This is an approach that can be done any time of year. In early season snow will cover all of that side-hill vegetable garden. Later in the season you will be slipping and sliding on huckleberry and hellebore and heather and many other aitch-named flora bent on sending you to your bottom.
Words of Wisdom; Words of Misery
If you’re thinking about doing this approach, I suggest you don’t
do it if there is a palpable threat of rain during your traverse. The vegetation is bad enough when it’s dry. Add a slick wetness to it and you’ll surely bruise your acrobatic pride, if not your funny bone. Oh, and if that wasn’t bad enough, your feet and legs would get soaked too.
Getting to the Green Mountain TrailheadNote: (as of September 2007) Due to washouts along the Suiattle River Road the trailhead is not currently accessible by car. However, you can make the approach by bicycle, motorbike, or foot. The road is closed at MP 12.6. Green Mountain Road is at MP 19. The GMR is 6 miles long and ends at the trailhead. Total distance is 6.4 + 6 = 12.4 miles. Elevation gain from road closure point to the trailhead is 2600 ft. It took me, fit Klenke, 2.5 hours to bike and push the bike up to the trailhead and one hour to bike down to the car. For the latter, I was surprised how much I had to pedal to keep up speed on the softened road (by lack of vehicular compaction). The Forest Service estimates repair of SRR by 2008/2009.
From Darrington Hwy 530, drive 6 miles north on Hwy 530 to where the highway goes over the Sauk River. The Suiattle River Road (SRR) junctions off and continues due eastward on the east end of the bridge. Alternately, if coming from the north from Rockport, the SRR junction is at about 11 miles.
Drive the SRR for 19 miles to Green Mountain Road (FR-2640) on the left. The turn-off is well-signed. Drive up the GMR for 6 windy miles to the trailhead, elevation 3600 ft.
Green Mountain Trail
For more information, see the Green Mountain page
The trail is four miles long to the summit. The initial trail climb up several hundred feet of forest then crosses left through a brushy area before making a switchback out in the open slopes (note that the location of the trail on the USGS map isn’t quite right). After several more switchbacks and perhaps 800 more feet of gain, the trail crosses a rib at 5400 ft then descends 200 feet to a lovely pond in a basin. The trail continues beyond the pond and huffs and puffs steeply up to the south shoulder of Green Mountain at 6100 ft.
Time (trailhead to south shoulder)
= 1.5-2.0 hours
The First Third of the Traverse (to Lake 5371)
From the south shoulder of Green Mountain, elevation 6100 ft, drop into the basin on the north and continue down and across at a gradual descent aiming for the next shoulder about a mile away. By the time you get to that next shoulder you will want to be at 5600 ft. The first 9/10ths of the traverse is across open ground with little or no ankle brush to impede efficient movement. If you’re lucky you’ll find the faint climber’s path going across at 5700 ft. This climber’s path enters the brushy last tenth of this part of the traverse. The idea is to cross the basin so that by the time you get to the far end you’ll be at the top end of a square copse of evergreens. Here you will surely find the boot path that continues across the annoying steeply inclined vegetable garden. Take a look at that garden. Get used to it. There’s much more to come, and sooner than you may think…
Cross the rib easily at 5600 ft (foot path here) to a shallow basin. Go up and left slightly in the basin, NOT down and right, to again find the path. The path then descends gradually to an end in the vegetated chaos of the next open slope. This slope puts the ugh
. If there is a boot path through it I couldn’t find it until the last few hundred yards. This part of the traverse stays high above Lake 4882. Descending down to the lake might appear to be a better choice. Is it?
Cuss and cross and cross and cuss and eventually you’ll be at the other side. Aim for the timbered rib on the other side, reaching it at about 5400 ft. At about halfway across the slope there is a small talus slope. Try and cross this talus at its base, because on the other side of it is the boot path, very faint in the overmastering brush. As you proceed northeastward the path becomes more and more distinct so that by the time you reach the rib you should be able to stay on it.
Once at the rib you have only a quarter-mile to go to get to Lake 5371. My best advice here is to contour through the steep trees as best as possible. Soon you will be in the basin draining the lake.
Now the lake is above a boulder field and you may not see it if you traverse in below lake level. Below the lake is an outflow (great water source) that dumps into a smaller pond. There is great camping in grass on the north side of this lower pond.
Time (south shoulder to lake)
= 1.5-2.0 hours
The Second Third of the Traverse (to Saddle 5400-)
Above the camp area below Lake 5371 is the craggy southeast shoulder of Pk 6675. There are three or four steep, vegetated access gullies between crags that lead to the ridgeline. Not knowing which one was the correct option, I went to the farthest right one. This one topped out in a notch at 5960 ft. Note that one could bypass the craggy part of the shoulder by traversing eastward so as to cross it at about 5200 ft (same elevation as camp). I cannot say for sure. It looks pretty cliffy on approach.
The downclimb on the northeast side of my 5960 notch was Class 4 and loose. I avoided it by scrambling 50 feet rightward (SE) over a small gendarme to gain easier slopes. I then descended into a flat at 5600 ft. Here I found a muddy flat with running water.
In the distance you should see the hump of Pt. 5890 with its grassy. Now crash through a short band of trees then make a gradual rising traverse to another steep, but thankfully brief, vegetated slope below a rock band. Traverse right under the band and into steep trees. Once in the trees immediately upclimb about 100 vertical feet through them to avoid a cliffy chasm hidden inside. This will dump you out onto a small talus field.
Now Beckey describes two possible continuations: one around the north side of Pt. 5890 and one around the south side. Do neither of these. Instead, GO RIGHT OVER THE TOP. You should find a climber’s path near or on the crest. Besides, the top of Pt. 5890 offers an excellent view of the rest of your traverse and of the Buckindy Group, your ultimate objective.
Downclimb the east ridge of Pt. 5890 along a welcome boot path. The ridge curves to the north. This will lead you past a good camp at 5500 ft just above the saddle (there’s a permanent stagnant pond there but it would require a filter). Note that Horse Lake is too far out of the way to get to (requires a 1000-ft drop).
Time (Lake 5371 to 5400- Saddle)
= 2.0 hours
The Last Third of the Traverse (to Basin Below Misch)
From the 5400- saddle, climb directly up the timbered ridge (terminating South Ridge of the Buckindy Group. There is a usable climber’s path up the crest of the ridge. There is one scrambling section (Class 3).
Stay on it ALL THE WAY TO 6300 ft. Beckey says 6400 ft. I think this is 100 feet too high. Avoid the temptation to leave the ridge early—especially at where it makes a last step up at about 6150 ft.
At 6300 ft begin angling down and left on boulders and heather, dropping no more than 200 vertical feet to where the talus ends above a minor barrier. Downclimb the barrier (easiest at its apex at about 6200 ft [slabby] or lower down at about 5900 ft [boulders]).
Now begin a long, boring, and gradual descent across more vegetated madness. You are aiming for the flat basin (obvious concavity in the slope) at 5200 ft. This concavity is again guarded by a barrier drop off. There are a few options to get down this cliff band but unfortunately they cannot be seen from above due to timber. The safest option is to turn west and descend through trees parallel to the barrier to about 5100 ft where easy access into the concavity is permitted. There is a reasonable camp here near a small pond.
Time (5400- Saddle to basin below Misch)
= 2.0-2.5 hours