Blanca Lake

Last year i set out on an epic one night backpacking trip to explore the upper and less packed reaches of Blanca Lake.
The lake it's self is deserving to be on every hiker's list. But I was looking for solitude and a solid challenge. So I found another way to enjoy the super popular Blanca lake but from many different angles.
Sunset from camp
Instead of hiking down into the lake I hiked up onto the east ridge above Blanca lake for the night. I bivy sacked above a lovely alpine rock outcropping with views of the lake, Kyes Peak, the Columbia Glacier along with Glacier Peak and Mt Rainier.  
Columbia Peak and glacier from camp
Day two, I had planned to Climb Kyes Peak and head out the same way I hiked in but plans changed.
In the early morning as i started my ascending route of Kyes Peak I came across three fellow backpackers who had just finished packing up camp. They too had the same goal in mind, Kyes Peak.
So together up the talus fields we climbed. 
Heading up to the ridge and find the climber's trail with Monte Cristo Peak in the middle
Once on the ridge proper the views were breath taking and at the same time my stomach was tense as the climber's trail nears many shear cliffs.
On top of the ridge with Blanca lake below
Looking up to Kyes Peak with Glacier Peak on the right

Next we ascended a small snowfield/glacier to reach the summit block. The summit block is steep with some lose scree and requires a hard scramble to the top. At about 30 feet from the top i decided to call is quits as the others gave up and were heading back down the trail.
Heading down the summit block of Kyes Peak

 The 30 feet I didn't climb i'm sure is the highest class of scrambling there is and being the lone climber now I optioned to stay safe. Plus we still had a long journey back to our cars and time was not on our side.
After catching up with the three hikers we all decided to take the longer but more scenic route back to the trailhead. The three hikers shared how their friends did the same scenic route a weekend ago. I was game, especially after hearing that it required hiking on and along side the Columbia Glacier.
The Columbia Glacier from near Kyes Peak

Making our way down to the Columbia Glacier was not an easy task. Once the northern reaches of the glacier can be seen the climb down became steep with very loose rock and scree. Our boots were quickly taking in small rocks and pebbles.
Once on the Glacier the temps dropped and the steepness ceased. It was my first time hiking on a glacier and it felt so awesome.
Hiking atop the Columbia Glacier
 Any glacier travel has potential to be very dangerous. The Columbia Glacier on a typical glacier scale is small and we maneuvered it very easily but slowly constantly rerouting ourselves around any possible crevasses or possible weakness in the ice. 
The scenic Columbia Glacier
After an hour the awesomeness turned to an eagerness to feel solid ground.
Once our feet arrived on solid ground again we were overjoyed. We hiked alongside the creek that flowed from the glacier and past the twin falls. 
The Twin falls
Soon we came to Blanca lake at dusk. It was turquoise blue and perfectly still. A great way to end an amazing trek. Then back to the normal trail tread to hike out to the trailhead.
You simply gotta check out Blanca Lake. It really is what everyone says, simply spectacular.

On our up to the ridge

Twin Falls

Blanca Lake with Rainier in the back

Columbia Peak
Looking southwest with my trail friends
Looking south
Looking north from Kyes Peak
Kyes Peak upper summit block
Glacier Peak from Kyes Peak
Sloan Peak from Kyes Peak



Lake Viviane from near Temple Lake
After visiting the Enchantments in the spring of 2015 and confirming every hikers raving reviews on it's unsurpassed beautiful, I had to go back for more.
Thank goodness I was able to buy a permit to visit in October 2015.
I entered the Enchantments via the Snow Lake trail which is the most common way of getting up into the core enchantment zone. My permit only allowed me to camp to nights in the Snow Lake zone but i was easily able to hike into the core zone for a day hike.

Nada Lake
I ended up staying the night at Nada lake for both nights. Camping at Snow Lake is preferred rather than Nada but I had a late start on day one and wasn't able to get to snow lake before dark.
I set up my tent just after dark with my headlamp alongside Nada lake. There was only one other group camping at Nada that i spotted.
The next morning I arose to sunny skies and chatted a bit with the other camp while eating a quick breakfast.
McClellan Peak from the belly of Snow Lake
Next the day hike started. I quickly reached Snow lake as the sun had just hit Mt McClellan. To my surprise Snow lake looked like someone had pulled the plug on the drain, it was super low. I hiked down to lake shore which was about 30 to 50 feet below normal. It make for some very cool pictures though. Back on the trail i hiked around the lake and up the switchbacks and scrambled up to the best of the best of the Enchantments.... the core zone.
Lake Viviane
 I visited always stunning Lake Viviane and climbed up to lesser know Temple Lake.
Temple Lake looking up at The Temple
 Next up Leprechaun Lake, little Sprite Lake and finally Perfection Lake. 
If i were to stay a night in the core zone Perfection lake is..... well... Perfection! 
Leprechaun Lake
Sprite Lake
Perfection Lake with Little Annapurna
After the lakes I tromped up to Prusik Pass. This is a must as the views are simply awe inspiring. I came across several climbers who just had finished climbing Prusik Peak. 
Shield Lake
Prusik Peak
From Prusik Pass looking at Perfection Lake
The weather started to turn as a cold front was making it's path across the central cascades. I headed back to camp at Nada lake. A full day of photography and sweeping views made it fully worthwhile.
Night number two I was alone on the lake with a scattering of rain off and on.
The next morning it was a little chilly but partly sunny. I jumped at the chance to catch some Nada Lake Brook Trout. To my surprise they were in bite mode. 

After catching and releasing 8 Brook Trout and exploring the Northwest side of the lake shore I called it a day. I picked up camp around 12 and got back to the car by 5pm. Just like my first time into the Enchantments it was worth every minute and it won't be my last trip.

Leprechaun Lake

Leprechaun Lake

The Larch

The yellow Larch needles will guide you from lake to lake

Perfection Lake and the trail to the upper basin

Prusik Pass and Peak from Perfection Peak

Snow lake

Shield Lake from Prusik Pass

Snow Lake

Perfection lake (L) Inspiration Lake (R) and Little Annapurna Peak in the middle

McClellan Peak from the belly of Snow Lake

Inspiration Lake

McClellan Peak from Prusik Pass with Gnome Tarn below

McClellan Peak from Snow Lake

Just above Perfection lake

Prusik Peak from Lake Viviane

Lake Viviane

Looking into the upper lake basin with Little Annapurna straight ahead

Prusik Peak from Temple Lake

Temple Lake shoreline