Exclamation Point Rock

Gary was free for a trip to see peaking western larch trees. We did an after work hike two day before and were looking for an easier trip. The last weekend of last October Kim and I headed up the WF of the Teanaway River to Exclamation and Mammoth Rocks and found a surprisingly good display of western larch trees. With a forecast of sunshine Gary and I hoped for some brightly lit up trees. We met in Bellevue at 7:00 am and headed east. It was overcast with some light rain for much of the drive. When we passed Easton the sky turned blue. We headed up the Teanaway Road and turned left onto the MF Teanaway Road. Soon we passed the MF Road and reached the end of pavement. 1.5 miles more of pretty potholed road brought us to the gate. One other car was there. It was a balmy 28 degrees. The coldest start to a hike for us since last winter. It was still sunny. Since it is still general deer hunting season and there was a group ahead of us we put on orange vests and hats. We were more likely to see hunters than hikers on this trip.

We hit the road/trail at 8:38 am. A big meadow begins immediately and the grass was brown. All the leaf trees on the other side along the WF Teanaway River were almost entirely leaf free. They had already fallen. We were a bit surprised to see all the bright yellow larch trees on the slope above the river. That was a good sign After a short flat section the road switchbacks and begins to gain elevation. The old road along the river washed out some years ago so this bypass require climbing hundreds of feet above the river. Up we went to a four way junction where the most obvious choice turns left paralleling the river. There are wildflowers along here in the spring. As we continued we began to see some larch trees. Some right along the road and some back in the forest. Unlike the alpine larch at much higher elevations the western larch grow in forests. Mixed in with fir and pine trees were a number of golden larch. this is not mostly larch like the alpine variety. The larch are just here and there but there were enough to put on a good show.

A little farther along is an old clear cut where larch are seen more in the open. We took a short detour to a nice patch. the low morning sun really lit them up. We were in no hurry and spent time photographing here. Like last year on this weekend the western larch were almost at their peak. Nice timing. Soon enough we were back on our way. There were some more larch along the road but not as good as the ones we had stopped for. The road dropped back down to the river and soon crossed the WF Teanaway on an auto bridge. We continued on alongside Dingbat Creek. There is often a big puddle along here and it was pretty large this day. We were just able to get around the edge without going through brush.

The road began to climb and we looked for the spot to leave it. The slick rock leading off the road is a highlight of this trip. Rock leading up the slope with grass all around it. There are a lot of big pine trees here too. We strained to see Exclamation Point Rock as we approached the ridge top but the forest hides it until we were quite close. The sunshine made photos of the rock look really good. This was my sixth visit and Gary's third. We arrived at 10:47 am, took some photos, and headed on. The route goes along the ridge with the vertical wall of Mammoth Rock to the left. All the way at the far end of the rock we were able to get up on it. Then came the long walk all the way back to the other end where we started.

We could hear the wind as we approached Exclamation Point Rock. Atop Mammoth Rock we could hear and feel it. The temperature was in the mid 40s but the wind was very cold. We dug into our packs for more layers. Last year I noticed lots of golden larch trees below Mammoth Rock near the road we came in on. This day we could see the same. Our plan was to check that our on the way out. To the west we could see some peaks with snow. We also saw clouds. As we ate lunch clouds began to blow in. So far we had not seen a single person. That changed when we heard the sound of motorcycles. Two cycles came down the ridge and onto the rock. Soon after we packed up and headed back across the rock. We said "hi" to the cyclists on the way. They came from Ronald.

At the end of the rock we chose to head straight down to the road instead of retracing our route back to Exclamation Point Rock. The route was pretty steep and overgrown in places. Not somewhere I would try to ride a mountain bike. A few hundred feet down we heard the sound of loud running water nearby. A big creek near the ridge top with a huge sandstone rock right above? We headed over but did not reach a creek. The noise was now just above us. We headed up and found a short mossy cliff with water rolling over it. There was a pool at the bottom then the water ran right back into the ground. The falls is maybe 12' tall and about the same width. We found a way to go around the cliff and get atop the falls. The stream was very small. It did not appear to have as much water as was going over the falls. Thirty feet higher up the creek came out of the ground. To summarize, There is no creek below the falls and no creek just above the falls. The falls is wider than the narrow creek bed and has more water than is in the short creek. We found this spot really neat. Our best explanation is that water runs down Mammoth Rock and continues atop rock but under a foot or so of dirt. The water runs all along the underlying rock and fell over the short cliff. We spent almost half an hour here.

We continued down to the road and found an old spur road heading towards some larch trees. By now the clouds covered most of the sky. The mostly sunny forecast was good in the morning but these thick clouds were not expected. The lack of sunshine takes away the great golden colors of the larch trees. We stopped at one point and waited. A sucker hole allowed the sun to shine for a few minutes and we had some more good larch photos. Then the clouds again cut off sunshine. We headed back to the road and started down. In just a few more minutes hail began to fall. Bright sunshine all morning and now we had about 41 degrees and hail. At least it was not rain. It did not last very long. Just before we reached the bridge over the WF Teanaway River we met a lone bicycler. He was the third and last person we saw all day.

On the road walk back we stopped at the good larch spot we saw in the morning. The sun had now come back out and the larch were nicely lit up once again. Just down the road on the other side we found an obvious trail into a larch area. We took it and found a number more golden larch trees. We never had a forest of larch but we found quite a few small larch areas that were very impressive. Almost all the larch were right at their peak. The rest of the walk back to the car went quickly. We arrived at the gate at 3:00 pm.

For the day we hiked just over 11 miles with 1600' of elevation gain. We saw three people in 6 1/2 hours. We had sunshine and clouds with hail. There was no snow on our route though we saw it on peaks above. The western larch were right about at their peak. Great colors while the sun shone. Exclamation Point Rock is always fun to see. Mammoth Rock as almost as impressive. A little less cold wind would have been appreciated there. The waterfall with no creek was amazing. All that and we were back to the car by mid afternoon. The drive home was no problem at all. I sure love the alpine larch hikes like Ingalls Pass and Maple Pass in early October. This hike will likely be a staple for late October with it's western larch. I can safely say we both had a great day on the trail and road.

Larch Across River
First Larch Along Road
Best Larch Spot
Really Colorful
Really Sunlit
Multiple Larch
Gary & Larch Trees
Larch Needles
Blue Sky
Lone Larch
Lots To Photograph
All Sizes
Big Puddle
Mammoth Rock Ahead
Exclamation Point Rock
Back Side
Along The Wall
Atop The Rock
Distant Larch
Larch Below Mammoth
Snowy Peaks
Heading Down
Colorful Bush
Gary & Mammoth Falls
Big Droplets
Little Larch Tree
Colorful Forest
Little Sunshine on Larch
Forest Larch
Little Larch
Last Person Seen
WF Teanaway River
Lots Of Leaves
Tall Leaf Tree
Another Larch Patch
Wall Of Larch
Gold & Green
Wow Color!
Several Larch
Really Bright
Heading Back
Last Larch
Here Is A Panorama Look At Mammoth Rock
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019