Exclamation Point Rock

Kim was free for a Saturday hike on Memorial Day Weekend. We were looking for a wildflower hike. With the cool spring, snow levels are now well above average. The flower show seems to be a couple weeks behind normal. We thought the WF Teanaway might be close to prime and have less people than more popular areas on a long holiday weekend. We left North Seattle at about 6:52 am heading east. Traffic was not bad. North to the Teanaway Road and then to the West Fork Road. The last two miles of dirt was pretty rough but no problem width my 8.5" of ground clearance. I just had to take it very slow. We arrived at the gate at about 8:45 am. We were packed and on our way by 9:05 am. There were no other cars at the trailhead. Our route this day was through the big meadow. Fresh light green leaves covered all the trees along the WF Teanaway River. The meadow was a vibrant green. On my last visit last November, there were no leaves and the grass was all brown. We had some peaking and past peaking balsamroot flowers at the trailhead. That was a positive point. It was about 50 degrees width a thin overcast. Shadows were visible. We could clearly see Mt. Stuart on the drive in.

Hiking up the meadow we saw some flowering serviceberry, lupine, desert parsley, peas, prairie stars, camas, and varies unknown flowers. Not a lot but some good colors. Where we left the meadow on an old road the hillside was quite wet. This provided us with a lot of yellow seep monkey flowers and camas. The purple and yellow colors were thick and really lit up the hillside. This was one of a whole lot of photo stops this day. I ended up with over 250 photos for the day. Once up the hill the minimal boot path faded to nothing. The cool wet spring has led to a lot of grass growth. The boot path was covered with it. I followed it easily last November. I had to rely on knowledge and a route map track to stay on route. The dirt trails were fine. Just the minimal track was gone.We hit the main path and the flower show went into overdrive. It was not a profusion of flowers, it was a terrific variety. We saw arnica, Indian paintbrush, spring beauty, lupine, silver crown (not quite blooming), ball head waterleaf, calypso orchids, giant yellow violets, violet violets. larkspur, peas, and chocolate lilies.

Did I mention chocolate lilies. In five minutes I saw more than I have ever seen on one hike. I have seen them before on a couple places along this route. This day it was all over. Perhaps it was the cool wet spring. Perhaps I have not been there at the right time. It was a very unexpected wildflower display. We reached the road and turned left. Down, over the bridge, and up again. Soon the road began the descent to the river. There were more chocolate lilies along the uphill side of the road. We crossed the WF Teanaway and noticed the river was running higher than usual this time of year. There is still plenty of snow to melt up high. The clouds had been thickening. The road began to climb. Along the road side we saw lots of chocolate lilies. I felt a few random drops of rain as we turned off the road and began to hike up the slickrock. Lots of pine trees along here. By the time we reached Exclamation Point Rock we had seen three mountain bikers and one hiker heading down. Not too bad for a holiday weekend.

We took the obligatory photos of the rock and headed up and behind Mammoth Rock. The darkening sky and recent rains really lit up the colors in the moss and lichens on the sandstone wall. Kim noticed a few glacier lilies that were done blooming. We finally reached the other end of Mammoth Rock and climbed up the slope. The usual spring calypso orchids were there abut not as many as expected. Spring beauty were blooming everywhere. At the top the balsamroot were blooming. Some were at peak and some were past. The lupine were getting started too. We now had light steady rain and chose to stop under some big pine trees for protection. Raincoats went on. There was a cold wind abut it quickly died down. Mammoth Rock went from dry to wet in a few minutes. I was not interested in walking all the way across the now slick rock in the rain to get no views. We had lunch, took flower photos, and walked a short way onto the Rock.

Soon were were packing up and heading down. The rain began to let up and stopped quickly. We never did pull out our umbrellas. We haded back to Exclamation Point Rock. I had planned to hike down the sandstone ridge but the wet rock and lack of views made it a better choice to retrace our steps. We made sure to take some more photos of chocolate lilies. We also noticed the rain catching on the lupine leaves. This is an interesting thing I noticed long ago. Some leaves had half a dozen small raindrops lined up on each leaf. At the center where the leaves met were much bigger raindrops. Some were big enough to work as a magnifying lens for the leaves below. This necessitated more photo stops. Farther down the road we met local cabin owners on a quad. We had a pleasant conversation. We learned a little history as they have had property for about 20 years. Nice people. We then continued on.

On the way back we took a detour up the slope. Last year I found some bitterroot in bloom here. Not a lot but worth a look. As with the chocolate lilies, this year seems to be special. First we saw some leaves. Next some closed flower buds. Then we saw a couple in bloom. Then a few dozen. Then a few hundred. It was probably the largest field of bitterroot I have seen in bloom. This really slowed us down. So much to see and photograph. Going higher we found balsamroot and lupine in bloom together. A little farther on were more bitterroot. Here most were not yet blooming. They will be soon. Some sun breaks appeared and we sat down in the sunshine on the slickrock. We were not in a hurry to leave.  It was getting a little late. At about 5:20 pm we headed down. We had already been hiking for over 8 hours. With fewer photo stops we made it down to the road at 5:48 pm.

We hiked down the road and turned back into the forest. There were now fresh horse prints in the dirt. They had come up and down since morning. We dropped back to the big meadow with another stop for photos of the camas and monkey flowers. The later light and overcast provided much different lighting than in the morning. The walk down the meadow seemed take a long time but really went by pretty quickly. We arrived back at the car at 6:50 pm. There was one other car in the lot and those folks arrived right after us. We had seen them on the other side of the river relaxing in hammocks. As we got ready to leave four trucks reached the other side of the gate. I expected them to be inholders and open the lock. It turns out that they went through an open gate somewhere and now were stuck. They took a chance and lost.

The drive home went pretty well. As hoped, the traffic was pretty light. We had a little light rain in places up to Snoqualmie Pass. Once over the pass, the rain really picked up. We had steady and hard at times rain all the way back beyond Issaquah. It nearly stopped when we reached Seattle.  I was home just before dark. I had hoped to avoid rain by going east and avoid crowds by going to a less popular place. I even hoped for a few wildflowers in bloom. We had than and more. I really did not expect to see a long list of wildflowers in bloom and more chocolate lilies and bitterroot than ever before in one day. That was especially remarkable since the weekend before I saw more calypso orchids that ever before. I have not done a lot of wildflower hikes this spring but the results have been magnificent! Kim and I had a really good Memorial Day Weekend hike.

Balsamroot At Start
Entering Big Meadow
Thin Brown Trail
Prairie Stars
Yellow Monkey Flower
Many Monkey Flowers
Leaving Meadow
Spring Beauty
Calypso Orchid
Chocolate & Orange
Triple Chocolate
On The Road
WF Teanaway River
Yellow Violet
Old Red Trillium
Ball Head Waterleaf
Mega Chocolate Lilies
Kim At Work
Lupine Bush
Lupine Close Up
On The Slickrock
Exclamation Pt. Rock
Mossy Rock
Perfect Balsamroot
Wet Mammoth Rock
Desert Parsley
Colorful Lupine
More Prairie Stars
Another Calypso
Wet Colorful Moss
Raindrop On Lupine
Oregon Grape
Back On Road
Hooker's Onion
First Bitterroot
White Bitterroot
Triple Bitterroot
More Bitterroot
Biggest Bunch
More Balsamroot
Colorful Pine Bark
Gnarled Tree
Meadow Below
More Monkey Flowers
Lots Of Monkey Flowers
Looking Back
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2022