McGregor Mountain by Goode Mountain via Stehekin Valley / 麥葛瑞格山

  • Reading time:16 mins read

McGregor Mountain by Goode Mountain sits atop Stehekin Valley by North Cascades National Park. It ranks #3 in North Methow Mountains after Reynolds Peak and Mount Gibbs (Ba Peak). The closeness to High Bridge also makes the peak doable in a day.

So long to McGregor Mountain
So long to McGregor Mountain

See more trip photos here.

McGregor Mountain at a Glance

Access: Stehekin, Washington
Round Trip: 17.3 miles
Elevation Range: 1600′-8122′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the standard route

The Preface on McGregor Mountain

McGregor Mountain marked my fourth visit to Stehekin en route to a climb. The first time I went climbing Storm King with some friends. Then I climbed Dark Peak and the Devore Peak the second and third times, respectively.

I had initially put aside three days for the trip. But I ended up having only two days to spare because of work. Then I changed my weekend plans at the last minute and was able to book a seat on the ferry.

A long way to go
Riding Lady of the Lake II on Lake Chelan

See more trip photos here.

Lady of the Lake II Ferry

While boarding the boat from Fields Point, I ran into two Seattle Mountaineers folks. I also saw Eric, a fellow climber going after the T200 peak list. Meanwhile, the pup enjoyed much attention from other passengers.

The three-hour ride went by in the blink of an eye through many chats. I also got to talk to Eric other than just a hello in passing over the years. The last time I saw him was on my way to climbing West McMillan Spire.

McGregor Mountain front and center
McGregor Mountain front and center

See more trip photos here.

Stehekin Red Shuttle to High Bridge

The Mountaineers folks got off the boat at Moore Point for their leisurely hike into Stehekin. Afterward, Eric landed in Port of Lucerne to the Fourth of July Basin. Then we reached Stehekin half an hour later.

Soon, we went up to Golden West Visitor Center for a permit. But another party had claimed the only spot at Heaton Camp. Since High Bridge wasn’t available, Tumwater Campground was our only option.

Arriving in Stehekin, Washington
Arriving in Stehekin, Washington

See more trip photos here.

A Change in Plans

Since it was 3 PM when we reached High Bridge, we needed a different plan. Unable to camp higher on the mountain didn’t leave us much time. So it meant we would need to start walking much earlier.

Suppose we could summit at a decent hour, then hopefully, we would make it back to Tumwater before noon. Then the red shuttle could take us back to Stehekin in time for the ferry. Damn the logistics!

High Bridge
High Bridge

See more trip photos here.

A Evening at Tumwater Campground

Tumwater Campground had only two large campsites by the creek. So the pup and I took the more secluded one away from the road. Afterward, we spent the rest evening hanging around and then turned in early.

Judging from other reports, it takes 6 to 6.5 hours to reach the top on average. So it meant our 11:30 PM start time would put us on top at roughly 6 AM, if not sooner. But that’s without any surprises, of course.

Home sweet home at Tumwater Campground
Home sweet home at Tumwater Campground

See more trip photos here.

Alpine Start on McGregor Mountain

We first walked north on the road and crossed Tumwater Bridge shortly after. Soon, we took the short connector trail to Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Then we walked back south to Howard Lake (formerly Coon Lake).

Shortly, we went on McGregor Mountain Trail. Then, a pair of eyes in the meadow startled me past the lake. But glad that it was only a deer, whew! On another note, there was no shortage of switchbacks on this trail!

See more trip photos here.

This way to McGregor Mountain
This way to McGregor Mountain

See more trip photos here.

The Base of the Mountain

The sky lit up as we went through the rock field below Heaton Camp. Then after 5.5 miles and 5200′ gain, we were below the misty top. Then the wind started the minute we stepped into the south basin.

We hid behind a big rock and spent the next hour waiting out the clouds that never moved! I couldn’t see much to find the reported red-painted arrows. Unable to see the access gully’s whereabouts, we followed boot tracks up the snowfield.

When life gives you lemons
When life gives you lemons

See more trip photos here.

Route Finding in the Mist

The tracks later disappeared below a talus that looked to have turned around. So we continued uphill and went up a steep snow ramp into a gully. But I knew we were off-route, so the goal was to aim at the top.

The cliffs would’ve stopped us at the notch if we continued on the snow ramp. So midway through, we went east onto a minor ridge and rounded the corner where I saw a cairn. Then I realized we were off track one gully west.

Back on track to McGregor Mountain
Back on track to McGregor Mountain

See more trip photos here.

McGregor Mountain Summit Views

Red-painted arrows soon popped up everywhere and took us to the west ridge. But we missed seeing the grand Sandalee Glacier as the clouds persisted. Back on the snow, we followed the markers toward the summit in the mists.

The only thing visible during our 45-minute visit was the lone radio tower. Clouds drifted away a few times but not long enough to see much. Too bad we couldn’t try and wait out the mists as we needed to catch the shuttle. Alas.

The clouds wouldn't budge
The clouds wouldn’t budge

See more trip photos here.

Leaving McGregor Mountain

It didn’t take long to go down to the snowfield. Back on the defined path, I spotted Heaton Camp among the trees, which we’d missed earlier. Glad not to have carried the overnight gear up here.

South views, including the glaciated Agnes Creek Valley, improved below the mists. Many familiar places like Tupshin Peak were in and out of the clouds. I even saw Agnes Mountain and Bonanza Peak when clouds moved away briefly.

Goode Ridge
Goode Ridge

See more trip photos here.

Back to Tumwater Campground

We quickly packed back at camp and then walked half a mile down to High Bridge. While waiting for the shuttle, I chatted with two Floridians. They had set out to visit all US national parks as a married couple. Impressive!

I also talked to two Washington State University students studying marmots at Heaton Camp. They had set up cameras to photograph the animals. But the motion sensors seemed to have failed because they didn’t take photos of us!

Howard Lake we couldn't see in the dark
Howard Lake we couldn’t see in the dark

See more trip photos here.

Back to Stehekin on the Red Shuttle

We’re likely to see the same people during our visit. When the shuttle arrived, two couples we met the day before got off. One went to see Agnes Creek Gorge, while the other quickly looked around and went back to Stehekin with us.

All of us made a pitstop at the Stehekin Bakery, which I’d visit all the time if I lived here. But one could not leave this place without ever paying a visit! Yes, their homemade goods are that yummy.

Waiting for ferry with new friend Sweet Pea
Waiting for the ferry with new friend Sweet Pea

See more trip photos here.

Lady of the Lake to Fields Point Landing

We met the Mountaineers folks at the dock who had a fabulous time sightseeing. They even rented bikes to go up Stehekin Valley Road. Then the late ferry arrival gave us plenty of time to kill before leaving at 2:30 PM.

This place makes an excellent getaway for people wanting to escape the city chaos. So I will certainly come back, even if only for the bakery.

Till next time
Till next time

See more trip photos here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.