Hex Mountain #1343
Jan 31, 2001
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Hex Mountain Snowshoe
- Region: Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
- Agency: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Cle Elum Ranger District
- Trails: Hex Mountain (#1343)
- Avg Rating: 3.75
- Be Aware Of
- Snow on trail
After a summer of hiking many trails in the Cle Elum Lake region (Yellow Hill, Sasse Mountain, Thorp Mountain) I have been eager to return in winter for snowshoe treks in this fine area. The open mixed coniferous forests are so great for free roaming the ridges and views. After winter finally got started a week ago, it was time to get on over there to try out Hex Mountain.
There were pleasantly surprising amounts of snow everywhere - more than I was expecting! Even Roslyn had 12+"" on the ground after 6"" new the day before. Due to the fresh snowfall, the road wasn't yet plowed out past the Last Resort, and parking for a trek up road 116 was impossible. But the small pullout for parking back across the bridge over Newport Creek allowed me to basically back into a snowbank and I was set! I walked the road the 1/8 mile to FS 116, and immediately put on the snowshoes since there was 2' of snow here. Heading up the road it's almost 2 miles to the actual Hex Mountain trailhead, and there were a couple of previous tracks in the snow from well before the latest real dumping of snow. But these helped make the trip up the road fast until those that preceded me retreated well before hitting even the ""trailhead"" at 3440'. Thus, the last 1/4 mile at 3200' was the beginning of my solo plow adventure.
The trailhead sign for Hex Mountain was reached, and so was my lunchbag for a snack. This area where one leaves the road offers stunning views west over Cle Elum Lake to Baldy and Dolmerie Peaks, and northward to Thorp Mtn, Davis Peak, etc... I was particularly intrigued with a very very cool looking tree snag covered with bright green mossy lichen, and a bird hole drilled in near the top for a nest site - way cool foreground subject matter! I began plowing up the ridge, picking any 'ol fun way I desired in the deepening snow: looking for beautiful objects to snowshoe past, side-trips to the ridge edge for views toward Hex Mountain and the other ridges, and just having the time of my life. Oh, the clouds lifted and the sun filtered through for the remainder of the trip too! This first 1/2 mile from the 3440' level quickly put me to 4100', and the steep climb in what was now 5' of snow had my body wondering what I was doing to it! The steep slog with me sinking in 20+"" with each steep step in 2-3' of fresh snow was exhausting! I continued on to the more level ridge crossing area, and ascended a bit more after crossing that until I reached where the ridge entered thicker forest. Why kill myself pushing on without views to reach the summit when my views all along here were just as good"", I asked myself. So I quickly stomped out a 3' deep pit out of the wind and lazily endured a splendid lunch filled with views and a grackling raven who desired me to loft it a PB&J sandwich...sorry buddy, it's mine.
The trek back down from 4550' was like I was floating on water - long strides down the steep ridge, floating through the deep snow. It ended up taking less than two hours to head out of there. A lazy drive home capped one of the nicest snowshoe treks I've had. I also scoped out access for coming future treks up in the region - fun potential for Howsen Creek drainage, Little Salmon la Sac Creek, Cooper Lake, and the list goes on.