As per the forecast, it was a million and five degrees in Leavenworth, which we stopped by to grab our forest pass at about 7:00 am. Then it was off to icicle creek, then up the little forest road to the Colchuck and Stuart Lakes trail head. The Rangers warned us that it might be a little bug infested, and they were right, even that early in the morning there were mosquitoes out and about, so we threw on some bug juice and sunscreen and started the jaunt.
When I planned the trip, we had talked about doing both lakes in one day (easy enough, 12 miles total or so), so I decided we would do the harder Colchuck lake first, and use the Stuart Lake trail as a wind-down, since it has a less aggressive grade.
Now, I don't want my sparing use of pictures here to make it seem an un-photogenic hike, anyone that has been there will back me up, its a gorgeous area with some amazing rock and peaks, I honestly just didn't take pictures of much between the actual destinations.
So, once you get to Colchuck lake, there is a (sort of) fork, one going left to the dam, and a small rock lookout, and right, which follows around the lake, and eventually to the climbs for either Colchuck peak, or Asgaard pass (up to the enchantments, which Ive done).
Asgaard Pass is the saddle to the left of dragontail
I believe I took that while filtering some water. From the rocky lookout thing, you can face away from Dragontail and be looking right at Mt Cashmere, which I was turned away from last year by fresh snowfall.
After a few bites to eat, we were back off down the trail, interestingly, passing an older couple with big heavy packs, doing a climb of Colchuck, who said they had climbed Mt Hood over 70 times.....
Aside from the bug warning, the rangers noted that there "might be some windfall on the trail". That being said, there was a point where we came upon two trail runners(?) who were standing there looking a little confused....when I got closer, I realized that the trail was completely buried in fallen trees. (didn't take the camera out during this ordeal, sorry). Having been here before, I recalled that the trail was a fairly straight shot, so I picked a direction, and started climbing.
After about....say....300 feet or so of fallen trees and scraped shins, I found the trail again (with the runners following), and on we went to the lake.
Before the last little uphill stretch to the lake, you hit this pleasant meadow, with a view of Sherpa Peak (and others, if you peek around).
Next you arrive at the main attraction, as it were, Stuart Lake, with Mt Stuart often reflected in it.
The trail goes along the edge of the lake, Im not sure how far, I suspect it might even turn into a climbers trail at some point. But, it does go to some nice smooth and flat rocks over to the south end of the lake, as seen here:
And a closeup of Stuart:
So after lounging on that rock for a good hour or so, the bugs began to come out in force, so we made our way back to the car fairly quickly. In fact, as you get closer to the trailhead the bugs seem to get bigger and hungrier, I actually ran the last half mile to escape the madness.....
Quick end note, we had dinner at Gustav's, which is our custom if we hike in the area, so if you're ever in Leavenworth, and fancy a damn fine meal, head over to Gustav's.