Jun 11, 2012
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Meeks Table
- Region: Eastern Washington -- Yakima
- Avg Rating: 3.00
- Why You Should Go Now
- Wildflowers blooming
The route goes through some forest then begins a moderately steep and short climb to and then along the ridge. After seeing no wildflowers below they began on the ridge. Some paintbrush and calypso orchids at first. Much more to come. The ridge suddenly flattened and widened as we reached the table. Lots of trees on top with a grassy meadow everywhere. We headed to the sunny south side. The forest gave way to grass and then bare rock and dirt. The rocky area was covered with blooming bitterroot. I missed out on most to the desert flower show on the east side of the Cascades this spring. This trip just about made up for it.
The bitterroot were just about at their peak. One of my favorite flowers and there were hundreds of them. There were many more flowers. Buckwheat, some balsamroot, arnica, small daisies, and more. We did not see any scarlet gilia however. It was 1.7 miles to the start of the table per my GPS. We toured around the periphery and walked slightly farther than the distance coming up. As we walked to the far end the wall around the table became much steeper. The cliffs are nearly vertical at the far east end.
We thought we were looking at Mt. Aix but a check of the map showed that Point 7044 lies almost in line and blocks most of Aix. Lots of snow on the peaks to the west. Not a drop of snow even at the 4500' top of Meeks Table. We found lots of mountain goat hair but no goats. The table is home to a lot of frasera (elkweed). It is supposed to grow to 6 feet tall though the ones we saw were 2 to 3 feet tall. Lupine was blooming in a few places though much more will be in bloom in a week or two. Since this is such a short trip we spent a lot of time bending down to take flower photos.
On the way in we drove past McDaniel Lake. From up top we had a very good look down on the lake. Bright green grass around the lake surrounded by darker green trees. Speaking of bright green, there are a lot of larch trees all along our route. This place would be a great destination for seeing golden larch in October. The needles are now much lighter and brighter green than the other evergreen trees. On the north side I hoped to find more paintbrush but instead it was much of the same with a few new flowers. Some glacier lilies were still in bloom and a few grass widows. We saw old man's whiskers on both the north and south sides. One damp spot even had some shooting stars in bloom. All in all, a very nice flower show.
All good things must come to an end and we finally reached the end of our loop and headed back down the ridge. Back in the flatter forest we went a little to our left and came to the other trail. This one seems to reach a talus field and then takes a steeper and rockier path up to the ridge. Down lower it is in good shape and quickly brought us back to the old road part of the trip. This was a slight short cut over our route up, cutting off one switchback in the road. A quick half mile or so of road and we were back at the main road and the car.
On the drive out we stopped at McDaniel Lake. There are a number of campsites around this small lake and even on a Sunday afternoon there were half a dozen cars at the lake. It was getting to be quite warm and the lake proved to be a cool spot. From there we had a better angle to see Mt. Aix and may have seen the real summit. Grass surrounds much of the lake and there are some aspen trees too. Next was the long drive home.Even with seven hours of driving I was home well before dark. It was an easy hike with lots of sun, lots of wildflowers in bloom, and great company. A fine day in the mountains.
I have posted 44 photos on my website located at: http://www.hikingnorthwest.com. Go to "Trips - 2012" on the left margin.