

Sunday was another long day with heavy packs on the decent back to the cars, but cold beers and hot bratwursts awaited in Leavenworth for us.Our home for two nights, my 10 year old REI Half-Dome tent.

We hit the fall colors at the right time.

The larches in peak season.

Rick Freeman standing tall in the core of the Enchantments.

Linna got a great shot of a local goat.

Linna standing tall on Crystal Lake.

Olympic Backpacking Trip, August 2018

My good friend Jim Darmiento ask me to join him and two other friends on a four day/three night backpacking trip that actually turned into a three day/two night backpacking trip.

We started that the Dosewallips trail-head via the River Road…also known as the gateway to the eastern Olympic Mountains.  The River Road is wide gravel road good for bikes and horses and it was a great way to warm the legs up with 38 lb. pack before picking up elevation gain.  After walking pass the Elkhorn campground we finally started to ascend upon the river valley.

After about 9 miles or so the first day we made camp at the Dose Forks camp.  The camp was pretty full, but a couple who was only having lunch gave up a nice spot so we sit-up our single man tents.  AJ brought along some whisky, but it didn’t take the four of us to finish it off.  We all slept pretty well the first night.Our before picture at Dosewallips River Road, only 40 miles to go.  Paul, AJ Soule, Jim Darmiento and Rick Freeman

We set up our single man tents at the Dose Forks camp.

Jim and I in the hut at Camp Siberia.

Third day at Anderson Pass.

We finished our third day and last day with 19 miles with wet backpacks at Graves Creek Campground.  Total trip was 40 miles!

Gothic Basin Backpack, August 2016

Gothic Basin
Date: August 6, 2016
Difficulty: 8 out of 10
Distance: 9 miles / 14.5 Kilometers roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,840 feet / 866 meters
Time: 5 to 6 hours
Location: Mountain Loop Highway
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass Required
Trail Conditions: Dry
Hiking With: Linna Freeman, Rick Freeman, Jim Darmiento, AJ Soule and Macho

This was the first backpacking trip for Linna and I together and it turned out to be a beautiful weekend. Our friends AJ Soule and Jim Darmiento joined us for this mid-summer overnight trip up to the amazing Gothic Basin. I hiked Gothic Basin a couple of years ago and envy came over me when I saw people camping, so I had to come back with a tent this time.

We left our house in Seattle at 6:00 a.m. on Friday to assure a spot in the tiny parking lot at Barlow Pass…we also wanted to make sure we had first come to campsites. The first mile is a nice warm-up especially with a loaded backpack, it’s pretty much a flat gravel road that follows the Sauk River. After you pass the Weeden Creek sign you start to gain elevation. The trail becomes steep in areas with many boulders to cross…not a fan of scrambling with something heavy on my back! This is a tough hike but it’s all worth it when you have huge beautiful views around you.

Once we hit Gothic Basin we decided to hike up Foggy Lake which was another ½ mile and 500 feet gain pass Gothic Lake. We asked a few backpackers who were on their way down about camping spots and they recommended a secret sweet spot. This was another 15 minute trek on rock at the end of Foggy Lake but well worth it, because it was a magical place for three tents.

We were exhausted by the time we unloaded the backpacks and secured the tents in our new enchanted kingdom. I jumped in the cold water with my clothes on so I could rinse the sweat and dirt off my body and clothes. We heated up water to cook up our Mountain House bag meal, Linna and I shared spaghetti and meat-sauce. It was delicious…probably because it was loaded with salt and we were really hungry.

The next day we had rice/chicken from Mountain House for breakfast and I must have been hungry again because it was delicious. After a hearty breakfast we started to descend through the hordes of hikers coming up on this Saturday morning. When we got back to our car in the early afternoon there were cars parked everywhere along the roadside…must have been over 50 cars.