Can You Walk to Laguna de Apoyo?

private beach at laguna de apoyo

The view from our “private” beach at Laguna de Apoyo.

Yep, you sure can and we did. The Moon Guidebook for Nicaragua has basic directions for walking and has more information for visiting the lake’s restaurants and hotels.

Being the young an adventurous type we walked… from Granada…a very long, hot walk.  First, we had to walk through Granada’s cemetery, past the tombs of the rich and beyond the unadorned graves of the poor.

Granada's cemetery

Our walk through Granada’s cemetery begins.

Granada's cemetery

Beautifully sculptured tombs in Granada’s cemetery

tomb statue facing the mountains of Nicaragua

Statue of a saint facing the mountains surrounding Granada, Nicaragua.

Where the less prominent families of Granada are buried.

Where the less prominent families of Granada are buried.

Then we followed the dirt road on the northeast side of the cemetery (I think it was the back right corner) all the way until the end and then hiked down a cattle path to a teeny, tiny beach that we had all to ourselves…well, until a farmer showed up to water his cows.

the road to laguna de apoyo

The road to Laguna de Apoyo.

My travel companion had jumped into the crystal clear lake with all of his cash and passport in his shorts, and had laid it out over a log to dry when the cows showed up; instead of stealing my friend’s cash the rock wielding farmer began chucking rocks at his cows. Love the Nicaraguan people.

deep blue Laguna de Apoyo

Deep blue Laguna de Apoyo. The bottom of the crater is the lowest spot in Nicaragua. The lake has tons of endemic species and offers scuba diving.

Moo....cows at Laguna de Apoyo

Moo….these cows interrupted our sunbathing and swimming, but kept us giggling all afternoon.

Walking to the lake definitely provided a more interesting and cultural experience, but if you would prefer something more predictable hop one of the local buses out to one of the restaurant, beach combos on the other side where you can lay on a dock and sip Toñas all afternoon.

Farmer taking his horses to water

Farmer taking his horses to water at Laguna de Apoyo near Granada, Nicaragua.

typical home on the walk to Laguna de Apoyo

Typical home on the walk to Laguna de Apoyo.

I personally was thrilled with the randomness of our little adventure; we met a farmer…and his cows, we hitch hiked half the way to the lake crammed into the back of a Jeep with about 5 other people, had a perfect little beach to ourselves, watched a farmer run his horses, explored the cemetery where some of Nicaragua’s presidents are supposedly buried and had a chance to see the real Nicaragua as we walked past rural homes.

If you’re walking stuff your day pack with plenty of water and snacks, ask for directions (people might think you’re crazy; we got some pretty weird looks) and allow an entire day.

Baked Baby Bellas with Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce

Baked Baby Bellas (Criminis)

Baked Baby Bellas (Criminis) with Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce

Baby Bellas, also known as crimini mushrooms, lend themselves well to this savory appetizer adapted from the folks at Season with Spice. Steve and I made these with a Roasted Acorn Squash Rigatoni. A perfect fall dinner!


1 8 oz. package of Baby Bella mushrooms
1/2 cup Panko (you can find Sun Luck in most grocery stores in the Asian food section)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Fresh ground sea salt and pepper

Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayo
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh ground sea salt and pepper to taste



1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel

3. In a small-ish bowl combine Panko, parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper and mix well.

4. In a separate bowl beat the egg.

5. Dip the mushrooms in the egg mixture until fully coated then transfer to the Panko mixture and coat well again. Place mushroom on a Silpat(or Parchment) lined baking sheet. I swear by my Silpat and would definitely like another one or two!!!

6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until they are golden brown. Serve warm.

 Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce

1. While your mushrooms are cooking combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Roasted Acorn Squash Rigatoni with Arugula, Italian Sausage and Parmesan

I’m on a squash kick right now, so this recipe was right up my alley. The acorn squash lends the rigatoni a subtle sweetness that is balanced by the savory flavors of the sausage and arugula; the toasted pumpkin seeds give it just enough nuttiness to round it out. I’ve seen recipes similar to this one all over then net, ours is adapted from Lesley Elliott’s recipe at Five O’Clock Food.

roasted acorn squash rigatoni with arugula, italian sausage and parmesan

roasted acorn squash rigatoni with arugula, italian sausage and parmesan


1 acorn squash, quartered and seeded
olive oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage (spicy or sweet)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced (or roast a whole head of garlic with your squash and throw in the roasted cloves near the end)
1/4 cup dry white wine (we used Pinot Grigio)
2 large handfuls of arugula (kale would also be good, but I like the spiciness of arugula)
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups rigatoni pasta
Grated parmesan
Bob’s Red Mill Pumpkin Seeds toasted
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
Fresh ground sea salt and black pepper

Makes 4 servings.


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Arrange squash on a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or until tender. Once finished roasting, allow to cool, and cut into cubes.

3. Boil salted water for your rigatoni and cook to al dente.

4. While your water is boiling cook the Italian sausage in a medium sauté pan until browned, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

5. In the same pan add 1 tablespoon olive oil and onions. Once the onions are softened add the garlic and stir. Add the white wine and reduce until nearly gone. Then add the chicken broth and reduce until about 1/3 is left, this takes a while. While the broth is reducing stir the arugula into the drained pasta to allow it to wilt.

6. After the broth is reduced add the squash, chili pepper flakes, and sausage to the pan, stir, and remove from heat. Combine rigatoni and squash mixture. Serve up and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and grated parmesan. I even stirred in about 1/3 cup of parmesan before serving to make it extra cheesy.

Notes: Next time I will omit the 4 cloves of minced garlic and I will roast an entire head of garlic with the squash and use some of that instead. Love roasted garlic, YUM!

We probably should have had a salad with this one, but we decided on baked baby bellas instead.

First of all, I am a total sucker for cookbooks, but if you’re also on a squash kick…get this book. It has so many amazing fall recipes!

Playing with Knives

Yep, it’s raining again….not exactly surprising. Steve and I conjured up a fantastic idea to keep us occupied… taste all the pumpkin beers we can get our hands on while slicing and dicing our own pumpkins. Here are the results:

Pumpkin Beer

All things pumpkin: drinking pumpkin and carving pumpkin


Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Lakewood, New York)

Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale

YUM!!! The Pumking is by far my favorite of the pumpkin ales. It’s like drinking an alcohol spiked pumpkin pie. This malty, copper colored brew’s prominent flavors include brown sugar, vanilla, whipped cream, and pumpkin pie spices.

ABV: 8.6%

IBU: 25ish?

Elysian The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA)

Elysian the great pumpkin imperial pumpkin ale

Elysian The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale

This was another good one. Great Pumpkin definitely has pumpkin, cinnamon, sugar, allspice, and nutmeg on the nose, which is balanced by a certain breadiness that reminds me of pie crust. The pumpkin pie spices are a little more subtle than the Pumking. The hops do provide a slightly drier finish to this beer.

ABV: 8.1%

IBU: 22

Elysian Night Owl (Seattle, WA)

Elysian The Great Pumpkin and Elysian Night Owl

Elysian The Great Pumpkin and Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Dessert in a glass. I could probably drink two of these, but then I’d have to call it quits. Night Owl is sweeter and spicier than the Great Pumpkin and has stronger notes of ginger, cinnamon and clove.

ABV: 5.9%

IBU: 18


Uinta Brewing Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Uinta Brewing Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale

On first taste I said “WOW, this is BOOZY!” and every sip after you can still taste the booze. At 10.31% ABV this beer packs an alcoholic punch. The booziness overpowers this beer’s subtle flavors of pumpkin, vanilla and spice. I would compare this beer to pumpkin bread instead of pumpkin pie, as it is not cloyingly sweet like some of the others.

ABV: 10.31%

IBU: 39



Uinta Brewing Punk’n (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Uinta Punk'n

Uinta Brewing Punk’n Pumpkin Ale

This was probably my least favorite of the pumpkin ales. It smelled and tasted like fresh cut pumpkin and had a raw, earthy, vegetable flavor to it. While the beer did have hints of honey (yum) I would have liked more spiciness in the form of cinnamon, clove, allspice, ginger etc.; Punk’n might pair nicely with foods that have that flavor profile.

ABV: 4%

IBU: 10

Feeling saucy Steve and I managed to get two pumpkins carved without losing any fingers…yay!!!

Spicy Fennel and Kabocha Soup with Spiced Candied Pumpkin Seeds

Spicy Fennel and Kabocha Soup

Spicy Fennel and Kabocha Soup with Spiced Candied Pumpkin Seeds

With the first rain of the season upon us, and my cold in full swing, Steve and I decided to stay in and make a gigantic pot of soup.  And we had nearly everything for this spicy fennel and kabocha soup from Suzanne Goin in our kitchen, and what we didn’t have we were able to improvise. I’m posting her original recipe with notes in “( )” of the changes we made.

Recipe makes 6 generous servings.


2 pounds Kabocha squash (we used one whole kabocha)

2 medium bulbs of fennel

4 Tablespoons of EVOO

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (we only had 2 T. so we used 2 T. EVOO as well)

2 cups sliced onion (we chopped  ½ medium red onion and one full medium white onion)

1 Tablespoon Thyme leaves (gathered from our garden and supplemented by our spice cabinet)

2 chiles de arbol (we substituted 1 minced cowhorn pepper from our garden)

1 bay leaf

3/4 cup sherry

10 cups chicken stock (we used 2 32 oz. boxes of organic chicken broth instead)

1/4 cup crème fraîche (since the crème fraîche isn’t getting mixed into the soup we substituted sour cream)

candied pumpkin seeds

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Pumpkin Seeds

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (we used ground cumin seeds and just toasted them for a couple minutes in the toaster oven)

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon honey

Pinches of cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne

Fresh ground sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit

2. Candy your pumpkin seeds. First toast the ground cumin seed in the toaster oven for a couple minutes. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the cumin, add the pumpkin seeds, sugar, spices and sea salt, stirring constantly until they are golden brown. Let cool for a minute and stir in the honey. Arrange on a piece of parchment until ready to use.

3. Prep your squash by halving, seeding and peeling it (place squash cut side down and use a sharp knife). Cut your squash into 1 inch thick slices.

4. Prep your fennel by rinsing it well, removing tough stalks and base, halving lengthwise and cutting into ½ inch thick slices.

5. Arrange fennel and squash on large baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground sea salt and pepper. Roast uncovered in oven for 35 minutes until tender and slightly golden.

6. Toast fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat for a couple minutes, until slightly browned and they aroma becomes more pungent. The original calls for grinding your seeds in a mortar and pestle, we just threw them in a coffee grinder that we only use for spices and nuts….worked like a charm!

7. Heat your large soup pot on high heat for two minutes and add the butter. Once it begins to foam add your chopped onion, minced pepper (or chiles if you used them), fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf and fresh ground pepper (we used our Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-Quart Pot and worked beautifully).The original recipe called for chicken stock (which is unsalted), but since we used chicken broth (salted) we omitted the 1 teaspoon salt you would normally add at this point. Reduce heat to medium-high, and stir continually until onions are tender and translucent…about 10 minutes.

8. Add your fennel and squash to the mix. Turn the heat up high and add the sherry. Continue to stir and allow the sherry to reduce for a couple minutes. At this point you can add your chicken broth or stock, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for another 20 minutes or so.

9. According to Suzanne’s recipe you should separate the solids from the liquids, retaining both, and blend the soup in three batches, so a third of the solids with a 1/2 cup of the liquids. Make sure to remove the bay leaf. We did this her way, but next time we will just pour (or ladle) it into the food processor in batches, no need to separate. We ended up with the perfect amount of liquids to solids, so no leftover liquids like when you do it her way.

10. Combine the batches of soup and make any flavor adjustments. Pour into bowls and garnish with crème fraiche or sour cream and the candied pumpkin seeds.

I think this soup would also be awesome garnished with some crispy pancetta.

You could also easily make this a vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free soup by substituting EVOO for the butter, vegetable broth for the chicken stock and omitting the crème fraîche/sour cream. You could even make it vegan by substituting brown sugar for the honey on the pumpkin seeds.

We ate ours with toasted, sliced baguette spread with goat cheese.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Rain, Rain, Go Away

What’s a girl to do when she gets called off of work because of rain??? Drink as many pumpkin ales as possible, make some squash soup and carve a couple Jack-o-lanterns, of course! Summer has finally come to an end and I better embrace fall or it’s going to be a really crummy season!!! Now is the time to start checking things off of my “To Do” list and to start planning our six month honeymoon.

Let’s celebrate the first rain of the season!!!

Spicy Kabocha Soup

Pumpkin Ales

Fancy Cheese

Entertain with Style…The Perfect Cheeseboard

Cheese Board

Morbier, Spanish Olives in the ramekin, Truffle Tremor, Peppercorn Pate, Adriatic Fig Spread, Fresh Pear and Fig, Firm Sheeps Milk Cheese and another gooey one in the back and Organic Cracked Pepper Water Crackers

I LOVE cheese!!! And I love paté. Luckily Steve loves these too and we’ve finally figured out how to put together a mean cheese plate.

Tips for your Cheeseboard

1. Select cheeses from different types of milk: Goat, Cow and Sheep.

2. Select different flavor profiles: stinky, nutty, spicy, delicate, bold…you get the picture.

3. Select different textures: firm, crumbly, soft, gooey.

4. Serve your cheese at room temp (take them out of the fridge about an hour before serving)

5. Pimp out your cheeseboard: Adriatic Fig Spread, olives, roasted peppers, nuts, cornichons, fresh fruit like pears, apples, grapes,and/or fresh fig. Turn your cheese plate into a charcuterie plate and add paté, proscuitto, soppressata, jamón serrano, or coppa to name a few.

sliced fig

fresh sliced fig

6. Don’t forget to provide some rustic bread and simple crackers.

7. There are some really impressive cheese boards on the market, so don’t be afraid to invest in one. I use a serving board from crate and barrel, but I’ve seen a couple on amazon that look pretty sweet. I like the look of serving it up on an old, rustic cutting board, but a pretty plate would work well too.

8. It’s nice to use different knives for each cheese, but they usually get mixed up in the end. For softer cheeses a spoon sometimes works better than a knife.

9. I like to pair with a Sauvignon Blanc or a Côtes du Rhône, but sometimes it’s fun to pair with different beers too… a coffee porter, pumpkin ale, or maybe a fresh hopped pale.


Some of My Favorite Cheeses

Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue (Oregon)- Is an organic raw cow’s milk blue cheese aged 6 months. It has a slightly sweet flavor, a rich buttery texture and a hint of bacon. Found at Whole Foods and Amazon.

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor (California)- Is a pasteurized goat cheese that has had black truffle added to the mix and been allowed to ripen. This cheese has a great earthy quality while still being both tangy and buttery. Definitely my favorite right now!!! You can purchase Truffle Tremor from Amazon and have it shipped to your door for a small fortune or at your local Whole Foods.

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor

Quattro Portoni Caseificio (Gritti) Quadrello di Bufala (Italy)- This mild flavored, semi-soft cheese is made from water buffalo milk and is from the Lombardy region of northern Italy. It is a washed rind cheese made in the same fashion as Taleggio, it’s more pungent cow milk counterpart. Quadrello di Bufala has a sweeter milkier flavor than Taleggio with hints of hay and grass. Once again, Whole Foods and Amazon both carry Quadrello di Bufala.

Mitica The Drunken Goat (Spain)- This Spanish goat’s milk cheese is made from the milk of Murciano-Granadina goats. During the cheese-making process the cheese is soaked in red wine for three days, giving the rind a deep purple color. The Drunken Goat has a very slight sweetness countered by a sharp finish and a firm texture. This easy to like cheese is    available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Amazon

Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk (California)- Not for the faint of heart….this triple cream washed rind cheese is STINKY!!!! Like dirty feet stinky!!! And it is delicious with fresh sliced apple and rustic bread. This cheese is made with organic cow milk and has a super creamy mouthfeel. BEWARE: Your whole house will smell like stinky cheese and as the cheese comes to room temperature it will only get stinkier. You can find this one at Foster and Dobbs in NE Portland…maybe at Whole Foods or New Seasons (I know I’ve seen it around, but I can’t remember where).

Morbier (France)- Morbier is a raw cows milk cheese and is not to be confused with American Mobay (a goat and sheep milk cheese that looks similar). The tradition of Morbier began in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. Traditionally farmers would press the leftover curds from the evening milking into a mold and sprinkle with vegetable ash to prevent rind and keep bugs away, then in the morning they would add curds from the morning milking, creating two distinct layers. This cheese is fairly mild, a little bit stinky, and has a nutty flavor. This style of cheese is easier to find and can be found at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and New Seasons.

Dalmatia Dried Fig Spread- A delicious spread that pairs well with most cheeses.Can be found at Whole Foods and most other high end or artisanal cheese shops.

365 Organic Cracked Pepper Water Crackers- These super simple crackers that won’t overpower your cheeseboard can be found at Whole Foods.

If you’re in the Portland Area Ken’s Artisan Bakery on 21st makes heavenly breads. They’re so delicious that I am inspired to make my own…how hard can it be, right? We’ll see what happens when I finally get around to it; until then I will continue to by Ken’s breads. He also makes amazing macarons!!! YUM!!!

Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Here are a couple of really cool cheeseboards:


Angels Rest

Angels Rest

Angels Rest viewed from the trail to/from Devil’s Rest

Quick Stats

Distance: 4.6 miles roundtrip (out and back)

Time: 2.5 hours

Difficulty: moderate

Elevation Gain: approx. 1400 feet

Season: All Year; might get snow on top during the winter months

Permit: none needed

Dog Friendly: Sort of, if you trust your dog around drop offs they will do fine. We always make sure to keep Sal and Jedi leashed when at the top.

Pros: Close to Portland, great views of the Columbia River Gorge, mostly shady except on the rock slide and on top, moderate grade

Cons: Busy trail

Angels Rest is one of my favorite hikes in the Portland area. It’s super close to town, it’s just long/hard enough to make you feel like you worked out, and the view on top is stunning. It’s a great escape from the city.

Angels Rest Looking East

the view from Angels Rest looking east at the Columbia River Gorge

To get there drive east on I-84 from Portland and take Exit 28/Bridal Veil. The trailhead parking is just to the right of the intersection with the Historic Columbia River Highway. The trailhead is marked and is opposite the Highway from the parking area.

The trail begins with a fairly moderate grade, continuing through the trees with the occasional view of the Columbia River Gorge or Coopey Falls. After about a mile the trail begins switchbacking as the grade steepens. Wildflowers line the trail until you cross a rock slide, which means you’ve almost made it to the top. Yay!

Angels Rest Caterpillar

Caterpillar on the Angels Rest trail.

All of that hard work and sweat will pay off. Follow the path toward the point, some easy scrambling will be involved, and enjoy the view. From Angels Rest you look across the river to Beacon Rock, Hamilton Mountain, and Table Mountain (which are all hikeable) and to the west you can see the Vista House. There is usually a nice breeze up top, so it’s a great place to enjoy the sunshine and eat your lunch before heading back to town.

Angels Rest looking westward

Angel’s Rest looking west

Although the hike itself is pretty moderate if you have creaky knees bring your trekking poles…you’ll be happy you remembered them on the return down. Steve swears by his Black Diamond Trekking Poles and uses them religiously…I however only use mine for trails that have miles of sustained downhill, so I didn’t pack mine and I was fine.

It’s also possible to reach Angels Rest from Wahkeena Falls, by doing the Devils Rest/Angels Rest Loop hike for a more challenging, longer day hike.

After your hike head in to Troutdale and grab a beer at McMenamins Edgefield…. the service will be mediocre, but occasionally they’ll have a couple of good beers on tap…and the grounds are good for wandering.




I’m Afraid of Heights… Backpacking the Enchantments

Leprechaun Lake in the Enchantments

Leprechaun Lake with McClellan Peak in the background

Quick Stats

Distance: 21+ miles roundtrip (18 miles as a through hike); side trips abound

Time: 3+ days

Difficulty: moderate to Upper Snow Lake; very difficult to the Enchantments

Season: Mid-July to Mid-October

Dog Friendly: No, dogs are prohibited due to a fragile ecosystem, the native mountain goats, and tricky, steep hiking/climbing

Pros: Mountain views, crystal clear alpine lakes, larches, mountain goats, toilets, and no horses.

Cons: Can be crowded at times (permit system helps), tricky and dangerous rock scrambles, mosquitos early in the season, toilets, and fires are prohibited

Permit: Yes, you need a permit to camp in any of the enchantment zones and even to day hike into the Enchantments. Backpacking permits can be acquired at (must be picked up by 9 am on the day of your hike (or the night before) or it will be given away to another group, while day hiking permits can be acquired at the ranger station in Leavenworth…I assume. After closing hours the ranger station stores permits in a box outside its door which allows you to pick up your permit the night before and get an early start on the trail.

To celebrate fall Steve and I decided to take some time off and head up to Leavenworth, (a cute little Bavarian style town… aka a tourist trap) about a 5 hour drive north from Portland, to see the larches in their golden glory up in the Enchantment Lakes.

Fall Color in the Enchantments

Fall color in the Enchantments

Prusik Peak Larches

The larches in all their glory in front of Prusik Peak

 The Hike

So the real reason you’re here. You’re curious about the hike that left me hobbling around town for days afterward. Hiking in to the Enchantments from the Snow Lake trailhead makes you REALLY earn those lakes. The Snow Lake trail is longer than the Colchuck Lake/Aasgard Pass trail and it starts at a lower elevation.

Looking toward Leavenworth on the Snow Lake Trail

Looking toward Leavenworth on the Snow Lake Trail

Day 1 (8.5 miles)

After a relatively late night drinking beer in Leavenworth Steve and I ended up starting on the trail a little later than we had intended. We were happy to see that the wind had blown most of the smoke from the Wenatchee Complex and Cashmere Mountain fires out of the valley and were able to breathe freely as we hauled ourselves up the hill with our overloaded packs.

Nada Lake on the Snow Lake Trail

Nada Lake on the Snow Lake Trail (5000 ft. elevation)

The hike from the Snow Lake Trailhead to Nada Lake is essentially all uphill with switchback after switchback for 5 ½ miles gaining 3600 feet. There are a few pretty campsites at Nada and the lake itself is stunning. From Nada Lake the trail continues uphill gaining another 400+ feet switchbacking up a talus slope until dropping in to the Snow Lakes.

Talus Slope Switchbacks on Snow Lake Trail

Talus slope switchbacks on Snow Lake Trail

We camped at the very far end of Upper Snow Lake, just before the stream crossing, so we would be able to get an early start on our dayhike up to the Enchantments. We made it to camp just in time, the wind was starting to pick up and the temperature was dropping fast.

Snow Lake Hammock

Steve was finally able to try out his new hammock

Steve made quick time hanging up his new ENO Hammock and we were able to chill and drink whiskey spiked apple cider while we watched the last rays of sun light up the hillside across the lake and turn the sky a brilliant orange. Exhausted from our hike we retired to our sleeping bags by nine….no card games played and no stories told.

Day 2 (4 miles)

We knew this day would be the hardest; in fact it made Day 1 look like a cake walk. The “hike” from Snow Lake up to the Enchantments is as psychologically challenging as it is physically. I had never considered myself to be afraid of heights….and maybe I’m not, but I am definitely afraid of falling.

The Trail Disappears

The trail in to the Enchantments literally disappears beneath your feet

The trail from Snow Lake up to Lake Viviane had me questioning whether I should continue or not. The “trail” follows rock cairns across granite slabs where a missed step could send you careening over a cliff. In places, foot holds have been blasted into the rock and cement “steps” have been put in place to make it easier, but it is not easy…I found myself using my hands more often than not and spider crawling more than I should have been. Steve loved the challenge, while I just wanted to get up to the lakes so I could be on flat ground and away from a cliff edge for a bit. The first lake you reach is Lake Viviane which is flanked by Mount Temple and Prusik Peak.

Viviane Lake Larches

Beautiful fall color at Lake Viviane

When we reached Lake Viviane I was convinced we were in the clear, but no…we still had to finish climbing up the granite…. affectionately called “Trauma Rib” to reach the remaining lakes. Once in the basin my heart rate slowed and I dug my camera out of my pack and started taking pics.

Prusik Peak and the Temple

Prusik Peak and the Temple

We passed by Leprechaun Lake, nestled between Lake Viviane and McClellan Peak, Sprite Lake, Perfection Lake and finally to Inspiration Lake before we turned around to head back to our campsite at Upper Snow Lake.

Little Annapurna above Perfection Lake

Little Annapurna above Perfection Lake in the Enchantments

Inspiration Lake

Inspiration Lake and the rock scramble to get up to the upper Enchantments

Perfection Lake with McClellan Peak

Perfection Lake with McClellan Peak

In hindsight I would have packed lighter, applied for a permit earlier in the year, so could have camped in the Enchantment Basin and would have stayed longer. There were tons of areas to explore if we had had more time: the Druid Plateau, Gnome Tarn, Crystal Lake, Shield, Earle and Mesa Lakes, summiting Little Annapurna, etc.

Snow Creek Valley from Enchantments

View of the Snow Creek valley from the Enchantments

Our second night was even colder than our first night at about 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

Surreal lighting at Snow Lake

Surreal lighting at Snow Lake

Day 3 (8.5 miles)

On day 3 we took our time packing up camp, but once we hit the trail we passed many different groups on their way up… including a couple packing their small child and a HUGE pack up to camp in the Enchantments for a couple of days. We had a hard enough time with just our daypacks and nothing makes you feel like a big wuss than seeing a family carry their baby with all their baby gear up; and to throw salt on an open wound we were passed by an elderly man who whizzed by us just as fast as the trailrunners. Ready for a beer and some food that hadn’t been freeze dried we hurried down the hill only stopping to strip layers and have the occasional snack.

GPX File of Our Hike

I’ve included a downloadable GPX file for the Enchantments based on our hike. Unfortunately, the batteries on our Garmen Earthmate PN-60 died during the second day so we don’t have tracks for the Upper Enchanted Lakes area. It’s not perfect, but at least it has a bunch of waypoints for the lower parts of the hike.

Download The Enchantments GPX File Here


Places to Eat, Drink and Camp in Leavenworth


100 Classic Hikes in Washingtonby Ira Spring and Harvey Manning

Trekking Washington (Backpacker Magazine)by Mike Woodmansee

Every Trail amazing trip report with waypoints