Now that the tribe had one trip under their belt, it was time to add a little more mileage and elevation. We were lucky and got a permit for the Eightmile/Caroline Zone in the Enchantments and did the Eightmile Lake Trail.
Permit by lottery
Getting a permit by lottery is not easy for the Enchantments and I haven’t been successful for almost 8 years now. However, they do save a handful for walk up, day of permits and this is how we got ours. I took a chance showing up at 7:45 am the morning of and was able to secure one. Granted, this is probably the least popular out of the 5 zones available and worked in our favor. If there are more people than permits available, which is usually the case, your name goes in for a random drawing. Be sure to check the link above for full details as the rules can change each year.
Pre-night is a must with your girls!
We headed to Leavenworth on a Thursday to have our pre-night before heading out the next morning. Our night consisted of the usual; wine tasting, a yummy meal, girl talk and re-packing/re-thinking what would go in our pack and where it went. Packing is always a puzzle to figure out no matter how many times you’ve done it. Leavenworth has so many options that I will leave up to you to figure out where you stay and eat. With a little research, you cant go wrong.
Not having to rush is nice
The next morning, I headed to the Wenatchee River Ranger Office to get our permit and it only took 20 minutes. On the way back to the hotel, I grabbed Starbucks coffee and breakfast sandwiches for us all. We got to take our time in the morning, because we were already very close (12 miles) to the trailhead, which is another advantage to heading over early and beating the weekend rush. The other being, you want to be able to secure a good camp spot before they are gone.
From what I recall the forest road to get there was pretty typical. Some pot holes, but not so many that it made it difficult. Just need to go slow for the last 3 miles. Finding a parking spot was not a problem either. Another good point for going in early.
What did we get ourselves into?
The hike starts out right away with a climb, which isn’t always the best way to start out. Your muscles are not warm yet and you certainly are not in in your grove – that sweet spot where your breath matches your pace. It was very quiet those first 20 minutes and I could hear the girls cursing me under their breath and wondering what they got themselves into. : ) But once we made it past that point, the rest of the elevation was spread out over 3 miles so it was easier to manage. The trail is a combo of shade and sun. Not sure how, but Lisa ended up falling and forever earned the nickname Turtle – see pic below. She looked like a turtle that had fallen on her back and couldn’t get up.
Early bird gets a primo spot
Once we got to the lake, we still had to hike a bit to find our camp spot. I was surprised how many people were already at the lake and set up. But we still got a primo spot and we were very happy with our perch above the lake. As you can see from the pics, the area is mainly rock and dry grass. This was the hike that forever changed our trips from 1 night to a 2 night adventure. I think the fact the day was almost over, once we arrived and set up camp, left everyone one wishing we could stay another full day at this beautiful lake.
Make it happen!
I would totally recommend adding this hike to your backpack adventure list – just don’t make it your very first experience – keep those fairly flat and under 4 miles for success. Plan on having a backup hike too, just in case you don’t get a permit. I have not done this hike, Twin Lakes, but did research as a potential back up. You can always call the local Ranger station for suggestions too.
When you get back to the car and drive down the forest road to the main road, don’t forget to soak your feet in the cool, refreshing Icicle Creek, before heading home!
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.