finally planned a trip east of
the Cascade Crest to see spring wildflowers. I have seen a lot west of
the crest but many of the best are to the east. It would be in the low
80s and part of the trip would be out in the open. I needed an early
start. I was on my way just before 6:00 am. I cruised over Snoqualmie
Pass and down to Cle Elum. I stopped for gas at the Safeway.
Unfortunately, all the pumps had cones in front of them. I headed
across the street and paid a dime a gallon more. That was still
$.70/gallon less than the cheapest gas in Northwest Seattle. I turned
onto the Middle Fork Teanaway Road and stopped for a few photos in the
car. Mt. Stuart and the Stuart Range sit above a farm with green
fields. There is still a lot of snow on Stuart and the higher Teanaway
Peaks. At the end of the road I turned onto the dirt road section. It
is only 1.5 miles to the gate but the road is in pretty bad shape. The
last half mile is mostly potholes. I slowed to 5-10 mph along here. I
arrived at the gate at about 8:00 am. There was one other car. I
grabbed my pack and headed out at 8:04 am.
It was 57 degrees at the start. I headed out to the meadow. The first
.80 miles is hiking down a huge green meadow. It was a little chilly
until I was in the sunshine. The WF Teanaway River is out of sight to
the left behind a wall of trees. I saw a few wildflowers in
the meadow but not many. Small desert parsley was here and in many
places on my trip. I also saw some yellow violets. An old road turned
trail climbs out of the valley. At the base is a slope of blooming
camas and small yellow seep monkey flowers. I stopped for some photos.
I then ascended the trail into forest. The road/trail heads off right
at a point where I continue straight ahead on a very minimal path. This
leads to the main path. I turned left on this trail. From here to the
main road there are a lot of wildflowers if you time it right. Last
year I saw them at their peak two weeks later than this. I expected to
see some but not a lot of wildflowers.
I walked very slowly looking for some colors. I saw some trillium still
in bloom. Next were spring beauty. They were just beginning to open up.
I saw a whole lot of them all over the route. Calypso orchids are very
small. Very colorful but very small. I looked carefully off the trail
and did find one small patch in bloom. They very very bright colors.
There were just a couple lupine starting to bloom. There were some
yellow violets in bloom here too. Next I saw some ballhead waterleaf.
They were seen much farther up the main road too. Last year I saw
hundreds of chocolate lilies in bloom. I hoped to at least see a few.
They blend in very well and are hard to see. I did not see a single one
in this section. They should be blooming in a couple weeks. As I neared
the main road I saw several Indian paintbrush beginning to bloom. I
also saw false hellebore plants, They have neat big green leaves. I did
not notice any new larch needles though I looked for them. I did see
them on the way back. The forest walk was nice and cool. I popped out
on the road and it was already much warmer.
I looked all along the roadside but did not see any chocolate lilies.
The road drops to cross a creek on a new car bridge, climbs, and soon
begins the descent to the WF Teanaway River. Near the bottom of the
drop I did see a few chocolate lilies just starting to flower. I
crossed the bridge and continued on. The giant puddles I call Lake
Teanaway are much smaller than usual. Dingbat Creek, alongside the
road, has more water than usual. I noticed a few trillium along here.
Much of the way is in forest. When the road began to climb I was out in
the open and 57 at the start now felt like 75 degrees. I brought my
chrome dome umbrella and having portable shade really helped later at
the temperature kept climbing.
Now I began to see chocolate lilies in bloom. Not a whole lot but
dozens of them. Ballhead waterleaf made another appearance too. Silver
crown had flowers almost ready to bloom. After a steady climb I left
the road and started up the slick rock. I don't need a trail. Just
follow the rock slabs rising above the dirt. I recalled seeing a rare
flower along the upper slabs last year. Kim Brown pointed it out. I had
seen it on the Diablo Lake Trail also. I could not recall the name of
this flower. I also did not see it this time. The last part was in
blazing sunshine and I was really feeling the heat. It was only about
10:07 am. One of the first hot days in six months and I was feeling it.
Fortunately, it was time to go back into forest as I reached
Exclamation Point Rock. I have now seen it about a dozen times but it
is still so impressive. Utah has sandstone pillars. Washington state
not so much. I took some photos and had a food and water break.
My next objective was to get up on top of Mammoth Rock. A short
climbing move would get you up top just a few minutes from Exclamation
Point Rock. It would also mean missing the walk along the vertical wall
of Mammoth Rock. In places the wall overhangs the trail. I have to duck
to get under it. This north facing forested trail gets no sunshine. I
even found some glacier lilies in bloom. The wall of Mammoth Rock has
some yellow orange lichen plus some green moss in places. Farther along
I found a mossy section that had blooming grass widows. My close up
photos were all blurry. I did get one at a distance that is not too
bad. After .20 miles the path climbs above the rock wall. I know there
are usually calypso orchids in bloom here. There were many hundreds of
spring beauty blooming. I went off trail a little and finally found a
few calypsos. Not a lot but enough to manage a few good photos. A
couple minutes later I was at the start of Mammoth Rock. There is a big
patch of arrowleaf balsamroot here and it was near peak. There were a
few blooming lupine to add purple color. The first thing I noticed was
I had precious little wind hiking up. Now atop the rock it was blowing
steady. That helped with the heat. The rock has almost no shade. I
hiked all the way back to the other end of the rock and found that one
spot where a few tall trees growing along my access trail create a
little shade. It was now 10:54 am. I had hiked 4.7 miles in 2:50. That
is monumentally slow but with a whole lot of photo stops and slow
flower searching it was not that bad. My lunch only lasted for 11
minutes and I was back on my way. I planned one more in the open climb
and I did not want to do it in the heat of the day. It was time to head
back. With fewer stops I made much better time. Back across the WF
Teanaway River and up the first hill. Before I reached the spot where I
leave the road I did another slickrock climb on a mostly open hillside.
It was more like 80 degrees now. The chrome dome helped a
lot. This section has an amazing display of bitterroot in early June.
There are grass widows in early spring. I hoped to find a few round
bitterroot "branches/leaves". They are tiny flowers with tiny branches.
I did not see even a trace. The grass widows were long gone.
At the top of the ridge I did find balsamroot near its peak. That was
some of the best color of the day. I followed a path down and came to
another Mammoth Rock. This one is many patches of slick rock not one
big slab. I did find a few finished blooming grass widows here. I have
been to the top of the slick rock many times. This time I went further
and hiked up to the highest point. There were no views through the
trees. I went back down. I sat for a break and noticed some really tiny
purple flowers. It suddenly hit me. These were broomrake. These were
the flowers Kim and I saw below Exclamation Point Rock last year. I
have now seen them in two places on this hike. They are so small that I
could not see them while standing up. I went over to the far side of
the slickrock slope where Janet and I saw some bitterroot in bloom last
year at this time. I did not see any flowers but I did see some of the
plants. They should start blooming in a week or two.
Now It was time to head on down. Back to the road and soon off the road
and into the forest. On my way back on the road I saw two bikers. As I
neared the big meadow I ran into a group of mountain bikers hiking down
to their bikes. They were the only two groups I saw all day. Once in
the big meadow I now had about a steady 10 mph wind right in my face.
It was cooling but it pushed the wide brim of my sun hat down into my
vision. I could not see much except for my feet on the hike across the
meadow. I was glad to reach my car. It was in the shade. It was now
2:16 pm. In 6:12 I hiked a little over 10 miles with 1800' of elevation
gain. On my drive home it was 82 degrees at the trailhead, 86 in Cle
Elum, 92 in Issaquah, and only 77 in Seattle.
This was a great hike. It was nice to get across the mountains again. I
had the expected solitude on this hike. Exclamation Point Rock is just
as impressive as ever. I did not have the profusion of flowers seen two
weeks later last year but I did see quite a few different varieties.
The calypso orchids, chocolate lilies, and especially the broomrake
were real treats. I won't drive east for many hikes on 82 degree days
this year but Tiger Mountain was much hotter. It was a good choice and
a great wildflower hike.
Click on thumbnails to get
The Stuart Range
Entering The Big Meadow
Seep Monkey Flower
Cams With Bug
WF Teanaway River
Forest & Meadow
On The Road Again
Fast Running River
Small Colorful Sedums
On The Slickrock
Exclamation Point Rock
Along The North Wall
More Ballhead Waterleaf
Colorful Calypso Orchid
Mammoth Rock View
Atop More Slickrock