Green Mountain

Kim was free for a hike on Sunday. The forecast was for improving weather after rain on Saturday. We chose to head north to Green Mountain up the Suiattle River. Then the forecast turned not so great. A 40% chance of rain with little clear sky. We decided to go anyway. There would be some good fall color. I was out late on Saturday at the Husky football game. Not home until 11:35 pm. The days are getting shorter and the drive is long so with little sleep I was out the door at 6:05 am heading north. I met Kim and she drove. Out to Darrington then north to the Suiattle River Road. I was just a few valleys west on Labor Day weekend on Huckleberry Mountain. We had warm weather and all the huckleberries we could eat. This day would be a bit cooler. The gravel part of the Suiattle River Road after the pavement was even more pot holed than a few weeks earlier. Beyond Buck Creek it was continuous washboard. The vibration was terrible. We poked along. Once on the Green Mountain Road the conditions improved. We arrived at the 3500' trailhead at 9:10 am. There were four cars in the lot.

It was chilly. Probably in the upper 40s. No shorts or short sleeves this day. By 9:15 am we were on the trail. The trail is in excellent shape. No trees down and the brushy section was cleared better than I have ever seen it. Since it rained the day before I expected to get soaked by brush. That was never a problem. The trail is well graded most of the way. There is little underbrush. Just dirt and moss. We were in the clouds most of the day. Visibility was minimal. The misty air provided a different but enjoyable mood for the hike. After a hot dry summer it was about time. Well through the forest section a group passed us by. Several groups headed down as we ascended. We met several groups of hunters along the way. The past few weeks I have been seeing a whole lot of mushrooms. This hike had the most. Especially near the top of the forest section.

We came out of the forest to views of...nothing. The clouds took away views out to peaks and down to the Suiattle River. As mentioned the open brushy section was not brushy. Some sloughing spots had also been repaired since my last visit in 2014. At first the brush and ferns were mostly green. Soon it was green and yellow. Huckleberry bushes were turning red. Higher up the bushes were covered in ripe berries. That slowed us down. We were surprised that there were so many berries still on the bushes. There were short showers but never long enough to bother taking out my umbrella. The trail crosses the ridge top and heads north. At the meadow we saw some good colors. There were some red tape flags on trees. It looks like the trail will be rerouted around the next hill. At the basin ahead there are more flags leading around the hill. It was 11:30 at the top of the hill above the basin.

We should have had a view of the summit from the top of the hill. Not with the clouds. This is the spot where Kim, Gwen, and I camped on snow on our June 2014 backpacking trip. The reason to reroute the trail is the route down to the basin. It is more a slick gully than a trail. We were careful and did not fall as the dirt was wet and muddy. Down in the basin we stopped near the tarn for a food and water break. The hardest part was still ahead. From the tarn to the summit it is 1.1 miles gaining 1200'. I put on a windshirt as it can be windy on the ridge higher up. We met another group while at break. The trail splits at the tarn We guided them to the correct left trail on to the summit. A short climb from the tarn took us to the big open meadows under the summit. On early season trips we went straight up the snow. Steep but much shorter than the trail. The trail heads to the right then switchbacks higher on now very colorful slopes to the ridge. The last part is straight up the ridge to the top.

We passed another group heading down. They mentioned that there was about an inch of snow on top and it was lightly snowing. We were getting hit by light icy sleet. Kim has not been doing a lot of hiking this summer and was not in as good shape as usual but she kept up a steady pace all the way up. Visibility dropped more as we ascended. I stopped near the ridge top to put on my jacket over the windshirt. That combination stayed on at the summit and half the way down. I could not see the summit until I was almost there. There were three groups right below the lookout. I went up onto the walkway. One side rail is still missing so it is blocked off. I went around the other three sides. There was only a tiny bit of snow on the rocks but a bit more on the lookout walkway. More like slush by this time. There was zero visibility the whole time I was on top. Oh well, it was a different but still fun experience. I arrived on top at 1:16 pm. Kim came up a few minutes later.

We finished our lunch. An unleashed dog ran around below the lookout and flushed a number of ptarmigans. They flew up to the rocks right by me before the dog arrived to force them to fly away. I wish the owners had the dog leased. One by one the groups headed down. For a short bit we were alone on top. Before long other groups arrived. Everyone seemed to be having a good time on this almost freezing and wet day. Thankfully, the wind was very light. We packed up and headed down at 1:59 pm. 43 minutes was a long stay under those conditions. Once off the ridge the light wind disappeared and it was warmer. on the way down the lighting was a bit different. That provided more photo opportunities. The slopes were many shades of red from different types of berry bushes. Around them was bright green. We did not have the bright backlit colors from a sunny day but we did have deep if not bright colors from the overcast. We took a lot of photos coming down the slope.

Back at the tarn we saw another hunter with large and full backpack. He will have some solitude after the hikers go home. One more climb up the hill and then it was all downhill. We had some more short drips of icy rain but it never really rained steadily. As we were on the next to last switchback in the open area a bright spot appeared in the sky. Over the next five or so minutes there was enough of a clearing to see down to the Suiattle River. Across form us sun shone on the ops of lower clouds. Our only break in the overcast all day and it was pretty spectacular. After plenty of "oohs" and "ahs" we continued down. In the forest Kim noticed a couple of huge mushrooms. Really enormous. We reached the trailhead at 5:10 pm.

This was the cloudiest trip I have done to Green Mountain but also one of the best. We had great colors and a lot of ripe huckleberries. We saw folks on and off but had long stretches of solitude too. No views from the top but it really felt like an alpine summit with steep drops on three sides and nothing but white above and below us. All that and we never had much rain. It was a fun start to fall color hikes. I hope there will be a number of leaf and larch color hikes to come. With the slow drive down the washboard Suiattle Road it was a long but fun day in the mountains.

Kim On The Trail
In The Clouds
Candy Stick
Mushroom Rising
Trees In The Mist
Tree Chair
Orange Mushrooms
First Leaf Color
Narrow Trail
Wilderness Sign
Changing Colors
Berry Bush Color
Meadow Colors
Hill Top
Basin Below
Basin Tarn
Summit Non View
Darker Now
Deep Colors
Red Lined Trail
Great Contrast
Even Better Colors
Looking Upslope
Still No Views
Reds And Greens
On The Ridge
Hikers On Ridge Top
Summit In Sight
Lookout Catwalk
Best View Out
Folks On Summit
Lookout Building
Bird On The Rock
Kim Heading Down
Water Drops
Basin In Clouds
Kim And Colors
Terrific Color
Many Colors
Looking Across Slope
Many Shades
Kim In Basin
Back At Meadow
More Ripe Berries
Colorful Ferns
Orange Leaves
Break In Cloud Cover
Dramatic Clouds
Last Leaf Color
Clouds Blow By
Brown Ribbon
Mound Of Mushrooms
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2018