The mountain loop highway is known for great hiking in the northwest. Mt. Pilchuck, Dickerman, Lake 22, the ice caves. But there’s one hike you’ve likely never heard of – Vesper Peak. WTA – my favorite hiking site – devotes only two sentences to describing what might be the most complicated and difficult hike I’ve ever done in Washington. So when I got a last minute invite to join, I said yes after a quick google search. Nine miles? I can do that…
We started out at 9am.The sun was blasting. By 9:15 I was in a full dripping sweat. My friend Julia looked at me shocked and handed over her second shirt. “Here, use this, she said.”
We made our way to the Headley Pass at 4,600 ft. and three miles in to wait for the rest of our group, watching hikers skid past us as they came down the slippery gravel trail. At this point I started hearing rumblings that to get to the top, you’ve got to scramble up rocks and make your own trail. Our super speedy leader also told us he tried to summit twice and had gotten lost due to snow and low visibility. I started to get nervous. As we were about to take off, we asked a pair on their way down if they made it. “Yes,” they said. “But we didn’t stay long because we heard thunder.” Cue full on anxiety and increased blood pressure.
For most of the hike, there was no trail. Instead, we played a game of I Spy and looked for the next cairn – three rocks stacked on top of each other by a fellow hiker. But there were views. Seriously killer views. And while I spent most of the day with three limbs hanging on to something and grabbing for dear life, it felt kinda awesome to get to the top and just take it in. This was a tough week. I needed more than fresh air and a view. I needed a day of distraction. Something to push me out of my comfort zone. I needed to remember what it felt like to accomplish something that scares the sh*t out of you.