Exclamation Point Rock

Kim was free and wanted to go east for a wildflower hike. She suggested another trip to Exclamation Point Rock. I agreed. It is a long drive so we were on our way at 6:35 am. It was Mothers Day and the traffic was light. We had 83F in Seattle on Saturday and it looked to be a bit cooler east of the crest for Sunday. I stopped for relatively cheap gas in Cle Elum ($3.97/gallon with credit card cashback). We reached the end of pavement on the WF Teanaway Road and the last couple miles on dirt was as bad as ever. The last part was just going through pot holes as it was impossible to avoid them all. We arrived at the gate at about 8:40 am. The sun was out and it was already 57F. We started hiking at 8:54 am. There were almost no wildflowers in the meadow. The new leaves on the trees along the river were colorful and the grass in the meadow was many shades of green. We proceeded across the meadow with only a few photos stops. One early runner passed us on his way back. That was one of two groups of people seen all day. Where the trail heads uphill on an old road, there are camas and yellow seep monkey flower blooming in the spring. Our timing was excellent. There were a lot of both wildflowers in bloom. That did take a little time for photos.

We headed uphill and intersected the trail in forest. The forest flowers were nowhere near the peak we saw a few years ago. We did see a some of quite a few varieties in bloom. We saw two calypso orchids. We saw many yellow violets and then many violet violets. There was a lot of arnica and some trillium in bloom. Only a few Indian paintbrush were blooming. The huge number of chocolate lilies seen one year were not seen at all. A few other flowers were seen here or there including many spring beauties. All in all, it was not great but not a bust either. Larch trees had their bright green needles once again. In November, I was here for the golden larch needles. We soon left forest and turned left on the road. We debated going off road to see if the bitterroot had started to bloom. They open in the morning and close at night. We decided it was too early in the day to see blooms even if they were ready.

The road dropped to cross the bridge then leveled off. It was now getting quite warm. The road dropped down to river level. Several culverts have been put in. The machinery scraped much of the slope above the road. I had seen chocolate lilies here in past years but the scraping took away any that were there. Farther down the bank was undisturbed and we did see some chocolate lily pods and then a few newly opened flowers. We reached the bridge over the WF Teanaway River at 10:37 am. Just beyond, we met two guys at the cabin. They were getting ready to take out mountain bikes. We stopped to talk for a few minutes. At the open gate, we stopped for a food and water break. It was in shade. The big puddles that cover the road from edge to edge were still big in May. We saw more trillium, some ballhead waterleaf, and more chocolate lilies along the side of the road. A lot of strawberries were also in bloom. The chocolate lilies are had to see and hard to get in focus. We spent time on our knees or lower to get a shot of these small flowers. The road began to ascend and the shade lessen. It was now getting quite toasty. At least for west siders who have not seen much 70F weather in the past six months. The two bikers with the rest of their family were now hiking up the road. It looked like a Mothers Day hike. They were the only people we saw after the lone runner near the start.

We turned off the road and climbed up the slope. There was a big patch of some yellow flower. It was one of the best color displays of the day. We followed the slickrock up to just below the wall of Mammoth Rock. We would be atop it later. Much of this climb was in the sunshine. We were glad to enter forest just before reaching Exclamation Point Rock. We took another food and water break at the Rock. It is so out of place in a forest in the eastern Cascade Mountains. It is one big spire of sandstone. I have so many photos of it that our stay was short. It was already 12:12 pm. To get up on top of Mammoth Rock we had a long hike just below the vertical north side of the rock. The slope drops steeply below. In places the rock overhangs the trail. I was surprised to see a few glacier lilies past prime but still standing. Way down the rock the trail switchbacks and climbs dirt instead of the mossy rock seen so far. There was a lot of spring beauty blooming along here. I looked but did not see any calypso orchids where I usually see them this time of year. They are tiny and hard to see.

We continued up to the start of Mammoth Rock. As we neared it, the family seen earlier were leaving. They headed down the south side of the ridge. We had Mammoth Rock to ourselves. We heard the wind earlier but now we felt it. There is almost no shade on the Rock so the wind really helped us out. I brought my chrome dome for shade and it helped too. We went all the way back to the east end of the Rock for our lunch break. It was now 12:45 pm. The sky was still all blue. Some small birds were zooming up over the rock soaring around and zooming back down. Later we saw two big hawks soaring overhead. It was early enough in the year that the stiff breeze was still cold. After a half hour break, we packed up and headed back at 1:18 pm. Just off the rock is a nice patch of yellow arrowleaf balsamroot and some blooming blue lupine. It was the only balsamroot we saw. It was just past prime but still looking very good. On the way down I stopped for another search for calypso orchids. After having no luck, I headed back to the trail and saw about 8-10 of them in bloom. They are hard to spot.

We decided it was hot and getting hotter and we would retrace our route back down. I have a couple fun detours I usually take but it was getting too hot for ascents up open slopes with little shade. On the way back we took more photos at the better flower spots. We took far fewer than on the way up. We saw nobody on the way back. The car was still at the cabin but nobody was seen. We each brought multiple quart water bottles and it was not quite enough. The cool wind part of the way helped but I was dehydrated at the end. The meadow was the hard part at the end. It was hot with a tale wind. I stopped and turned around periodically to let the wind blow on me. We reached the car at 4:35 pm. It was a fun 7:41 on the trail. We hiked just over 9 miles with about 1400' of elevation gain. It was 75F at my car.

The morning drive was easy but the afternoon was more difficult. From Cle Elum to Easton the highway was stop and go. After than it was clear sailing. That added more than half an hour to our drive home. It as 77F in Cle Elum and 69F at Snoqualmie Pass. I had bright sunshine in my eyes on the drive over and the drive back. This is a fun trip with the meadow, forest flowers, and more flowers all the way to the end. We were short of peak blooming flowers but it was still a pretty good show. It as well worth the long drive.

Mt. Stuart
Desert Parsley
The Big Meadow
Blooming Camas
Seep Monkey Flowers
Camas & Monkey Flowers
More Camas
Kim Leaving Meadow
Colorful Oregon Grape
More Oregon Grape
Spring Beauty
Yellow Violet
Calypso Orchids
Indian Paintbrush
Violet Violets
On The Road
First Chocolate Lilies
Prairie Star
Big Pine Tree
WF Teanaway River
RR Crossing?
Small White Flower
Ballhead Waterleaf
Under Chocolate Lily
3 Chocolate Lilies
Strawberry Flower
Yellow Flowers
Exclamation Point Rock
Arrowleaf Balsamroot
On Mammoth Rock
Kim On Rock
View Down Valley
Elbow Pk & Yellow Hill
Balsamroot & Lupine
More Calypso Orchids
Descending Slickrock
Back To Camas
Shaded Camas
Back In Big Meadow
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2024