YDS Class 2
2600 feet elevation gain
We Beat the Hex on Hex Mountain
Ahh, what a beautiful November day. For those who live in Seattle this is a very rare thing. Both November and December are the rainiest months here. But luckily that was not the case with this day. Both the western and the eastern Cascades were clear cool and sunny. A fresh shot of snow had just hit the mountains two days before leaving a beautiful fresh layer of snow on the trees and the mountains. It is very funny how beautiful nature looks after a fresh coating of snow.
For Gimpilator, Josh Lewis, Raymond and I the mountain is Hex Mountain. We were going to do another mountain at first but decided on Hex due to time constraints and some health issues. Hex Mountain which is 7 miles on the official route and 2600 of elevation gain is more of a moderate hike than the other mountain. That mountain will probably be on next weeks plate. But for now it was time for another mountain to bite the dust.
But as always every mountain has its challenges clearly had it’s share. First to update everyone the road off of 903 to the trail is now named Newport Hills Road. It is two blocks or a tenth of a mile from Newport Creek. There is a large development sign by the road now. When walking up the road make sure to veer right on all main dirt roads. One wrong road could have you on the west side of the mountain. Better advise is to look at a topo map and focus solely on the ridge that rises southwest from the summit of Hex Mountain.
I say this because we took the wrong road up and had to bushwhack up to the correct trail. It made this climb up a little more strenuous but a little more scenic as well. On one of the road we stay to the left and that road led us to the a clear-cut overlooking Lake Cle Elum. Though it was pretty it meant that we had to travel over a 200 foot ridge then down the ridge and back up to the true ridge. This was a little tiring especially due to the steep slopes and at one point the thick bushes that we had to cross. At one point I thought we were hexed but after the slow going bushwhack, we ended up on the original road. We took the original road up to the top of the ridge where we finally spotted the Hex Mountain Trail. Funny thing was that this turned out to be the easiest part of the uphill experience. The walk up the ridgeline was easy and we started to speed up here. Most of the way up the trail was covered with only 2-7 inches of snow with some small higher sections. It was easy to navigate through without snowshoes. I would assume that this is probably going to one of the last weekends for this break.
After a quick right turn we took on full force to the summit. Hex Mountain has a unique summit in that the summit rocks rise just high enough above the trees to have commanding 360 views of Mount Rainier, Mount Stuart and many other mountains in the western Teanaway Region. It was a great day to be on mountain that had 360 degree views. Hex Mountain also has a cool ridge walk/ semi knife edge to a sub summit in which Raymond, Gimpilator and I went to after spending 30 minutes on the summit.
After spending a total of an hour on the summit we were getting cold and it was time to head back. On the way down we spotted the true Hex Mountain trail with follow the ridgeline all the way down to the correct dirt road. We realized now the correct route so the trip down was much less eventful. We made good time getting down the mountain, but we missed some of the views we saw on the way up. Still the way down was much easier and soon we were back to the car.
All I can say about this mountain is to echo what everyone else has said. Save this mountain for snow. It has low avalanche danger and is located in the Teanaway Region which has less severe weather than the western Cascades. I also say this because there are other more impressive mountains in the region. That being said Hex Mountain is a very worthwhile summit, especially in winter.