PLAIN — Nason Ridge Trail was a well-maintained, but isolated snowshoe trek with sweeping views of Lake Wenatchee and Dirtyface Peak.
The last two months I haven’t gotten outdoors as much as I would like. Personal commitments kept cropping up restricting me from exploring.
This Friday, though, I finally escaped. As soon as I entered the woods and was consumed by the pressing silence of nature, punctuated by the chirp of birds, I felt like I could breathe again.
I sometimes forget how important hiking is for my mental health. It is essential for me to get outdoors and enjoy nature, getting away from the office and busy mess of humanity.
Finding the Nason Ridge Trail, though, was not as easy as I would have liked it. The first problem I encountered when I got to the Nason Ridge Sno Park was that it required a special-groomed sno-park permit. I only had a non-groomed sno park permit.
The non-groomed sno park permit cost me about $40 and a special groomed permit would have cost me an extra $40. I only use my sno park permit about five times a year. It just doesn’t make sense for me spend that much money on something that I won’t use often.
But I also had my state Discover Pass so I put all three permits, Sno Park, Forest Service and Discover Pass on my dashboard and prayed the combined almost $100 in permits would save me from ticketers.
It is getting pretty expensive to walk around in the woods.
The second problem I ran into was finding the trailhead. The area around the Lake Wenatchee State Park is filled with groomed cross country ski trails that people shouldn’t walk over. It took me a little while to find the snowshoe trails you’re suppose to use.
I then tried to follow these signs to the trail, but it wasn’t clear where I was supposed to go. The signs said I should go straight, however, the snowshoe trail I was following took a sharp right turn.
It also didn’t help that at least one sign pointed in the exact opposite direction of the trailhead.
Eventually three cross country skiers and me located the trailhead together, those women were incredibly helpful. The trail itself was a thin path that jutted out from the ski route and went straight into the woods. If you weren’t looking for it you might miss it.
It was interesting because after travelling only a few feet up the trail I felt like I was in a different universe. It felt like I had passed over a wall. Behind me were well-maintained ski and snowshoe routes around a golf course — orchestrated human activity. Into the woods the smell, sound and even taste of nature permeated everything, cutting me off from that other world.
Unlike some other snowshoe routes, Lake Clara and Blewett Pass, the trail was barely beaten down. It was clear not many people had gone this way.
It climbed steeply uphill and a little while later I was looking over Lake Wenatchee, through the treetops, to Dirtyface Peak. The lake was completely still and reflected the white-capped mountain perfectly. I spotted a solitary red-topped boathouse on the water.
The stillness of that moment brought a sense of serenity to me.
I continued along the route and surprised a grouse at one point. The bird flew into a nearby tree and provided me with the opportunity to take several photos of it. I’ve never been so close to one before.
The trail kept going uphill along the ridgeline and I followed it. The snow felt fairly stable, but there were some avalanche chutes that made me nervous as I passed over them. If the snow was soft I wouldn’t have felt safe.
Animal prints covered the route and for most of my trip I followed a set of snow hare tracks as they hopped uphill.
At one point I came across one of the oldest ponderosa pines I’ve ever seen. The behemoth leaned at an angle across the trail and I looked up into its gnarled branches with the sunlight filtering through. The moss along the tree's branches was a fluorescent green.
I kept going for about 2.6 miles before I checked the map. I was thinking about hiking to Round Mountain to see if I could get over the treeline. But Round Mountain was 5.6 miles along the trial, which would have made it about a 12 mile day. I wasn’t even halfway done.
I decided to turn back and when I made it to the car it turned out to be a three-hour, 5.6 mile, hike. A fairly decent adventure I thought.
Overall I thought Nason Ridge was a great snowshoe hike. At some points the trail seemed a little dangerous if the snow wasn’t solid. The views, though, were fantastic and I suspect if you got even higher they would only get better.
I wouldn’t recommend it for the inexperienced hiker, especially by themselves. But it would be a good adventure with friends.