Nearly eight months to the day from our hike through the Enchantments, I write to remember the beauty, the journey, the knowing that I am capable to do what feels hard, the reminder to say yes when my inner knowing guides me to. 18, 20, 21, 26, these are the miles, I still don't know how many really. Varying opinions, varying maps and mileage counters to tell us how far we went and really none of that matters. We, my friend and sister by choice, Maryann and I walked from the early morning to evening through woods and streams by lakes the color of emeralds and turquoise, over boulders, up steep rocky terrain, and then down for miles upon miles.
Leading up to this day last September, we trained by running and hiking steep hills. Nothing that could quite replicate what was to come, the three-quarter miles that is Aasgard Pass, one of the more difficult parts of this hike. I read everything I could about Aasgard, interviewed everyone I know who had done this hike, watched videos about it and built it up to be my own personal Everest. I even dreamed of it. I often choose to imagine the unknown in order to get more comfortable with it.
Being in the mountains, is where i connect most closely to my core, my heart, my Spirit, to the trees and the rock, to the water, the wind, the sky, to the Spirit. There, in the quiet of our steps, one after the other, I could feel my Dad, the slight wind of his spirit moving past me, the reminder that he is with me as I go.
After a couple of hours, of hiking which included a half-hour or so stop in which Maryann provided medical care to a woman who'd fallen by make shifting in true MacGyveresque fashion a sturdy sling from a trash bag, we headed onward to climb up and over a field of boulders, to the base of Aasgard Pass. Fueled up on water and peanut butter jelly sandwiches we hiked on. Up, and up the steep slope, at many points a straight-up vertical incline. We stopped amidst the rocks to take pictures of all that surrounded us. Colchuck lake below, mountains rising in full circle to meet the sky.
Nearly two hours and 2200 ft later, we made it to the Core Zone, a breathtaking, ancient, other worldly plateau dotted with lakes framed by rocky mountain spires. Sky so blue, hardly a cloud to be found. Mountain goats, walking about.
We refueled and made our way with miles and hours still to go. Reaching the core zone meant that the our descent was soon to begin. The mental preparedness to confront the steep decline that was described as precarious and dangerous can instill some fear. We spoke aloud of what felt scary and reminded each other, "we are here, the choice is to keep moving forward one step at a time." and so we did. We walked down rock slopes to more fields of boulder for miles and miles until finally leveling out at Snow Lake.
This hike, all twenty-something miles, was difficult yes, perhaps the most difficult part other than trying to find food in Leavenworth at 8pm was towards the end seeing the headlights on the main road below where our car was parked and yet still having three miles to go in the dark, headlamps on. Chocolate helped, the mental elixer in this moment.
The Enchantments, a feat, a journey in self exploration, in pushing through, in patience and balance, in believing in the possibility of what can be, in opening to experience, and letting it be just that.
The Enchantments, a journey for which I am deeply grateful and one I want to take again.