Thursday, July 9, 2009

An Enchanting Birthday

A few months ago, I told Jenni that for my Birthday I wanted the board game, "Ticket to Ride". Well, who would have thought that by the time my birthday arrived, I would still be unemployed, so we scratched the gift and then I got to thinking. What do I want for my birthday that doesn't cost money? .... How about a nice trail running memory of the Enchantment loop, a 25 mile loop of amazing scenery. We'll call it a "Ticket to Hike". LOL

I had first heard about the Enchantments a few years earlier from my friend Aaron. We were discussing places we wanted to go backpacking & camping when he brought up the Enchantments. He described it as an out of this world kind of place. An oasis of granite & alpine meadows & lakes in the middle of the Cascade Range. I said, "Let's go" and then he filled me in on the coveted permit process.

The area is so popular, but the landscape so fragile, that they only let a few people camp there at a time. You have to apply for a overnight camping permit months in advance, and then still it is a lottery system and there is a good chance you won't get accepted.

With that thought, I pushed the Enchantments to the back of my mind as something to do down the road. A few years passed by, and I knew of only one friend that got a coveted permit to camp overnight. Then it hit me, I'm a trail runner... I don't need to camp, I can be in and out of there in one day, thus I won't need a permit.

So I was granted my birthday wish and with Mark, my trail running partner in crime we took off to do the loop on July 3rd.

Because part of the loop is road, we decided to bring our bikes and bike the 8 mile road section on our mt. bikes. Then the rest we would do on our feet. We decided to do the loop counterclockwise starting at the lowest elevation and biking up the road, then doing the steep ascent up Aasgard pass on foot. This would take us from 1200 feet up to 8000 feet all in the 1st 1/3 of the trip. From there our work would be done as we gradually work our way back down to 1200 feet during the final 2/3 of the trip.

Mark had recently got off, what I would call "running probation" set by his wife after his scary incident at our 12 hour race in May, in which he ended up in the ER for 18 hours after the race. Today was his first real test run, to try and figure out what went wrong so that he can do endurance events, stay hydrated, eat well, and keep his stomach in check. It's a lot harder then it sounds.

Well, by the time we climbed up our 6500 feet, things weren't looking good and it was starting to look like a repeat. Mark did a good job assessing his body and stopping when he needed to to rest.

In the end, what was supposed to be a quick afternoon hike/run, quickly turned into an emergency overnight camping trip.

Somehow I had a faint cell phone signal so I called Jenni to let her know what was up and that I wouldn't be home tonight.

We came across a group of campers, that were lucky enough to get camping permits for 4th of July weekend and they were very kind and let us bivy down with them.

While Mark laid down and slept for a while I ran around the Enchantment Basin with my camera like a kid in a candy store. Mark was very apologetic for the unscheduled emercency overnighter, but I was super excited to be spending the night in the Enchantments. I was finally getting to do what I wanted to do for years; camp in the Enchantments.

There were lots of goats that I followed around the basin and I enjoyed taking pictures as the sun was going down. This little goat was so cute, it must have been just a week or two old. He was about the size of a little poodle.

The scenery was breathtaking whatever direction you turned.

We must have ran across 50 mountain goats on the hike.

I was suprised at how close the mountain goats would let you get to them.

After a tough night for Mark, he woke up feeling a bit better, so we slowly worked our way through the Enchantments and back to the car.

The scenery was amazing all day long and the hiking easy because it was all downhill. It was another hot day so when we finished we jumped into this cold stream to cool off a bit.

Needless to say, the trip was an awesome birthday experience with memories that will last a lifetime.


The Thomas Family said...

Wow Will! What a birthday present!
Your poor friend. How exciting to get to stay over night. I'm not sure how you all did that without camping gear. You guys are hard core.
Happy late b-day! Beautiful pictures and gorgeous music. You Northwesterners are so spoiled. (loved the goats!)

Sandy said...

If I could go half the places you gone, see half the sights you've seen, walked half the miles you've run... The stories you'll tell your grandkids :-) Well, anyway, thanks so much for sharing with us. You are amazing, but then you've always been amazing. Happy Birthday Son!

Marissa and Scott said...

Wow, what a trip! I love all those pictures, that place looks so beautiful. All those goats sure are cute. :)

Carolyn said...

Great photos Will! It looked like a wonderful place to hike.....Ron would love it!

Dan Thomas said...

That is great you got to go. That is a lot like the place I wanted to take Mom last year. I hope get to some neat places in the next life. I am afraid my body just will not do it anymore. I hope you see and do lots for Mom and I.

NelsonFam said...

I LOVED the baby goat :)

Tessha Thomas said...

Those mountains looked a bit like Cinderella's castle - well, maybe not. What a breath-taking, memorable experience. It looks to have been a pretty spectacular birthday, I'll say - all rapped up nicely by The Creator. Happy New Birth Year to you!

McLaughlin Family said...

Oh my gosh Will - what a beautiful, amazing place!!! How wonderful you were able to experience it!!! You are inspiring and amazing... simply amazing!! Happy Birthday to you!!!