Just after six o’clock at the top of
“Typical Aasgard,” she said.
Typical Aasgard – the route drops 2200’ in .9 miles, 5-10° past the typical angle of repose. Most people go up it, and the backpackers Mike, Derek and I encountered in the Enchantments almost universally expressed surprise that we intended to go down. The clouds grew darker, and after several false starts, we found the right trail and passed the first cairn on our descent.
The Enchantments are a series of high alpine lakes tucked in a basin in
The next day, we organized our packs and set up the shuttle – one truck at the
That long haul and the previous night’s partying caught up to us. The
The climb was uneventful and tiring, but we made good time and reached
Like the trout swimming in
The current wasn’t very strong, and the water was never more than a few inches deep. I shuffled along, using my trekking poles and the logjam in the upper lake for balance. Upon reaching the opposite side, I turned to see Mike and Derek already crossing, and we all made it across with nothing more than damp boots.
A side trail a short distance away led to a small peninsula and a lakeside campsite with a view of
The morning brought surprises.
I slept poorly, using my jacket as a pillow and finding every root and rock under my sore limbs. At 7am I got up when I heard Derek moving around. The sun was bright in the cloudless sky; the day would be warm. We made coffee with Starbucks Via and ate oatmeal, and dodged gray jays as they darted around camp, occasionally dive-bombing us. After a while we tried to goad Mike into rising. A muffled voice rose from his tent; he slept badly too, and felt miserable with a sudden cold. The morning went slowly from there as Mike got up, found the outdoor privy, and climbed back in his tent. Derek and I each paid a visit to the wooden box, which didn’t smell bad but was exposed to the forest, and drew mosquitoes and biting flies from all corners of the valley. DEET was as important as TP.
To pass time, Derek went down to the dam and returned with words I’ll never forget: “Did you guys know there’s a dead mountain goat in the logjam?” Mike started to get up immediately and I followed Derek towards the dam. We were intercepted by a ranger – she carried a full pack and a long-handled shovel, and she wore her hair in pig-tails. Knowing she’d want to see our permit, we walked back to camp and she provided us with information about trail conditions. As soon as she left, we returned to the dam and we looked for the goat, shielding our eyes against the sun and scanning the logjam.
“Where is it?” we asked, looking further and further out. “Right there,” said Derek, pointing to a yellowish, bloated carcass jammed between two logs about 15ft from us, near where we’d drawn water the night before. It had obviously been there a while, with logs backed up behind it outside of the main flow and close to the edge of the lake.
I think we all felt a little sick.
Back at camp, we held counsel. The original plan had been to day-hike to
It worked out well. Derek and I found a camp next to a granite shelf that gently sloped into green-blue water, and we moved camp, set up out tents, and prepared to hike to Viviane. I stuffed my ultralight day-pack with gear, Mike and Derek reorganized their backpacks, and we set off in early afternoon with a mission: find a cleaner source of water.