Trip Report    

Backpack - Enchanted Valley

Three day trip, staying at Pyrites camp both nights and day hiking to Enchanted Valley on the middle day.

  • Road rough but passable
  • The road to Graves Creek trailhead was not nearly has rough as has been recently reported.  There appears to have been some recent grading.

    The trail was is good shape all the way to to Enchanted Valley except for the Pyrites Creek log bridge (see below).   Sections of the trail were wet and muddy, which is to be expected this early in the season, but all such spots were easily dealt with by stepping over or around. Some of the stepping stones at small creek crossings were under a few more inches of water than ideal and required careful foot placement but all were negotiated easily enough. Doing so without waterproof boots would be a problem.

    At Pyrites Creek Camp bear wires were up on both sides of the creek.  We stayed on the west side of the creek, and found the bear wire to be an good condition but with a few frayed spots - don't let it run through your hands as you lower it!  There was no trail sign announcing the Pyrites Creek Camp, but there was a sign announcing the creek itself. We discovered that we had arrived at the camp by first encountering the the creek then doubling back a hundred yards or so to the camp. The campsites are primitive enough and far enough off the main trail that you probably won't notice them unless you know to look for them there.

    The western half of the Pyrites Creek log bridge is gone.   Fortunately there is a cluster of small blowdowns about 40 feet downstream that one can climb across to get to the small center island, then walk up the island to the remaining half of the bridge. Climbing along the blowdowns is awkward and requires stowing one's trekking poles and using hands and feet to maneuver over and around the various trunks and branches, but it is doable.  The water levels in the creek were low enough that it could have been easily forded, but we opted for the "log scramble" so that we didn't have to spend time changing into shorts and water shoes.

Everything came together for this trip: three days of good weather, but more importantly a great group of people who had a wonderful time together.

Our group of six met at the Graves Creek trailhead at 10am, which is somewhat late for a hike but made it easier for folks who were making the 4 hour drive from the City.  Our casual departure time still left plenty of time for the day's 10 mile hike, and we made it to camp by late afternoon and set up camp in perfect weather with no issues.

On the second day we day hiked the remaining 3.5 miles to Enchanted Valley, also with a casual 10am start time. Along the way we saw one bear about a half mile past Pyrites Creek, and another large male bear near the Chalet in Enchanted Valley itself.  On the hike back to camp we passed parties who reported multiple bear sightings along the trail ahead of us, including a mother and two cubs, so we made ourselves loud by making up bear songs.  Our "American Idol" strategy appears to have worked, and we surprised none of our ursine neighbors during the hike back to camp.  That evening in camp a third bear came near to the Pyrites Creek camp but did not approach it. 

Enchanted Valley itself was everything one would expected to be.  The left, mountainous side of the valley was covered with many thousand-foot waterfalls, and we used the pointy peaks of Mount Anderson as an opportunity to practice taking compass bearings  and identity the various alpine landmarks on our maps.  Though the trail to the further end of the valley was clear of snow, most of our group elected to simply lie on the ground near the Chalet and nap in the sun.  Unambitious, yes, but quality time nonetheless.

On the third day we broke camp and hit the trail at about 9am.  The weather was very warm and we took several breaks in shady spots along the way, arriving back at the cars at 3pm.  Most of the group stopped for food at the Mazatlan in Abderdeen.