Stuart Lake

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014

After diving deep into a new book “An Electronic Silent Spring”, I was especially eager to escape the electro-smog of urban existence. Having scored a precious permit for two nights and three days in the Stuart Lake region of the Enchantments, my only concern as the date drew near remained the epic fires in Eastern Washington – the nearest a mere six miles from the Enchantments. The Leavenworth Ranger station assured me the smoke would only be a problem if the wind blew out of the northeast (unlikely), and that proved to be true as there was no smoke in the Mountaineer Creek drainage, though it was readily apparent in Icicle Creek upon our return.

We camped at Bridge Creek Campground, arising at 4:30 a.m., packing up and driving to the trail head with boots on the trail by 5:30 a.m: myself, my eleven year old daughter, and her friend. These kids were amazing and we completed the 5 mile hike (1700 feet of elevation gain) before the heat of the day, arriving around 9:30 a.m.

The guidebook warned of thick mosquitoes at Stuart Lake and it’s true. Neither citronella or “Deet” seemed to make a difference, with the three main forms of protection being extra clothing, sheltering in the tent, and swimming. The first two strategies were uncomfortably warm at times (though thankfully, our tent site had considerable shade). The lake was cold to my taste, though eleven year olds seemed to enjoy. The kids went swimming seven times in one day. I alternately relaxed my achy knees with a snooze in the tent or prepared meals.

We had planned to go to Horseshoe Lake on the following day and camp one night there, but my daughter’s friend woke up in the middle of the night feeling homesick so we agreed to descend in the morning, visit our favorite Mexican restaurant in Leavenworth (Los Camperos), and a swimming pool in Seattle. I congratulated and high fived both of them the next day for hiking five miles (twice) with a pack – quite an accomplishment for an eleven year old.

On our descent, we heard from someone coming up the trail that a bear had been seen about a mile up from the trail head – perhaps feeding on the wild blueberries which we found in some abundance. Enjoy the pictures, even though I am still nursing a few mosquito welts a day later, the scenery and ambiance of this area is exceptional and I will return if my arthritic knees are willing. Click on any of the pictures for high resolution view.

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Icicle Creek from prominent ledge just below Bridge Creek campground.

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Stout hikers!

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Argonaut Peak

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Sherpa Peak (right)

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Sublime beauty – Stuart Lake

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Many moods of the lake

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wild flowers in abundance

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one of seven swims in the lake during one warm buggy day

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late afternoon by the lake

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wild ducks swimming in the horsetail

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one more swim after dinner

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dinner on our favorite boulder

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Hiking out – View of Mount Stuart and glacier – 9415 feet elevation – the largest hunk of exposed granite in the U.S. according to one source that I can’t remember.

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