Start: Perry Creek Trailhead (2,100 ft)
Distance: 4 miles to meadows + 2 miles to summit
Time: 3.5 hours up, 1 hour lollygagging, 3 hours down
People: Paul Klenke & Gordon Schryer
We started at 7:55AM on yet another beautiful autumn day. Will it ever start raining this fall? The word on the street is rain is coming tomorrow. We’ll see. Within 45 minutes we were at the creek crossing (a trickle) and in another 45 minutes we were at the meadows. The views were just getting good now. Frost and a light dusting of snow were plastered to the shaded sides of the nearby and far away peaks. Where trees shaded the trail, the frost was slippery in its packed-down state.
From the terminus of the meadows on the east side of Pt. 5396, the trail drops down and skirts below the ridge crest to get over to Mt. Forgotten. There is an excellent view of the peak from here. Glacier Peak can be seen quite prominently to the east. There was no exposed ridge to cross as Beckey intimates. Instead, the trail, though slippery in the heathery gully, crossed east of the ridge crest and then was easily followed all the way around Forgotten’s southeast side to the broad bench area east of Forgotten’s main summit.
Two lightly snowed-over gullies presented themselves to us from the bench. We decided to take the leftmost one because it appeared to have a boot path packed down into it in a zigzag much akin to the trail up to Headlee Pass not too far south of our current position. While we were crossing the benchland over to the gully we came upon some recent bear tracks in the snow plodding along next to a tiny frozen pond. Big prints! The 120+ vertical-foot gully was tough going for Gordon’s rehabilitating knee, but he made it. From the top of the gully, the trail angles rightward and goes up clear heather slopes to near the summit rocks. A few more slippery spots were dispatched and we shortly found ourselves at the summit around 11:30AM. Actually, the trail ends at the rocky crest about 50 ft east of the true summit. Getting over to the true summit area involved a tricky class 4 move on a sharp rock crest for about 10 feet (it would be class 3 but the wicked exposure to either side bumps it up to class 4). I went over to the true summit while Gordon stayed at the other point. Getting back down the class 4 section was harder than going the other way as I found myself straddling the knife-edge slowly sliding my fanny forward until I could reach a foot down to the foothold. Don’t want to lose one’s balance here, for certain!
Now the views from Mt. Forgotten are outstanding. Mt. Pugh stands aloof directly across the Sauk River valley 5,000 ft below. Glacier Peak rears its pumiced-shoulders above the receding North Fork Sauk River valley to the east. Whitehorse Mountain and Three Fingers to the northwest; the Twin Sisters Range, Mt. Baker, and Mt. Shuksan to the north; White Chuck Mountain, Eldorado Peak, and Mt. Goode to the northeast; Bedal Peak, Sloan Peak, and the Monte Cristo Group to the southeast; Del Campo Peak, Vesper Peak, and Big Four Mountain to the south and southwest; and Mt. Pilchuck to the west. Then there are the nearby peaks of Chokwich Peak, Twin Peaks, Mt. Dickerman; and Stillaguamish Peak to be seen…if the weather cooperates.
We signed the register, which was found at the lesser east summit point. I would like to think the register should have been placed at the true summit, but the difference between the lesser east point and the true summit is only a matter of feet. Plus, it would seem there would be too much danger of lesser climbers getting in over their heads climbing over to the true summit just to sign the register. Fatalities would be more common. Better to leave the register at the lesser point (which itself is pretty exposed with not much of a place for people to sit or stand around on).
We wound up not having to take the snowy gully back down to the bench. Instead, we found a trail that cut off to the dry southeast slopes from the top of the gully. This trail wound back and forth until it eventually met the main trail. We saw this junction on the way up and wondered where it went. Now we know.
The rest of the hike back to the car was uneventful. Fall colors were splendid in the lower Perry Creek valley. Back at the car around 3:30PM. Time for a burger in Granite Falls. Ike's Drive In is the place to go (northwest corner of main intersection in town).