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Cool-headed backpackers evacuate Alpine Lakes as fires close in

BACKPACKING -- After reading my post this morning about fire-related closures affecting hikers in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness,  Stephanie Akker of Kennewick emailed me the photo (above) snapped Saturday from the Colchuck Lake area as she decided to evacuate during the night to safety. 

I was happy to see your article on-line as I have been scouring for more info since we backpacked out of Colchuck, in the dark, Saturday night. 

Attached is a photo of the fire from our campsite on the north end of Colchuck.  We day hiked into the Enchantments Saturday after camping at Colchuck Friday night. We chose to evacuate after watching the fire grow dramatically over the course of 24 hours and also considering the proximity to the parking lot. 

Yes, we had to forgo our coveted permit, but felt it better safe than sorry. 

Read on for her photo of Colchuck Lake, a scene that helps you understand why it was no easy decision to leave.

"This picture shows the true beauty of the area around Colchuck," Akker said. "It was beautiful as the larch were just starting to turn yellow and fall colors were popping out at higher elevations. The weather was perfect for this time of year and remarkably the smoke cleared out for our hike on Saturday."

This was my third foray into the area, but my first overnight opportunity. The plan for the trip was to backpack to Colchuck and then day hike into the basin going as far as Perfection.

The surprise ending was getting to camp at sunset, spent and weary head to toe, and then packing up the campsite in about 10 minutes to backpack the remaining 4 miles to the car.  Ugh.  What a disappointment after winning the lottery for our permit the day before.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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