Exclamation Point Rock

Janet joined me for a spring trip to Exclamation Point Rock. I was there six weeks earlier and on a detour I noticed many bitterroot leaves mixed in with a lot of blooming grass widows. I wanted to go back and see if they were in bloom. It was set to be a warm day in the high 70s so we decided on an early start. I left home at 6:00 am. I arrived at the end of pavement on the WF Teanaway Road to find 20+ cars parked. A sign said they were search and rescue. I'm not sure if it was a rescue or a practice event. Janet arrived soon after and we drove the last 1.5 miles to the gate. It was 44 degrees at the end of pavement and 47 degrees at the gate. We packed up and were ready to go at 8:12 am. We headed into the meadow rather than walk the road. Six weeks earlier the meadow was frosty and brown with no leaves on the trees along the river. This day the meadow was very green and the trees were covered with green leaves.

We spotted 5 deer in the meadow but they took off before we were close enough for a good shot. The sun was out and it was almost warm enough for short sleeves but not quite yet. Farther down the meadow we headed up the slope on the old spur road. Near the bottom Janet noticed quite a few wildflowers. Camas, some violet like blooms, some small white flowers, and yellow monkey flower. The last one really surprised me. As we headed higher we saw arnica and spring beauty. Next was Indian paintbrush, lupine, and even a trillium still blooming. The latter flowers were in forest. This trail was under snow on the early trip so this was the first time I had seen the actual boot path. We soon wound around and reached the main road. We dropped to cross the first bridge then up and then the longer drop back to the WF Teanaway River. Near the junction with the old washed out WF Road Janet noticed a chocolate lily on the bank along the road. Then another and another. There must have been many dozens of them. The blend in so well it's hard to see them until you spot the first one.

We took our time photographing them. That was the largest patch of chocolate lilies I have ever seen. Not long after that we crossed the bridge over the WF Teanaway River. Lots of water in the river this time of year. At an easy pace with lots of photo stops we arrived at the bridge at 9:26 am.  Heading along the road by Dingbat Creek we saw a sampling of wildflowers. Ballhead waterleaf, lupine, and groundsel among them. Janet was quick to spot more chocolate lilies. They were on both sides of the road. I have seen them in this vicinity but not right here. Not as big as the first patch but still one of the largest I have seen. We had not reached the bitterroot site but the hike was already a big success as far as seeing chocolate lilies. The road climbed until the point we left it.

Much of the rest of the way up is following slick rock. The ground is grassy with a steady line of slick rock sticking out to follow. Soon Mammoth rock came into view. Up we went towards the ridge top until Exclamation Point Rock came into view. This was Janet's first visit. I always check for a reaction when it is seen for the first time. It might not be that unusual in the southwest but it sure is in the Pacific Northwest. It was now 10:19 am and the sun was high enough to put glare on our photos. We went around to the back side and the shots were much clearer. Now we headed along the ridge top right alongside the vertical wall of Mammoth Ridge. The wall did provide shade coming and going. Much cooler than out in the sun. We saw some glacier lilies that were a bit beyond prime. Later in the day we did see some near peaking glacier lilies.

Eventually the wall gives way to a dirt slope and we headed on up. Walking back to Mammoth Rock we went by a spot where I have always seen calypso orchids this time of year. It is a small patch but we did not see any. A minor disappointment. At the edge of the rock the usual flower garden was just past peak but still looking good. A nice selection of balsamroot and lupine were blooming. It was still a good distance to walk across the rock to the end near Exclamation Point Rock. It felt like the mid 70s already. Bright sunshine on the rock really seemed to heat us up. A flock of vultures flew overhead then around as as we arrived. An omen? They soon left. We arrived atop Mammoth Rock at 10:43 am. We stayed until 11:15 am. I applied more sun screen immediately. There was a cool breeze that offset the heat and lack of shade. While we were there a lone mountain biker arrived and quickly left. The first person we had seen all day.

After lunch and some relaxing we packed up to head back. Once off the rock we slowed down for one more search for the elusive calypso orchids. Janet went a ways off route and found a couple. When I arrived we looked about and started finding more. In all me must have seen close to 20. Not a huge patch but they were all right at peak. It is a challenge to get good photos of these small but very colorful wildflowers. Pleased with the find we continued back around Mammoth Rock to Exclamation Point Rock and down to the road. The road walk was uneventful. We did see two mountain bikers and later two motorcyclists. That concluded the 5 total people seen over nearly 7 hours of hiking.

We did take that one detour up to near the ridge top where I was disappointed to not see any bitterroot in bloom...at first. Janet saw one. As we hiked up we saw a couple more . They were white and pink flowers and looked really good. Not many but not a washout either. We found a little shade at the top of the bare rock slope for a final break. Nice views out and all that bare slickrock below us. There were more balsamroot in bloom too. The shade was helpful as it now felt like at least 80 degrees. In fact the trailhead temperature at the end of the hike was almost 80. More than forecast. I am not looking forward to the 90s in summer east of the slopes but this day was not too bad.

After a nice long break we headed down. Going slowly We saw a few more blooming bitterroot. The grade drops to a saddle, goes up a bit, then drops to the road. We went down a little right of our ascent. This followed more slickrock. Along the side of the warm slickrock we started to see more bitterroot. Some patches were of more than half a dozen in bloom. We were just a little early but our route down added quite a few more blooming bitterroot. Between the chocolate lilies, calypso orchids, and the bitterroot then turned out to be a very good wildflower hike. From the road we took the boot patch down to the meadow then hiked along it back to the cars. We arrived at the gate at about 2:48 pm. There were no other cars. The dirt road is very bumpy and dusty. Our higher clearance cars had no problem at all. A low slung sedan could make it but it would not be fun.

The drive home was easy. No slowdowns at all. Two weeks earlier Gary and I drove home from Thorp and the backups added about 30 minutes to our drive on a Sunday. Even with a sunny weekend Saturday proved to be no problem. This was another fun hike east of the crest. Janet's first visit to Exclamation Point Rock. A sunny and maybe a little hotter than ideal day. Not a profusion of wildflowers hike but a very nice selection of some not often seen flowers. Add in the near total solitude and you have a great day on the trail.

Many SAR Parked Here
Hiking The Meadow
Bright Green Grass
Yellow Monkey Flower
Leaving Meadow
Meadow & WF River
Spring Beauty
Indian Paintbrush
Chocolate Lily
More Chocolate
And Another
WF Teanaway River
Ballhead Waterleaf
Janet On Slickrock
Exclamation Point Rock
Another View
Janet &I The Rock
Along Mammoth Rock
More Balsamroot
Mammoth Rock
Leaving Mammoth Rock
White Flowers
Glacier Lily
Three Spring Beauties
Calypso Orchid
Two Orchids
Best Calypso Orchid
On The Road Again
Getting Warmer
Oregon Grape
First Bitterroot
Many Buds
Very Tiny Flowers
More Bitterroot
Great Color
Prairie Star
Twin Bitterroot
Last Bitterroot
Colorful Lupine
More Paintbrush
Colorful Trees
Hiking Down Meadow
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2021