Enchanted Valley

Enchanted Valley

We slept at the car at Pacific Beach State Park to avoid doing the long drive in the morning to the trailhead.

We were a party of four. We started a bit late due to the logistics of a full trailhead and disposing of last night's trash. We had boots on trail at 9:30 and were on good spirits.

Very soon we reached Pony Bridge and around mile 5 we decided to take a break right next to the river. Kate pointed out some pretty mushrooms called Chicken of the woods. I had full intention to harvest some to bring and eat. However on our way back I was too tired and didn't want to stop. As I sit writing this, I fully regret not having stopped.

The trail was in great condition and had a couple creek crossings that had bridges. The rest of them were dry creeks so we didn't get our boots wet.

We were all prepared to get wet though. There was a weather system that were unlikely to hit us, but if it moved a few miles southeast we would've had over an inch of precipitation.

The hike seemed decent, although I was expecting more as everybody describes it as a top destination. I suspect it had to do with it being late season, and the heat wave we had earlier. This melted most of the glacier and everything was drier than usual.

We had a quick lunch at O'Neil Camp, where for the first time a Ranger asked to see our permit. We kept leapfrogging this ranger as he hiked faster than us, but he stopped to see permits along the way. We saw him so much, and we were so thrilled to see him that he felt like an old friend. I even got very excited when I saw his pack at Enchanted Valley the day after.

We got to Pyrites Creek. The watch said it was 11 miles, and my InReach said 12 miles. We were expecting 9.2 - 9.5 miles, so it definitely felt LONG. We decided to camp past the creek, given that canisters were mandatory there, and we had carried them. We found a big flat area close to the water and with some views of the mountains across the basin.

I strolled around looking for water after setting camp, and realized that going down a steep section and crossing some thick vegetation there was a huge sand field that made for a perfect camping spot. I talked to some strangers about it later on, and it turns out they were yet to set up camp. We saw them go down and set up camp. At least I was able to help.

I didn't appreciate this trip so much up to this point. I had a migraine (non-aura version) the day prior, and I had another one right as we reached the camp. I wasn't hungry and force-fed myself half my dinner as I had burned around 4k cals, yet had eaten around 1k.

After agreeing on a wake up time, sharing pleasantries, we bid adieu and went to bed. After some minutes Karla and I decided to go out and make some tea that would aid sleep.

I spent all that night waking up hungry and going out for the snacks that I didn't eat on Saturday. Fortunately it was easy as we had bear canisters instead of Ursacks.

The day after we had breakfast and set our way towards Enchanted Valley. The trail was orders of magnitude better past Pyrites Creek. It was a very enjoyable hike.

We reached a narrow bridge that holds high above the raging river. Pictures don't do a good job displaying how terrifying this is.

We finally reached the Enchanted Valley along with its chalet.

It was definitely a beautiful place, yet I think the price of admission (in miles) is too big for it. I'm sure early season this will be a VERY beautiful place. Yet that bridge, mossy and wet... I'm not sure I'm willing to cross it in such conditions.

After strolling around and seeing that it was full everywhere, we opted to sit right next to the river, right below a tree that provided shade. We left some clothing there to dry and spent about two hours having lunch and just relaxing.

I did wade the river to explore the other side, which was totally non-worth it. The river was painfully cold and there was nothing on the other side. Right after that I lay down over my towel at the sandy basin. I felt as if I was at a tropical beach.

As we approached the bridge on the way back, I remembered I slipped over the stairs right at the end. My confidence was gone, but I still had to cross it... I took a deep anxious breath and proceeded to cross it. I was grateful of having had my arm around the hand rail, as a bit of wind (and shakiness) pushed me aside and I felt I held onto the rail.

Back at camp. Beverly realized she had brought some card. She explained the rules of Hearts and we proceeded to play. It had been years since I felt so confused. I don't know what was to it, but I kept playing when it was not my turn and I couldn't understand the rules. Once I got the gist of the game, it became quite fun.

We had dinner. I had my other half of yesterday's dinner. We saw some people arrive and struggle to find good and level camp spots. I decided to be a good neighbor and tell them about the sand area below (and the other folks had left in the morning). They were very happy about it and claimed the area. It was nice to be able to help :)

Kate and Bev went to bed early. Karla and I went down to the river and sat there to let our troubled minds melt away with the noise of the river.

There was another couple seemingly doing the same far away. In my eyes (without glasses) they looked like a bear, but Karla insists it was 2 people. Since she was wearing contacts I'll go with her version.

We decided to leave a bit earlier on Monday for the way back, because Karla had a bad blister and we thought she'd be slow. Turns out that she was FAST and was pushing out to go faster.

The hike on the way out felt more beautiful. I think it was the endorphins, or maybe the lowered expectations.

We stopped at Pony Bridge to have lunch and had a friendly conversation with a girl that was interested in getting some gear people in our group had.

We dragged ourselves the remaining 3 miles, we were all tired and looking forward to make it to the cars.

Finally we made it to the cars! We changed into some dry clothes and drove out. We decided to stop at Olympia as the traffic was horrible for the holidays. We went to Well 80 brewery, where we had the best  Hefeweizen beer we've tried, a VERY good IPA and a great pulled pork sandwich!

It was a nice trip. I'd do it again, but I'll try for earlier in the year next time.