50 Years Book PDF Print

50 Years in the Enchantments is a book of essays and photographs from more than 50 years of hiking in the Enchantment basins in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area during Golden Week, the first week of October.  Photographs selected from thousands taken from 1959 to 2012 illustrate the book. We are in the process of searching for a publisher at this time.

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The book’s tentative table of contents includes the following:




The Naming

The Starks name many of the features in the Enchantments starting in 1959, with Norse mythology used in the Upper Enchantments and the legend of King Arthur in the Lower Enchantments. During the 1960s, the Starks and their friends battle the U.S. Forest Service in the official naming of the lakes, a controversy that still exists on an Internet blog.

A huge granite boulder at the lip of Aasgard Pass becomes known as Trevor’s Rock, spurring a reflection on how naming things is essential to understanding and preservation, and our own memories.

The Yearning Beast

Each year, Bill and Peg Stark wonder if this will be their last in the Enchantments. Finding the Yearning Beast, a larch snag in the Rune Forest, becomes a ritual in their pilgrimages, one they pass on to their friends. As with them, age takes its toll on the Yearning Beast each year.

The Peg ‘n Bill

Peg and Bill desire to share the wonders of the Enchantments, both in person and through their art, and together they gain legendary status as the Peg ‘n Bill. Bill craves the company; Peg, the solitude with just Bill and the time to write. This contradiction impacts their relationship in the Enchantments and presents Peg with a creative conflict.

During Greg and Kathi’s first trip into the Enchantments, the Nada Creek headwall proves a test in the trust of their relationship.


Kathi and Peg both face their fear of exposure while hiking into and in the Enchantments.

The Dragon Roars

Falling and rock fall are hazards in the Enchantments, especially on Aasgard Pass. In October 2001, shortly after airplanes started to fly again after 9/11, Greg and Kathi hear what they first think is a jet while climbing up the pass. They soon realize it’s a rockslide above them.

Dance of the Williwaws

Thirty-seven hours in a tiny backpacking tent waiting for the weather to break, rainbow-colored williwaws, winds so fierce they blow down shelters and people, temperatures in the low teens, two feet of new snow—the weather in the Enchantments can be exhilarating, frightening, dismaying. Eyes are frequently on the skies.

Leprechauns and Naiads

In her journals, Peg creates mystical relationships with leprechauns, naiads, and other mythical creatures of the Enchantments.

The Coming of the Pipers

Peg hears what sounds like bagpipes while on the north shore of Lake Viviane. She keeps this secret, until she discovers her son also hears them.

Night Hike Out

In 1976, Bill suffers from a prostate problem and can’t urinate. Desperate, the two hike ten miles out in the thick of the night.

On Fire

In 1994, the Enchantments are closed to the public from forest fires along both trails leading into the area. Working for the Forest Service then, Greg evacuates more than forty people from the Enchantments. Two months later during Golden Week, Greg and Kathi and Greg’s supervisor hike through the Enchantments when they are still closed to the public and fires are still smoking on the edges of both trails leading to the lakes. For the next 15 years, they observe the slow changes to the forest.

Protecting Paradise

The Starks helped preserve the Enchantments as part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the 1970s. During eleven seasons as a wilderness ranger in the 1980s and 1990s, Greg learns much about the basic values of humans and their relationships with the wilderness as he strives to minimize the impact of the high numbers of visitors to the Enchantments.

Three More Miles

In 1981, Peg begins experiencing mini-strokes that cause her to fall. In 1988, her medical doctor tells her not to go into the Enchantments. With help from a biofeedback specialist, she does anyway, making the last trip in 1996, when she is almost 80 and Bill is 84.  Greg uses acupuncture needles while on the trail to ease the pain caused by his old ankle injury. One of the acupuncture points is translated from the Chinese as Three More Miles.

The Starks started a cache of food and equipment in the Enchantments in 1960, which helped them return to the lakes as the couple grew older and couldn’t carry as much weight. Eventually, caches were no longer allowed in the Enchantments, and in the mid-1990s, it was Greg’s sad duty with the U.S. Forest Service to dismantle the cache and arrange for a helicopter to fly out the contents.

Bad Jim and Good Jim

These two Jims make it possible for the Starks to continue their hikes into the Enchantments. Good Jim continues his Golden Week pilgrimages with the Shannons.

Bosom Buddies

The essence of the Enchantments stays with the Starks and the Shannons even when away from the basins. Kathi discovers just how important this is when one of their Enchantment friends becomes ill.

The Old Goat and the Fish

In 2006, during an informal memorial ceremony for Bill on Excalibur Rock at Lake Viviane, a trout adds—along with an otter and mountain goat—to the mythology of the lake and the legend of the Starks.


Last Updated on Saturday, 17 November 2012 05:26

© Copyright 2010 Greg Shannon, Kathi Rivers Shannon, Margaret P. Stark
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