Located right outside the little town of Ronald, WA, in the thick of the Wenatchee National Forest, is the 8 mile hike, Hex Mountain. It is a multi-seasonal trail, exposing bountiful signs of each season throughout the year and offering rewarding views of Lake Cle Elum, the Stuart Range, Mt Hinman, Mt Daniel, and even Mt Rainier herself.
When I arrived at the dirt road leading to the trail, there was no signage and a yellow snow gate preventing me from driving all the way to the trailhead, which I later realized tacked an additional 2 miles to the hike. The trek is steep from the beginning- I tried to think of my body as a machine, pumping energy to my calf muscles as I stomped up the hill in perfect rhythm with my breath.
I passed two older solo hikers with poles on the way up as I tried to slow my breath down in an effort to not look like a total amateur. Every 20 minutes or so, I would take a break, look over my shoulder at my advancement, and sip on my water bottle. At some point, I removed my beanie and enjoyed the refreshing air hit the back of my neck before I could zipped close my jacket around it.
While being focused on making progress, it was also easy to discover new findings in every direction. I followed the knocking of a spectacular woodpecker and observed him, as he did I. I kept moving and was soon accompanied by a group of mountain chickadee that seemed to dance and swirl around me in a delightful way, like that moment was my own fairytale.
The views were gorgeous. A different view of the lake peeking out from behind the trees the entire way up that became more rewarding the higher I went. As the road narrowed, the elevation increased and I continued into the frosty elevation line that makes mountain peaks look dusted white from far away. I pulled my beanie back out of my bag and pulled it over my tingling ears, regretting removing it in the first place.
The last portion of the hike burned my ass in the way that a leather car seat does in sunny August. Summiting, there wasn’t a direction without a striking landscape view that made me feel like I was peering down at a satellite map of the mountain ranges. It was rewarding to feel on top of the world, and look over a forest that is so close to my heart.
This hike pointed out the beauty in authentic discovery. I originally tried to hike this one a few weeks back, and couldn’t find the correct coordinates. I ended up getting frustrated and aimlessly hiking around the lake at the time, thinking that this one may be better suited for Spring.
This time, I originally drove to this dirt road thinking I was going to hike another trail, and after wandering the forest a bit, ended up discovering an unmarked trail that was the all famous Hex Mountain.
There was something special about naturally coming across the coordinates I was looking for that was so rewarding and exciting. It made me appreciate apps and waterproof hiking boots and updated hiking maps- the things our ancestors had to go without. Most of all, it helped remind me to simply make the most out of each situation and go with the flow- you never know what you might find!