|Mt. Stuart looking over the shoulder of Dragontail
from Little Annapurna.
Little Annapurna 8,440'!
We left the Snow Lakes trailhead, 1400, on the Icicle Creek Road, at 10 am. A rather late start, as the day was already very warm and sunny. Later one guy said it was the years hottest so far, 30 C. Our goal for the day was Snow Lakes, at 5,400, where we would camp, and make a sporting one day attempt of Little Annapurna. After endless switchbacks through fire ravaged trees, we finally arrived at Nada Lake, 5,000, a beautiful place with a big waterfall above, and a great place to camp. Fish were jumping and one guy was trying his luck.
We struggled up even higher to Snow Lakes, 5,415. Standing on the little dam between the lower and upper lakes, which we immediately nicknamed the pretty lake and ugly lake, we quickly canceled the plan to camp at the upper end of the upper lake. The water was drawn down in the upper lake, looking like a big bathtub ring. The lower lake was actually draining into the upper lake. I suppose when it fills up it will look nice again until they open the big valve to bring the water to the fish hatchery at Leavenworth. We found a secluded campsite overlooking the pretty lake. We rested the remainder of the afternoon and prepared for an early start on Sunday morning.
We awoke with the birds singing and were on the trail by 6 am, and up at Lake Viviane, at 6,800, by 8 am. This one was just starting to ice out, but we saw three guys in the center of the lake doing something. A fish survey perhaps? It looked dangerous to both Doerte and I. Here we had a first good view of Little Annapurna. We crossed the outlet above the roaring waterfall on driftwood and began our journey to the lower Enchantments. Snow covered everything from this point on, but we did see an occasional cairn popping up, in what seemed like weird places. We used all of our route finding skills.
We stayed to the left of most of the lakes, and busted a trail towards the now visable Annapurna. There were no tracks of any kind visable. Once in a while we would posthole, but mostly the snow was firm and we made good time. All the lakes were starting to show various shades of turquoise and blue, and cracks appeared. From above the remaining ice looked very thin. Water was running everywhere and the water falls were big and raging. It was hard to imagine that in a couple months this snowy wonderland would give way to wildflowers and hikers traveling from lake to lake on their summer vacation.
Finally at Enchantment Pass, putting on crampons, we saw a solo climbers track heading up from Ingalls Creek far below, up to the pass, and disappear up toward Annapurna. We followed his lead, up the steep ridge to the Dragon Plateau, and then up the northeast side of the mountain to the summit. The south face offers a more technical route, 5.6.
The summit, 8440, was swept clean of snow revealing a trail that takes hikers to the summit in July to September. We were shocked to find another couple who had camped above Aasgard Pass enjoying the amazing spectacle. We hadnt seen anyone since Lake Viviane. We were 6.5 hours from camp at Snow Lakes. The true summit was a big block of granite as big a desk. After a minute we found a less windy place for lunch and bundled up. The Harry Wappler promised clouds were here, but we could see Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, Mount Maude and all her big neighbors. Only Mount Rainier was partly hidden by the clouds. Up close Stuart, Dragontail, McClellan Peak, Prusik Peak, and Temple Mountain loomed near us. We looked for climbers on Dragontail but didnt see any. Temple Mountain and Mount Stuart were the highlight views.
All too soon we began plunge stepping down, following our upward track to save time. After a fast, fun glissade, we returned along the lakes, the sound of rushing water much louder than even a couple hours before. The views were awesome! We wandered back toward Temple Mountain. Doerte was anxious to see the much-rumored mountain goats, but those we didnt see. Later, we saw three juvenile snowshoe rabbits, only their big feet were still white!
Back at our camp at 5:30 pm, 11.5 hours round trip, we got out of damp clothes and enjoyed hot tea, soup, and mountain mushroom stew. The sky cleared as the sunset, leaving us with a quarter moon and millions of stars above.
Doerte and I had an easy hike out Monday morning. Total elevation gain was 7,000, and about 30 miles round trip.
can order Grand Canyon books and other hiking guides from:
|This website is a photographic and descriptive resource of routes and climbs, not a hiking guide. By using this site the viewer releases the creator from any and all liability. Hiking/climbing is a potentially dangerous activity and requires proper equipment, skill, experience, preparedness and awareness at all times.|