Saturday, August 06, 2005

Mount Forgotten

Quick facts
Driving distance from Seattle: ~1.5 - 2 hours (depending on traffic)
Hiking distance (both ways): around 11 miles (17.5km)
Elevation gain: 3,900ft (1,190m)
Green Trails Map: 111
You need the NW Forest Pass to park at the trailhead

The hike has three parts: after the first 2 miles (and 1100ft up), we arrived at the falls at Perry Creek. Spectacular if you bother to look down but easy to miss if you are on a mission. The next two miles took us another 1800ft up along pretty steep switchback. The trail ends at the meadows offering a great view of the eastern side of Mt. Forgotten as well as many other surrounding mountains. Before the meadows, however, there is a spectacular lookout point which offered us a very clear view of Mt. Baker, as well as the west side of Mt. Forgotten. Having filled our eyes and bellies, we decided to press on. The next stage was 1.5 miles along an unmaintained climbers trail to the north face of Forgotten. The trail starts by plunging down several hundred feet and then continues, narrow and overgrown, along the west side of the mountain, crossing a few scree areas. An hour or so later we arrived at the end of that trail and looked up a steep gully filled loose rocks. That's where we had to scramble up to get to the top. Seven of us did so and we found ourselves crowded on top of a rock not really the size of a needle point but not much bigger either. There we signed our names in the climber register and studied the mountain goat register that must have been added there quite recently. We were pleased to discover, that the register will one day be deposited in the University of Washington Archives, giving us a chance to show off in front of our grand children, if we ever have any.

[Mt. Forgotten as seen from the meadows]

The trip back was uneventful though it made us realize how steep the trail was to begin with. We completed the hike, which totaled 11 miles and 4000ft of vertical gain, in slightly less than 8 hours and made it back to Seattle in time to take a shower and then reconvene at Siam in Capitol Hill for some good food and drinks.

For the benefit of future hikers: the hike just to the meadows (Trail #711) is in itself a worthy and challenging enterprise (8 miles round trip, 3000ft vertical gain, and fantastic views). The scramble to the top of Mt. Forgotten is safe if you roughly know what you are doing, and potentially dangerous if you do not.

Driving directions
To get there, follow the Mountain Loop Highway from Granite Falls several miles past Silverton. Turn left on forest road 4063 and go for about a mile and park at the end of it. If you are still on the Mountain Loop Highway and you see the parking lot for Mt. Dickerman, you've gone about a mile too far.

The following is a very good book that covers the approach to Mt. Forgotten and other good hikes and climbs off the main trails in the area: