Wedge Mountain

August 2, 2008  I took a step outside of my comfort zone for this cross country hike on Wedge Mountain.  Peggy Goldman's book, 75 Scrambles in Washington, gives rather vague directions that instruct you, a la Robert Frost, to "follow the most used road, which usually requires left turns."  She warns that the crux of this simple scramble is finding the starting point but then airily states that just about any route uphill will work.  This is a good thing, because I chose to follow  more specific driving directions that I found on line and still managed to end up somewhere I didn't intend to be.  The road I drove was not for timid drivers.  It was a rough road with hairpin turns, sheer drop offs, and deep ruts--so deep that at one point someone had placed a log to fill in a rut that gouged the road at the start of a hairpin turn.  The road became so narrow that brush hugged my car as I drove up the final mile.  My high clearance car scraped bottom more than once, and I was unnerved by the time I reached the (wrong) parking area.  I could pinpoint my location on the map, however, and although I was north of where the guidebook's scramble starts, I decided to start my hike from where I was.  I set an early turn around time, though, anticipating possible complications driving out. 

A trail headed north from the parking area, up the slope through wildflowers.  It didn't go all the way to the ridge, but it made travel up to the ridge easier and quicker.  I was encouraged by boot prints in the dust that indicated others had been here recently.  After the trail died out, I headed t up the slope through a burn area, and before long I reached the ridge.  Once on the ridge, I could see Icicle Creek Road and the Snow Lakes trailhead below me, and the Snow Creek Wall in front of me.   I love a ridge walk, and the views on either side of this ridge are strikingly different from each other.  To the east lie the arid Wenatchee Mountains, to the west the Stuart Mountains and the enchantments. 

I reached the false summit of Wedge Mountain and recognized the Snow Lakes trail where it switchbacks up the slopes above Nada Lake on its way to Snow Lakes, but I could not see the lakes from my vantage point.  It was near my turn-around time, so I stopped here for a short rest before I headed back to the parking lot.   I did not follow the ridge all the way to my starting point but headed down a steep slope instead.  Here is where I learned that the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily the shortest distance between two points.  It was a strenuous route down, and I intersected the trail not far from where I left it earlier.  The drive out was slow and arduous but fortunately trouble-free.