Distance: 7 miles
Elevation gain: 2,600 feet
This long, steady climb up Hex Mountain started on an old logging road that was covered with a few feet of snow. We passed through a few clearcuts as we wound our way upward and had a splendid view of Cle Elum Lake as we trekked the first two miles to reach the forest trail. We all placed bets on which lake it was and discovered we were all wrong once we pulled the map out during one of many water breaks. (Does Lake Pontchartrain count as a real guess?!)
The narrow path climbed a ridge crest, weaving in and out of large trees. It was a better workout than we were anticipating so there was a lot of silence as we dug our poles into the snow and waited for one of the few glimpses out of the forest. Eventually we came across a sign for Sasse Ridge and turned right up one final hill. The panoramic views of the eastern Cascades and beyond were unbeatable and we were fortunate to keep blue skies long enough to enjoy lunch and the scenery.