Three Musketeers Ridge in Enchantments via Snow Lakes Trail / 三劍客脊

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Three Musketeers Ridge in Enchantments sits in the northeast corner of the vast region. It towers above Toketie Lake Basin to the north. Plus, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the famous The Temple.

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Three Musketeers Ridge in a Nutshell

Access: Snow Lakes Trailhead
Round Trip: 22 miles
Elevation Range: 1320′-7680′
Gear: helmet, snowshoes
Route Info: Brian Hill
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Core Enchantments Zone Northeast

Most visitors to The Enchantments spend their time in the popular lake basins. So people who come to this area are usually climbers going after specific peaks. Or just those who wish to be off the beaten path.

It was my second trip here in less than two years. The first time I went up to The Temple. Though, I didn’t find the place as appealing during the dry months. So the remaining snow indeed gave the area some life.

Icicle Creek in the AM
Icicle Creek in the AM

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Snow Lakes Trail

Over a dozen cars were in the lot when I left the trailhead. Then I went up the switchbacks after crossing Icicle Creek. Later I met a couple of day hikers as they walked past me. Soon, the path was wet and muddy from the snowmelt.

I’d see the hikers again by the first broad opening above the forest. But the snow had overtaken most of the trail. So it took careful navigating through the exposed terrain. Later I caught up to the two guys, and then we walked together for a while.

Trailside view of Icicle Canyon
Trailside view of Icicle Canyon

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Snow Creek Valley

It was continuous snow at 3500′. Later I put on snowshoes before the footbridge over the raging Snow Creek. A group of snowboarders thought that it’s more fun to leap over the water instead. Past the creek, the path stayed flat for a while.

Snow quality was just as terrible as two weekends ago. So snowshoeing with a full pack wasn’t as enjoyable. Later the trail climbed up through the next broad clearing for 400′ before reaching Nada Lake.

The two day hikers
The two day hikers

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Through Nada Lake

Parts of the lakeshore trail were dry. So I had to take off and put back on snowshoes several times. But it went back to continuous snow by the first toilet sign. Then I caught up to the two hikers again.

The guys weren’t sure if they could reach the upper basin today. But they wanted to try going up to the lower lake first. Then by the west shore of Nada Lake, I bid my farewell and left the beaten path.

Nada Lake in disguise
Nada Lake in disguise

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Access Ramp to Three Musketeers Ridge

Snow worsened the minute I left the trail. But I carefully weaved through the snowy talus up toward the headwall. Then right before reaching the cliffs, I made my way up the buttress through an access ramp.

Later I put on snowshoes again at the top of the buttress above the waterfall. But it wasn’t long before I took them off again. So I could go through the steepest section of the climb, mostly on rocks.

This way to Three Musketeers Ridge
This way to Three Musketeers Ridge

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Three Musketeers Ridge South Route

The terrain flattened at 6000′, where I got a glimpse of Three Musketeers Ridge. Somehow I don’t remember seeing the peak on my way to The Temple. From there, I continued west through the open forest to 6200′.

Soon, I made my way north as I went up a steep gully. Unfortunately, the snow quality was still terrible throughout. So it took a while to reach the bottom of the south ridge at 6800′.

Hillside view of The Temple
Hillside view of The Temple

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Summit Ridge Traverse

I didn’t know where I’d spend the night. So I decided to carry my pack with me. Then it was slow going for the next 800′ up to the ridgeline. During this, I went to the west of the south ridge to avoid the rocky crest.

Till now, it’d been blowing south wind. But the minute I was on the ridge at 7600′, the north wind took over. Then I left the snowshoes and headed east. But not before I postholed through the entire stretch.

The actual summit on Three Musketeers Ridge
The actual summit on Three Musketeers Ridge

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Three Musketeers Ridge Summit Views

As I was about to go up the first tower, I noticed something else looming close behind it. Then I remembered that the actual summit was farther east. So I continued east to reach the high point. Soon, more clouds moved in from the west.

Meanwhile, it was beyond gusty that I only spent a few seconds on top. So I went down to enjoy the views while staying behind the boulders. The Temple sat front and center. To the farther east were Little Annapurna, Enchantment Peak, and Cannon Mountain.

Southwestern panoramic view
Southwestern panoramic view

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En Route to Edward Mesa

As I walked back down to my snowshoes, I thought about leaving. But I decided to explore this part of The Enchantments a bit more. Then I looked over at Edward Peak jutting out from behind the enticing Edward Mesa.

Three Musketeers Ridge’s west ridge wasn’t conducive to crossing on top. So I dropped down to 7000′ on the south and went west before going back on the crest. Then I continued through to the 6760′ saddle southwest of the mesa.

Toketie Lake from Three Musketeers Ridge
Toketie Lake from Three Musketeers Ridge

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A Night on Edward Mesa

From the saddle, it wasn’t clear as to which was the best way to take. Traversing the rocky crest didn’t look like fun. So I opted to look for the snow ramps I saw earlier from Three Musketeers Ridge. Then I went up a steep gully past the first cliffs on the west.

Once I reached the top in 400′, I walked north on the flat land. Shortly, I found a sandy spot with a direct view of Edward Peak. Meanwhile, the gusts continued. But it’s never fun to set up a tent in the wind!

Cannon Mountain to Edward Peak panoramic view
Cannon Mountain to Edward Peak panoramic view

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Outro

The wind died down sometime during the night. Then the sky was back to clear again at dawn. So I hung around for a while. Of all photos taken with Edward Peak in them, only one showed the tower from afar.

Later I dilly-dallied my way back through Three Musketeers Ridge. The snow stayed terrible. Back at Nada Lake, I found more boot tracks in the snow. Not sure if anyone made it up to Snow Lakes in the past couple of days.

Back to Nada Lake
Back to Nada Lake

See more trip photos here.