Thru-hike of the Enchantments on Tuesday. Started on the Colchuck lake/Stuart lake trailhead at 5:30am with headlamps after camping nearby the night before. Made the first 3 miles in good time, arriving at Colchuck lake around 7:45am as the sun came over the mountains. Circling the lake was much harder than we thought, and boulder jumping was rough to start out on. Started Aasgard following the cairns at about 8:30/9am, took us about 1.5-2 hours, arrived on top by 10:30am. The Enchantments are breathtaking! Not much else to say. Nice people, lots of mountain goats with babies, gorgeous water and mountains. Short pit stop, then on to the lakes- Inspiration lake, Perfection lake, Sprite lake, Leprechaun lake. We stopped to use our water filter to refill a group whose water filters had broken. They were a group of women from China in their 50s! They were very sweet and we refilled their bottles, took some pictures, and hiked on. The descent from Perfection lake to upper Snow lake was the worst part- it's basically a scramble downhill for parts, extremely steep, and unrelenting on the (already very sore) feet. This took us a while, but we were at upper Snow lake by 3pm. Saw some more mountain goats, these a little pushier and defensive with baby in tow- we kept our distance. No sense in going all the way to the Enchantments to get gored by a goat.
At this point we thought we were only at Perfection lake. When a passing hiker informed us this was upper Snow, we whooped with joy. Followed the trail out of upper Snow, the dam was completely water-free and dry. Went on to Nada Lake, saw the giant water shoot blasting out of the cliff side. By this point we were miserable. Feet, knees, calves, thighs, and hips all in screaming pain, but we continued from Nada down the long descent to the parking lot. The last 5 miles were the hardest 5 miles of my life, but close friends keep you going through what felt like long-term joint-damaging pain. Made it to the Snow Lakes Trailhead parking lot at 7pm, no headlamps needed!
This thru-hike was so hard. 20 miles (my phone registered 23), 4-5 thousand feet of elevation gain, 13 hours for us with few to no long breaks. We have short legs, so maybe others are faster on longer limbs, but we are very fit and avid hikers. This was late in the season, larches in full color, and days were shorter. All in all, it was perfect. All the people we ran into on the trail were kind, generous, happy, and safe. And we woke up the next day feeling pretty good- just some soreness, no permanent damage! Nice to know you can push yourself with a thru-hike, but I'd recommend trying for a permit - the Enchantments deserve more time than a single day. Definitely bring: at least 3L of water, water filters, poles, lots of food, and many layers- the weather was perfect for us, but the wind was still strong near the top.