Exclamation Point Rock

Good Friday is a holiday in my business. I take advantage by doing a hike each year with few folks out. This year with a pandemic still going more folks are out hiking that ever. Gary joined me on this trip. With overcast skies on the west side we decided to head east of the Cascade Crest. Snow conditions were not well known so we took skis, snowshoes, and microspikes. We ended up leaving the skis in the cars, carrying the snowshoes all day, and using the microspikes much of the day. A weather station a the Middle Fork Teanaway River showed 24 degrees at 6:00 am. It was supposed to reach the low 50s in the afternoon. A little bit of everything. We were out of town early to beat the traffic and allow lots of time to hike after the long drive. I was on the road at 6:28 am. Clear sailing over the pass and low sunshine in my eyes driving east. We met at the end of pavement on the WF Teanaway Road at 8:16 am. Gary arrived just before me. I stopped for a shot of the Mt. Stuart Range from the road near the end.

A report fro the day before mentioned snow at the road end. There was some. The road heading towards the gate where we normally start was snow free. Snow can appear at any time down the road and turning around can be very challenging. We decided to give it a go. One mile along the road dropped a bit and solid icy snow began. We were very lucky because the biggest possible parking spot along the road was right here on an old spur road that quickly is lost to new trees. Plenty of space for us to park and leave lots of road for folks to turn around. We packed up and started out at 8:41 am.

It was now 30 degrees but sunny. The hard packed snow on the road was icy and hard. Perfect conditions for microspikes. We had half a mile to reach the gate and normal starting place. This is in the Teanaway Community Forest and requires a Discover Pass. Vehicles had been driving the road. With a high temperature of 20 degrees above freezing we did not want to drive it late in the afternoon. We quickly reached the gate and left the road. Right below is a big meadow with the WF Teanaway River on the other side of the meadow.The road was in forest but the meadow was completely in the sunshine. So much better than on the west side of the mountains this morning. I have been on this hike a number of times but never with much of it snow covered. This would be a much different experience.

We hiked about 3/4 of a mile down the meadow. Gary had found another route up to the road above. The old WF Road had long since washed out. Following the river leads to several dead ends with near vertical walls above. Our route up an old spur road took us above the meadow and into forest and back on hard snow. With all the snow the trail was hard to follow. Gary had a gps track and that kept us on track. We reached the road to find it almost completely snow covered. It was now above freezing but microspikes were still helpful. The road dropped down to the WF Teanaway River. We took a break at the bridge over the river. The bridge was bare with the road continuing to be snow covered.

We soon continued down the road then up the road as we climbed up towards Mammoth Rock. Much of the way was in shade with bright blue sky above. When we were higher and out in the open it was warmer. That was nice, the softer snow was not. I started to post hole a bit. The spot to leave the road was under snow but we were able to spot it without needing the gps track. Once off road and climbing the slope there was bare dirt and slickrock mostly. Mammoth Rock came into view. Once off the road with snow free grass and slickrock we started to see the grass widows. There were many of them in bloom. This was one of only two wildflowers in bloom seen this day and there were a lot of them. We took a few photo stops. Soon we were ready for the last short steep climb to Exclamation Point Rock.

We reached Exclamation Point Rock at 11:13 am. We took 2:32 to hike 4.8 miles with a break at the bridge and wildflower photo stops. Not a great pace but we had all day. The total other persons seen count was at zero. We took the usual photos from both sides. From the other side it really does look like an exclamation point. Really tall and very narrow at the bottom. One reason for the trip was to see the route under some snow. There was just a little snow at the Rock. Next, it was time  to follow the ridge top to the other ind of Mammoth Rock where we could get on top of it. There is a near vertical wall along the ridge top. Mammoth Rock to our left and a fairly steep slope dropping to the right. In places the rock overhangs the trail. It is a pretty easy walk when it is bare dirt. It was a bit more sporting with a thing pointed ridge of snow. We used microspikes once again and it was helpful.

In places it was bare and in places there was sloping hard icy snow. The vertical sandstone rock with some orange lichen and blue sky overhead was pretty colorful in places. The sloping icy snow was tedious. Before the usual spot where we climb up dirt was a spot where the trail came near to the top of Mammoth Rock and the sloping rock had a thin snow cover. With the spikes we were able to climb up without knocking off all the snow. A minute or two later were off snow covered dirt and on the top of Mammoth Rock. It is one mammoth rock. I think that every time I see it. We headed back to the far end near Exclamation Point Rock. As expected the huge expanse of gently sloping rock was snow free. For a change the wind was not blowing much. It was cool but not so much that we had to put on jackets.

High thin clouds were blowing in. We were mostly still in sunshine but at times it was blocked. Then it was much cooler. Mostly it was fine. From the top we could see the north facing south side of the valley still had snow from top to bottom. Sitting on the top of the north side of the valley we had more sunshine and much less snow. We always take a long lunch break atop Mammoth Rock and this day was no different. We arrived at 11:38 am and stayed until 1:00 pm. 1:22 just enjoying the views, and being mostly in the sunshine. After a long winter of mostly hiking close to home on trails that were not crowded during this pandemic it was nice to see different scenery and no people at all. Pine trees and east of the slope wildflowers were a treat. I was a bit nervous about the hike as I had my first vaccine shot on Wednesday. I had a mild reaction and was fine on the hike.

We still had quite a ways to go and packed up to go. Back across the Rock then down our shortcut on the thin snow covered rock. Thankfully it held up and the descent went fine. Back along the icy sloped snow with a few more post holes as the temperature was now well above freezing. We took a few more photos of Exclamation Point Rock then got ready to head down the sandstone ridge on a different descent than our ascent route from the road. Back when we were packing up Gary noticed he had a missing mitten. I had a photo of both mittens back near where we had left the road. We figured it would be easy to find retracing our steps. It surely was back at Exclamation Point Rock where we took off gloves for many photos coming up. Except it was not there. We changed plans and went down the way we came up. Down to the slick rock and then down towards the road. We had a gps track and four eyes. It could not be far away. We kept going down and it did not show up. At the first place we stopped to take grass widow photos coming up Gary found his missing mitten. By then I thought it was gone for good.

Remembering how soft the snow was on the last bit of road coming up I expected to have to put on snowshoes. It was right at that bad spot where every 7th or so stop fell in. Annoying but not so bad as to stop and take the time to put on the snowshoes. Once we were back in the trees it was much better. Back at the bridge over the WF Teanaway we took another stop. It was a bit sunnier again and pleasantly warm. The river was noisy with afternoon snow felt flow. We were in no hurry to get moving again. We stopped at 2:14 pm and started moving at 2:31 pm. Now we had to climb back above the river. Up we went. We decided to take one more detour. We left the road and climbed up to  another big slickrock slope. More good views and a spot to take a break in bright sunshine. We also found a whole lot more blooming grass widows. A few were a really dark color. Gary also noticed quite a few spring beauty in bloom. That was the second and last wildflower we saw in bloom.

We took our break near the top of the slickrock. I also noticed a lot of the round rubbery leaves of bitterroot. I love their bright pink flowers and will be back to try to see them in bloom in a month or two. This stop lasted 35:00. We packed up and left at 3:50 pm. Now we just had a little snowy road and then the snow covered path down to the bare meadow. The road part went well. The forested path part not so well. It was so hard and icy on the way up we did not leave tracks much of the way. With the gps it was not hard to find the route. Unfortunately, the snow was now much softer. Though the snow was only inches deep in places and even bare at times it was several feet deep in lots of places. We started post holing to between knees and crotch with many steps. It was so soft and we were going all the way down to the ground that I'm not sure if snowshoes would have helped. It was an agonizing time to go a short distance. Just getting out when both legs are crotch deep in snow is a pain. We were very happy when the snow ended. It took us 27:00 to go .60 miles on flat terrain.

Down in the meadow along the WF Teanaway River we were back in sunshine. It is a big meadow and it was a pleasant walk though both of us were beat up from the deep post holing. Where we left the meadow we took one more break. The half mile road walk back to the cars would be in cool shade. We hiked back without microspikes. The icy road was slick but not too bad. in places the ice was softening. When only a couple minuets short of our cars we saw a truck stopped in the road. This was just after the snow began. Another car was seen but quickly turned around and headed out. The truck had chains on. His weight had put tracks in the icy snow. That would not have happened in the sub freezing morning. The guy was standing there and did not seem to be stuck so we passed by and were at our cars. We arrived back at 5:36 pm.

Our day lasted 8:55 covering 11.1 miles with 1700'+ of elevation gain. Much of our way was on snow. When icy in the morning it was easy walking with microspikes. From road to meadow on the way back accounted for about half my effort and all of the pain on this trip. It was more difficult than when bare but did provide a much different experience and different views. If you discount the guy at his truck a minute from the end we did not see anyone on this trip. I guess I'll call it 99.98% solitude. This was a fun trip So nice to see the east of the crest forest again. Nice to see spring wildflowers. Nice to have so much solitude. Even the drive was easy both ways on a weekday. I managed to get the same brand gas as in North Seattle for 56 cents less per gallon. That offset some of the 214 miles drive cost. A really fun hike. I really enjoy my holiday that so few other folks have.

Stuart Range
Parking Spot
Leaving Snowy Road
Shady Meadow
Teanaway Falls
Sunny Big Meadow
Snowy Route
Deeper Snow On Bridge
WF Teanaway Upstream
Teanaway Lakes
Gary On Road
Leaving Road
Grass Widow
Bunch Of Widows
Ascending Slickrock
Mammoth Rock In Sight
Exclamation Point Rock
Back Side View
Along Mammoth Rock
Bright Colors
Getting Snowy
On Mammoth Rock
Looking South
Looking Back
Yellow Hill
Heading Back
Back On The Road
Colorful Water
Spring Beauty
Another Slickrock Bald
More Grass Widows
Another Viewpoint
Bitterroot Leaves
Big Bunch
Small Plant
Back To The Meadow
Sunny Meadow
Last Road Walk
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2021