Exclamation Point Rock

Jay Thompson expressed an interest in seeing Exclamation Point Rock. We tried to set a time but wildfire smoke set us back several weeks. Then the rain hit. At the end of the week the forecast improved and we decided to give it a go. I was out the door at 6:30 for the long drive east. I reached the end of the paved WF Teanaway River Road at 8:21 am. It was only 40 degrees but sunny.  I met a hunter. He mentioned that deer season with muzzle loading started this weekend. I had one orange vest in my car and wore it much of the day. I am aware of the main rifle deer season which begins in mid October. I was not aware of this one. We heard a few rifle shots during the day but only a few. Jay arrived and we continued on the dirt road to the gate in about 1.5 miles. It was very wet and a bit slick with lots of pot holes but passable. We arrived at the gate to find no other cars. We packed up and were on our way at 8:45 am.

I expected to see that the deciduous trees across the big meadow along the river had begun to change color. Not at all. They were still all green though we are just a week from October. On the positive side we did see random bushed with some orange and red leaves. We hiked along the big meadow then the road switchbacks up the slope. The uphill was good as it allowed me to warm up. The afternoon would be in the upper 60s but the morning was cool. On the positive side there was very little wind all day long. We took the side trip up the slope to the sandstone bald that Gary noticed and we visited back in May. No wildflowers this time of year but a much cooler day. We went to near the top of the bald and had good views including a little of Mammoth Rock in the Distance. We could also see Bible Rock which Gary and I cross country skied up in February.

After a short break we headed back down to the road. Two mountain bikers went by us and a truck drove by on his way out. That represented half of our human sightings for the day. The WF Teanaway had a medium flow. Less than in spring but probably a lot more than before the recent hard rain. I was less concerned about crossing Sandstone Creek as it was likely to have a pretty low flow. After crossing the river we continued on the flat road. We passed a couple cows here. I have seen them along the NF Teanaway Road but not in the WF before. WF Teanaway Lake (aka "The Big Puddle") was really big. I'm sure it was nearly dry a week earlier. Finally the road began to climb. I had Jay lead the way when we left the road. Soon we were on the slick rock. It was mostly dry. When Kim and I came up it was wet and ridiculously slick. When dry it has great traction. Mammoth Rock came into sight. Then we heard the motorcycles. They were following us up the rock. I stopped to let them go by. They stopped. We started going and they turned around. We were pleased. The noise went away and we made the last short steep climb up tot he ridge top in forest.

That is where Jay had his first look at Exclamation Point Rock. It is so out of place in the Washington Cascade Mountains. A spire of sandstone in an evergreen forest. It is larger at the top than the bottom like and exclamation point. We took some time to view it and take photos. I was only 11:10 am when we arrived and there was no glare. After that we followed the ridge top vertical wall of Mammoth rock as we hiked to the other end. From there we easily ascended onto the rock. Just as big as I remembered it. There was nobody else up there. We headed back to the other. It was time for lunch. With the sunshine and lack of wind I was fine with just a short sleeve shirt. As expected none of the larch trees in the valley had begun to change color. That should begin in about three weeks.

We arrived on top at 11:33 am. We stayed until 12:50 pm. No better place to spend an hour plus soaking up some of the last sun of the season. We headed back the way we came. More photos at Exclamation Point Rock and then we continued down the ridge. There is some more sandstone farther down the ridge. At the end of the ridge we had a view of now snowy Dragontail Peak in a small gap in the nearby ridge. Next to it was Teanaway Butte and then Earl Peak. It is a strange angle for the Teanaway Peaks. Jay had a peak identification app that settled any mysteries. At the end of the ridge we were able to scramble down to the ground below. To add a loop we took a trail over the ridge and down to Sandstone Creek. The creek was high in May and we had to find a spot to cross with dry feet. Now the whole creek bed was covered in brush with just the narrow trail crossing it. The water level was not too high and we just barely jumped across. The brush was soaking wet and then so was our clothing. Not a problem on a warming afternoon.

Across the creek is the Sandstone Road which took us back to the bridge over the WF Teanaway River. Some more flat road then the last climb of the day. After crossing the bridge we found the start of a trail that goes back to the big meadow near the car. On the May trip we tried to hike the old washed out WF Road and ended up climbing the bank and finking this trail. Now I have hiked the whole thing. Some pleasant forest then we dropped down to the big meadow. I wanted to hike up the valley so we took a right turn. A few minutes later we heard a loud "bang" and Jay saw some folks up ahead. No need to run into the hikers so we headed out into the meadow and followed it back to the cars. The bright green meadow in spring was all brown now. We arrived back at the cars at about 3:05 pm. In  6:20 we hiked 10 miles with about 1600' of elevation gain. We saw two bikers heading out on the road as we hiked back along the meadow. That left us with 4 bicyclists and one truck passed, and I think 3 motorcycles that we saw but did not pass for the day. Not bad solitude at all.

It is fun to see the reaction folks have to seeing sandstone spires and huge sandstone rock slabs in the forested mountains. A very unusual experience. I enjoy the lack of people even if it requires a road walk. We both had a great time on the trail this day.

Jay At Work
Needles On The Road
Nice Leaf Colors
Big Brown Meadow
Big Red Berry
Heading Up
Looking Out
Changing Colors
Very Nice
WF Teanaway River
Red Leaves
Teanaway Lake
Old Rock
Lit Up Leaves
Heading Off Road
Mammoth Rock Ahead
Exclamation Point Rock
Jay On The Rock
Back Side
Along The Rock
Jay On Mammoth Rock
It's A Big Rock
View South
My Shadow
Heading Back
More Sandstone Ridge
More Photos
Looking Back
DragonTail Peak
End Of The Ridge
Brown Grass
Ridge End
A Blooming Flower
Roadside Color
Last Color
Big Meadow Return
Starting To Change Color
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2020