Black Hills Expedition No. 182 – Mount Pisgah (WY) & Laird Peak (SD) (11-13-16)

The sign said “Lunney”.  This was it!  Beyond a gravel parking area, SPHP opened a wire gate, then drove the G6 down a steep little slope, parking it next to an old building (8:49 AM, 48°F).  SPHP closed the gate again.  Lupe could come out now.  She bounded out of the G6 expecting great things!

Lupe arrives at the Lunney place, ready to start on her next Black Hills, WY adventure. Photo looks E.
Lupe arrives at the Lunney place, ready to start on her next Black Hills, WY adventure. Photo looks E.
The G6 parked on land owned by rancher Lauris Tysdal. The Lunney place just off US Hwy 85 is seen just beyond the fence. Photo looks W.
The G6 parked on land owned by rancher Lauris Tysdal. The Lunney place just off US Hwy 85 is seen just beyond the fence. Photo looks W.

Lupe was in the Black Hills of Wyoming, about 5 miles S of the junction of Highways 85 & 585 at Four Corners.  She had just seen Red Butte on the E side of Hwy 85 less than a half mile to the N.  SPHP had been watching for the Lunney place, mentioned in a May, 2009 trip report by Edward Earl on Peakbagger.com.

The Lunney place was important as an access point to rancher Lauris Tysdal’s land and Mount Pisgah (6,380 ft.).  Mount Pisgah was one of two peakbagging goals Lupe had in this vicinity.  She already had Mr. Tysdal’s permission to cross his land to climb Mount Pisgah.  Later in the day, Lupe and SPHP would be looking for the owner of the ranch where Sweetwater Mountain (6,440 ft.) was, hoping to get permission to climb it, too.

First things first, though.  Before climbing Mount Pisgah, Lupe was going to go see Red Butte, a fin of red clay topped with a layer of limestone.  Lupe and SPHP went N through a field just E of US Hwy 85.  Red Butte was soon in view.

Lupe S of Red Butte. This fin of red clay capped by a layer of limestone is a somewhat unusual landmark in the Black Hills area. It is more typical of parts of Wyoming farther W. Photo looks N.
Lupe S of Red Butte. This fin of red clay capped by a layer of limestone is a somewhat unusual landmark in the Black Hills area. It is more typical of parts of Wyoming farther W. Photo looks N.
Red Butte, WY from the S. The butte is just E of US Hwy 85, about 5 miles S of Four Corners. It is seen to be much longer than it appears here when viewed from the E or W. Photo looks N.
Red Butte, WY from the S. The butte is just E of US Hwy 85, about 5 miles S of Four Corners. It is seen to be much longer than it appears here when viewed from the E or W. Photo looks N.

After a good look at Red Butte, Lupe and SPHP returned to the G6 where a dirt road on the Tysdal Ranch headed SE.  This road would take Lupe all the way up to the top of Mount Pisgah.

Lupe about to start for Mount Pisgah. She would follow the dirt road seen here. It went SE beyond the building, then turned NE (L) before reaching the trees. Photo looks SE.
Lupe about to start for Mount Pisgah. She would follow the dirt road seen here. It went SE beyond the building, then turned NE (L) before reaching the trees. Photo looks SE.

The road took Lupe SE past an old, low building, then turned NE before reaching the trees.  Lupe soon came to a fence across the road.  The fence wasn’t mentioned in Edward Earl’s report.  The Carolina Dog slipped under the fence.  She stayed on the road, as it entered the forest and wound its way up a small canyon.

Coming out into more open ground again, Lupe could see the same rock formations Red Butte was made of evident along the NW side of the canyon.

The same rock formations Red Butte was made of were also evident on the NW side of the canyon the road to Mount Pisgah passed through. Photo looks NW.
The same rock formations Red Butte was made of were also evident on the NW side of the canyon the road to Mount Pisgah passed through. Photo looks NW.

Now and then, side roads left the road Lupe was following.  She didn’t take any of the side roads, per Edward Earl’s advice.  The main dirt road slowly turned ENE as it went up the canyon.  For a while, the road looked like it was heading for a minor pass to the E.  Instead, it made a sweeping curve to the S before reaching the pass.

The road grew steeper, and wound around quite a bit, but was generally heading S.  Suddenly, Lupe dashed ahead.   She was looking up into the forest to the SE.  SPHP saw it, too.  Not too far away, a large coyote was watching Lupe!  As soon as it made eye contact with SPHP, it fled E into the forest.  Lupe was disappointed that the wild dog didn’t want to be friends, but it was probably for the best.

Lupe reached an orange well pump mentioned by Edward Earl.  By now, Lupe could see a tall tower up on the NW end of the huge Mount Pisgah summit plateau.  Edward Earl’s trip report had mentioned that a tower shown on the topo map at the N end of Mount Pisgah was not there, but Lupe most definitely saw one.  It was in plain sight.

Lupe at the orange hydrant, mentioned (as an orange well pump) by Edward Earl's trip report. Photo looks SE.
Lupe at the orange hydrant, mentioned (as an orange well pump) by Edward Earl’s trip report. Photo looks SE.

By now, Lupe was fairly high up on the NW slope of Mount Pisgah.  There were tree-broken views off to the N and W, but Lupe hadn’t come to any clear views.

From the orange hydrant, the road leveled out.  It turned sharply E, passing below the steep N face of the mountain.  Within a few minutes, Lupe came to a fetid brown pond in a depression S of the road.  The pond was shrunken by drought.  Hoof prints showed thirsty cattle had churned up the mud around the pond.  Apparently, cattle aren’t overly concerned about water quality.

Lupe at the fetid stock pond shrunken by drought. This pond is just S of the road, and N of the steep upper N face of Mount Pisgah. The brown water looked simply horrid. Photo looks ENE.
Lupe at the fetid stock pond shrunken by drought. This pond is just S of the road, and N of the steep upper N face of Mount Pisgah. The brown water looked simply horrid. Photo looks ENE.

Beyond the nasty pond, the road swung toward the NNE before rounding the end of a narrow ridge extending in that direction from the summit plateau.  The road then turned S along the less steep E face of Mount Pisgah.  The forest was left behind.  Lupe was out in grasslands.  Here, she had a clear view to the E of the Black Hills in South Dakota across a valley several miles wide.

On the E slope of Mount Pisgah, Lupe had a sweeping view to the E of the Black Hills in South Dakota across a wide valley. Photo looks NE.
On the E slope of Mount Pisgah, Lupe had a sweeping view to the E of the Black Hills in South Dakota across a wide valley. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on the road up Mount Pisgah. Here she is on the upper E slope of the mountain. The road eventually entered the forest again, before making a couple of switchbacks to emerge up on the summit plateau. Photo looks S.
Lupe on the road up Mount Pisgah. Here she is on the upper E slope of the mountain. The road eventually entered the forest again, before making a couple of switchbacks to emerge up on the summit plateau. Photo looks S.

Another tower was visible ahead on top of the mountain, as Lupe followed the road S along the upper E slope.  The road re-entered the forest, made a couple of switchbacks, and emerged on open ground up on the E side of the huge summit plateau.

Most of the plateau was grassland, but the N end was pine forest.  Pines also ringed the edges of the plateau, cutting off the views, which was a little disappointing.  Not just one, but three large towers were visible to the S, a little W of a stand of pines where the true summit of Mount Pisgah was hidden from view.

Lupe reaches the open ground on the huge Mount Pisgah summit plateau. The road continued S toward 3 large towers. The towers were W of a stand of pines where the true summit of Mount Pisgah was still hidden from view. Photo looks S.
Lupe reaches the open ground on the huge Mount Pisgah summit plateau. The road continued S toward 3 large towers. The towers were W of a stand of pines where the true summit of Mount Pisgah was still hidden from view. Photo looks S.

The road led toward the three large towers.  Lupe went that way, but her top priority was to find the true summit of Mount Pisgah.  Edward Earl had reported that the highest ground was somewhere under a cluster of young evergreens, along with no fewer than 8 concrete slabs with anchor bolts.  The concrete footings were likely part of a structure that was started, but never completed.

Two of the three large towers W of the true summit of Mount Pisgah. Photo looks SW.
Two of the three large towers W of the true summit of Mount Pisgah. Photo looks SW.

W of the towers, Lupe slipped under a barbed wire fence running E/W that Edward Earl hadn’t mentioned.  Not too far S of the fence, she found the concrete slabs with anchor bolts.  The ground in this area was all quite level.  There was no clear, exact, high point, but Lupe had reached the true summit of Mount Pisgah.

Lupe stands on one of the concrete slabs Edward Earl mentioned in the area of the true summit of Mount Pisgah. Photo looks NE.
Lupe stands on one of the concrete slabs Edward Earl mentioned in the area of the true summit of Mount Pisgah. Photo looks NE.

The cluster of young evergreens, wasn’t as young as it had been when Edward Earl was here nearly 7.5 years ago.

Lupe at the summit of Mount Pisgah. A couple of the concrete footings with anchor bolts are in view on the L. The young evergreens Edward Earl had seen nearly 7.5 years ago weren't so young anymore. Photo looks E.
Lupe at the summit of Mount Pisgah. A couple of the concrete footings with anchor bolts are in view on the L. The young evergreens Edward Earl had seen nearly 7.5 years ago weren’t so young anymore. Photo looks E.

The true summit of Mount Pisgah wasn’t too exciting, really.  Although the highest ground was quite close to the E edge of the summit plateau, there were too many trees around to see much of anything.  With Lupe’s peakbagging goal accomplished, she left the summit to take a closer look at the towers.

To the SSE of the three towers was a battered old blue and yellow school bus.  Due to broken glass on the ground, SPHP wouldn’t let Lupe get too close to it.  SPHP gathered up a number of Lupe treasures someone had carelessly discarded near the bus.

Lupe near the battered blue and yellow bus. Broken glass nearby meant Lupe couldn't get too close to it. Why on earth it was here was unfathomable. Photo looks NE.
Lupe near the battered blue and yellow bus. Broken glass nearby meant Lupe couldn’t get too close to it. Why on earth it was here was unfathomable. Photo looks NE.

Edward Earl had only mentioned one tower W of the summit, but now there were three.  The two farthest to the N had new-looking concrete slabs for support, and new outbuildings near them.  The N towers must have been installed after Mr. Earl had been to Mount Pisgah.

The three towers W of the summit. The towers on the L and R were new since Edward Earl was here in May, 2009. Photo looks N.
The three towers W of the summit. The towers on the L and R were new since Edward Earl was here in May, 2009. Photo looks N.

It doesn’t take a Carolina Dog long to look at a few towers!  Lupe was soon ready to move on.  Of course, she still had one tower left to check out, the one at the NW end of the summit plateau that she had seen from down by the orange hydrant.

Lupe and SPHP went N along the E edge of the summit plateau, hoping to catch an open view, but found none.  Lupe then went NW to the road again on her way to the NW tower.  A side road off the main dirt road went N into the forest.  Near the N edge of the plateau, it turned W and took Lupe to the lone tower Edward Earl had somehow missed.

Looking NW across part of the Mount Pisgah summit plateau.
Looking NW across part of the Mount Pisgah summit plateau.
Looking S back at the 3 towers W of the summit.
Looking S back at the 3 towers W of the summit.
Looking S back at the 3 towers W of the summit from near the start of the side road to the 4th tower at the NW end of the mountain. The intersection with the main dirt road is at the L edge of this photo near the trees.
Looking S back at the 3 towers W of the summit from near the start of the side road to the 4th tower at the NW end of the mountain. The intersection with the main dirt road is at the L edge of this photo near the trees.
Lupe nears the NW tower. It must have been here when Edward Earl was around; the outbuilding next to it looked quite old. How he missed it is unclear. Photo looks W.
Lupe nears the NW tower. It must have been here when Edward Earl was around; the outbuilding next to it looked quite old. How he missed it is unclear. Photo looks W.

The NW tower had broken wires hanging off of it.  Paint had peeled off much of the old shack next to it.  However, a heater or air-conditioner on the NE side of the shack was running.  How had Edward Earl missed this tower?  It must have been here, as old as it appeared to be.  Strange.

SPHP went over to the N edge of the summit plateau, hoping for a view.  Lupe didn’t come.  She was standing frozen near the shack.  She looked like she does whenever she steps on a cactus.  SPHP went back to her.  Lupe held up a little front paw, pleading to be carried.

SPHP carried Lupe over to the edge of the plateau.  Lupe rolled over on the ground, so SPHP could check her paws for cactus spines.  Nothing.  SPHP hadn’t seen any cactus anywhere on Mount Pisgah, either.  Maybe Lupe had stepped on something else sharp?  Ever since her bad experience with cactus in the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska, Lupe tends to assume cactus is everywhere any time her paws hurt.

Lupe at the NW end of the summit plateau before starting down the mountain. For a minute or two, she wanted to just sit here. Worried about cactus, she was hoping SPHP was going to carry her back to the G6. Photo looks SE.
Lupe at the NW end of the summit plateau before starting down the mountain. For a minute or two, she wanted to just sit here. Worried about cactus, she was hoping SPHP was going to carry her back to the G6. Photo looks SE.

Apparently, Lupe would have liked SPHP to carry her all the way back to the G6.  She stopped several times on the way down the mountain.  There really wasn’t anything wrong with her that SPHP could see.  She always came running when SPHP got too far ahead.

Instead of taking the road back, Lupe and SPHP went down Mount Pisgah’s NW slope.  A power line went down this way, too.  Most of the time Lupe stayed within sight of it.

Surprisingly, although Lupe hadn’t found any clear views from the edge of the summit plateau on top of the mountain, coming down the NW slope, she did!  Red Butte and Sweetwater Mountain (6,440 ft.), Lupe’s next peakbagging objective, were both in view from several spots on the way down.

Red Butte (L) and Sweetwater Mountain (the long forested ridge on the horizon) as seen from the NW slopes of Mount Pisgah. The canyon seen below Red Butte is the same one Lupe traveled through (from L to R) on the road leading to the top of Mount Pisgah. Photo looks NW.
Red Butte (L) and Sweetwater Mountain (the long forested ridge on the horizon) as seen from the NW slopes of Mount Pisgah. The canyon seen below Red Butte is the same one Lupe traveled through (from L to R) on the road leading to the top of Mount Pisgah. Photo looks NW.
Looking down on Red Butte with a little help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks NW.
Looking down on Red Butte with a little help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks NW.

The NW slope was steep until Lupe reached a road after losing 200 to 300 feet of elevation.  Lupe took the road SW a short distance to the edge of a small meadow where it looked like there might be a view.

The meadow turned out to be part of a much more extensive grassland.  Lupe did have a great view to the SW.

Lupe finds a much more extensive grassland than she'd been expecting. She had a great view from here. Photo looks SW.
Lupe finds a much more extensive grassland than she’d been expecting. She had a great view from here. Photo looks SW.

Lupe went through the grassland, and continued on down the NW slope of Mount Pisgah.  Down here, it wasn’t so steep.  Most of the time Lupe was in forest, but a forest full of small openings and glens.  Lupe’s route down was an easy one.

Crossing the big grassland, Lupe could see the entire length of the Sweetwater Mountain plateau off to the NW.
Crossing the big grassland, Lupe could see the entire length of the Sweetwater Mountain plateau off to the NW.
Lupe came to several dirt roads on the way down Mount Pisgah. She didn't follow any of them very far, but she did travel a short stretch of this road. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe came to several dirt roads on the way down Mount Pisgah. She didn’t follow any of them very far, but she did travel a short stretch of this road. Photo looks NNE.

The American Dingo eventually reached the road she had followed to the top of Mount Pisgah down in the canyon.  She followed it back to the Lunney place, which was only 10 or 15 minutes away (12:25 PM, 55°F).

The G6 was already up on the gravel parking area on the Lunney place with Lupe in it, and SPHP was just closing the gate to Lauris Tysdal’s land, when a jeep drove up.  Mr. Lunney was in it, somewhat surprised, no doubt, to find Lupe and SPHP on the property.

SPHP explained how Lupe had come to be here.  Mr. Lunney seemed satisfied with the explanation.  He began to tell SPHP a little bit about the history of the Lunney place.  His grandparents had bought the property, which includes over 8 acres of land with the house and outbuildings, back in the 1940’s.  In recent years, it had belonged to his mother, but she passed away earlier this year.

Mr. Lunney has another home, so this Lunney property is eventually going to be sold, although exactly when wasn’t clear.  There was no big rush to sell it.  Having been in the family so many decades, Mr. Lunney has a lot of fond memories of this place.

Lupe still had another peakbagging objective today.  After SPHP’s pleasant chat with Mr. Lunney, it was time to go look for the owner of the ranch that Sweetwater Mountain is on.  The ranch wasn’t far away, but the owner didn’t seem to be home.  Without permission from the owner, Lupe couldn’t climb Sweetwater Mountain.

SPHP was writing a note to leave on the door of the rancher’s home, when the owner drove up on an ATV.  SPHP had a conversation with him.  The upshot of it all was that Lupe was refused permission to climb Sweetwater Mountain.  However, when hunting season is over at the end of November, she is welcome to come back to climb it in December.

Well, that was that.  No Sweetwater Mountain today.  Lupe still had a few hours of daylight to do something with.  In the end, it was decided she might just as well climb Laird Peak (6,906 ft.) N of O’Neil Pass in South Dakota.  Laird Peak wasn’t a hard climb at all, and was on the way home.

Lupe and SPHP left the G6 parked S of a corral about 0.33 mile N of Hwy 85 along USFS Road No. 106 (2:35 PM, 48°F).  Lupe took a dirt road E up a shallow valley past Tom Spring.  The road reached an intersection at the upper end of the valley.  From there, Lupe bushwhacked E along the N side of a fence to a small forested rise.  She found the Laird Peak survey benchmark on top of the rise.

The Laird Peak survey benchmark was at the top of a small forested rise.
The Laird Peak survey benchmark was at the top of a small forested rise.
Lupe on Laird Peak. The survey benchmark is seen below her tummy. Photo looks N.
Lupe on Laird Peak. The survey benchmark is seen below her tummy. Photo looks N.
Sweet Lupe on Laird Peak.
Sweet Lupe on Laird Peak.
Even though at 6,906 feet, Laird Peak is quite high for the Black Hills, it was another mountain with no views due to so many trees. The summit area is of modest size. A significant part of it is seen here. The post marking the survey benchmark location is seen on the R. Photo looks N.
Even though at 6,906 feet, Laird Peak is quite high for the Black Hills, it was another mountain with no views due to so many trees. The summit area is of modest size. A significant part of it is seen here. The post marking the survey benchmark location is seen on the R. Photo looks N.

Climbing Laird Peak had been quick and easy.  Lupe had no more peakbagging to do.  It was only around 3:00 PM, but the November sun was already quite low.  It would be dark in another 2 hours.

Since it would only take half an hour to get back to the G6, Lupe had some free time to roam and sniff.  She had no real purpose other than to enjoy life as a free-roaming Dingo in the woods.  Lupe and SPHP wandered through the forest.  The Carolina Dog made a big loop to the N, before returning to Laird Peak’s summit.  She then made a big loop to the S, getting fairly close to US Hwy 85.

Lupe nearly back to the Laird Peak summit at the end of her exploratory loop to the N. Photo looks S.
Lupe nearly back to the Laird Peak summit at the end of her exploratory loop to the N. Photo looks S.

Sharply slanting pine-filtered rays of sunlight announced the imminent arrival of sunset.  Time to start back to the G6.  Lupe’s Black Hills Expedition No. 182 was drawing to a close.  Happily, she’d made it to Mount Pisgah in Wyoming, one of her two main peakbagging objectives, and Laird Peak in South Dakota, but Sweetwater Mountain had eluded her.

Hopefully, sweet Lupe will see the world from the top of Sweetwater Mountain sometime in December, but life’s uncertain, and that’s another adventure for another day.

Roaming free S of Laird Peak near day's end. Photo looks NNE.
Roaming free S of Laird Peak near day’s end. Photo looks NNE.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Kluane Lake & Shepherd’s Knoll in the Slims River Valley, Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, Canada (8-8-16)

Day 10 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

The sky was overcast, but it wasn’t raining.  What time was it?  Good grief!  Almost 9:30 AM already!  SPHP came to.  Lupe was looking way perkier than SPHP.  Her successful climb up King’s Throne yesterday only seemed to have enlivened her.  SPHP on the other hand … well, it didn’t matter, today needed to be a rest day, anyway.

Lupe and SPHP got water and pitched garbage at the campground.  SPHP straightened up the G6.  There were a few squirrels around, so Lupe was happy.  When all was back in order again, Lupe and SPHP drove down to see Kathleen Lake.  A crew was taking down big tents that had been set up for some youth group over the weekend.  The tents had been flapping noisily in the wind much of the night.

King’s Throne Peak (6,529 ft.) was across the bay.  SPHP had been hoping for a clear, bright shot of Lupe at shining blue Kathleen Lake with mighty King’s Throne illuminated by morning sun in the background, but it wasn’t going to happen.  The top of the mountain was scraping clouds.  There wasn’t a ray of sunshine anywhere.  Kathleen Lake looked green, instead of the brilliant blue it had appeared only yesterday.

Lupe at Kathleen Lake with King's Throne Peak in the background. Lupe had been to the summit yesterday! Photo looks SW.
Lupe at Kathleen Lake with King’s Throne Peak in the background. Lupe had been to the summit yesterday! Photo looks SW.

There wasn’t a real plan for the day.  Lupe and SPHP drove to Haines Junction.  SPHP managed to get a shower at a motel.  Much better!  The skies were clearing.  Maybe it was time to head N and see what Lupe’s options were?  On the way N, Lupe went by Mount Decoeli (7,650 ft.).

Mount Decoeli (R) from the Alaska Highway NW of Haines Junction. Photo looks WNW.
Mount Decoeli (R) from the Alaska Highway NW of Haines Junction. Photo looks WNW.

SPHP had hopes that Lupe would be able to climb Decoeli, but not today.  It was too much for today, right after King’s Throne.  Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea to check out the trailhead, though?  SPHP found the trailhead on a hill more than 10 miles N of Haines Junction.  The trailhead was really just a big paved pullout on the W side of the Alaska Highway.  There was no sign, no information, nothing except free parking.

Mount Decoeli from the Alaska Highway, not far from the long paved pullout that serves as a trailhead. Photo looks W.
Mount Decoeli from the Alaska Highway, not far from the long paved pullout that serves as a trailhead. Photo looks W.

It seemed like a good idea to stop by the Tachal Dhal visitor center for information.  SPHP knew the visitor center was located near the S end of Kluane Lake, a huge lake E of the Saint Elias range.  Lupe and SPHP continued N on the Alaska Highway.  Soon the lake could be seen ahead, flanked by mountains to the W.

Lupe near the Alaska Highway. Kluane Lake is in view! Photo looks NNW.
Lupe near the Alaska Highway. Kluane Lake is in view! Photo looks NNW.

Kluane Lake was huge and gorgeous!  Before even going to the visitor center, Lupe and SPHP stopped at a large pullout along the shore at the S end of the lake.

Lupe in Kluane Lake. She reported that the water was clear, cold, and good to drink. The weather, breezy and bright. Photo looks N.
Lupe in Kluane Lake. She reported that the water was clear, cold, and good to drink. The weather, breezy and bright. Photo looks N.

Kluane Lake made a huge impression.  To the N, the cold, blue waters stretched to the horizon like a Yukon sea.  E of the lake, desolate unknown peaks marched N toward the Arctic until they vanished from view.  NW across the lake was scenic Sheep Mountain (6,400 ft.), a peak SPHP hoped Lupe might be able to climb.  To the W was the wide, flat Slims River valley.  Strange clouds of dust blew from the valley toward Kluane Lake.

Blowing dust was unexpected and puzzling.  Was the Alaska Highway gravel over there?  SPHP figured the dust must be coming from traffic on the Alaska Highway or road construction.  Later, it became evident the dust was being blown up by winds sweeping over dried out mud flats along the Slims River.

Clouds of dust were rising up from the Slims River valley, close to where the Tachal Dhal visitor center is located. At first, SPHP thought traffic or road construction was the cause. It turned out to be dust blown from dried out mud flats along the Slims River. Photo looks W.
Clouds of dust were rising up from the Slims River valley, close to where the Tachal Dhal visitor center is located. At first, SPHP thought traffic or road construction was the cause. It turned out to be dust blown from dried out mud flats along the Slims River. Photo looks W.

After Lupe had a chance to wade in Kluane Lake and have a refreshing drink of Yukon water, Lupe and SPHP went on to the Tachal Dahl visitor center.  The visitor center was located in a small building in the Slims River Valley W of both Kluane Lake and the Alaska Highway.  SPHP went in to inquire about trails in the area.

There was bad news for Lupe about the trail to Sheep Mountain.  It was temporarily closed due to recent grizzly bear activity.  SPHP chatted with a ranger about a much longer trail up the Slims River Valley to the Kaskawulsh Glacier.  The best glacier viewpoint was from Observation Mountain (6,824 ft.), but getting there would involve a 3 day/2 night backpacking trip and major stream fords.

As a nice day hike, the ranger suggested the Bullion Plateau trail.  The Bullion Plateau sounded interesting, but it was already afternoon and the trail was too long to consider today.  How about something short and easy?  Right away, the ranger suggested Shepherd’s Knoll, a hill not too far away up the Slims River valley.  A very short trail goes to the top of Shepherd’s Knoll where there are views both up the valley and back toward Kluane Lake.  It sounded perfect!

A little N on the Alaska Highway from the turn to the Tachal Dhal visitor center, another gravel road leaves the highway.  This road goes 2.6 km up the Slims River valley to the Tachal Dahl trailhead.  Lupe left for Shepherd’s Knoll from here.  Lupe and SPHP started out on the main trail, which ultimately goes to the Kaskawulsh Glacier.  The trail began as an old roadbed going through a forest.

It didn’t take Lupe long, maybe 15 minutes, to reach an intersection with the Sheep Creek trail.  A few hundred feet farther along, on the valley side of the main trail, Lupe found the side trail to Shepherd’s Knoll.

Lupe near the start of the Shepherd's Knoll trail. Photo looks SE.
Lupe near the start of the Shepherd’s Knoll trail. Photo looks SE.

The Shepherd’s Knoll trail wasn’t long at all.  It climbed partway up a small hill and vanished.  Lupe continued on higher up the hill, checking out the views from different vantage points along her way.

Lupe climbing Shepherd's Knoll. The trail soon vanished, but Lupe continued up, checking out the views from various vantage points along the way. Photo looks NE.
Lupe climbing Shepherd’s Knoll. The trail soon vanished, but Lupe continued up, checking out the views from various vantage points along the way. Photo looks NE.

For as little effort as it took for Lupe to get here, the views from Shepherd’s Knoll were impressive.

Looking SW up the Slims River valley.
Looking SW up the Slims River valley.
Dust blows down the Slims River valley toward Kluane Lake. Photo looks E.
Dust blows down the Slims River valley toward Kluane Lake. Photo looks E.
Looking S across the Slims River valley from Shepherd's Knoll.
Looking S across the Slims River valley from Shepherd’s Knoll.
A closer look at the snow-capped mountain across the valley using the telephoto lens.
A closer look at the snow-capped mountain across the valley using the telephoto lens.
The beautiful Slims River valley. Photo looks SSW.
The beautiful Slims River valley. Photo looks SSW.
SPHP believes the high hill in the distance is part of the Bullion Plateau. Photo looks WNW.
SPHP believes the high hill in the distance is part of the Bullion Plateau. Photo looks WNW.
The Bullion Plateau? It seemed to be in the right direction. Photo looks WNW.
The Bullion Plateau? It seemed to be in the right direction. Photo looks WNW.
A wider view of the Bullion Plateau vicinity.
A wider view of the Bullion Plateau vicinity.

Even though getting to Shepherd’s Knoll hadn’t taken Lupe very far up the Slims River valley, it was certainly a worthwhile easy trek.  Lupe would have liked to do much more exploring in the Slims River area, but this was a rest day, and it was starting to get late.  Lupe and SPHP returned to the Tachal Dahl trailhead.

No one had been at the trailhead before, but now there were nearly a dozen people here.  They had just returned from an overnight backpacking trip to the Kaskawulsh Glacier.  A campground near the glacier was about as far as most of them had made it.  Only one person had succeeded in reaching the top of Observation Mountain.  The trip was more strenuous than they’d anticipated.

Lupe and SPHP went back to Kluane Lake, but this time a bit farther N along the W side of the lake.  A forested hill projected partway into the lake from mud flats deposited by the Slims River.  Silt is gradually filling in this end of the lake.

Over time, silt and mud deposited by the Slims River will completely surround the forested hill seen here by filling in adjacent portions of Kluane Lake. Photo looks ESE.
Over time, silt and mud deposited by the Slims River will completely surround the forested hill seen here by filling in adjacent portions of Kluane Lake. Photo looks ESE.

Evening was coming.  The views from the pullout along the S shore of Kluane Lake earlier in the day had been so beautiful that Lupe and SPHP returned to enjoy the evening there.

Lupe spent a few happy hours exploring the shore of Kluane Lake, while SPHP watched the ancient dust blow, and the waves roll in.

Sheep Mountain from mud flats at the far SW end of Kluane Lake. Photo looks NNW.
Sheep Mountain from mud flats at the far SW end of Kluane Lake. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe along the S shore of Kluane Lake the evening of 8-8-16. Photo looks W.
Lupe along the S shore of Kluane Lake the evening of 8-8-16. Photo looks W.
Happy times at Kluane Lake in the Yukon. Photo looks E.
Happy times at Kluane Lake in the Yukon. Photo looks E.
Evening at Kluane Lake, Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, Canada 8-8-16.
Evening at Kluane Lake, Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, Canada 8-8-16.

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Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 181 – Missouri Buttes (11-6-16)

Well, Loopster, it’s all been kind of leading up to this lately.  Don’t know if you are going to meet with any success today or not, but we’re at least going to try it.

Lupe wasn’t worried.  She wasn’t paying any attention to SPHP at all.  The eastern sky was just beginning to get light, but she could see cows, lots of big, beautiful, black cows, in the pastures along I90.  The cow-crazed American Dingo was busy barking for all she was worth.  A little later on, NW of Sundance along Hwys 14 & 24, there were herds of deer to entertain her, too.

Wyoming Hwy 24 goes right past America’s very first national monument.  Lupe’s first stop of the day was a quick one to see Devil’s Tower (5,112 ft.).  Not a soul was around early on a Sunday morning in November.  The sun’s first rays struck the tower while Lupe was there to see it.

Lupe arrives at Devil's Tower, America's first national monument, in time to see the first rays of the morning sun on it. Photo looks W.
Lupe arrives at Devil’s Tower, America’s first national monument, in time to see the first rays of the morning sun on it. Photo looks W.

Devil's Tower plaque along Hwy 24, WY 11-6-16

Devil's Tower in the early morning light. Photo looks W.
Devil’s Tower in the early morning light. Photo looks W.

Lupe and SPHP didn’t go into the national monument.  Devil’s Tower is one peak Lupe is never going to bag unless she sprouts Dingo Wings.  However, with a little luck, she was going to get to see the top of it today!  After a good look at Devil’s Tower, Lupe and SPHP continued N on Hwy 24.

On 3 consecutive Black Hills Expeditions to the Bear Lodge Mountains, Lupe had seen distant views of both Devil’s Tower and the Missouri Buttes from a variety of vantage points.  They are the most famous and dramatic landmarks in the entire NE Wyoming region.  Although climbing Devil’s Tower was completely out of the question for the Carolina Dog, she was here now to try her luck climbing the Missouri Buttes (5,374 ft.).

SPHP had good reasons to believe Lupe might not make it.  There are actually 4 separate buttes in the Missouri Buttes cluster.  All are located within an area covering no more than 2 square miles about 4 miles NW of Devil’s Tower.  The problem was, all of the Missouri Buttes are on private land.  Lupe’s first hurdle was to find and secure permission from the landowner to enter the owner’s private property.

Even if permission could be secured to access the private property, there was another big problem.  The only information SPHP found online about climbing Missouri Buttes was a trip report by PanamaRed on SummitPost.org indicating there was Class 3 & 4 scrambling with some exposure near the top of the highest NW Missouri Butte.  Lupe and SPHP are up for some light Class 3, but anything approaching Class 4 just wasn’t going to happen.

Three miles N of Devil’s Tower junction, Lupe and SPHP left Highway 24 on Barlow Canyon Road.  The gravel road crossed the Belle Fourche River, went a mile N, and then turned W.

Looking S at Devil's Tower from Barlow Canyon Road. Lupe loved this view. Not for the big rock in the distance. All those beautiful black cows were what caught her fancy!
Looking S at Devil’s Tower from Barlow Canyon Road. Lupe loved this view. Not for the big rock in the distance. All those beautiful black cows were what caught her fancy!

SPHP wasn’t certain where to go, but wound up at the Lake Guest Ranch headquarters located near the NW end of Missouri Buttes Lake.  Even though it was early on a Sunday morning, SPHP received a friendly reception from a couple of ranch hands.  The ranch owner was available to talk to!

Lupe on her way to seek permission to climb the Missouri Buttes.
Lupe on her way to seek permission to climb the Missouri Buttes.

SPHP was invited in to talk to the owner.  The Lake Guest Ranch HQ was a pretty cool place inside.  SPHP was hopeful.  When SPHP explained to the owner why Lupe was here – to seek permission to climb the Missouri Buttes, the response was polite, but firm.  The answer was no.  The owner’s insurance wouldn’t allow it, it was hunting season and dangerous, etc.

The negative response was devastating!  Well, not devastating – there are plenty of mountains in the world Lupe can climb – but it was disappointing.  That was that, though, nothing could be done about it.  Lupe wasn’t going to get to climb the Missouri Buttes.  Until …

Until the Lake Guest Ranch owner said that he didn’t even own the land the 2 highest Missouri Buttes are on.  Didn’t own the land?!  Who did?  It was part of the Nuckoll ranch.  His neighbor J.W. Nuckoll owns the land came the response.  SPHP was given a phone number for the Nuckoll ranch.

Back in the G6, SPHP tried the phone number.  A recording, but no response.  Hmmm.  Didn’t we pass a sign or something for the Nuckoll ranch on the way here, Loop?  I think we did.

Not sure, SPHP.  Unless it was branded on the side of a cow, I wouldn’t have noticed!

Lupe and SPHP drove off from the Lake Guest Ranch looking for the Nuckoll ranch.  Along Barlow Canyon Road, there it was.  A mailbox said Nuckoll, and an old building nearby said something about Nuckoll sheep and wool.  This was it!  A driveway led more than a mile S into a side canyon before ending at two houses.  A sign on the first one said J.W. & Thea Nuckoll.

J.W. was an old-timer.  He was on oxygen, but was friendly when SPHP met him.  SPHP explained why Lupe was here.  J.W. said he had climbed the Missouri Buttes himself.  He had even climbed Devil’s Tower!  That was good, that was very good.  Surely he would understand?

He did!  Mr. Nuckoll agreed to let Lupe and SPHP climb the Missouri Buttes.  He had even more good news.  When SPHP asked how difficult a climb it was, Mr. Nuckoll told SPHP about a trail to the top of the highest NW Missouri Butte.  That sounded great!  SPHP then asked about the NE Missouri Butte, too.  Mr. Nuckoll said it was even possible to ride a horse to the top of the NE butte.  Lupe would have no problem!  SPHP thanked Mr. Nuckoll, and went off to tell Lupe the good news.

In just a few minutes, Lupe was on her way (8:51 AM, 53°F)!  The first part of the hike started farther along the driveway, beyond the two houses.  For a short distance, Lupe was on a road continuing up the little canyon.  There were lots of cows around.  Lupe and SPHP climbed a forested slope heading SSW to avoid them.  Up above, Lupe arrived at the edge of a huge gently sloping field.  The highest NW Missouri Butte (5,374 ft.) was already in view!

Lupe arrives up at the huge, gently sloping field. The highest NW Missouri Butte was already in view. Photo looks SW.
Lupe arrives up at the huge, gently sloping field. The highest NW Missouri Butte was already in view. Photo looks SW.

The somewhat lower NE Missouri Butte (5,212 ft.) is closer to Devil’s Tower, and wasn’t any farther away than the highest NW Butte.  Lupe and SPHP decided to go for the NE Missouri Butte first.  Even though the SE end of the butte looked the most rugged, Lupe went over to take a look at it, and see if Devil’s Tower was in view.

Lupe approaching the NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks S.
Lupe approaching the NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks S.
Devil's Tower was already in view even before Lupe started her climb up the NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks SE.
Devil’s Tower was already in view even before Lupe started her climb up the NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks SE.
Looking NE before climbing the NE Missouri Butte.
Looking NE before climbing the NE Missouri Butte.
The SE end of the NE Missouri Butte as seen from the N. The highest part of the NE Missouri Butte is close to this end, but the butte is much more easily climbed from the NW.
The SE end of the NE Missouri Butte as seen from the N. The highest part of the NE Missouri Butte is close to this end, but the butte is much more easily climbed from the NW.

The SE end of the NE Missouri Butte was quite steep and rocky, but it didn’t look impossible to climb up from here.  However, Lupe had already seen that the NW end of the butte was definitely easier.  Lupe and SPHP went back around to the NW end, where Lupe made her ascent.

Slippery pine needles on a moderately steep slope were about all Lupe had to contend with going up.  Before long, Lupe was at the true summit of the NE Missouri Butte, which proved to be near the SE end of the ridge.  An old wooden cross was sticking up from a summit cairn near some of the highest rocks.  The panoramic views toward the E were spectacular!

Of course, Devil’s Tower was the most striking landmark in view.  Much farther away, Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.) and Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.) could be seen, too, although they didn’t show up all that well in the morning haze.  Long pine-covered ridges with yellow cliffs, and the Belle Fourche River valley were off to the NE.  To the W, Lupe could see her next peakbagging goal, the NW butte, which is highest of all the Missouri Buttes.

Lupe at the summit of the NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks SE.
Lupe at the summit of the NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks SE.
The highest NW Missouri Butte as seen from the 2nd highest NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks WNW.
The highest NW Missouri Butte as seen from the 2nd highest NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks WNW.
Looking ESE from the summit.
Looking ESE from the summit.
The highest NW Missouri Butte again. A small part of Missouri Buttes Lake is in view along with the HQ of the Lake Guest Ranch. Photo looks W.
The highest NW Missouri Butte again. A small part of Missouri Buttes Lake is in view along with the HQ of the Lake Guest Ranch. Photo looks W.
The Lake Guest Ranch HQ using the telephoto lens. Photo looks WSW.
The Lake Guest Ranch HQ using the telephoto lens. Photo looks WSW.
Long pine-covered ridges with yellow cliffs dominated the views to the NE.
Long pine-covered ridges with yellow cliffs dominated the views to the NE.

Lupe and SPHP took a break up on NE Missouri Butte.  The views were really awesome.  It was so wonderful that Mr. Nuckoll had granted Lupe permission to come and see this unique scene.  Lupe could see the top of Devil’s Tower from here!

What a sight! Lupe could see the top of Devil's Tower from NE Missouri Butte. She didn't even have to climb the tower or take a helicopter up to see it. Photo looks SE.
What a sight! Lupe could see the top of Devil’s Tower from NE Missouri Butte. She didn’t even have to climb the tower or take a helicopter up to see it. Photo looks SE.
Looking SSW at a couple of the lower Missouri Buttes.
Looking SSW at a couple of the lower Missouri Buttes.

After 45 minutes spent enjoying the summit of the NE Missouri Butte, it was time for Lupe to go see if she could find the trail Mr. Nuckoll spoke of leading to the top of the highest NW Missouri Butte.  Lupe went down the W slope of the NE Missouri Butte, and crossed the saddle over to the NW butte.

A big gash was visible on the NE side of the NW Missouri Butte, but it looked mighty steep and straight.  Mr. Nuckoll had spoken of the trail up the butte making a sharp turn.  SPHP didn’t think Lupe should try going up that NE gash.  It didn’t look like there was any way a trail could make a sharp turn from there.

The post by PanamaRed on SummitPost.org didn’t say what route he had taken to the top, but SPHP had the impression from photos PanamaRed posted that he had climbed up from the NW.  If that led to Class 3 & 4 scrambling, Lupe wouldn’t succeed in going up that way either.

Lupe started up the NW Missouri Butte from a boulder field at the base of the N face.

Lupe starts up the highest NW Missouri Butte. She went up the boulder field and then climbed through the trees to the base of the cliff. She then worked along the base of the cliff to the W (R). Photo looks SSW.
Lupe starts up the highest NW Missouri Butte. She went up the boulder field and then climbed through the trees to the base of the cliff. She then worked along the base of the cliff to the W (R). Photo looks SSW.

Lupe climbed up beyond the boulders into a zone of trees and bushes.  It was steep going, but still doable.  The worst part was the incredible number of low thorny bushes.  They didn’t seem to bother Lupe, but SPHP had to watch carefully before grabbing on to anything.

When Lupe reached the base of the cliff, she worked her way to the W, still climbing steeply all the way among trees and thorny bushes.  Her route led toward a couple of large rock protrusions sticking out to the N.  About the time she got close to the first big rock formation, Lupe reached some steep grassy ground above most of the trees and thorny bushes.

It looked like there was a route continuing W (R) up a channel between rock formations.  How high up this route went was difficult to see, although it looked like it might be possible to make a sharp turn to the E (L) near the top.  Maybe that was the way to go?  While pondering, SPHP suddenly realized Lupe was already on a very faint trail.  The barely discernable trail went steeply up a ramp toward the E (L) from here.

Maybe it was best to check out the ramp first?  The ramp went up to a high point where sunlight could be seen.  May as well see what was on the other side of that high point, before attempting to negotiate the rocky channel.

The ramp was a relatively easy climb.  In just a few minutes, Lupe and SPHP were at the top.

Lupe sits on a rock just above the top of the ramp. Photo looks W, back in the direction she came up the ramp. The ramp itself is not visible.
Lupe sits on a rock just above the top of the ramp. Photo looks W, back in the direction she came up the ramp. The ramp itself is not visible.
This view greeted Lupe at the top of the ramp on the N face of NW Missouri Butte. The NE Missouri Butte, where she had just been, is seen on the L. It turned out that the ramp did not end here. It made a sharp turn to the S (R) in front of the little tree that looks like it is growing out toward Devil's Tower. The ramp then leveled out, becoming an easy walk as it went S along the upper NE face of the butte. Photo looks SE.
This view greeted Lupe at the top of the ramp on the N face of NW Missouri Butte. The NE Missouri Butte, where she had just been, is seen on the L. It turned out that the ramp did not end here. It made a sharp turn to the S (R) in front of the little tree that looks like it is growing out toward Devil’s Tower. The ramp then leveled out, becoming an easy walk as it went S along the upper NE face of the butte. Photo looks SE.

Devil’s Tower and the NE Missouri Butte, where Lupe had just been, were both in view from the top of the ramp.  Peering S around the corner to the NE side of the butte, SPHP was surprised and pleased to see that the ramp continued.  It leveled out quite a bit as it traversed the NE face of the butte.

The ramp’s continuation was an easy walk, but didn’t go very far.  It soon ended at place where a few rocky steps up brought Lupe onto the moderately sloping NE part of the summit area.  The good news was that Lupe was almost to the top!  A short walk through a forest of junipers would take her to the summit of the highest NW Missouri Butte.  Her peakbagging success was assured!

The bad news was that Lupe’s nemesis was here, too, in great profusion!  The first thing SPHP saw upon gaining the summit area was cactus.  Lots of big cacti clusters were scattered around.  Lupe would have to be carried the rest of the way to the true summit.

Cacti like these grew in large patches scattered around the summit area. Lupe had to be carried the last 150 feet to the true summit of the NW Missouri Butte.
Cacti like these grew in large patches scattered around the summit area. Lupe had to be carried the last 150 feet to the true summit of the NW Missouri Butte.

So, Lupe wound up being toted the last 150 feet to the true summit of the highest NW Missouri Butte.  She took her summit break there, under strict orders not to move around.  She wanted to be where SPHP was anyway, so it all worked out fine.

Lupe reaches the summit of the NW Missouri Butte, the highest of them all! Photo looks NNE.
Lupe reaches the summit of the NW Missouri Butte, the highest of them all! Photo looks NNE.
There was an old radio tower on top of the NW Missouri Butte. The shack was unlocked and open. It was full of dirty, apparently unusable, old electronic equipment. Much of the summit area on NW Missouri Butte is covered with juniper trees like those seen here, although the area of the true summit where Lupe is, was largely free of them.
There was an old radio tower on top of the NW Missouri Butte. The shack was unlocked and open. It was full of dirty, apparently unusable, old electronic equipment. Much of the summit area on NW Missouri Butte is covered with juniper trees like those seen here, although the area of the true summit where Lupe is, was largely free of them.

PanamaRed had posted a photo of the Missouri Buttes USGS survey benchmark, but at first SPHP didn’t see it.  A brief search revealed it partially hidden by a bush along the very NW edge of the summit, a little way W of the highest rocks.

This Missouri Buttes USGS survey benchmark was partially hidden by a bush along the very NW edge of the summit area. It was not right at the highest rocks.
This Missouri Buttes USGS survey benchmark was partially hidden by a bush along the very NW edge of the summit area. It was not right at the highest rocks.
The Missouri Buttes USGS survey benchmark is seen at (Center) near the bottom of this photo. Photo looks W.
The Missouri Buttes USGS survey benchmark is seen at (Center) near the bottom of this photo. Photo looks W.

The best views from the NW Missouri Butte in the vicinity of the true summit were the panoramic views to the W and N.  Junipers blocked the views in other directions.  Even though the air was rather hazy, it was still possible to see the outline of the Bighorn Mountains to the W.  Off to the NW and N, there was nothing higher than NW Missouri Butte anywhere in sight.

Lupe near the true summit. Photo looks W. The Bighorn Mountains could be seen on the horizon, but don't show up in the photo. Lupe assures you, they are out there!
Lupe near the true summit. Photo looks W. The Bighorn Mountains could be seen on the horizon, but don’t show up in the photo. Lupe assures you, they are out there!
Looking down at land immediately to the W of NW Missouri Butte. Missouri Butte Road leads right to the NW Missouri Butte, but may not be entirely on the Nuckoll ranch. Access to it was from the road leading to the Lake Guest Ranch. Lupe didn't start her trek from down there anyway, although it would have been a much closer starting point.
Looking down at land immediately to the W of NW Missouri Butte. Missouri Butte Road leads right to the NW Missouri Butte, but may not be entirely on the Nuckoll ranch. Access to it was from the road leading to the Lake Guest Ranch. Lupe didn’t start her trek from down there anyway, although it would have been a much closer starting point.
Thanks to Mr. Nuckolls kindly granting permission to be on his land, Lupe got to visit the top of this highest Missouri Butte. Photo looks NE.
Thanks to Mr. Nuckolls kindly granting permission to be on his land, Lupe got to visit the top of this highest Missouri Butte. Photo looks NE.
Lupe at the true summit. There were cliffs just beyond the rocks. Photo looks N.
Lupe at the true summit. There were cliffs just beyond the rocks. Photo looks N.
Cliffs along the N edge. Photo looks NE.
Cliffs along the N edge. Photo looks NE.

After 25 or 30 minutes relaxing near the true summit, it was time to explore the SW part of the summit area, which was hidden by juniper trees.  SPHP had to carry Lupe for fear of the cacti, but she didn’t mind getting a free ride.  From the SW end of the summit area, it was possible to see the Lake Guest Ranch HQ and Missouri Butte Lake.

Missouri Buttes Lake and the Lake Guest Ranch HQ (seen to the R of the lake). Photo looks SW.
Missouri Buttes Lake and the Lake Guest Ranch HQ (seen to the R of the lake). Photo looks SW.

Lupe also had a clear view of the 2 lower S Missouri Buttes.

The 2 lower S Missouri Buttes as seen from the SW end of the NW Missouri Butte summit. Photo looks S.
The 2 lower S Missouri Buttes as seen from the SW end of the NW Missouri Butte summit. Photo looks S.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the summit for a final look around.  Lupe then got carried back down to the NE end of the summit area near the start of the ramp.  Before taking the ramp down, Lupe checked out the views from this end of NW Missouri Butte.

Lupe at the NE end of the NW Missouri Butte summit. She had a fabulous view of the NE Missouri Butte (L) and Devil's Tower (R) from here. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe at the NE end of the NW Missouri Butte summit. She had a fabulous view of the NE Missouri Butte (L) and Devil’s Tower (R) from here. Photo looks ESE.
Looking SE.
Looking SE.
Devil's Tower from NW Missouri Butte. Photo looks SE.
Devil’s Tower from NW Missouri Butte. Photo looks SE.
Looking E at NE Missouri Butte.
Looking E at NE Missouri Butte.

Lupe took the ramp all the way back down to its beginning on the steep grassy slope near the large rock protrusions where SPHP first noticed the very faint trail.  Now that it was clear there actually was a trail, it was possible to see it continuing on down the mountain.

The trail went down to a much larger boulder field than the one Lupe had crossed coming up.  This area was well to the W of the area of trees and thorny bushes below the cliff Lupe had been in earlier.  Lupe went all the way down the boulder field, passed through a couple of stands of trees, and reached the pasture below the N face of NW Missouri Butte.

From near a stock pond, it was possible to get a good look at the best route up the mountain.

View along the cliffs near the top of the N face of NW Missouri Butte. Note the orange coloration on some of the rocks. (Probably orange lichens.) Photo looks W as Lupe was about to go down the steep part of the ramp (not pictured).
View along the cliffs near the top of the N face of NW Missouri Butte. Note the orange coloration on some of the rocks. (Probably orange lichens.) Photo looks W as Lupe was about to go down the steep part of the ramp (not pictured).
Lupe makes it down off the butte. NE Missouri Butte is in view beyond the stock pond. Photo looks E.
Lupe makes it down off the butte. NE Missouri Butte is in view beyond the stock pond. Photo looks E.
The easiest route up the NW Missouri Butte is visible in this photo taken from near the stock pond. Photo looks S at the N face of the butte. The easiest route up is through the trees on the W (R) to the loose rocks. Climb the loose rocks up to the trees below the orange spot near the center of the top of the butte. From there, the ramp leads to the E (L) up along the trees and bushes seen to the L of the orange spot. The ramp then curls around the E (L) side of the mountain (out of view) to gain the NE slope of the summit area. Easy, squeezy! Class 2 or Class 3 Lite all the way!
The easiest route up the NW Missouri Butte is visible in this photo taken from near the stock pond. Photo looks S at the N face of the butte. The easiest route up is through the trees on the W (R) to the loose rocks. Climb the loose rocks up to the trees below the orange spot near the center of the top of the butte. From there, the ramp leads to the E (L) up along the trees and bushes seen to the L of the orange spot. The ramp then curls around the E (L) side of the mountain (out of view) to gain the NE slope of the summit area. Easy, squeezy! Class 2 or Class 3 Lite all the way!
Lupe and SPHP originally came up through the trees and thorny bushes from the lower L. Not the best way to do it! Come up from the R, get through the trees to the steep grassy area below the orange spot, then go L up the ramp. The trail should become visible while still among the loose rocks before reaching the trees below the orange spot. Photo looks N.
Lupe and SPHP originally came up through the trees and thorny bushes from the lower L. Not the best way to do it! Come up from the R, get through the trees to the steep grassy area below the orange spot, then go L up the ramp. The trail should become visible while still among the loose rocks before reaching the trees below the orange spot. Photo looks N.

Lupe had climbed both the highest Missouri Buttes.  Her Expedition No. 181 was an unqualified peakbagging success!  However, there was still a lot of daylight left.  Why not go take another look from the top of the NE Missouri Butte?  A few hours had gone by, and the sun would be shining from another angle.  There was only a little bit of cactus up there that SPHP had seen at the far SE end.  Lupe could avoid it easily.

Lupe was fine with going back up.  So once again, she climbed the W slope and then followed the summit ridge SE to the top of the NE Missouri Butte.  With the afternoon sun now lighting up the near side of Devil’s Tower, the view was even better than earlier in the day.

Devil's Tower in the afternoon sun from NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks SE using the telephoto lens.
Devil’s Tower in the afternoon sun from NE Missouri Butte. Photo looks SE using the telephoto lens.
Inyan Kara Mountain is seen faintly on the far R horizon.
Inyan Kara Mountain is seen faintly on the far R horizon.
Hmmm. That Carolina Dog looks a bit familiar! So does that odd tree stump-shaped rock in the distance.
Hmmm. That Carolina Dog looks a bit familiar! So does that odd tree stump-shaped rock in the distance.

Devil's Tower from NE Missouri Butte, WY 11-6-16Lupe on NE Missouri Butte, WY 11-6-16Lupe and SPHP spent another 30 beautiful minutes up on the NE Missouri Butte.  Then it was time to call it a day.  SPHP had told Mr. Nuckoll that it would be great to get a chance to talk to him some more when Lupe returned from Missouri Buttes.  It was probably best to get there well before the Nuckolls wanted to have their supper.

Lupe left NE Missouri Butte for the 2nd and final time.  She liked crossing the huge, wide open pasture, and going through the forest on the way back.  Before long, she was back at the Nuckoll’s house (3:26 PM, 55°F).

Looking S at one of the lower Missouri Buttes on the way down the NE Missouri Butte.
Looking S at one of the lower Missouri Buttes on the way down the NE Missouri Butte.
NW Missouri Butte on the way back. Photo looks W.
NW Missouri Butte on the way back. Photo looks W.

No one was around.  SPHP checked both homes, but there was no one to thank for the wonderful day Lupe had on the Missouri Buttes.  No telling where the Nuckolls had gone, or when they might return.  SPHP left a note in the door.

Then a very lucky American Dingo, one which had been to the top of the two highest Missouri Buttes, enjoyed a noisy evening drive past herds of cattle and deer on her way home.Lupe on NE Missouri Butte, WY 11-6-16Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Kings Throne, Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, Canada (8-7-16)

Days 8 and 9 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

That guy at the Bell 1 rest area yesterday evening had been right.  There were bears in these woods!  As Lupe and SPHP rolled N along Cassiar Highway No. 37 early on August 6th, Lupe saw 7 bears near the road in a span of 1.5 hours.  Each bear was cause for a ferocious barkfest – from the safety of the G6, of course – as Lupe sped on by.

Day 8 of Lupe’s summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation was going to be a travel day.  SPHP drove.  Lupe looked out the window watching for wildlife.  After the bears, though, no wildlife appeared.  Lupe got bored and snoozed.

Cassiar Highway No. 37 went past beautiful mountains and lakes.  It crossed scenic rivers.  The forest never ended.  Even now, in 2016, with 7.5 billion people on the planet, Lupe really was in an unbelievably vast, uninhabited land.  The narrow strip of highway was the only link to civilization.  Everything else was unspoiled wilderness.  It all hardly seemed possible.  It felt like going back in time.  Columbus may have landed in the Americas almost 524 years ago, but along the Cassiar Highway there were still few visible consequences.

Mehan Lake from the Bell 2 rest stop along the Cassiar Highway. The Cassiar Highway passed many beautiful lakes, some of them far larger than Mehan.
Mehan Lake from the Bell 2 rest stop along the Cassiar Highway. The Cassiar Highway passed many beautiful lakes, some of them far larger than Mehan.

The hours and miles went by.  There was traffic on Cassiar Highway No. 37, more than SPHP expected.  Most of it was big trucks.  Civilization may not have made much of a dent yet, but it is coming soon, even here.

For hundreds of miles, Cassiar Highway No. 37 had been good pavement, but N of the Bell 2 rest stop the road deteriorated.  Rough, broken, patchy pavement appeared.  Stretches of very dusty gravel became common.  N of the tiny community of Dease Lake, the road turned to gravel for a long way.  SPHP feared the Cassiar Highway might be nothing but dust from here on, but Lupe hit pavement again after 25 miles or so.  The worst was over.  Gradually, the Cassiar Highway improved again.

Now and then Lupe and SPHP stopped for short breaks.  At least, they were supposed to be short.  At the Beaver Dam rest stop, SPHP was so weary of driving that 15 minutes of shuteye unintentionally turned into nearly 2 hours of unconsciousness.

On the road again, SPHP felt better.  Unconsciousness has its benefits!  Lupe wasn’t far now from 2 major milestones on her journey.  Suddenly, up ahead, there it was!  A much anticipated sign was up on an embankment near the road.  Lupe just had to stop for this!

Lupe reached the Yukon border on the afternoon of 8-6-16. It was hard to believe she was really here! Photo looks N, of course!
Lupe reached the Yukon border on the afternoon of 8-6-16. It was hard to believe she was really here! Photo looks N, of course!

Lupe had made it to the Yukon!  It was hard to believe she was really here.  A relatively short drive N of the Yukon border brought Lupe to the next big milestone of the day.  Lupe’s long journey on Cassiar Highway No. 37 was over.  She had reached the Alaska Highway!  Lupe and SPHP turned W, heading for Whitehorse.

The afternoon wore on.  It was a long way to Whitehorse, hundreds of miles.  Evening came.  Nearing Teslin Lake, there was a bit of Dingo excitement when Lupe saw her 8th black bear of the day.  Lupe didn’t make it to Whitehorse.  Day 6 ended for Lupe W of Teslin Lake.  Time to stop for the night.

Evening along the Alaska Highway, 8-6-16.
Evening along the Alaska Highway, 8-6-16.
Approaching Teslin Lake.
Approaching Teslin Lake.

The next morning, Lupe did make it to Whitehorse, the capital city of the Yukon.  She didn’t stay long, though.  Lupe was on her way to her first mountain climbing adventure in the Yukon, instead!

Although there had been mountains much of the way along the Alaska Highway, Lupe first caught sight of the higher, more rugged peaks of the Saint Elias Range approaching Haines Junction.

Lupe along the Alaska Highway. Peaks of the Saint Elias Range near Haines Junction are in view ahead. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe along the Alaska Highway. Peaks of the Saint Elias Range near Haines Junction are in view ahead. Photo looks WSW.

At Haines Junction, Lupe and SPHP left the Alaska Highway, turning S on Hwy 3 to Haines.  Lupe wasn’t going all the way to Haines.  Her objective was only 17 miles away now.  About halfway there, SPHP saw a mountain to the SSW resembling a long high wall.  Was that it?  It looked incredibly steep!  SPHP’s heart sank.  Would Lupe be able to climb anything like that?

The realization quickly grew that the N end of the mountain wall really was Lupe’s objective!  Well, there was supposed to be a trail, or at least a route, to the top.  It had taken hours to get here, and was already late in the morning.  No time to second guess things, Lupe would just have to try it and see how things went.

A short drive from a turn off Hwy 3 brought Lupe to the Cottonwood Trailhead.  SPHP parked the G6.  Ten minutes later (10:32 AM, 63°F), Lupe was on the Cottonwood Trail.  The first part of the trail was quite level and followed a road through a shady forest.  Up ahead was Lupe’s mighty objective – King’s Throne Peak (6,529 ft.).

King's Throne from the Cottonwood Trail. Photo looks SW.
King’s Throne from the Cottonwood Trail. Photo looks SW.
Lupe on the Cottonwood Trail.
Lupe on the Cottonwood Trail.
To climb King's Throne, Lupe first had to get to the base of the giant cirque in the area shown in the lower R part of this photo. From there, she would follow the steep ridge leading up to the L, before circling back around to the summit on the R via the upper ridgeline. Photo looks SW.
To climb King’s Throne, Lupe first had to get to the base of the giant cirque in the area shown in the lower R part of this photo. From there, she would follow the steep ridge leading up to the L, before circling back around to the summit on the R via the upper ridgeline. Photo looks SW.

About a mile from the trailhead, Lupe came to an intersection.  The Cottonwood Trail headed NW on its way past Kathleen Lake.  It is ultimately part of an 87 km 4-6 day backpacking loop.  Lupe took the King’s Throne trail instead.  The single track trail began to climb steeply.

At first, the trail was switchbacking up through forest, and Lupe couldn’t see much.  Eventually, though, Lupe got above tree line.  The views of Kathleen Lake to the N were already fabulous!

Lupe on the King's Throne trail. Beautiful Kathleen Lake dominates the view to the N.
Lupe on the King’s Throne trail. Beautiful Kathleen Lake dominates the view to the N.
The Cottonwood Trail starts in the forest to the R of the small bay seen on the far side of Kathleen Lake on the R side of this photo. The trail stays in the forest some distance from Kathleen Lake, which was not generally visible from the trail. The smaller long narrow lake seen beyond Kathleen Lake is Lower Kathleen Lake (Center). Beyond it to the L is even smaller Rainbow Lake. Photo looks NNE.
The Cottonwood Trail starts in the forest to the R of the small bay seen on the far side of Kathleen Lake on the R side of this photo. The trail stays in the forest some distance from Kathleen Lake, which was not generally visible from the trail. The smaller long narrow lake seen beyond Kathleen Lake is Lower Kathleen Lake (Center). Beyond it to the L is even smaller Rainbow Lake. Photo looks NNE.

King’s Throne Peak is clearly named for the giant cirque which faces NNE.  The cirque is the seat of the throne, with the high ridges wrapping around it serving as the throne’s arms and back.  It really is pretty easy to imagine the mountain serving as the throne of a titan-sized king.

Evidently the giant cirque is the ultimate destination for many hikers, and they go no farther.  As described in Kluane National Park literature, the King’s Throne trail goes only as far as the cirque.  Elevation gain from Kathleen Lake required to reach the cirque is about 1,800 feet.

Lupe nearing the giant cirque. The steep NE ridge she would have to follow to reach King's Throne summit is up ahead. Photo looks S.
Lupe nearing the giant cirque. The steep NE ridge she would have to follow to reach King’s Throne summit is up ahead. Photo looks S.

Down in the forest below, it had been a nice calm day, but as Lupe approached the giant cirque, it was starting to get pretty windy out.  The American Dingo is no great fan of wind, but she had no choice but to put up with it.

Lupe reaches the giant cirque, which is the imaginary seat of King's Throne. It was annoyingly windy. Photo looks SW.
Lupe reaches the giant cirque, which is the imaginary seat of King’s Throne. It was annoyingly windy. Photo looks SW.
Just getting to this giant cirque is the ultimate objective of many hikers. Several turned around here while Lupe was in the area, encouraged by the wind to do so. Photo looks SSW.
Just getting to this giant cirque is the ultimate objective of many hikers. Several turned around here while Lupe was in the area, encouraged by the wind to do so. Photo looks SSW.

Lupe and SPHP weren’t the only ones on the King’s Throne trail.  Quite a few other hikers were around.  Some of them turned around at the giant cirque, satisfied with the grand view of Kathleen Lake and being able to say they had hiked King’s Throne trail, which officially ends here.

Of course, Lupe was going onward!  Kluane National Park literature describes the rest of the way up to King’s Throne summit as a “route” rather than a “trail”, because it isn’t officially maintained.  The first part of the route was every bit as good as the official trail had been.  It climbed toward the steep NE ridge of the mountain.

Lupe starts on the "route" to King's Throne summit. The steep rate of climb the route would soon adopt is evident on the slope ahead. Photo looks SE.
Lupe starts on the “route” to King’s Throne summit. The steep rate of climb the route would soon adopt is evident on the slope ahead. Photo looks SE.
Kathleen Lake from near the start of the "route" part of the trek to the summit. The trail leading to the base of the giant cirque is seen below. Lupe is on her way up to the summit, but hasn't gotten to the steep part of the "route" yet.
Kathleen Lake from near the start of the “route” part of the trek to the summit. The trail leading to the base of the giant cirque is seen below. Lupe is on her way up to the summit, but hasn’t gotten to the steep part of the “route” yet.

When the route reached the steep NE ridge, it turned and worked its way almost straight up it.  For a while there was some grass around.  Later on it was all rock.  The ridgeline became increasingly narrow.  Most of the time, the trail was a bit to the E of the ridgeline.  Off to the W, on the side of the ridge toward the giant cirque, were increasingly fearsome cliffs.

Lupe starts up the route along the NE ridge. Here it was still grassy and not so steep, narrow and rocky. The giant cirque is still in view. Higher up, it was too scary to look over the cliffs in the violent swirling winds to see it. Photo looks SW.
Lupe starts up the route along the NE ridge. Here it was still grassy and not so steep, narrow and rocky. The giant cirque is still in view. Higher up, it was too scary to look over the cliffs in the violent swirling winds to see it. Photo looks SW.
Lupe gaining elevation, but still in the zone where some plants survived. Lupe's goal, the summit of King's Throne, is seen above on the R. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe gaining elevation, but still in the zone where some plants survived. Lupe’s goal, the summit of King’s Throne, is seen above on the R. Photo looks WSW.

The NE ridge was hard going.  The route was either loose rocks or very hard packed soil difficult to maintain traction on.  Hiking poles would have been an enormous help, but SPHP had none.  Even some of the bigger rocks Lupe passed by at certain points were often crumbly, loose and rotten.  Everything had to be tested.

The Carolina Dog had no problems, except for the wind.  She hated it!  As Lupe gained elevation, it swirled more and more violently around the ridgeline.  SPHP joined Lupe on all fours, and virtually crawled up the mountain.  Just trying to stand up and maintain balance was scary.  The wind attacked first from one direction, then suddenly reversed and blew just as strongly from a completely different one.

Lupe in the rocky zone. She would see almost no plants the rest of the way along the route. The big lake in the distance is Dezadeash Lake. Photo looks SE.
Lupe in the rocky zone. She would see almost no plants the rest of the way along the route. The big lake in the distance is Dezadeash Lake. Photo looks SE.

Fortunately, it wasn’t cold out, which would have been unbearable in this wind.  Still, the wind was taking a toll.  People were coming down the mountain.

Most had simply turned around, having decided it wasn’t worth it in this gale.  Among them Lupe saw climbers who had passed SPHP on the way up.  A few groups who had left earlier in the day had succeeded in reaching the summit.  They reported even windier conditions there.  Looking down, climbers who had been gaining on Lupe and SPHP could no longer be seen.  They had turned around, too.

The climb up the long, steep NE ridge seemed endless, but Lupe was gaining ground steadily. The last long stretch of the climb is seen here. Photo looks S.
The climb up the long, steep NE ridge seemed endless, but Lupe was gaining ground steadily. The last long stretch of the climb is seen here. Photo looks S.

Lupe kept climbing.  Finally, a group of four guys appeared coming down the route.  They had foreign accents and seemed very experienced.  They too, reported very windy conditions at the summit, which they had successfully attained.  They were the last people Lupe saw the rest of the day.  Lupe and SPHP were alone on the mountain.

Lupe still had a ways to go up the steep NE ridge.  Lupe pressed on.  At last, she reached the end.  She came upon a broad rocky plain which was almost level by comparison.  The difficult part of the climb was over.  The rest of the way to the summit would be much easier!

Wow, was it ever windy here, though!  SPHP wouldn’t let Lupe get too close to the cliffs above the giant cirque for fear the Carolina Dog would sail right over the edge.  For a few minutes, SPHP could only stand in one place.  Taking a step was nearly impossible.

Lupe on the extremely windy rocky plain she came to at the end of the very steep climb up the NE ridge. The summit of King's Throne Peak is the more distant high point seen on the R. Photo looks W.
Lupe on the extremely windy rocky plain she came to at the end of the very steep climb up the NE ridge. The summit of King’s Throne Peak is the more distant high point seen on the R. Photo looks W.
Kathleen Lake from the edge of the rocky plain above the NE ridge. SPHP wouldn't let Lupe get any closer to the edge than this due to the gale. Photo looks N.
Kathleen Lake from the edge of the rocky plain above the NE ridge. SPHP wouldn’t let Lupe get any closer to the edge than this due to the gale. Photo looks N.

After a few minutes, a slight lull in the wind allowed SPHP to move again.  For a little while, that was how it went.  When the wind blew hardest, SPHP had to stand stock still, ready to crouch, if necessary.  When there was a lull, progress resumed.  Maybe it would be less windy away from the edge of the giant cirque?

It was!  Away from the cliffs, the wind was noticeably weaker.  Lupe and SPHP were on the move again.  Lupe headed W toward the S side of a rounded high point where a saddle led over to the next peak to the S.

To avoid the worst of the wind, Lupe stayed to the L (S) of the near ridge. Cliffs above the giant cirque were on the other side. Photo looks WNW.
To avoid the worst of the wind, Lupe stayed to the L (S) of the near ridge. Cliffs above the giant cirque were on the other side. Photo looks WNW.
The wide valley S of King's Throne Peak on the back side of the throne is seen here on the R. Dezadeash Lake is in the distance. Photo looks SE.
The wide valley S of King’s Throne Peak on the back side of the throne is seen here on the R. Dezadeash Lake is in the distance. Photo looks SE.
The saddle connecting to the next peak S of King's Throne Peak. Photo looks SSW.
The saddle connecting to the next peak S of King’s Throne Peak. Photo looks SSW.

Maybe it was White Dingo Magic, but contrary to reports from climbers who had been here earlier, the wind was getting weaker, not worse!  Lupe worked her way up and over a high point, and turned NW toward the King’s Throne summit.  The reduced wind speed was a welcome relief.

On the high point N of the saddle leading to the peak to the S, Lupe came to this view of the King's Throne summit ahead. Lupe was almost there! Photo looks NW.
On the high point N of the saddle leading to the peak to the S, Lupe came to this view of the King’s Throne summit ahead. Lupe was almost there! Photo looks NW.

Lupe and SPHP were making good time now.  Even before Lupe reached King’s Throne summit, glorious sights came into view to the W.

Glorious sights appeared to the W as Lupe drew near King's Throne Peak's summit. The biggest lake seen here is actually the W end of Kathleen Lake. Beyond it is Louise Lake. Photo looks W.
Glorious sights appeared to the W as Lupe drew near King’s Throne Peak’s summit. The biggest lake seen here is actually the W end of Kathleen Lake. Beyond it is Louise Lake. Photo looks W.
Lupe on the final approach to the King's Throne Peak summit. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe on the final approach to the King’s Throne Peak summit. Photo looks NNW.

By the time Lupe reached the summit of King’s Throne Peak, the wind had died down to just a breeze.  Lupe and SPHP were free to really enjoy the stupendous views in every direction!

Lupe atop the summit cairn on King's Throne Peak! It was still breezy when Lupe arrived, but nothing like the gale she'd faced coming up. The views were stupendous in every direction! Louise Lake is seen in the huge valley below. Photo looks W.
Lupe atop the summit cairn on King’s Throne Peak! It was still breezy when Lupe arrived, but nothing like the gale she’d faced coming up. The views were stupendous in every direction! Louise Lake is seen in the huge valley below. Photo looks W.
Louis Lake from King's Throne Peak summit. It was hard to believe Lupe was really here, high on this fabulous mountain in remote Kluane National Park in the Yukon! Photo looks W.
Louis Lake from King’s Throne Peak summit. It was hard to believe Lupe was really here, high on this fabulous mountain in remote Kluane National Park in the Yukon! Photo looks W.
Looking SE from the summit. Dezadeash Lake is on the L. Part of Lupe's route up is visible to the R of Lupe, and also along the top of the dark lower ridge on the L.
Looking SE from the summit. Dezadeash Lake is on the L. Part of Lupe’s route up is visible to the R of Lupe, and also along the top of the dark lower ridge on the L.
Far beyond Kathleen and Louise lakes, mysterious towering snow-capped peaks of the Saint Elias Range lurked partially hidden in the clouds. Photo looks W.
Far beyond Kathleen and Louise lakes, mysterious towering snow-capped peaks of the Saint Elias Range lurked partially hidden in the clouds. Photo looks W.
Kathleen Lake from King's Throne Peak. Mount Decoeli is the distant sharp peak seen faintly straight up from the island in Kathleen Lake. Photo looks NW.
Kathleen Lake from King’s Throne Peak. Mount Decoeli is the distant sharp peak seen faintly straight up from the island in Kathleen Lake. Photo looks NW.

On the NE side of the summit, the air was almost calm.  SPHP sat down out of the wind to rest while taking in the magnificent views.  Lupe curled up in SPHP’s lap.  Lupe got petted and praised for bringing SPHP to such a wonderful place.  The Carolina Dog seemed to enjoy every moment.

The W end of Kathleen Lake and Louise Lake again. A small part of Sockeye Lake is visible toward the L beyond Louise Lake. Photo looks W.
The W end of Kathleen Lake and Louise Lake again. A small part of Sockeye Lake is visible toward the L beyond Louise Lake. Photo looks W.
Kathleen Lake. Photo looks NNW.
Kathleen Lake. Photo looks NNW.

One distant peak Lupe could see was of particular interest.  The steep top of Mount Decoeli (7,650 ft.) was faintly in view to the NW far beyond Kathleen Lake.  Mount Decoeli was on the short list of peaks in Kluane National Park that SPHP hoped Lupe might be able to climb.

However, Mount Decoeli looked every bit as steep as the NE ridge coming up King’s Throne Peak.  Clearly, Decoeli would be a huge challenge.  SPHP gazed at Decoeli filled with both hope and doubt.  Would Lupe ever be on top of that daunting mountain?

Mount Decoeli is the sharp most distant peak on the R. Decoeli was on the short list of peaks SPHP thought Lupe might be able to climb in Kluane National Park. However, the mountain looked daunting from King's Throne Peak. Photo looks NW using the telephoto lens.
Mount Decoeli is the sharp most distant peak on the R. Decoeli was on the short list of peaks SPHP thought Lupe might be able to climb in Kluane National Park. However, the mountain looked daunting from King’s Throne Peak. Photo looks NW using the telephoto lens.

Lupe and SPHP lingered at the summit of King’s Throne Peak for more than 45 minutes.  Conditions were great, and the views were awe-inspiring.  Lupe would have stayed much longer, but she had gotten a late morning start, and it had taken a very long time for SPHP to climb, crawl and stagger all the way to the top.

The time came when Lupe had to think about starting down.  She returned to the King’s Throne summit cairn for a final look.  SPHP took another round of photos.  After all the effort expended to get here, it was hard to think about leaving already to face the steep, windy NE ridge again.

Lupe returned to the summit cairn for a final look around. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe returned to the summit cairn for a final look around. Photo looks SSE.
The first part of Lupe's route back is in view below on the lower L. It took her over the rounded hills above the snowbank. Photo looks SSE.
The first part of Lupe’s route back is in view below on the lower L. It took her over the rounded hills above the snowbank. Photo looks SSE.
This photo is a pretty good look at the easy part of the climb up King's Throne Peak along the back of the throne. The upper end of the steep NE ridge is seen on the L. Dezadeash Lake is in the distance. Photo looks SE.
This photo is a pretty good look at the easy part of the climb up King’s Throne Peak along the back of the throne. The upper end of the steep NE ridge is seen on the L. Dezadeash Lake is in the distance. Photo looks SE.
A good deal of the steep NE ridge is in view here. Photo looks ESE.
A good deal of the steep NE ridge is in view here. Photo looks ESE.
Far to the W of King's Throne Peak were mysterious higher peaks of the Saint Elias range. Lupe never got a clear look at them, but what could be seen was most intriguing. Photo looks W using the telephoto lens.
Far to the W of King’s Throne Peak were mysterious higher peaks of the Saint Elias range. Lupe never got a clear look at them, but what could be seen was most intriguing. Photo looks W using the telephoto lens.

The relative calm Lupe experienced on top of King’s Throne summit did not prevail elsewhere, although the wind wasn’t as bad as it had been earlier in the day.  Lupe and SPHP made good time on the route back until reaching the steep NE ridge.

Going down the NE ridge, the wind was still strong and unpredictable.  The terrain was so steep, the footing so unreliable, and the swirling wind so unnerving that SPHP became extraordinarily slow and cautious.  SPHP crawled, slid, and took baby steps down the mountain.  Lupe became so impatient with SPHP, the were-puppy attacked repeatedly to encourage some movement.

This was taking forever!  The sun was long gone.  The creeping Yukon twilight slowly faded.  Yet the sweeping views of the desolate mountains of the far N were chillingly inspiring.  Thousands of feet below, whitecaps could be seen on Kathleen Lake.

Even the official King’s Throne trail below the giant cirque seemed steeper and more difficult than SPHP remembered.  By now SPHP’s toes were all sore from being mashed against the front of the boots for hours.  The painful trek continued.

By the time Lupe was back on the Cottonwood Trail, SPHP was beat.  Amazingly, Lupe was bursting with American Dingo energy.  The dark forest, roaring waves crashing on the unseen shore of Kathleen Lake, and wildly swaying treetops made Lupe wild, too.  Something darted across the trail in the gloom ahead.  A coyote!  Who knew, maybe it was a wolf?  This was the Yukon!  Lupe seemed ready to dash off into the forest to live wild and free, too!

11:07 PM.  The animated American Dingo was finally back at the G6.  SPHP was still mostly alive.  What a day it had been!  Lupe had succeeded in climbing King’s Throne Peak, a feat dreamed of for a long time now.  Despite exhaustion, SPHP was filled with joy.

Congratulations, Loopster!  You did it – all the way to the top!  Well done, sweet puppy!  King’s Throne was amazingly amazing!  And you know what?  Tomorrow you aren’t even going to think about trying another stunt like that again.  Bunny hill, here you come!

Bunnies?  That grabbed Lupe’s attention!  The Carolina Dog was all in favor of Bunny Hill.

Last photo of Lupe on King's Throne Peak summit before she headed down. 8-7-16
Last photo of Lupe on King’s Throne Peak summit before she headed down. 8-7-16

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 180 – Warren Peaks, Bull Hill, Ragged Top & Lone Tree Hill (10-30-16)

Fog!  Must be just a ground fog, though.  Stars could still be seen above.  With any luck at all, we’ll drive out of it, Loop.  Lupe whined.  She couldn’t see them, but she could smell ’em.  Cows were hidden out there in the foggy darkness!  The Carolina Dog barked, leaping from window to window trying to catch sight of them.

On the way up to Warren Peaks, the G6 did emerge from the fog.  Lupe was going to get to see sunrise from the highest point in the Bear Lodge Mountains after all!

Sunrise from Warren Peaks. The dark outline of the Black Hills in South Dakota is on the horizon. Photo looks ESE.
Sunrise from Warren Peaks. The dark outline of the Black Hills in South Dakota is on the horizon. Photo looks ESE.

It was cool and a bit windy when Lupe arrived up on Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.) (7:18 AM, 38°F).  For almost the end of October, conditions were actually exceptionally nice.  Off to the ENE, Lupe could see a thin layer of very low clouds.  That had to be part of the fog she’d gone through to get here.  To the W, the Bear Lodge Mountains were acting like a dam, holding back a sea of more substantial low clouds.

Very low, thin clouds were in view to the ENE. They were part of the ground fog Lupe had traveled through to get here. Photo looks ENE.
Very low, thin clouds were in view to the ENE. They were part of the ground fog Lupe had traveled through to get here. Photo looks ENE.
Lupe on the highest rocks on the mountain near the Warren Peaks fire lookout tower. Photo looks E.
Lupe on the highest rocks on the mountain near the Warren Peaks fire lookout tower. Photo looks E.

Lupe and SPHP watched the sunrise develop.  Just for fun, Lupe took a little stroll down to a slightly lower hill SE of the fire tower.

The Warren Peaks fire tower from the barren hill to the SE.
The Warren Peaks fire tower from the barren hill to the SE.

Lupe returned to the summit of Warren Peaks.  Sunrise was taking longer than anticipated.  The sun was above the horizon, but obscured by clouds.  SPHP was still interested in watching the display, but Lupe was ready for action!

The sun was up, but obscured by clouds.
The sun was up, but obscured by clouds.
Lupe on a picnic table waiting for SPHP to lose interest in the sunrise. It was time to get going!
Lupe on a picnic table waiting for SPHP to lose interest in the sunrise. It was time to get going!

This was Lupe’s third expedition in a row to the Bear Lodge Mountains in NE Wyoming.  Once again, she had 3 peakbagging goals for the day.  The first one was Bull Hill, only a mile N of Warren Peaks.

The big rounded hill seen beyond Lupe is Bull Hill. Photo looks N.
The big rounded partly bare hill seen beyond Lupe is Bull Hill, Lupe’s first peakbagging goal for Expedition No. 180. This photo was taken a week before when Lupe visited Warren Peaks on Expedition No. 179.  Photo looks N from Warren Peaks.

When SPHP finally quit dawdling watching the sunrise, Lupe and SPHP drove N on USFS Road No. 838.  Before going to Bull Hill, SPHP wanted to check out a viewpoint a short distance NW of Warren Peaks, the same viewpoint where Lupe had seen Devils Tower and Missouri Buttes in twilight at the end of the day on Expedition No. 179.  Now that it was morning, maybe it would be possible to get a clearer view?  (7:49 AM, 38°F)

Heh.  No view at all.  The white sea of low clouds trapped to the W of the Bear Lodge Mountains blanketed all of the territory in that direction.  Lupe and SPHP went on.  SPHP parked the G6 near the intersection of USFS Roads No. 838 and No. 847 (8:06 AM, 38°F).

Getting to Bull Hill (6,394 ft.) was easy.  Lupe trotted E down USFS Road No. 847 to a side road with a Bull Hill Road sign.  She followed Bull Hill Road around the N side of a forested ridge, then SE up the Whitetail Creek valley.  Bull Hill Road curved E, going up and over a saddle.  At the saddle, Lupe was directly S of Bull Hill.  She left the road, climbing up a pasture to the open forest at the top of the mountain.

Lupe on Bull Hill. The fire tower on Warren Peaks is seen in the distance. The cairn and pipe next to Lupe were a little W of the highest point on Bull Hill. Photo looks S.
Lupe on Bull Hill. The fire tower on Warren Peaks is seen in the distance. The cairn and pipe next to Lupe were a little W of the highest point on Bull Hill. Photo looks S.
Lupe stands near the highest point on Bull Hill. Photo looks ENE.
Lupe stands near the highest point on Bull Hill. Photo looks ENE.

Lupe and SPHP explored the top of Bull Hill.  Toward the E was a nice view of Crow Peak (5,787 ft.) in South Dakota, but Lupe had just seen essentially the same view from even higher Warren Peaks.  After a short stay on Bull Hill, Lupe headed back to the G6 (9:31 AM, 45°F).

Lupe’s next peakbagging goal, Ragged Top, was back to the S a few miles, not really all that far away.  After a short drive, SPHP parked the G6 at the intersection of USFS Road No. 838 and an unmarked road on the E side of No. 838.  (This intersection is a few hundred feet N of the start of No. 838.1B on the W side of No. 838, and marked as 6,374 ft. elevation on the Peakbagger.com topo map.)

To get to Ragged Top (6,260 ft.), Lupe didn’t really have to gain any elevation at all.  In fact, she would lose a little on the way there.  Ragged Top is the high point at the SW end of a mile long ridge.  The G6 was already parked near the higher NE end of the ridge.  Lupe cut through the forest on the W side of USFS Road No. 838 to reach No. 838.1B.  She followed the road SW toward Ragged Top.

Lupe on USFS Road No. 838.1B on her way to Ragged Top. Photo looks SW.
Lupe on USFS Road No. 838.1B on her way to Ragged Top. Photo looks SW.

USFS Road No. 838.1B ended at a meadow at a high point.  Lupe was more than half way to Ragged Top, but would have to do some bushwhacking from here.  American Dingoes are great at bushwhacking!  Lupe descended into a saddle leading to a lower forested hill along the ridge.

Lupe in the meadow where USFS Road No. 838.1B ended. She was a little over halfway to Ragged Top here. Next she had to descend into the saddle leading to the forested hill seen beyond her. That hill was part of the main ridgeline leading to Ragged Top, and where she would encounter the first significant rock outcroppings along the way. Photo looks SW.
Lupe in the meadow where USFS Road No. 838.1B ended. She was a little over halfway to Ragged Top here. Next she had to descend into the saddle leading to the forested hill seen beyond her. That hill was part of the main ridgeline leading to Ragged Top, and where she would encounter the first significant rock outcroppings along the way. Photo looks SW.

The saddle area was forested, too.  What’s more, the forest floor was densely carpeted with low juniper bushes.  Lupe found easier traveling over less vegetated ground along the SE side of the ridge.  When Lupe climbed up the forested hill on the SW side of the saddle, she reached the first significant rock outcroppings.

Lupe on the first significant rock outcropping she encountered on her way to Ragged Top. Photo looks SW.
Lupe on the first significant rock outcropping she encountered on her way to Ragged Top. Photo looks SW.

From here on, the now undulating ridge to Ragged Top was much narrower than before.  Lupe passed by, or went over, several more rock formations along the way.  The last part of the ridge turned S as Lupe approached the final high point – the small summit known as Ragged Top.  Soon Lupe was surveying the situation from the top of Ragged Top.

Lupe surveys the world from the top of Ragged Top! Photo looks N.
Lupe surveys the world from the top of Ragged Top! Photo looks N.
Lupe on Ragged Top. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on Ragged Top. Photo looks NE.

The best views were actually from rocks farther S where the ridge ended.  Lupe could see both Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.) and Sundance Mountain (5,824 ft.) beyond a bank of clouds sneaking out to the E from the sea of clouds to the W.

Inyan Kara (Center - on the horizon) from a bit S of the Ragged Top summit. Photo looks S.
Inyan Kara (Center – on the horizon) from a bit S of the Ragged Top summit. Photo looks S.
Sundance Mountain (L just beyond the clouds). Photo looks SE.
Sundance Mountain (L just beyond the clouds). Photo looks SE.

Lupe was still at the S viewpoint, when a sudden loud explosion echoed up from the valley below!  Gunfire!  Lupe ran to SPHP.  That was it for the photo session.  More gunfire rang out every few minutes.  No way Lupe was letting SPHP get more than a foot away.  The final photo of the Ragged Top summit, taken from the S, had to be Lupe-less.

S face of the Ragged Top summit. There was supposed to be a courageous Carolina Dog poised dramatically atop the highest rocks, but loud gunfire put an end to that notion. Photo looks N.
S face of the Ragged Top summit. There was supposed to be a courageous Carolina Dog poised dramatically atop the highest rocks, but loud gunfire put an end to that notion. Photo looks N.

Lupe had made it to Ragged Top, but she didn’t want to be there now!  With gunfire going on sporadically, all she wanted to do was hide.  Time to get the Carolina Dog out of here!  SPHP led the way back to the G6.

When Lupe reached the forested saddle again, she decided to slink along hidden pathways between the low juniper bushes that dominated the forest floor.  In this manner, she slunk along all by herself clear up to the edge of the meadow where USFS Road No. 838.1B had ended.  As far as the American Dingo was concerned, her slinking worked just fine!  Lupe didn’t get shot.  Not even once.

At the meadow, Lupe and SPHP took a break.  Lupe curled up on SPHP’s lap, so SPHP could pet her and hold her.  This was most reassuring.  It certainly helped that the gunfire stopped, too.  Lupe and SPHP shared a chocolate coconut granola bar.  Things were looking up!  Things were also looking like a mess.  SPHP noticed Lupe treasures scattered along the edge of the forest.

Cleanup ensued.  As Lupe and SPHP continued back to the G6, more Lupe treasures were encountered, this time in the form of empty shotgun shells.  By the time Lupe was back at the G6 (12:07 PM, 55°F), she had two grocery sacks full of treasures.

Warren Peaks from near USFS Road No. 838.1B on the way back to the G6. Photo looks N.
Warren Peaks from near USFS Road No. 838.1B on the way back to the G6. Photo looks N.

Lupe had one more peakbagging goal for Expedition No. 180, but it was a long way N from here.  On the way, Lupe and SPHP stopped again (12:15 PM, 55°F) at the viewpoint NW of Warren Peaks where she had seen Devils Tower (5,112 ft.) and Missouri Buttes (5,374 ft.) a week ago.

The clouds were gone!  Devils Tower and Missouri Buttes were in view to the NW.  The air was rather hazy, but it was much easier to see them now than at sundown last week.

Devils Tower and Missouri Buttes from the viewpoint NW of Warren Peaks. Photo looks NW using the telephoto lens.
Devils Tower and Missouri Buttes from the viewpoint NW of Warren Peaks. Photo looks NW using the telephoto lens.

Lupe had a great time in the G6 traveling N to start her journey to her 3rd and final peakbagging goal of the day.  She rode with her head out the window, with the wind in her face.  She saw lots of deer in the forest, plus cows to bark at near Hwy 24.

When SPHP finally parked the G6 (1:17 PM, 61°F) again, Lupe recognized this place.  She had been here before.  She was at the intersection of Planting Spring Road (USFS Road No. 881.1) and USFS Road No. 830.  Two weeks ago on Expedition No. 178, she had stumbled onto this junction on her way to Bald Mountain (4,800 ft.).  Now it was the starting point for her journey to Lone Tree Hill (4,600 ft.).

The first part of Lupe’s route to Lone Tree Hill she had already been on before.  Lupe and SPHP set out going WNW on USFS Road No. 881.1.  Almost right away, Lupe passed by a rather elaborate tent and camper setup on the N side of the road.  Several guys planning on going deer hunting occupied the camp.

Once past the hunters, Lupe had a blast running around in the woods along No. 881.1.  She made good time to the intersection with USFS Road No. 881.1A, which leads to Bald Mountain.  Lupe did not take the turn to Bald Mountain, staying instead on No. 881.1.  The road quickly turned N.

No. 881.1 eventually angled NW for a while.  When it finally turned W, Lupe could see sky between trees at the far end of a slight rise ahead.  Lupe was about to reach the W edge of the large flat ridge she had been traveling along.  Lone Tree Hill (4,600 ft.) was supposed to be off to the NW beyond the edge of the ridge.  Would she be able to see it?

The Peakbagger.com topo map showed No. 881.1 ending (near elevation 4,768 ft.) before reaching the edge of the ridge.  The road didn’t actually end.  Instead, it curved SW on its way down to a somewhat lower area.  Lupe and SPHP left the road.  Lupe went W through the forest, and up the slight rise.

Lupe reaches the W edge of the big, relatively flat ridge she had been traveling. This photo looks SW, the only direction with a relatively clear view. Devils Tower is seen faintly on the horizon above Lupe's ear. Missouri Buttes are on the R.
Lupe reaches the W edge of the big, relatively flat ridge she had been traveling. This photo looks SW, the only direction with a relatively clear view. Devils Tower is seen faintly on the horizon above Lupe’s ear. Missouri Buttes are on the R.

Lupe arrived at the edge of a N/S running line of small cliffs.  There weren’t any discernable breaks in the cliff line.  Due to the forest, the only relatively clear view was off toward the SW, where Lupe could see Devils Tower and Missouri Buttes on the far horizon.

It was hard to see between the trees, but there did seem to be a large hill off to the NW where Lone Tree Hill should be.  That had to be it!  Lone Tree Hill appeared to be poorly named.  Although some of the slopes below the line of rock at the summit were bare or sparsely forested, there were plenty of trees on Lone Tree Hill.

Aptly named or not, from a distance Lone Tree Hill looked like an easy climb.  There was one problem, though.  Lone Tree Hill stood off by itself a mile NW of the ridge Lupe was on.  How could Lupe get safely down off these cliffs to cross the low ground between here and there?

The topo map showed only one semi-promising route nearby.  A ravine to the NE trended W to the lower ground Lupe needed to reach.  SPHP hesitated.  No. 881.1 had turned SW where Lupe had left it, heading down toward lower territory, too.  Maybe the road would take Lupe safely down below the cliffs?  That might be a lot easier than bushwhacking through a steep ravine!

Lupe and SPHP left the cliff edge to return to No. 881.1.  Once there, Lupe followed it SW.  The road lost some elevation, but then started to level out and turn S.  It looked like it was going to continue S, staying above a band of cliffs.  Hmmm.  Not good.  Lupe left the road briefly, entering a small ravine leading W.  No dice.  The ravine quickly cliffed out.  The drop was only 15 or 20 feet.  Didn’t matter, it may as well have been 10 times that much.

OK.  The ravine to the NE really was the only reasonable possibility.  Of course, there must be other routes, but they would all be significantly longer.  Lupe had made good time getting to the cliffs.  Even so, it was late enough in the day so the amount of time left before sunset was something to keep in mind.  The afternoon was clouding up.  It wouldn’t be a good idea to still be wandering around in a trackless forest trying to find and bushwhack back up a steep ravine after dark, especially with no moon or stars to help stay oriented.

Better get a move on!  Lupe and SPHP headed back up the road.  Lupe regained all her lost elevation, before leaving the road again to go try the ravine to the NE.  The ravine started out fine.  Gradually, Lupe lost elevation again.  She found an animal trail to follow.  Rock formations appeared on the slopes of the ravine, but Lupe didn’t come to any cliffs on the way W.

The NE ravine route worked!  Lupe lost over 400 feet of elevation.  She found herself safely down in a tall grove of white-barked aspens where the ground leveled out.  She was actually having a great time exploring this remote forest.  SPHP was confident Lupe was going to successfully climb Lone Tree Hill now!

Lupe had been going W down the ravine.  Now it was time to turn NW.  The tall aspens gave way to a forest of scrub oak.  Lupe romped around among fallen leaves looking for squirrels in the oak trees.  She found several squirrels, much to her delight and the squirrels’ annoyance.  Sometimes scrub oaks grow in dense clusters, but this forest was more open than that.  It wasn’t hard to move around.  Lupe was making great progress again.

Lupe exploring the scrub oak forest.
Lupe exploring the scrub oak forest.

Lupe turned N upon reaching a long saddle leading to Lone Tree Hill’s S ridge.  By climbing the S ridge, Lupe could get to the lower E end of Lone Tree Hill’s summit ridge.  As Lupe progressed along the saddle, she encountered areas of open ground interspersed between stands of forest.

Lupe was making progress! As she got to the saddle leading to Lone Tree Hill's S ridge, she came to this view of Lone Tree Hill up ahead. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe was making progress! As she got to the saddle leading to Lone Tree Hill’s S ridge, she came to this view of Lone Tree Hill up ahead. Photo looks NNW.

Lupe reached the S ridge.  Her climb up Lone Tree Hill was about to begin in earnest.  She immediately encountered a new obstacle.  The scrub oak forest was now behind her, and the S ridge leading up was all pine forest.  At least it had been.  The pine forest was devastated!

A tangle of dead trees, most laying perpendicular to Lupe’s route, was blocking the way forward.  It looked like a tornado had hit this place!  The trunks of many trees had simply snapped.

As Lupe started her climb up the S ridge, her route was blocked by a devastated pine forest.
As Lupe started her climb up the S ridge, her route was blocked by a devastated pine forest.

Progress became excruciatingly slow, as Lupe and SPHP struggled over, under, and around the deadfall timber.  Fortunately, the S ridge wasn’t very long.  Lupe only had to gain 200 feet of elevation to reach the lower E end of Lone Tree Hill’s summit ridge.  This was taking forever, though!  SPHP started to worry about how much time was going by.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Lupe and SPHP picked a way up through the shattered forest.  “Lone Tree” Hill, indeed!  If, only!  That “Lone Tree” term had been used rather loosely, hadn’t it?  As in, “Lone Tree” means less than 10,000 trees.  Silly SPHP had been expecting like, maybe, one tree – perhaps a few more, if one counted little trees springing up around the big one.  Not this!  Who had named this place, anyway?  Must have been an Indian 300 years ago.  The name hadn’t been justified in at least that long.

As Lupe starting getting close to the E ridge, the deadfall gradually diminished.  Then, finally, she was out of it.  Hallelujah!  Lupe reached the lower E end of Lone Tree Hill’s summit ridge.  The top of the mountain was in view not too far to the W.

Lupe reaches the lower E section of Lone Tree Hill's main E/W trending summit ridge. The top of the mountain is in view to the W. Photo looks W.
Lupe reaches the lower E section of Lone Tree Hill’s main E/W trending summit ridge. The top of the mountain is in view to the W. Photo looks W.
Getting closer! There was actually a fair amount of deadfall timber near the top of Lone Tree Hill, but nothing like what Lupe had already come through on the S ridge.
Getting closer! There was actually a fair amount of deadfall timber near the top of Lone Tree Hill, but nothing like what Lupe had already come through on the S ridge.

Lupe started making good progress again.  She headed for the higher W portion of Lone Tree Hill’s summit ridge.  Near the top, she encountered more deadfall timber.  The deadfall slowed SPHP down, but not Lupe.  Lupe went straight to the top of the mountain.  She had made it!  Lupe stood on the summit of Lone Tree Hill.

Lupe reaches the summit of Lone Tree Hill! Photo looks SE in the direction Lupe came from to get here. The ravine she came down along the distant ridge is a bit hard to see from this angle, but is almost directly above her. Just to the L of that is the part of the big flat ridge where the Peakbagger.com topo map shows High Point 4801.
Lupe reaches the summit of Lone Tree Hill! Photo looks SE in the direction Lupe came from to get here. The ravine she came down along the distant ridge is a bit hard to see from this angle, but is almost directly above her. Just to the L of that is the part of the big flat ridge where the Peakbagger.com topo map shows High Point 4801.
Looking S from the true summit.
Looking S from the true summit.

The true summit of Lone Tree Hill was a bit W of where Lupe had come up.  The mountain featured a band of rock and very small cliffs along the S edge of the summit ridge.  Views toward the S were generally quite good.  By moving around the summit, it was possible to see a long way in almost any direction.

The S edge of the summit ridge featured a band of very small orange-yellow cliffs. Photo looks ESE toward High Point 4801 (R).
The S edge of the summit ridge featured a band of very small orange-yellow cliffs. Photo looks ESE toward High Point 4801 (R).
The top of Lone Tree Hill had some deadfall timber, but it wasn't too bad. Photo looks E.
The top of Lone Tree Hill had some deadfall timber, but it wasn’t too bad. Photo looks E.

The far W end of the summit ridge was a bit lower than the rest of it, but had hardly any trees.  Lupe had a 270° panoramic view from here!  It was a great place to take a break, and celebrate Lupe’s final peakbagging success of the day.

Lupe reaches the far W end of the Lone Tree Hill summit ridge. She had 270° panoramic views from here. Missouri Buttes are on the far horizon directly above Lupe. The top of Devils Tower pokes above the forested ridge on the L. Photo looks SW.
Lupe reaches the far W end of the Lone Tree Hill summit ridge. She had 270° panoramic views from here. Missouri Buttes are on the far horizon directly above Lupe. The top of Devils Tower pokes above the forested ridge on the L. Photo looks SW.
Looking SSW.
Looking SSW.
Looking NW.
Looking NW.

Lupe and SPHP shared water and chocolate coconut granola bars.  Lupe had her Taste of the Wild.  SPHP consumed an apple.  The sun was getting lower, but Lupe would have time to get back to the road before dark.  Actually, it was getting hard to even tell where the sun was.  The sky, which had been at least partly sunny and blue in the morning, was now a boring, indistinct, gray smudge in almost every direction.

Lupe lingered on Lone Tree Hill as long as possible.  Best to enjoy the moment!  Lone Tree Hill was the type of small peakbagging objective that Lupe might well never ever return to again.  It was sort of far from home, sort of hard to get to, and there are higher and more dramatic places to go.

Yet, being on Lone Tree Hill was great!  The sweeping views of the wide open spaces, forested hills, and long dark ridges of remote NE Wyoming were wonderful.  And even if the pine trees weren’t alone on Lone Tree Hill, Lupe and SPHP were.  The solitude and serenity was unbroken, except by the distant mooing of cattle and occasional twittering of small birds.  Lone Tree Hill was good for the spirit.

As it always does, the time came to start for home.  No devastated S ridge for Lupe this time, though!  It would be much easier to head right on down the mostly barren S slope of the mountain from the W end of the summit ridge.  Lupe was ready.  The return trip was something to look forward to, too!

Lupe starts down Lone Tree Hill, eager for more adventures on the long way back to the G6.
Lupe starts down Lone Tree Hill, eager for more adventures on the long way back to the G6.

The busy American Dingo made the most of the return trip.  She stopped frequently on her way down the mountain to scan the scene below.  She streaked across meadows, sniffed around in forests, barked at squirrels, saw some deer, found and climbed back up the ravine onto the big ridge, ultimately returning to USFS Road No. 881.1.  She traveled the road in fading light, as the forest darkened and grew more mysterious around her.

Lupe on her way back from Lone Tree Hill. Photo looks N.
Lupe on her way back from Lone Tree Hill. Photo looks N.

The deer hunters were in their big tent, talking and laughing, when Lupe passed by again.  Brightly glowing light escaped the tent at various openings.  Smoke drifted out a black smokestack.  Sounded like good times going on inside.

The hunters didn’t see the American Dingo trot by.  She was almost to the G6 (6:09 PM, 54°F), her day’s adventures nearly over, destined for a long ride home to a late Alpo dinner, warm bed, and sweet dreams of a day spent alive and free in the Bear Lodge Mountains of Wyoming.

Lupe on the way back, in the scrub oak forest SE of Lone Tree Hill.
Lupe on the way back, in the scrub oak forest SE of Lone Tree Hill.

Note:  Lupe treasures gathered on Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 180 included 19 aluminum cans, 9 plastic bottles, 3 glass bottles, 48 shotgun shells.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

The Salmon Glacier near Hyder, Alaska (8-5-16)

Day 7 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska.

Lupe and SPHP hit the road again early (6:20 AM), still heading NW on Yellowhead Hwy No. 16.  A cool, light rain fell under overcast skies.  Lupe was happy.  Vast forests continued to dominate, but every now and then the Carolina Dog had an opportunity to bark at cows or horses in fields near the road.  The miles flew by.

The day seemed to be getting darker, instead of brighter, when Lupe passed through Smithers in rain and fog.  High mountains were close to Smithers, the first high mountains Lupe had seen since before reaching Prince George yesterday.  Lupe was approaching adventure territory once again!

On the way to New Hazelton, the rain stopped.  The skies started clearing.  It was going to be a bright day after all!  After passing through New Hazelton, Yellowhead Highway No. 16 turned SW for a while.  Lupe and SPHP stopped for a short break at Sealy Lake.  A sign told of an ancient water-grizzly named Medeek.

This plaque at Sealy Lake tells of the ancient water-grizzly Medeek.
This plaque at Sealy Lake tells of the ancient water-grizzly Medeek.

Lupe went down to Sealy Lake.  The lake was a small one with reeds near the shore.  Impressive mountains were near Sealy Lake to the SE, but they weren’t what held SPHP’s interest.  Across Sealy Lake, mountains with large snowfields on them were seen in the distance to the W.  Before Lupe reached those mountains, she would turn N on the Cassiar Highway No. 37.

Lupe at Sealy Lake. Before she reached the mountains seen in the distance beyond the lake, Lupe would turn N on the Cassiar Highway No. 37. Photo looks W.
Lupe at Sealy Lake. Before she reached the mountains seen in the distance beyond the lake, Lupe would turn N on the Cassiar Highway No. 37. Photo looks W.

A little later on, Lupe was there, at the junction.  Getting to the Cassiar Highway No. 37 was kind of a big deal.  The Cassiar was going to be Lupe’s road to adventure!

Lupe at a sign near the junction of Yellowhead Highway No. 16, which she had been following ever since leaving Jasper in Alberta, and the Cassiar Highway No. 37.
Lupe at a sign near the junction of Yellowhead Highway No. 16, which she had been following ever since leaving Jasper in Alberta, and the Cassiar Highway No. 37.
Lupe about to head N on the Cassiar Highway No. 37.
Lupe about to head N on the Cassiar Highway No. 37.

As Lupe and SPHP traveled N on Cassiar Highway No. 37, mountains and forests soon took over completely.  Gone were the fields of haystacks, cows and horses.  The highway went by beautiful lakes and rivers.  Lupe missed the cows and horses, and eventually fell asleep.

At Meziadin Junction, SPHP turned W on Hwy 37A, a 61 km spur road to Stewart, British Columbia.  Along the way, Lupe got to see the Bear Glacier.

Lupe got to see the Bear Glacier across Strohn Lake from Hwy 37A on the way to Stewart. Photo looks SW.
Lupe got to see the Bear Glacier across Strohn Lake from Hwy 37A on the way to Stewart. Photo looks SW.
The Bear Glacier with a little help from the telephoto lens.
The Bear Glacier with a little help from the telephoto lens.

Farther on, Hwy 37A crossed a bridge over the Bear River just before entering the small border town of Stewart, British Columbia.  The Bear River valley was impressive.  Lupe and SPHP got out of the G6 to take a look.

Lupe near Stewart, British Columbia. Photo looks N up the impressive Bear River valley.
Lupe near Stewart, British Columbia. Photo looks N up the impressive Bear River valley.

Stewart is a small town at the end of the Portland Canal, a long narrow arm (a fjord, essentially) of the Pacific Ocean.  Only 3 km from Stewart, Lupe entered the even smaller town of Hyder, Alaska.  Alaska became Lupe’s 12th US Dingo State!

Hyder, Alaska has two main attractions, other than being on the Portland Canal.  A few miles N of Hyder is the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site.  For $5 per day, visitors can view wildlife from a raised wooden observation platform along Fish Creek.  Wild bears feeding on salmon in Fish Creek are the big draw.

Although Lupe would have loved barking ferociously at grizzly bears from the safety of a raised platform, this would no doubt have been frowned upon by the park service and every other site visitor.  Nevertheless, SPHP stopped briefly at the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site to ask directions to Hyder’s other main attraction, the Salmon Glacier.

The directions were easy.  Just keep following the road past the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site.  About 16 miles from Hyder, the road reaches an observation point with a tremendous view overlooking the Salmon Glacier.  Interestingly, although the road through Hyder, Alaska and past Fish Creek provides the only access to the Salmon Glacier, the glacier itself is actually a short distance over the Canadian border in British Columbia.

The sky was crystal clear blue as Lupe and SPHP drove up the gravel road.  The road went N following the Salmon River valley, climbing ever higher up on the mountain slopes on the E side of the valley.  Traffic was surprisingly heavy, and raised long-lingering clouds of dust.  There were numerous small pullouts at viewpoints along the way.  Finally, the Salmon Glacier came into view.

The Salmon Glacier comes into view from the road to the main viewpoint. A helicopter is seen flying up the valley. Photo looks N.
The Salmon Glacier comes into view from the road to the main viewpoint. A helicopter is seen flying up the valley. Photo looks N.
Impressive as it is, this first part of the glacier to come into view is only a small part of the whole Salmon Glacier.
Impressive as it is, this first part of the glacier to come into view is only a small part of the whole Salmon Glacier.

The S tongue of the Salmon Glacier which came into view first was impressive, but is only a small part of the entire glacier.  The scene became more and more amazing as Lupe neared the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint.

The main viewpoint was crowded when Lupe arrived.  A dozen vehicles were parked along the road and in a small parking area.  Two dozen or more people were milling around checking out the view.  Lupe and SPHP ignored the dust and commotion, as much as possible.  Lupe waited for a turn up on a small rise with a panoramic glacier view.

Wow!  The Salmon Glacier was absolutely stunning!  The huge white glacier, streaked with dark gray rock and tinges of blue, flows down a high wide valley surrounded by mountains straight toward the viewpoint.  Hundreds of feet below, the giant glacier splits into a forked tongue.  The larger end flows S (L) down the Salmon River valley.  The smaller N (R) end flows into a depression filled earlier in the year by Summit Lake.

Lupe at the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint near the highest point on the access road. Photo looks W.
Lupe at the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint near the highest point on the access road. Photo looks W.
The Salmon Glacier is in British Columbia, Canada, although the only access road to this amazing viewpoint goes through Hyder, Alaska.
The Salmon Glacier is in British Columbia, Canada, although the only access road to this amazing viewpoint goes through Hyder, Alaska.

The Salmon Glacier was a glorious sight!  What wasn’t glorious was how busy the main viewpoint was.  Vehicles kept coming and going raising all kinds of dust.  A road which goes 10 miles farther past the main viewpoint, was closed for construction.  Construction equipment made more dust and noise as it rumbled by.  Several helicopters flew back and forth, apparently in connection with the construction.

A two year old tyrant among the throng of tourists had learned to screech commands every 20 or 30 seconds at his willingly subservient parents.  A grandma in the same family pleaded with 2 older girls to please come and stand by her for a photo.  After all, grandma had bought them lots of nice things, hadn’t she?  With nothing new in it for them, the girls pouted and declined to have anything to do with grandma.

Lupe loved one part of all these goings on – the helicopters!  Lupe loves helicopters.  In particular, she loves to run below them barking furiously to chase them away.  With all the helicopters buzzing around, Lupe was only adding to the general tumult.

Several helicopters kept flying around near the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint, apparently in connection with road construction. Lupe loves barking at helicopters! The American Dingo's frantic yelping only added to the annoying din at the main viewpoint.
Several helicopters kept flying around near the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint, apparently in connection with road construction. Lupe loves barking at helicopters! The American Dingo’s frantic yelping only added to the annoying din at the main viewpoint.

Fortunately, SPHP remembered reading online that there is an unmaintained trail going up the mountainside to the E of the Salmon Glacier viewpoint.  The views would be even more spectacular up there!  Lupe could bark at helicopters all she wanted to, far from the crowd.  Lupe and SPHP left the little parking lot (1:51 PM, 66°F), quickly finding several informal trails winding up the mountainside.

Making the climb above the parking lot was a great decision.  As Lupe and SPHP gained hundreds of feet of elevation, the noise, dust, brats and general commotion at the main viewpoint faded away.  Helicopters still flew by, even closer than down below, greatly entertaining Lupe.  She raced around barking for all she was worth, not bothering anyone.

Lupe and SPHP stopped for short breaks on a couple of hills hundreds feet above the road.  Peace and tranquility reigned.  Missing these incredible views from on high would have been a shame!

Lupe takes a break from chasing helicopters on a small hill hundreds of feet above the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint down by the road (seen near Lupe's tongue). Up here, the magnificent Salmon Glacier could be enjoyed in solitude and tranquility (at least when the helicopters weren't around). Much, much better! Photo looks W.
Lupe takes a break from chasing helicopters on a small hill hundreds of feet above the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint down by the road (seen near Lupe’s tongue). Up here, the magnificent Salmon Glacier could be enjoyed in solitude and tranquility (at least when the helicopters weren’t around). Much, much better! Photo looks W.
The upper end of the Salmon Glacier. Photo looks W using the telephoto lens.
The upper end of the Salmon Glacier. Photo looks W using the telephoto lens.
Lupe atop one of the two hills where she took her first short breaks. Photo looks SW.
Lupe atop one of the two hills where she took her first short breaks. Photo looks SW.
Looking NW now. Part of the N tongue of the Salmon Glacier is seen below.
Looking NW now. Part of the N tongue of the Salmon Glacier is seen below.

Fields of flowers watered by tiny streams and ponds were in view beyond the small hills where Lupe took her first short breaks.  When her breaks were done, Lupe went SSE exploring this vibrant, colorful territory.  She climbed even higher up to a massive knob of rock where she found a big cairn.  To the SE, Lupe could see the snow-capped summit of Mount Dilworth (5,446 ft.).

Lupe in the fields of flowers on her way to the knob of rock seen on the L. Photo looks SE.
Lupe in the fields of flowers on her way to the knob of rock seen on the L. Photo looks SE.
Wildflowers on the slopes of Mount Dilworth.
Wildflowers on the slopes of Mount Dilworth.
Lupe on the rock knob. The snow-capped summit of Mount Dilworth is in view. Photo looks SE.
Lupe on the rock knob. The snow-capped summit of Mount Dilworth is in view. Photo looks SE.
Lupe on the highest rock knob she visited on the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the highest rock knob she visited on the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Photo looks N.
The Salmon Glacier as viewed from the highest rock knob Lupe reached on the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Lupe stands by the big cairn she found here. Photo looks W.
The Salmon Glacier as viewed from the highest rock knob Lupe reached on the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Lupe stands by the big cairn she found here. Photo looks W.
The upper end of the Salmon Glacier as seen from Lupe's highest point of advance up Mount Dilworth. Photo looks W using the telephoto lens.
The upper end of the Salmon Glacier as seen from Lupe’s highest point of advance up Mount Dilworth. Photo looks W using the telephoto lens.
Salmon Glacier ice viewed through the telephoto lens.
Salmon Glacier ice viewed through the telephoto lens.

From the rock knob, the views were amazing, not only toward the Salmon Glacier, but in every direction.  The day was very warm and sunny.  Conditions were ideal.  For a little while, SPHP toyed with the idea of climbing Mount Dilworth with Lupe.  It looked easy, but maybe the huge snowfield at the top was actually quite dangerous?  Falling into a crevasse would be the end.  Best to leave it alone.

So Lupe made no attempt to climb Mount Dilworth, despite how tempting it looked.  Instead, the Carolina Dog had fun among flowers, fields, and streams on the way back down to the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint along the road.  The return trip was a wonderful time full of beautiful sights.

Lupe on the way back down the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on the way back down the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Photo looks NW.
Yes, this is what Dingo Vacations are all about!
Yes, this is what Dingo Vacations are all about!
Salmon Glacier from the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Photo looks W.
Salmon Glacier from the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Photo looks W.

Salmon Glacier, British Columbia, Canada 8-5-16Flowers on Mount Dilworth, British Columbia, CanadaFlower on Mount Dilworth, British Columbia, Canada 8-5-16When Lupe reached the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint back at the road, a new bit of excitement was going on.  Someone had accidently dropped their camera far down a steep slope, and attempting to retrieve it, managed to get themselves stuck in a precarious position.  A rescue operation was in progress.

While everyone else was gathered in one spot talking about the rescue, Lupe and SPHP walked over to a hill offering a better view of the N tongue of the glacier.  Every year, typically in mid-July, this part of the Salmon Glacier unleashes a major natural hazard.

In spring and early summer, Summit Lake forms from meltwaters backed up by an ice-dam at the N end of the glacier.  As temperatures warm, Summit Lake eventually breaks through the ice-dam.  The lake then drains to the S beneath the Salmon Glacier, flooding the Salmon River where water levels rise suddenly by 4 or 5 feet for several days.

Since it was August, Summit Lake had already broken through the ice-dam and drained away.  Lupe could still see where Summit Lake had been, though.  A small area of gray green water remained at the bottom of a depression surrounded by collapsed ice and snow.  The former high water level was easy to see on the side of the mountain above.

Lupe saw this view of the gray green waters surrounded by collapsed snow and ice remaining after the natural draining of Summit Lake under the Salmon Glacier in July. It's easy to see the typical high water line of Summit Lake along the base of the mountain slope on the L. Photo looks NW.
Lupe saw this view of the gray green waters surrounded by collapsed snow and ice remaining after the natural draining of Summit Lake under the Salmon Glacier in July. It’s easy to see the typical high water line of Summit Lake along the base of the mountain slope on the L. Photo looks NW.
Collapsed snow and ice around the remains of Summit Lake.
Collapsed snow and ice around the remains of Summit Lake.

Lupe’s visit to the Salmon Glacier had been a most memorable occasion, but it was time to move on (4:07 PM, 76°F).  Lupe and SPHP made a few more stops at viewpoints on the way back to Hyder while the glorious Salmon Glacier was still in view.

Looking WNW at the huge sweeping curve of the Salmon Glacier for the last time.
Looking WNW at the huge sweeping curve of the Salmon Glacier for the last time.
S tongue of the Salmon Glacier. Photo looks N.
S tongue of the Salmon Glacier. Photo looks N.

Salmon Glacier, British Columbia, Canada 8-5-16On the way back to Hyder, the G6 said the temperature hit an incredible 84°F outside.  SPHP fretted uselessly about the ultimate fate of the Salmon Glacier.  Things cooled off closer to Hyder, perhaps influenced by the nearby presence of the ocean.

Lupe hadn’t seen the ocean since visiting the Washington and Oregon coasts during her Summer of 2012 Dingo Vacation nearly 4 years ago.  So when Lupe got back to Hyder, Alaska, SPHP drove her over to the end of the wharf to see the Portland Canal.

Lupe stands on a bench at the end of the wharf in Hyder, Alaska. Beyond her is the Portland Canal, an arm of the North Pacific Ocean. This was the first time Lupe had seen the ocean since she was only 1.5 years old on her 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast. Photo looks SW.
Lupe stands on a bench at the end of the wharf in Hyder, Alaska. Beyond her is the Portland Canal, an arm of the North Pacific Ocean. This was the first time Lupe had seen the ocean since she was only 1.5 years old on her 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast. Photo looks SW.
Looking NE from Hyder, Alaska toward Stewart, British Columbia at the end of the Portland Canal.
Looking NE from Hyder, Alaska toward Stewart, British Columbia at the end of the Portland Canal.

Lupe’s adventure to Hyder, Alaska and the Salmon Glacier was done.  Lupe and SPHP went back through Canadian customs returning to Stewart in British Columbia.  Although it was late afternoon already, the long Canadian summer days meant there were still hours of daylight left.

Lupe and SPHP left Stewart taking Hwy 37A back past the Bear Glacier to Meziadin Junction.  After gassing the G6 up, Lupe’s long journey N on Cassiar Highway No. 37 resumed.  Each mile took the Carolina Dog farther N than she had ever been before.

Daylight was fading by the time Lupe crossed a big bridge over a river that looked like it was running very low.  Beyond the bridge was the Bell 1 rest stop.  SPHP pulled in.  Time for a quick dinner before dark.  For some reason, Lupe wanted to stay in the G6.  Was she just tired, or was it true?

A guy from Dease Lake had been talking to SPHP.  He said his big brown dog sensed bears nearby.  He claimed these woods were full of bears.  He also talked about how the weather was changing.  Last winter this area had received only 4 feet of snow.  Ten years ago, typical total winter snowfall used to be 15 meters (49 feet).  Another bad sign for the Salmon Glacier.

Well, that’s why we are here now, Looper!  To see it all while fate and fortune still smile upon us, and these fabulous natural wonders of the world remain.

Salmon Glacier from the slopes of Mount Dilworth. Photo looks W.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 179 – Warren Peaks, Black Hills, Sherrard Hill & Cook Lake (10-23-16)

Hah!  How’s this for peakbagging the easy way, Loop?  SPHP turned off the engine.  The G6 was parked at the base of the Warren Peaks fire lookout tower (8:23 AM, 38°F).  Lupe was already at the top of the mountain.  Feels like cheating, doesn’t it?  We didn’t have to do a thing.  Come on, Looper, lets take a look around!  Lupe was out of the G6 like a shot.

Lupe arrives at the base of the Warren Peaks, WY fire lookout tower. Photo looks W.
Lupe arrives at the base of the Warren Peaks, WY fire lookout tower. Photo looks W.
Lupe near the Warren Peaks fire lookout tower. Photo looks WNW.
Lupe near the Warren Peaks fire lookout tower. Photo looks WNW.

A light S breeze was blowing.  Clear skies and another unseasonably warm October day.  The panoramic views were terrific.  The Warren Peaks (6,656 ft.) fire lookout tower is atop the highest point in the Bear Lodge Mountains in NE Wyoming.  Lupe gazed out over miles and miles of high prairie far beyond the mountains.

When the light is right and the air is clear, you can see all the way to the Bighorn Mountains from here Loop!  The light wasn’t right.  A bit of haze was in the air.  Oh, well.

Looking SSW from Warren Peaks, the highest mountain in the Bear Lodge Mountains. The tower on the L is on High Point 6532.
Looking SSW from Warren Peaks, the highest mountain in the Bear Lodge Mountains. The tower on the L is on High Point 6532.

Although Lupe was back to continue her peakbagging adventures in the Bear Lodge Mountains, Warren Peaks (6,656 ft.) wasn’t really one of her prime peakbagging goals for Expedition No. 179.  Lupe had been here twice before.  Warren Peaks was just a great viewpoint from which to start the day, conveniently located on the way to other objectives she’d never been to before.

Before leaving this terrific vantage point, SPHP stared off to the N trying to pick out Vision Peak (4,812 ft.) or Bald Mountain (4,800 ft.), where Lupe had been adventuring a week ago.  Nothing really stood out that SPHP could positively identify.  Neither did any of today’s objectives.  Most of the Bear Lodge Mountains just aren’t that rugged.

The big rounded hill seen beyond Lupe is Bull Hill. Photo looks N.
The big rounded hill seen beyond Lupe is Bull Hill. Photo looks N.
Bull Hill with a little help from the telephoto lens. Studying this photo after the fact, SPHP is 98.43% certain that Bald Mountain, where Lupe had been a week ago, is at the far L end of the most distant dark ridge seen on the R. (Not the faint ridge on the horizon.) Photo looks N.
Bull Hill with a little help from the telephoto lens. Studying this photo after the fact, SPHP is 98.43% certain that Bald Mountain, where Lupe had been a week ago, is at the far L end of the most distant dark ridge seen on the R. (Not the faint ridge on the horizon.) Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP left Warren Peaks headed N on USFS Road No. 838.  At 9:04 AM (39°F), Lupe was leaping out of the G6 again, this time at the junction of USFS Roads No. 849 and 849.1A.  Lupe had two peakbagging objectives nearby.  They were two summits called the Black Hills.  (Not to be confused with the entire Black Hills range, which is hard not to do, since the identical names make it plenty confusing.)

Lupe set off for the Black Hills (East) (5,229 ft.) summit first, climbing toward the S in territory W of the N ridge.  At first, she encountered thickets of brush and small trees in a forest of mixed pine and aspen.  As Lupe gained elevation, the pines prevailed and most of the smaller stuff disappeared.  The terrain was unusually lumpy.  Lupe went up a series of small rises separated by little ravines or low spots.  Deer seemed to like this area, and Lupe saw quite a few of them.

The Black Hills (East) summit ridge runs roughly NW/SE.  Lupe reached a lower part of the ridgeline a bit WNW of a protruding rock outcropping of yellowish tan limestone, or perhaps sandstone.  This rock formation proved to be quite level on top, and runs the entire length of the summit ridge, which was hundreds of feet long.  Toward the SW, the rocks form a line of small cliffs.

Lupe sits on the yellowish tan limestone or sandstone rock outcropping at the NW end of the Black Hills (East) summit ridge.
Lupe sits on the yellowish tan limestone or sandstone rock outcropping at the NW end of the Black Hills (East) summit ridge.

From the NW end of the Black Hills (East) summit ridge, Lupe could see Black Hills (West) (5,323 ft.).  Black Hills (West) is almost 100 feet higher than Black Hills (East).  Lupe would be going over there next, but not until she finished exploring Black Hills (East).

Looking W toward the Black Hills (West) summit from the NW end of the Black Hills (East) summit ridge.
Looking W toward the Black Hills (West) summit from the NW end of the Black Hills (East) summit ridge.

Lupe and SPHP traveled SE along the entire length of the Black Hills (East) summit ridge, staying near the line of cliffs.  Forest effectively hid the views in every direction, other than SW from the cliffs.  Even looking SW, higher forested ridges only a mile or two away were as far as Lupe could see.

Lupe at another viewpoint along the cliffs. Black Hills (West) is in view on the R. The scene seen here is typical of the only semi-distant views available from Black Hills (East). Photo looks W.
Lupe at another viewpoint along the cliffs. Black Hills (West) is in view on the R. The scene seen here is typical of the only semi-distant views available from Black Hills (East). Photo looks W.

Close to the SE end of the Black Hills E summit ridge, a small pine tree was perched near the edge of the cliffs.  Ponderosa pines can grow in some of the most amazing places.  The little tree looked like it was growing straight out of the rocks!

Lupe near the SE end of the Black Hills (East) summit ridge. A small pine tree was growing right out of the rocks at the edge of the cliffs. Photo looks S.
Lupe near the SE end of the Black Hills (East) summit ridge. A small pine tree was growing right out of the rocks at the edge of the cliffs. Photo looks S.

The Black Hills (East) summit ridge was long, on the order of 800 feet long.  Having traveled the entire length of the ridge near the cliffs, it was time for Lupe to look for the true summit.  Since the entire area was quite flat, there wasn’t going to be any one easily identifiable point.

The summit ridge of Black Hills (East) was quite level and all forested. Parts of it were rather park-like as seen here. Photo looks WSW.
The summit ridge of Black Hills (East) was quite level and all forested. Parts of it were rather park-like as seen here. Photo looks WSW.

Although there was only a slight elevation difference, the highest area Lupe could find on Black Hills (East) seemed to be back closer to the middle of the summit ridge.  A somewhat elevated area was 50 to 100 feet NE of the cliffs.  This high ground was covered by a dense thicket of scrub oak trees.  Lupe had no views at all from here!

Lupe in the scrub oak thicket at the true summit (as near as she could find one) of Black Hills (East).
Lupe in the scrub oak thicket at the true summit (as near as she could find one) of Black Hills (East).

Having achieved her first peakbagging success of the day at Black Hills (East), it was time for Lupe to head for Black Hills (West).  To get there, she first had to go back down to the G6.

Lupe roughly retraced the same route she had taken up.  The many deer held Lupe’s attention much of the time, but she also found an interesting column of rock out in the middle of the forest.  Strangely enough, someone had drawn an odd face on it.

Lupe at a big column of rock she discovered going back down Black Hills (East). Although the column of rock was in an unlikely spot for visitors out in the middle of the forest, someone had drawn an odd face on it (seen right above Lupe in white).
Lupe at a big column of rock she discovered going back down Black Hills (East). Although the column of rock was in an unlikely spot for visitors out in the middle of the forest, someone had drawn an odd face on it (seen right above Lupe in white).

Lupe reached the G6 at 10:36 AM.  She was surprised and puzzled when SPHP went right on by it.  However, her next peakbagging goal, Black Hills (West) was not far away.

Lupe and SPHP crossed USFS Road No. 849 and went down to Blacktail Creek.  Lupe reached the tiny creek near a tiny waterfall.  Of course, she paused for a not-so-tiny drink from the creek as she crossed it, prior to beginning her climb up Black Hills (West).

Lupe near the tiny waterfall on Blacktail Creek.
Lupe near the tiny waterfall on Blacktail Creek.

Lupe’s path up Black Hills (West) was very direct.  She simply followed the long NE ridge, staying on the ridgeline a little above the cliffs to the SE.  Lupe’s entire climb was steadily up at a moderate pace.  As Lupe neared the summit, she found a big grassy meadow at the top of the mountain.  SPHP hoped the views would be better here than from Black Hills (East).

Lupe on top of Black Hills (West). Photo looks SSW.
Lupe on top of Black Hills (West). Photo looks SSW.
The summit of Black Hills (West) was a grassy meadow. Photo looks SSW.
The summit of Black Hills (West) was a grassy meadow. Photo looks SSW.

Unfortunately, the views from Black Hills (West) were rather disappointing.  The mountain wasn’t quite high enough for a good look at the most interesting sight.  Off to the WNW, Lupe had only a partial view of the Missouri Buttes (5,375 ft.) and top of Devils Tower (5,112 ft.).

Black Hills (West) wasn't quite high enough for a good look at Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower. Photo looks WNW.
Black Hills (West) wasn’t quite high enough for a good look at Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower. Photo looks WNW.
Missouri Buttes (R) and the top of Devils Tower (L) from Black Hills (West). Photo looks WNW using the telephoto lens.
Missouri Buttes (R) and the top of Devils Tower (L) from Black Hills (West). Photo looks WNW using the telephoto lens.

Lupe and SPHP wandered around the Black Hills (West) summit area for a little while, seeing what could be seen, before taking a break.  After the break, it was photo op time for Lupe before beginning the descent.

The Black Hills (West) summit as seen from the SW.
The Black Hills (West) summit as seen from the SW.
Lupe relaxes during her break time. She looks a bit serious here.
Lupe relaxes during her break time. She looks a bit serious here.
The Black Hills (West) summit. Photo looks SW.
The Black Hills (West) summit. Photo looks SW.
A happy Carolina Dog on the summit of Black Hills (West) having a good time in the Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming.
A happy Carolina Dog on the summit of Black Hills (West) having a good time in the Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the G6 (12:01 PM) going back down the NE ridge of Black Hills (West).  Lupe had one more peakbagging goal for Expedition No. 179, Sherrard Hill.  Sherrard Hill (5,385 ft.) is a little higher than Black Hills (West).  SPHP had hopes that Lupe might find better views from Sherrard Hill than either of the two Black Hills summits had on offer.

SPHP drove a couple miles NNW on USFS Road No. 849 to its junction with USFS Road No. 860.1, before parking the G6 (12:09 PM, 57°F).  Lupe would start her trek to Sherrard Hill from here.

Much of Lupe’s journey to Sherrard Hill followed USFS Roads.  She started out going S on No. 860.1, which soon crossed Blacktail Creek.  Lupe came to many forks in the road.  At the first one, Lupe stayed to the R, avoiding side road No. 860.1A.  At the next junction, where an unmarked road to the L went down to a bridge across Hershey Creek, she stayed to the R again on a road marked as Trail No. 1042.

A week ago, when Lupe had been to the Bear Lodge Mountains on Expedition No. 178, there had still been some fall colors on display. By Expedition No. 179, though, nearly all of the trees were bare. There were a few exceptions, however. Lupe saw these red berries and yellow leaves while following USFS Road No. 860.1 on the way to Sherrard Hill.
A week ago, when Lupe had been to the Bear Lodge Mountains on Expedition No. 178, there had still been some fall colors on display. By Expedition No. 179, though, nearly all of the trees were bare. There were a few exceptions, however. Lupe saw these red berries and yellow leaves while following USFS Road No. 860.1 on the way to Sherrard Hill.

At a third junction, Lupe stayed to the R again, now following USFS Road No. 860.1F.

Lupe reaches USFS Road No. 860.1F, which was closed to motor vehicles. Photo looks S.
Lupe reaches USFS Road No. 860.1F, which was closed to motor vehicles. Photo looks S.

While on No. 860.1F, Lupe and SPHP kept hearing geese.  Finally, a flock of them flew by almost right overhead.  The geese were so high, Lupe didn’t pay much attention to them.

Geese flew by almost right overhead. Photo looks, umm, up using the telephoto lens.
Geese flew by almost right overhead. Photo looks, umm, up using the telephoto lens.

As Lupe got closer to Sherrard Hill, she kept coming to more forks in the road.  She avoided taking USFS Roads No. 860.1R (to the R) or No. 860.1J (to the L).  The road she was on eventually turned W going up a valley.  When Lupe reached a saddle at the upper end of the valley, SPHP was pretty certain Sherrard Hill was the wooded hill immediately to the S.

Lupe stuck with the road she was on as it circled around to the NW side of Sherrard Hill.  She passed by USFS Road No. 860.1G on the way.  By now, the road Lupe was following had leveled out.  Lupe and SPHP turned SE and started climbing.

The climb up Sherrard Hill (5,385 ft.) was along quite a gentle slope.  The hill was heavily forested all the way up.  The summit area was large, and all heavily forested, too.  Lupe and SPHP went all the way to the SE end of the summit area.  There was little to be seen, but forest anywhere.

Lupe on top of Sherrard Hill. There was little to be seen except for the forest. Photo looks N.
Lupe on top of Sherrard Hill. There was little to be seen except for the forest. Photo looks N.

Well, that was it.  None of Lupe’s 3 main peakbagging objectives of the day had provided much in the way of views, and Sherrard Hill, the highest of them all, had no views at all.  Sometimes that’s just the way it is in the mountains.

Lupe and SPHP took a short break for chocolate coconut granola bars and water at the SE end of the summit area.  Then Lupe got to explore the Sherrard Hill summit looking for the highest point.  Just like on Black Hills (East), the top of the mountain was so flat, it was hard to pin down an exact location of the true summit.  Once again, it appeared to be in a thick grove of scrub oaks.

Lupe among the scrub oaks at the true summit of Sherrard Hill. Photo looks E.
Lupe among the scrub oaks at the true summit of Sherrard Hill. Photo looks E.
Lupe exploring the summit area on Sherrard Hill. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe exploring the summit area on Sherrard Hill. Photo looks NNE.

Before completely abandoning Sherrard Hill to return to the G6, Lupe and SPHP wandered over to a slightly lower part of the mountain protruding to the W from the N end of the summit area.  From here, Lupe did catch a couple of glimpses of Missouri Buttes, but never had a really good look.

Lupe and SPHP continued NW to High Point 5255, but other than a ranch house to the W, there was nothing to see there either.  OK, that was it.  Time to give up and go back to the G6.  Lupe had a great time on the way back.  She saw many deer, and several squirrels.

On the way back to the G6 from Sherrard Hill, Lupe saw many deer in the woods. This one was out in the open near Hershey Creek.
On the way back to the G6 from Sherrard Hill, Lupe saw many deer in the woods. This one was out in the open near Hershey Creek.

When Lupe arrived at the G6 again (3:43 PM, 57°F), it was only a little over 2 hours until sundown.  Time enough to do something, but not go off climbing another mountain.  Since Lupe had never seen Cook Lake before, why not go see the little lake?

The Cook Lake Recreation Area features a campground, picnic area, loop trail around the lake, and another loop trail N of the lake called the Cliff Swallow trail.  Lupe arrived at Cook Lake (4:16 PM, 53°F) too late to both spend time at the lake and take the Cliff Swallow trail.  Since the main purpose was to see Cook Lake, Lupe stuck to the lakeshore trail.

Lupe arrives at Cook Lake, the only lake in the Bear Lodge Mountains. Photo looks S.
Lupe arrives at Cook Lake, the only lake in the Bear Lodge Mountains. Photo looks S.
Lupe on her way around Cook Lake. Photo looks SE.
Lupe on her way around Cook Lake. Photo looks SE.
Looking NE toward the dam.
Looking NE toward the dam.
Nearing the S end of the lake. Photo looks SE.
Nearing the S end of the lake. Photo looks SE.
Cook Lake from the S shore. Photo looks N.
Cook Lake from the S shore. Photo looks N.
Looking NNW.
Looking NNW.
Lupe on the lakeshore trail. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on the lakeshore trail. Photo looks NW.
On the dock.
On the dock.

Although there had been a few people around when Lupe first arrived at Cook Lake, by the time Lupe completed her investigations along the shore (5:09 PM, 51°F), things were pretty quiet.  The lakeshore trail had been a relaxing way to end the day.

Lupe’s Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 179 wasn’t quite over yet, though.  On the way back home, while still in the Bear Lodge Mountains, Lupe made two more quick stops.  First, Lupe and SPHP took a short stroll from USFS Road No. 838 to a high point NW of Warren Peaks.  SPHP wanted to find out if Lupe could see Devil’s Tower and Warren Peaks from here.

She could!  The sun was low in the sky, and the light was weak, but there they were!  What’s more, Lupe could also see the outline of the Bighorn Mountains far to the W!

From a high point NW of Warren Peaks, not far from USFS Road No. 838, Lupe could see the Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower in the fading light. Photo looks NW.
From a high point NW of Warren Peaks, not far from USFS Road No. 838, Lupe could see the Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower in the fading light. Photo looks NW.
Lupe could also see the faint outline of the Bighorn Mountains on the far W horizon.
Lupe could also see the faint outline of the Bighorn Mountains on the far W horizon.

Lupe’s final stop was back up on Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.).  The sun had either just set, or was hidden by clouds near the horizon.  Lupe went over to the highest rocks on the mountain a few feet W of the fire lookout tower.

And so, Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 179 ended with Lupe standing atop the highest point in the Bear Lodge Mountains for the second time today, admiring the colorful sunset and distant outline of the lofty peaks of the glorious Bighorn Mountains.

Lupe at the highest point on Warren Peaks at sunset, her 2nd time here during Expedition No. 179. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe at the highest point on Warren Peaks at sunset, her 2nd time here during Expedition No. 179. Photo looks WSW.
Bighorn Mountains from Warren Peaks.
Bighorn Mountains from Warren Peaks.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls, Overlander Falls & Rearguard Falls in the Canadian Rockies (8-3-16 & 8-4-16)

Day 5 (Part 2) & Day 6 of Lupe’s 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

After an overcast, drippy morning, Lupe’s excursions to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier and Wilcox Pass had turned out great!  The weather had gradually cleared up as the day went on.  At mid-afternoon, as Lupe and SPHP headed N on Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 looking for the next adventure, sunny blue skies prevailed.

Why not go take a look at Sunwapta Falls?  These mighty falls contain the meltwaters of the Athabasca Glacier, which Lupe had just visited.

Well, one reason not to was that the Sunwapta Falls parking lot was packed.  It took a while for a parking spot to open up.  Lupe and SPHP went to see Sunwapta Falls along with the rest of the teeming throng.  No doubt about it, Sunwapta Falls was gorgeous.  A huge torrent of water plunged into a deep narrow gorge the Sunwapta River has carved over eons right through the rock.

Sunwapta Falls. This is upper Sunwapta Falls located near the parking lot. A trail leads downstream to a series of 3 more waterfalls in quick succession collectively known as lower Sunwapta Falls.
Sunwapta Falls. This is upper Sunwapta Falls located near the parking lot. A trail leads downstream to a series of 3 more waterfalls in quick succession collectively known as lower Sunwapta Falls.

The bridge across the Sunwapta River below the falls was loaded with people.  More tourists lined the chain link fences along the edges of the gorge.  Lupe was lost and confused in the crowd.  Once before, Lupe had taken a trail to lower Sunwapta Falls, a series of three more waterfalls in close succession downstream.  The lower falls were equally impressive and worthwhile.

It wasn’t all that far to lower Sunwapta Falls.  Unfortunately, today that was probably a disadvantage.  The lower falls would likely be pretty busy, too.  Not nearly as crowded as the upper falls, perhaps, but still busy.  Lupe would have more fun somewhere else.  Fortunately, Lupe and SPHP’s favorite picnic ground in Jasper National Park wasn’t that far away.  Lupe and SPHP returned to the G6, and continued N.

Maybe Lupe’s favorite picnic ground in Jasper National Park is only intended for use by locals?  It’s right off the W side of Icefields Parkway Hwy 93, about 5 or 6 miles S of Athabasca Falls, but there is no sign for it anywhere along the highway.  The picnic ground features only a handful of picnic tables situated right up on the E bank overlooking the Athabasca River.  Across the giant river are beautiful peaks of the Canadian Rockies.

When Lupe and SPHP arrived, the picnic ground was empty.  Simply fantastic!  Lupe rushed down to cool off in the meltwater swollen Athabasca River.  She searched for squirrels in the forest, and found a few, too!  Lupe and SPHP played Dingo games.  No one came.  Lupe was free to be herself.  The American Dingo was having a blast!

Lupe shakes herself off after cooling down in the Athabasca River.
Lupe shakes herself off after cooling down in the Athabasca River.
Happy times - looking for squirrels.
Happy times – looking for squirrels.
Found one! There's a squirrel in this tree!
Found one! There’s a squirrel in this tree!
Glacial meltwater tastes great when your barker gets dry!
Glacial meltwater tastes great when your barker gets dry!
In the Athabasca River next to her favorite picnic ground in Jasper National Park. Photo looks upstream (S).
In the Athabasca River next to her favorite picnic ground in Jasper National Park. Photo looks upstream (S).
View across the Athabasca River from Lupe's favorite picnic ground in Jasper National Park. Not too shabby, aye?
View across the Athabasca River from Lupe’s favorite picnic ground in Jasper National Park. Not too shabby, aye?

When early evening arrived, it was time to leave the picnic ground to go take a look at Athabasca Falls.  There were still people around this very popular and impressive waterfall, but a big majority of the usual daytime crowds had by now departed.  A tremendous torrent of the combined Sunwapta and Athabasca Rivers roared over the falls.

Lupe at Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.
Lupe at Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.
Mighty Athabasca Falls is located just off the W side of Icefields Parkway Hwy 93. The falls are reached via a turn onto Highway 93A.
Mighty Athabasca Falls is located just off the W side of Icefields Parkway Hwy 93. The falls are reached via a turn onto Highway 93A.
Short trails and bridges lead to viewpoints on both sides of Athabasca Falls, and even down to a viewpoint in the gorge below. Lupe explored them all.
Short trails and bridges lead to viewpoints on both sides of Athabasca Falls, and even down to a viewpoint in the gorge below. Lupe explored them all.
The frothy Athabasca River churns through the narrow gorge below the falls.
The frothy Athabasca River churns through the narrow gorge below the falls.

After visiting Athabasca Falls, Lupe and SPHP continued N to the tourist and railroad town of Jasper.  Lupe didn’t stay in Jasper long, though.  Soon Lupe and SPHP were heading NW on Yellowhead Highway No. 16 toward British Columbia.  It was a beautiful evening for a drive through the Canadian Rockies, but had been another long day, too.  As SPHP drove, the weary American Dingo snoozed on her pile of blankets and pillows.

In Mount Robson Provincial Park, SPHP stopped the G6 at a long pullout near Yellowhead Lake.  The lake was hidden by trees.  Lupe and SPHP got out to take a look.  A trail led through the forest and down a very steep bank to reach the shore of the lake.

Lupe by the shore of scenic Yellowhead Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Photo looks SW.
Lupe by the shore of scenic Yellowhead Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Photo looks SW.

Yellowhead Lake was gorgeous, but unfortunately, there was no trail along the shore.  After a few minutes spent down by the lake admiring the view, Lupe and SPHP scrambled back up the steep bank.  The dense forest blocked any view of the lake.  Lupe’s last brief adventure of the day was spent sniffing around in the woods near Yellowhead Lake.

Lupe and SPHP drove on, but it was getting late.  The long Canadian twilight was fading.  Day was done.  Time to stop for the night.

The next morning, Mount Fitzwilliam was in view, tall and impressive in the early light.

Mt. Fitzwilliam looked very tall and impressive in the early morning light on 8-4-16. Photo looks ESE.
Mt. Fitzwilliam looked very tall and impressive in the early morning light on 8-4-16. Photo looks ESE.

However, Lupe and SPHP were already beyond Mt. Fitzwilliam.  Lupe wasn’t going back.  Today was a special day.  Today Lupe was going N, hundreds of miles farther N than she had ever been before!  Most of the day would be spent traveling, but not too far ahead were two more big Canadian waterfalls Lupe could visit along the way.  The first was Overlander Falls.

Overlander Falls on the Fraser River is in Mount Robson Provincial Park, within walking distance of the park headquarters.  SPHP parked the G6 at a trailhead along Yellowhead Hwy No. 16.  A sign at the trailhead displayed a simple map of the area.

This simple map was posted at the trailhead E of the Mount Robson Provincial Park headquarters.
This simple map was posted at the trailhead E of the Mount Robson Provincial Park headquarters.

Lupe was starting from the E end of the trail system, very close to Overlander Falls.  A wide, well-worn path led into the forest from the highway.  At first, the path lost elevation gradually, but as the roar of the falls grew louder, the trail started switchbacking down a steep slope.

In only 10 minutes, Lupe was at Overlander Falls.  The falls weren’t high at all, but a tremendous volume of beautiful icy blue green water spilled over the brink into a vast swirling pool below.

Overlander Falls wasn't high, but a tremendous volume of beautiful icy blue green water spilled over the brink into a vast swirling pool below.
Overlander Falls wasn’t high, but a tremendous volume of beautiful icy blue green water spilled over the brink into a vast swirling pool below.
Overlander Falls is one of two significant waterfalls on the Fraser River. The other one is Rearguard Falls farther downstream.
Overlander Falls is one of two significant waterfalls on the Fraser River. The other one is Rearguard Falls farther downstream.

A plaque near the falls told the story of how Overlander Falls got its name.

This plaque at the falls relates the history of how Overlander Falls got its name.
This plaque at the falls relates the history of how Overlander Falls got its name.
Lupe at Overlander Falls, Mount Robson Provincial Park, Canada.
Lupe at Overlander Falls, Mount Robson Provincial Park, Canada.

Lupe at Overlander Falls, Mount Robson PP, Canada 8-4-16Since most of Lupe’s day was going to be spent traveling in the G6, the 1.6 km Overlander Falls trail along the Fraser River to the Mount Robson Provincial Park headquarters was an appealing option.  No one was around yet, and the trail would provide a peaceful, secluded path through the forest along the scenic blue green river.  Lupe could get some exercise, and SPHP would enjoy the views.  Lupe was most definitely in favor of the idea!

The Fraser River below Overlander Falls.
The Fraser River below Overlander Falls.

As it turned out, the Overlander Falls trail did not stay down near the river.  Instead, it paralleled the river mostly 40 to 80 feet above it on the forested slope.  The Fraser River was only occasionally in view.  The trail was in good condition, but didn’t look like it sees an awful lot of use, perhaps because there are trails to more dramatic destinations nearby.  (See Lupe’s fabulous hike to Mount Robson and Berg Lake in 2013 on the Berg Lake Trail!)

The Overlander Falls trail was fairly level most of the time, and an easy hike.  It passed Hogan’s camp, established way back when the railroad was being built.  The Carolina Dog was not too impressed.  Hogan’s camp now amounts to nothing more than a few rotting logs.  However, Lupe did enjoy sniffing and exploring in the forest along the trail.  She found a few squirrels to bark at, which made her day.

Lupe at one of the few viewpoints above the Fraser River along the Overlander Falls Trail.
Lupe at one of the few viewpoints above the Fraser River along the Overlander Falls Trail.
Fraser River from the Overlander Falls trail.
Fraser River from the Overlander Falls trail.

At the W end of the Overlander Falls trail, Lupe came to a road at a bridge across the Fraser River.  There was no trailhead at this end, just a small sign near the bridge pointing out the trail.  Downstream from the bridge was a bend in the Fraser River.  Lupe and SPHP went down to the river’s edge so Lupe could get a drink.

Lupe along the Fraser River. The Overlander Falls trail heads upstream from the N (L) side of the bridge seen over the river. A small sign on the upstream side of the road at the start of the bridge is the only indication of the trail's presence. Photo looks upstream.
Lupe along the Fraser River. The Overlander Falls trail heads upstream from the N (L) side of the bridge seen over the river. A small sign on the upstream side of the road at the start of the bridge is the only indication of the trail’s presence. Photo looks upstream.

Overlander Falls trail sign, Mt. Robson PP, Canada 8-4-16After the American Dingo had her drink from the Fraser River, Lupe and SPHP took the road another 0.25 km to the Mount Robson Provincial Park headquarters on the N side of Yellowhead Hwy No. 16.  Unfortunately, the sky had been clouding up.  The summit of Mt. Robson was hidden from view.

Lupe made it to Mount Robson Provincial Park headquarters, but sadly the summit of Mount Robson (behind the visitor center) was hidden in the clouds.
Lupe made it to Mount Robson Provincial Park headquarters, but sadly the summit of Mount Robson (behind the visitor center) was hidden in the clouds.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the Overlander Falls trail.  On the way back to the G6, tragedy struck.  Excited by a squirrel, while leaping around in the thick underbrush, Lupe got her right front dewclaw got hooked on something.  Her dewclaw snapped completely off!  It was painful and bled a little, but not much.  The wounded Carolina Dog looked to SPHP for help.

Lupe returns to the Overlander Falls trail.
Lupe returns to the Overlander Falls trail.
Lupe in pain with a snapped off right front dewclaw looks to SPHP for help. This photo is typical of the Overlander Falls trail as it went through the deep forest near the Fraser River.
Lupe in pain with a snapped off right front dewclaw looks to SPHP for help. This photo is typical of the Overlander Falls trail as it went through the deep forest near the Fraser River.

SPHP examined Lupe’s paw, kissed the terrible wound many times, and gave Lupe lots of attention.  When that didn’t cure it, SPHP carried Lupe along the trail.

Naturally, her right front paw hurt where the dewclaw had snapped off right at the base.  Lupe was certain she couldn’t go on.  Until she could.  After 15 minutes of being carted around like a sack of potatoes, at Hogan’s camp Lupe decided she could manage on her own just fine.  Back at the G6, Dr. SPHP applied anti-biotic ointment and a bandage (9:55 AM).

Lupe recuperating in the G6 with her right front paw with the snapped off dewclaw all bandaged up.
Lupe recuperating in the G6 with her right front paw with the snapped off dewclaw all bandaged up.

Lupe’s adventures (and misadventures) at Overlander Falls were complete.  Time to get back on the road again (10:12 AM), but only for a short stretch.  Lupe had very little chance to recuperate before reaching the trailhead for Rearguard Falls.  She did fine anyway.

This sign at the Rearguard Falls trailhead told of the end of the salmon's struggle here in their quest to go up the Fraser River.
This sign at the Rearguard Falls trailhead told of the end of the salmon’s struggle here in their quest to go up the Fraser River.

The trail to Rearguard Falls wasn’t very long.  Lupe soon came to an elaborate system of walkways with metal railings near the falls.  Like Overlander Falls, Rearguard Falls wasn’t all that high.  Rearguard Falls was almost more like a cascade.  It was still impressive and very beautiful.  Lupe and SPHP stayed at Rearguard Falls for close to an hour.

Rearguard Falls on the Fraser River. Rearguard Falls is downstream from Overlander Falls.
Rearguard Falls on the Fraser River. Rearguard Falls is downstream from Overlander Falls.
Lupe on the boardwalks leading to Rearguard Falls.
Lupe on the boardwalks leading to Rearguard Falls.
Rearguard Falls in Rearguard Falls Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Rearguard Falls in Rearguard Falls Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Lupe probably would have liked to soak her painful dewclaw wound in the cold waters of Rearguard Falls.
Lupe probably would have liked to soak her painful dewclaw wound in the cold waters of Rearguard Falls.
Looking downstream.
Looking downstream.

Lupe at Rearguard Falls, Canada 8-4-16Part of the reason Lupe was at Rearguard Falls so long was that other people kept coming and going.  Some of them had very fancy cameras they set up on tripods.  At the closest viewpoint next to the falls, several photographers set up their tripods in succession, each one occupying the coveted spot continuously for 15 or 20 minutes.

It didn’t matter to Lupe or SPHP how long they took.  The stunningly beautiful river, the hypnotic roar of the falls both soothing and powerful, the mountain scenery, and perfect weather made Rearguard Falls a great place to be.  Waiting for a turn at the closest viewpoint, SPHP chatted with people, while Lupe relaxed or enjoyed being admired and petted by friendly tourists.

One lady was here with her husband (who was busy with his camera and tripod at the coveted spot) and two sons.  They were from the Netherlands.  She said they had saved money for 10 years to come to Canada.  Eventually they were going to sail up the inland passage on the Pacific Ocean near the end of their trip.  They loved Canada, and were having a fabulous time!

Finally, it was Lupe’s turn at the closest spot to Rearguard Falls.  Two photos, a final lingering look, and Lupe’s time at Rearguard Falls was over (11:31 AM).

Lupe at the coveted spot closest to Rearguard Falls.
Lupe at the coveted spot closest to Rearguard Falls.

Lupe at Rearguard Falls, Canada 8-4-16Lupe and SPHP spent nearly all the rest of the day traveling on Yellowhead Hwy No. 16.  Both Lupe and SPHP were farther N than they had ever been before.  Lupe was entering a whole new world!

NW of the junction with Hwy 5, traffic on Hwy 16 greatly diminished.  Almost everyone else had turned S on Hwy 5 heading for Kamloops.  Lupe was in a valley miles wide, with a wall of high mountains on each side.  Nearly all the land was forested, but at first there were some farms and fields near the highway, too.  Haystacks were abundant, but curiously, not livestock.  Lupe watched diligently for a long time, but saw only one herd of cows to bark at.

After a while, the farms and fields disappeared.  On both sides of the valley, the high mountains were getting progressively smaller and more distant.  Unbroken forest stretched in every direction as far the eye could see.  Despite being in what appeared to be a complete wilderness, no wildlife was seen except for ravens picking at roadkill.

With no cows or horses to bark at, and no wildlife to hold her attention, Lupe’s eyelids began to droop.  Soon she was snoozing, as the countless miles of endless forest went by.  To SPHP, it was all increasingly magical, to be here, at last, with Lupe in a wilderness that stretched ahead for not only hundreds, but literally thousands of miles, heading toward the unknown.

With no cows or horses to bark at, and no wildlife to hold her attention, Lupe drifted off to a peaceful sleep on her way to more adventures as the miles flew by. Maybe her snooze wasn't all peaceful? While in Dingo Dreamland, sometimes her lips and paws twitched.
With no cows or horses to bark at, and no wildlife to hold her attention, Lupe drifted off to a peaceful sleep on her way to more adventures as the miles flew by. Maybe her snooze wasn’t all peaceful? While in Dingo Dreamland, sometimes her lips and paws twitched.

Granted, what lay ahead wasn’t completely unknown.  SPHP had maps and descriptions, had seen photos online, and had a general plan for Lupe’s 2016 Dingo Vacation adventures.  All that was helpful, necessary and informative to a degree, but only scratched the surface of the possibilities and realities in this gigantic new territory Lupe was traveling through.  And all the preparations weren’t the same as finally being here, actually seeing it all for the very first time.

The mountains were gone, replaced by distant blue ridges, by the time Lupe neared Prince George.  Lupe woke up as the G6 slowed entering the city.  Prince George turned out to be a lively and attractive city situated along the scenic Fraser River.  It was the only large town Lupe would see in all of British Columbia.  SPHP made a couple of stops for gas and groceries.

As Hwy 16 headed WNW from Prince George, farms and fields appeared again, carved out of the seemingly limitless forest.  To Lupe, the open fields meant cows and horses.  This time the Carolina Dog wasn’t disappointed.  Although most of the fields were full of haystacks and bales, Lupe did see lots of cows and horses.  She got plenty of most satisfying barking in.  Now and then she had to stop long enough to slurp up water to wet her poor overworked parched barker.

At a rest stop near Cluculz Lake, Lupe and SPHP devoured half of a whole roasted chicken purchased in Prince George, while a rain shower passed over.  Between the exciting cows and horses, and tasty roasted chicken, Lupe was very much revived.  Back on the road again, she remained awake and watchful.

The long drive was marvelously relaxing.  Lush green fields surrounded by dark forests appeared, and subsequently retreated from view.  Distant blue ridges defined the horizon.  Gray white clouds drifted across a partly sunny blue sky, trailing rain dark streaks of rain behind them.  For a long time, the G6 said it was a perfect 71°F out.

The green fields closer to Prince George gradually disappeared, swallowed by the primal forest.  Lupe passed through a few small towns of significance – Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, and Burns Lake.  The farther Lupe went, the less traffic remained on the road.  The sun was low by the time Lupe reached Houston, a tiny, quiet community near the Bulkley River.

In Houston, right alongside Yellowhead Highway No. 16, was a very beautiful small park with a fountain, manicured lawn, and a profusion of vibrantly colored flowers.  Here Lupe and SPHP stopped to stretch their legs and admire Houston’s crown jewel, in the little time remaining while it was all still aglow in the sharply slanting rays of earth’s sinking star.

Lupe reached beautiful Steelhead Park in Houston, British Columbia near day's end.
Lupe reached beautiful Steelhead Park in Houston, British Columbia near day’s end.
Steelhead Park was full of a dazzling array of colorful flowers in perfect condition.
Steelhead Park was full of a dazzling array of colorful flowers in perfect condition.
Lupe near the fountain.
Lupe near the fountain.
Rainbow trout and steelheads are the same species, but live very different lives. Rainbow trout live their lives entirely in fresh water, while steelheads are anadromous, meaning they spend part of their lives in the sea.
Rainbow trout and steelheads are the same species, but live very different lives. Rainbow trout live their lives entirely in fresh water, while steelheads are anadromous, meaning they spend part of their lives in the sea.
It must take an enourmous amount of work to keep Steelhead Park looking so immaculately manicured. The entire park was in tip top shape!
It must take an enourmous amount of work to keep Steelhead Park looking so immaculately manicured. The entire park was in tip top shape!

Lupe at Steelhead Park, Houston, British Columbia, Canada 8-4-16Steelhead Park, Houston, British Columbia, Canada 8-4-16And so, for now, we leave American Dingo explorer and adventurer Lupe in the little town of Houston, deep in northern British Columbia, at the end of Day 6 of her super fabulous Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation among the brilliant blossoms of Steelhead Park.Lupe at Steelhead Park, Houston, British Columbia, Canada 8-4-16Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 178 – Vision Peak, Bald Mountain & Stoney Point (10-16-16)

Lupe and SPHP hit the road before dawn.  Lupe was on her way to explore the Bear Lodge Mountains, a remote part of the Black Hills in NE Wyoming separate from the main body of the Black Hills in South Dakota.  The sun was up by the time the eager American Dingo reached the Wyoming border.

Lupe reaches the Wyoming border on her way to the Bear Lodge Mountains.
Lupe reaches the Wyoming border on her way to the Bear Lodge Mountains.

Lupe had 3 peakbagging goals for the day.  SPHP had high hopes for the first one, due to it’s intriguing name – Vision Peak (4,812 ft.).  Those hopes seemed likely to be justified when SPHP parked the G6 off USFS Road No. 830 about 1.5 miles N of Hwy 24 (8:18 AM, 67°F).  Lupe was already high up on a ridge with a view to the S.

The day was unseasonably warm, but with a fairly stiff WSW breeze.  Lupe headed W on USFS Road No. 887.1, a little used side road closed to motor vehicles.  The road climbed a bit, then crossed over to the N side of the ridge, where Lupe was out of the wind.  No. 887.1 then wound around a little below the long ridgeline heading generally W, while slowly losing elevation.

Lupe on the seldom used USFS Road No. 871.1 that leads W toward Vision Peak from USFS Road No. 830. Photo looks SW.
Lupe on the seldom used USFS Road No. 871.1 that leads W toward Vision Peak from USFS Road No. 830. Photo looks SW.

No. 887.1 wound around for more than a mile.  Lupe didn’t find any squirrels, but whitetail deer were abundant.  The road never returned to the ridgeline, although Lupe and SPHP made one foray up onto the ridge before returning to the road again.  To the N, Lupe had views of another high ridge beyond Lucky Gulch.

Looking N toward a high ridge on the other side of Lucky Gulch.
Looking N toward a high ridge on the other side of Lucky Gulch.

Lupe was making great progress, when suddenly USFS Road No. 887.1 simply ended W of High Point 4805.  Fortunately, Lupe was already almost to the saddle over to Vision Peak.  A short bushwhack through the forest brought Lupe to the E end of the saddle.

Lupe reaches the narrow saddle over to Vision Peak. Here she is at the saddle's E end, which was surprisingly bare. Most of the saddle was forested. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe reaches the narrow saddle over to Vision Peak. Here she is at the saddle’s E end, which was surprisingly bare. Most of the saddle was forested. Photo looks WSW.

Lupe crossed the saddle and began climbing.  She encountered a couple of minor rock outcroppings along the way, but the climb was neither long nor difficult.  Soon she reached the top of Vision Peak (4,812 ft.).

Lupe at the summit of Vision Peak. This was the best view. Photo looks S.
Lupe at the summit of Vision Peak. This was the best view. Photo looks S.

Since Vision Peak is positioned way out at the far W end of a long, fairly narrow ridge, SPHP had been hoping for great wide open views, especially toward the W.  Lupe did find quite a nice view to the S right at the true summit, but most of the summit ridge was too heavily forested to see much.  Somewhat disappointingly, Vision Peak seemed to be a BYOV (Bring Your Own Vision) mountain.

Lupe stands on a big rock at the far W end of the Vision Peak summit ridge. She has a narrow view between the trees to the W.
Lupe stands on a big rock at the far W end of the Vision Peak summit ridge. She has a narrow view between the trees to the W.
This photo shows much of the summit ridge of Vision Peak. Here Lupe is near the W end. Photo looks E.
This photo shows much of the summit ridge of Vision Peak. Here Lupe is near the W end. Photo looks E.

Lupe and SPHP lingered on Vision Peak for a little while, taking a break and enjoying the best view, which was to the S.  The wind was out of the SSW about 20 mph, but wasn’t bad at ground level.  The forest provided quite effective protection, although the wind was certainly heard in the treetops.

On the way back to the G6, instead of taking the road, Lupe and SPHP climbed up onto the long ridge after crossing the saddle E of Vision Peak.  There were more impressive rock outcroppings along this climb up onto the ridge, than there had been climbing Vision Peak.

Although it was a bit out of the way, Lupe visited High Point 4805.  On the way there, she caught a glimpse of a high, partly barren hill off to the NW.  That was probably her next peakbagging goal, Bald Mountain (4,800 ft.)!

Near High Point 4805 (ENE of Vision Peak), Lupe caught this glimpse of Bald Mountain (R) off to the NW.
Near High Point 4805 (ENE of Vision Peak), Lupe caught this glimpse of Bald Mountain (R) off to the NW.

The trek along USFS Road No. 887.1 to get close to Vision Peak had been pleasant and easy, but the return trip along the top of the ridge was more fun.  Distant views to both the N and S occasionally presented themselves, and deer were plentiful.  Lupe even found a couple of squirrels along the way, which she greeted with her usual enormous enthusiasm.

Even though Vision Peak itself had turned out to be somewhat of an anti-climax, the whole excursion had been a pleasant success (10:55 AM, 70°F).

Lupe’s next peakbagging goal was Bald Mountain (4,800 ft.).  Getting to Bald Mountain was supposed to be another relatively easy tromp through the woods over some high ground with little net elevation change.  SPHP drove farther N on USFS Road No. 830 for a couple of miles looking for a closer starting point, ultimately parking at the start of USFS Road No. 830.4C (11:08 AM, 70°F).

Like No. 887.1, No. 830.4C was gated off and closed to motor vehicles, so it hadn’t seen much recent use either.  Lupe and SPHP set off following it WSW through the forest.  At first, everything seemed fine.  Lupe was having a great romp in the woods, and there were deer everywhere.  Gradually, however, the road turned more to the SW, then SSW, as it became fainter and fainter.  Lupe did not come to any of the side roads SPHP was expecting to find.

Eventually No. 830.4C faded away completely.  Lupe was in the middle of the forest.  It looked like there was blue sky between the trees off to the W, so maybe there was a viewpoint over there.  Lupe and SPHP headed W.  Yes, there was a view.  What SPHP presumed was Bald Mountain was in sight off to the W.  However, there was a big canyon between Lupe and Bald Mountain.  Something was wrong.  Time to consult the maps.

The exciting conclusion was that No. 830.4C must not have been the best place to start for Bald Mountain.  The big intervening canyon between Lupe and Bald Mountain was almost certainly Reservoir Gulch.  Lupe was too far S.  She would have to backtrack and go around the upper end of Reservoir Gulch.

It was farther than SPHP expected.  Lupe went up and down, crossing many ravines feeding into Reservoir Gulch as she now headed back to the NE.  Finally, a road appeared dead ahead.  When Lupe reached it, SPHP saw that less than 100 feet off to the SE, this road intersected a bigger road.  Oh, brother!  Lupe was all the way back to USFS Road No. 830.

The G6 was nowhere in sight.  Lupe was farther N along No. 830 than where it had been left.  A sign at the side road showed that Lupe had reached USFS Road No. 881.1.  Another sign showed that it led to Planting Spring.  Time for another map check.

Lupe at the start of USFS Road No. 881.1 to Planting Spring where it leaves USFS Road No. 830. Photo looks NW.
Lupe at the start of USFS Road No. 881.1 to Planting Spring where it leaves USFS Road No. 830. Photo looks NW.

OK, this was it!  No. 881.1 was definitely the right road to take.  Lupe didn’t need to go all the way to Planting Spring, but in less than a mile Lupe should reach another road going SW toward Bald Mountain.  After a short rest break, Lupe and SPHP set off again.

No. 881.1 was a much better road than No. 830.4C had been.  Even so, Lupe soon came to a gate across the road closing No. 881.1 to motor vehicle traffic, too.  Apparently all these minor roads were closed to motor vehicles.

No. 881.1 went up and down little hills on its way W.  After about a mile or so, Lupe did come to a side road that turned S (L) in a sunny meadow.  This side road was marked No. 881.1A.  Lupe followed it, and soon it did turn SW.

Lupe on USFS Road No. 881.1A on her way to Bald Mountain. There were still some fall colors around.
Lupe on USFS Road No. 881.1A on her way to Bald Mountain. There were still some fall colors around.

After 0.25 mile or so, Lupe came to a marker for USFS Road No. 881.1C.  A faint track went off to the WNW (R).  Lupe stayed to the L on the better road.  In another 0.25 mile, No. 881.1A reached some cliffs.  Lupe was now on the N side of Reservoir Gulch.  From the cliffs, Lupe could see Vision Peak off to the SE.

Lupe reaches the cliffs along the N edge of Reservoir Gulch. Vision Peak (Center), where Lupe had been a little while ago, is in view. Photo looks SE.
Lupe reaches the cliffs along the N edge of Reservoir Gulch. Vision Peak (Center), where Lupe had been a little while ago, is in view. Photo looks SE.

Lupe had only another 0.5 mile to go to reach Bald Mountain.  She came to a variety of scenic points along the way.  She passed by some groves of scrub oaks sporting orangey brown leaves.

Lupe passed by several big groves of scrub oaks with orange or brown leaves. This grove with orange leaves glowing in the sunlight was particularly nice. Photo looks SW.
Lupe passed by several big groves of scrub oaks with orange or brown leaves. This grove with orange leaves glowing in the sunlight was particularly nice. Photo looks SW.

USFS Road No. 881.1A did not go quite all the way to Bald Mountain.  It played out about 0.25 mile from the summit.  A few hundred feet farther W was a small ridge topped with scattered large boulders.  It was possible to get a distant view to the W from one of the boulders.

Lupe up on a boulder with a view to the WNW. Her fur is being blown by a strong wind from the SW.
Lupe up on a boulder with a view to the WNW. Her fur is being blown by a strong wind from the SW.

Lupe went S following the boulders.  When the small ridge ended, Lupe continued on through the forest.  She eventually wound up back along the N edge of Reservoir Gulch again.  Here she had an even better view of Vision Peak to the SE.  She was getting quite close to her Bald Mountain objective, too.

Lupe reached cliffs along the N edge of Reservoir Gulch again as she was getting close to Bald Mountain. The views of Vision Peak (L of Center) were even better here. Photo looks SE.
Lupe reached cliffs along the N edge of Reservoir Gulch again as she was getting close to Bald Mountain. The views of Vision Peak (L of Center) were even better here. Photo looks SE.
Vision Peak (R of Center) looked heavily forested. Small wonder Lupe hadn't been able to see much from there! Photo looks SE.
Vision Peak (R of Center) looked heavily forested. Small wonder Lupe hadn’t been able to see much from there! Photo looks SE.
Lupe along the dramatic line of cliffs leading to Bald Mountain. Lupe's almost there! Photo looks SW.
Lupe along the dramatic line of cliffs leading to Bald Mountain. Lupe’s almost there! Photo looks SW.

Lupe reached the top of Bald Mountain (4,800 ft.).  The summit area was a huge triangular field of tall grass, several hundred feet long on each side.  Forest ringed much of the N and NW edges of the field, and around the S tip, but elsewhere there were great unobstructed views.  This was more like it!  Bald Mountain should have been named Vision Peak!

The most dramatic view was to the SW.  Off in the distance, Lupe could see Devils Tower (5,112 ft.) and Missouri Buttes (5,374 ft.).

Lupe on top of Bald Mountain in the Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming. The views here were fabulous! Off in the distance are Devils Tower (L) and Missouri Buttes (R). Photo looks SW.
Lupe on top of Bald Mountain in the Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming. The views here were fabulous! Off in the distance are Devils Tower (L) and Missouri Buttes (R). Photo looks SW.
Devils Tower from Bald Mountain. Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.
Devils Tower from Bald Mountain. Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.
Vision Peak (Center) from Bald Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Vision Peak (Center) from Bald Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Lupe on the huge grassy field at the top of Bald Mountain. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe on the huge grassy field at the top of Bald Mountain. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe looking pretty happy on Bald Mountain.
Lupe looking pretty happy on Bald Mountain.

Lupe and SPHP took a stroll around the summit field before settling down for a break.  Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild.  SPHP had an apple.  The big view toward Devils Tower and Missouri Buttes was simply marvelous.  It might have been even a little more marvelous if the weather wasn’t deteriorating.

What had been a 20 mph SSW breeze earlier in the day, had built up to a 35 mph gusty SW wind.  Big clouds were moving in from the SW.  The clouds sprinkled light rain for a few minutes, but the rain shower didn’t amount to much.  Lupe didn’t care for that wind, though!  She preferred curling up behind SPHP to facing directly into the wind to see the view.

The big view toward Devils Tower (L) and Missouri Buttes (Center) on the horizon. A 35 mph wind was gusting up Bald Mountain from this direction. View or no view, Lupe preferred hiding behind SPHP to staring into the wind. Photo looks SW.
The big view toward Devils Tower (L) and Missouri Buttes (Center) on the horizon. A 35 mph wind was gusting up Bald Mountain from this direction. View or no view, Lupe preferred hiding behind SPHP to staring into the wind. Photo looks SW.

With Lupe’s second peakbagging success of the day secured, it was time to return to the G6.  Away from the SW edge of Bald Mountain, the wind was hardly noticeable.  As big clouds sailed across the sky overhead, Lupe roamed the forest.  She saw lots of deer.  The occasional squirrel kept her entertained.

Near Bald Mountain, she passed by the orange and brown groves of scrub oak again.  Farther along, were the yellow aspens.

Returning from Bald Mountain, Lupe passed by the orange and brown groves of scrub oak again. Photo looks N.
Returning from Bald Mountain, Lupe passed by the orange and brown groves of scrub oak again. Photo looks N.
Yellow aspens near USFS Road No. 881.1A on the return trip from Bald Mountain.
Yellow aspens near USFS Road No. 881.1A on the return trip from Bald Mountain.
Lupe found this particularly brilliant stand of aspens that was more orange than golden.
Lupe found this particularly brilliant stand of aspens that was more orange than golden.

The return trip was simply a retracement of Lupe’s route to Bald Mountain all the way back to USFS Road No. 830.  From there, Lupe had to follow No. 830 going S until she found the G6 again, still parked at the start of USFS Road No. 830.4C (2:47 PM, 66°F).

Most of the big clouds were gone now.  The sun was out again.   A little over three hours remained before sunset.  Lupe had one more peakbagging goal left for the day.  About 6 or 7 miles farther N on No. 830, the old USFS map showed a side road leading close to Stoney Point (4,480 ft.).  SPHP drove N looking for it.

A wooden rail fence curved away from USFS Road No. 830 where SPHP found the side road Lupe needed to follow toward Stoney Point.  A pickup truck and travel trailer were parked near the start of the side road, which was unmarked by any road number or name.  A big black horse with a large white spot on his forehead stood right in the middle of the side road.  “Spot” seemed to be the campsite’s only occupant at the moment.

SPHP parked the G6 on the W side of No. 830, away from the camp (3:22 PM, 64°F).  Lupe and SPHP then cut through a field on the S side of the rail fence away from “Spot”.  SPHP hoped to keep Lupe from playing a game of “See Spot run!  Run, Spot, run!”  Spot was quite curious about what was going on, and watched Lupe nervously.  Although Lupe loves barking at horses from the G6, she paid Spot no mind.  She reached the side road well beyond where Spot had effectively blocked it.

On the side road, Lupe soon arrived at a fence and gate.  Ahh, yes!  This minor dirt road, like all the others, was also closed to motor vehicles from here on.  A pickup truck with Ohio license plates was parked nearby.  Lupe and SPHP continued following the side road.  Stoney Point was still 2.5 miles to the NE.

Before long, Lupe came to a place where there was a grassy hill on the N side of the road.  Up on the hill were a couple of interesting large boulders.  Lupe and SPHP headed for the boulders.  Lupe leaped up on the biggest one for a photo and a look around.

Lupe up on a boulder on her way to Stoney Point. Photo looks ENE.
Lupe up on a boulder on her way to Stoney Point. Photo looks ENE.

With nothing else of note in the area, Lupe and SPHP continued on, taking a shortcut over the small grassy hill.  More boulders came into view as Lupe reached the crest of the hill.  As Lupe passed by the first big one, she discovered someone sitting with his back to the boulder only a couple of feet away.  A hunter!

Lupe’s sudden appearance right next to him seemed to startle the hunter for a moment.  When he saw SPHP, he waved, and SPHP waved back.  Lupe and SPHP went on.  From up on the hill, the hunter had a great view of the large field to the E.  Lupe and SPHP crossed the field, reached the road again, and eventually disappeared from his range of view as the road returned to the forest.

Hearing gunfire on Lupe’s expeditions, isn’t that uncommon.  Usually any gunfire is distant and from people doing target practice, but occasionally there are hunters about, especially this time of year.  However, Lupe has seldom actually seen hunters in the field.  Lupe and SPHP rarely see anyone on her Black Hills expeditions, except near major roads.  Lupe had never come right up on a hunter in the field like this before!

The road went close to the edge of a canyon.  There was a big view to the SE.  On the far horizon, Lupe could see the Black Hills back in South Dakota.

Lupe up on the edge of a wide canyon on her way to Stoney Point. The Black Hills of South Dakota are in view on the horizon. Photo looks SE.
Lupe up on the edge of a wide canyon on her way to Stoney Point. The Black Hills of South Dakota are in view on the horizon. Photo looks SE.

The road left the edge of the canyon curving first N, then NW, as it continued through the forest.  However, the road soon left the forest as it turned N again.  Up ahead was a another grassy hill with some big boulders near the top.  Wearing bright orange, another hunter was stationed up there!

Lupe stuck to the road.  The hunter and SPHP waved as the American Dingo passed on by.  When Lupe reached the top of the hill, the road turned NE crossing a huge level field.  This treeless plain was exposed and windy.  Not as windy as Bald Mountain had been, but a 20 mph SW wind swept across the field.  At the far end of the field were some low rocks near a few pine trees.  When she got there, Lupe sought out a place sheltered from the wind.

Lupe escapes the wind at the low rocks near the NE end of the huge field. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe escapes the wind at the low rocks near the NE end of the huge field. Photo looks ESE.

SPHP checked the maps.  Stoney Point had to be close by.  It was just a small hill to the ENE beyond this elevated windswept plain.  Lupe could be there in 15 minutes.  Lupe was disappointed to learn she had to leave her cozy windbreak to press on.

Back in the wind, not far from her windbreak, Lupe stands on low rocks strewn across the NE edge of the huge field. Beyond is a mixed forest of scrub oak and pine. Photo looks NW.
Back in the wind, not far from her windbreak, Lupe stands on low rocks strewn across the NE edge of the huge field. Beyond is a mixed forest of scrub oak and pine. Photo looks NW.
From the edge of the huge field, Lupe could see a very long way to the N and E. This photo looks NNW. Somewhere out there is Montana!
From the edge of the huge field, Lupe could see a very long way to the N and E. This photo looks NNW. Somewhere out there is Montana!
Looking NNW from the huge field using the telephoto lens.
Looking NNW from the huge field using the telephoto lens.

A short distance E of Lupe’s rocky windbreak, Stoney Point (4,480 ft.) came into view.  Stoney Point was just a barren hill with a few boulders, bushes and trees scattered over it.  The views would be good from there, though.

Stoney Point is the small barren hill seen beyond Lupe. Photo looks E.
Stoney Point is the small barren hill seen beyond Lupe. Photo looks E.

Lupe headed for the biggest rocks on the NW slope of Stoney Point as she approached.  The wind was blowing hard when she jumped up on them.

Getting closer to Stoney Point! Lupe headed for the biggest collection of rocks seen on the L.
Getting closer to Stoney Point! Lupe headed for the biggest collection of rocks seen on the L.
Want a weather report, SPHP? Try WINDY! Hurry up and snap the shot, so I can get down off this rock!
Want a weather report, SPHP? Try WINDY! Hurry up and snap the shot, so I can get down off this rock!
Looking NW from Stoney Point. It may have been windy, but at least it wasn't cold. The wind was out of the SW, not the N.
Looking NW from Stoney Point. It may have been windy, but at least it wasn’t cold. The wind was out of the SW, not the N.

From the big rocks, it was only a short stroll up to the summit of Stoney Point.  There were huge distant views from the NW to the ESE.  Lupe could see a very long way out across low pine-covered ridges and high prairie.  Despite the wind, Lupe and SPHP hung around a while checking out the views.

Lupe stands on the highest rocks of Stoney Point, successfully completing her 3rd peakbagging goal of the day! Photo looks SSE.
Lupe stands on the highest rocks of Stoney Point, successfully completing her 3rd peakbagging goal of the day! Photo looks SSE.
Looking W back toward the high ridge where the huge field is that Lupe traveled across to get to Stoney Point.
Looking W back toward the high ridge where the huge field is that Lupe traveled across to get to Stoney Point.
Looking ESE from Stoney Point. Bear Butte (4,422 ft.) is seen on the R as a faint, but noticeable bump on the far horizon.
Looking ESE from Stoney Point. Bear Butte (4,422 ft.) is seen on the R as a faint, but noticeable bump on the far horizon.

SPHP had noticed a post with a red top up on Stoney Point when Lupe first arrived, but hadn’t though much of it.  SPHP was surprised when Lupe found a survey benchmark a few feet away.  The old USFS map hadn’t shown a benchmark, but here it was!  A closer look at the topo map from Peakbagger.com did show the benchmark.

The "Stoney" survey benchmark.
The “Stoney” survey benchmark.
Lupe sitting right next to the Stoney Point survey benchmark. It is hard to see, but is about 6" to the L of her tail. Photo looks NW.
Lupe sitting right next to the Stoney Point survey benchmark. It is hard to see, but is about 6″ to the L of her tail. Photo looks NW.

When the time came to leave Stoney Point, SPHP started heading W down the hill on the way back to the huge field.  A minute later, SPHP realized Lupe wasn’t coming.  She was still back up near the summit of Stoney Point.  SPHP called her, but she still didn’t come.  She was standing stiffly in place.

When SPHP left Stoney Point, Lupe didn't come along. Instead she stood stiffly in place. She refused to move, even when SPHP called her. Photo looks ESE.
When SPHP left Stoney Point, Lupe didn’t come along. Instead she stood stiffly in place. She refused to move, even when SPHP called her. Photo looks ESE.

Lupe looked like she did earlier in the year when she had encounters with cactus.  SPHP hadn’t noticed any cactus, but maybe she had stepped on one somewhere up on Stoney Point?

SPHP returned to Lupe.  She let SPHP inspect all her paws.  No cactus spines anywhere – nothing was wrong that SPHP could see.  Still, something must have happened.  Maybe she stepped on something sharp, and thought it was a cactus?

In any case, Lupe wouldn’t budge.  SPHP carried her as far as the big rocks on the NW slope of Stoney Point.  She was willing to pose for a couple more photos from the rocks.

SPHP carried Lupe back to the big rocks on the NW slope of Stoney Point. Photo looks NW.
SPHP carried Lupe back to the big rocks on the NW slope of Stoney Point. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on the rocks. Photo looks S.
Lupe on the rocks. Photo looks S.

For some reason, being up on the rocks helped Lupe’s confidence.  Presumably she discovered her paws didn’t really hurt as she moved around.  All on her own, off she went, now leading SPHP on the way back to the G6.  When she reached the E end of the huge field, she paused for one more look back at Stoney Point.

Looking back at Stoney Point beyond Lupe. Photo looks NE.
Looking back at Stoney Point beyond Lupe. Photo looks NE.

The second hunter was still in position when Lupe went by again.  Once again, the hunter and SPHP waved.  Returning to the forest, Lupe found a squirrel to bark at.  She had a great time, but a little later, as she was approaching the area where she had startled the first hunter, he came down the hill toward SPHP.  Oh, boy.  Maybe he had heard Lupe barking, and was unhappy thinking she had driven away whatever he might be hunting?

Nope.  The hunter was just friendly.  He was really a very nice guy, and simply wanted to meet Lupe and chat with SPHP.  His name was Joe Eberz.  He was from Ohio, and was way out here in NE Wyoming hunting elk.  Had Lupe seen the rest of his party?  Yes, but only half of it.  Turned out there was a third hunter Lupe and SPHP hadn’t noticed somewhere out there.

Joe hadn’t seen any elk in Wyoming yet, and neither had Lupe or SPHP today.  Plenty of deer around, but none of Lupe’s “giant deers”.  Joe and his party still had several more days to hunt.  Maybe they would find elk before they had to return to Ohio.

Joe and SPHP had a pleasant conversation.  Joe said Lupe really had startled him when she made her first sudden appearance.  SPHP had been amazed to see Joe sitting behind the big rock, too!  Joe petted Lupe, and had his picture taken with her.

Lupe in the remote Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming with her new friend, elk hunter Joe Eberz from Ohio.
Lupe in the remote Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming with her new friend, elk hunter Joe Eberz from Ohio.

So Lupe returned to the G6 (6:11 PM, 55°F) having made a new friend from Ohio – a great finish to a splendid day of peakbagging way out here in the remote Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming!img_3138Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 177 – Duling Hill & Iron Mountain (10-10-16)

You awake, Loop?  I’m not sleepy either.  What time is it, anyway?  Ugh, still early.  Want to go out and sniff the air for a few minutes?  She did.

Lupe in the G6 early on 10-10-16. The G6 said it was 5:11 AM, 38°F.
Lupe in the G6 early on 10-10-16. The G6 said it was 5:11 AM, 38°F.

The moon had set hours ago.  Overhead, Orion was shining brilliantly in the starry night sky.  Nights were already getting long this time of year.  It would be at least another hour until dawn.  Lupe sniffed around in the quiet darkness for 15 minutes.  Then it was back in the G6 to try to get a little more shuteye.

The next time SPHP came to, it was light out.  The sun was already shining on the treetops.  Lupe was wide awake, looking out the window, watching.  The American Dingo was anxious to get out and start her next Black Hills, WY adventure!  OK, Loopster, it’s time, past time really, let’s go!

Duling Hill (6,005 ft.) was Lupe’s first peakbagging objective of the day.  Lupe and SPHP followed USFS Road No. 872.3 a short distance WSW to the “Y” with No. 872.1F.  Lupe turned S on No. 872.1F and promptly arrived at a big canvas tent in the forest just off the road.

Lupe discovered this big canvas tent off USFS Road No. 872.1F. No one was around when Lupe arrived.
Lupe discovered this big canvas tent off USFS Road No. 872.1F. No one was around when Lupe arrived.

The big canvas tent was a rather unusual discovery.  No one was around when Lupe arrived, but there was a big stack of logs outside ready for splitting into firewood.  Evidently there was some kind of stove in the tent.  A long black smokestack leaned out of a hole in the roof.

Someone had gone to considerable trouble to establish this semi-permanent looking camp.  Lupe sniffed around the tent, but there were no windows.  The front door was all zipped and tied shut.  Interesting, but best to leave it alone.  Lupe and SPHP continued SSW on USFS Road No. 872.1F.

Near a high point, Lupe and SPHP left the road to climb up onto a forested ridge to the W.  It wasn’t much of a climb, but SPHP soon caught a glimpse of a high hill about 1.5 miles away to the SW.  That had to be Duling Hill.  No. 872.1F had been heading practically straight for it.

Lupe and SPHP cut back down a short steep slope to return to the road, which was now going SW down a valley.  Lupe had some luck and found a squirrel to bark at in a beautiful grove of golden aspens.

Lupe on USFS Road No. 872.1F. The happy Carolina Dog soon found a squirrel to bark at among the golden aspens. Photo looks SSW.
Lupe on USFS Road No. 872.1F. The happy Carolina Dog soon found a squirrel to bark at among the golden aspens. Photo looks SSW.

After an easy stroll down the wooded valley, Lupe reached a junction.  There was a big, round, tan, plastic water trough for cattle here, but it contained no water.  A grassy unmarked road branched off going SE up another small valley.  No. 872.1F turned W.

Lupe left the road, went past the water trough, and crossed a tiny, mucky stream.  She then started climbing S up Duling Hill.  The climb was steepest at the beginning, and soon became more gradual.  Everything was going fine when Lupe’s worries from yesterday suddenly returned.  Gunfire again!  Intermittent just like yesterday.  More target practice.

Up until now, Lupe had been all fired up, full of energy, roaming and racing through the hills.  Even though the gunfire was distant, it instantly made the Carolina Dog nervous and spoiled her fun.  She wanted to stop and hide.

SPHP found a fallen tree to sit on.  Lupe curled up next to the tree.  The Carolina Dog wanted to wait the gunfire out right here.  SPHP allowed her a short break.  No telling how long the gunfire would continue.  Yesterday afternoon it had persisted until after sundown.

Lupe was reluctant to get going again, but she wasn’t in any real danger.  It was time to move on.  The American Dingo stuck closely to SPHP.  Soon she was skirting the NW slope of High Point 5947 to reach the saddle over to the summit of Duling Hill.  The summit wasn’t much farther.  The old USFS map showed a survey benchmark at the top of Duling Hill, for some reason or other marked “Butte”.  SPHP wondered if Lupe would be able to find it.

As it turned out, the “Butte” survey benchmark was very easy to find.  Lupe went right to it.  A conspicuous cairn was built up around benchmark, right at what did appear to be the top of the mountain.  Next to the cairn was some old wire and a wooden cross fallen on the ground.  The summit area was quite large, nearly flat, and forested.  The forest was fairly open, but still effectively blocked the views.

The survey benchmark on Duling Hill did say "Butte", just like the old USFS map showed it would.
The survey benchmark on Duling Hill did say “Butte”, just like the old USFS map showed it would.

Lupe was still so nervous about the distant gunfire, she wanted to stay right next to SPHP.  Many attempts had to be made to persuade her to stay alone near the cairn long enough for a photo.

A very nervous Carolina Dog poses reluctantly at the summit cairn on Duling Hill. The distant, intermittent gunfire from someone just doing target practice kept her on edge. Photo looks NE.
A very nervous Carolina Dog poses reluctantly at the summit cairn on Duling Hill. The distant, intermittent gunfire from someone just doing target practice kept her on edge. Photo looks NE.
Looking ENE across part of the Duling Hill summit area.
Looking ENE across part of the Duling Hill summit area.

Lupe and SPHP left the Duling Hill summit wandering WNW across a broad area that sloped down only slightly.  The hope was that Lupe would come to some viewpoints along the way.  Lupe did her best.  She found some partial views, but that was all Duling Hill had to offer.

Lupe found this narrow view of Inyan Kara from Duling Hill. Photo looks SW.
Lupe found this narrow view of Inyan Kara from Duling Hill. Photo looks SW.
Inyan Kara Mountain (6,360 ft.). Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.
Inyan Kara Mountain (6,360 ft.). Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.
This was the clearest view of Hooker Peak (5,862 ft.) that Lupe found from Duling Hill. Photo looks N using the telephoto lens.
This was the clearest view of Hooker Peak (5,862 ft.) that Lupe found from Duling Hill. Photo looks N using the telephoto lens.
Iron Mountain, Lupe's next peakbagging goal is the big forested ridge in the foreground. Far away on the horizon, Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.) can be seen on the L. Photo looks NNW.
Iron Mountain, Lupe’s next peakbagging goal is the big forested ridge in the foreground. Far away on the horizon, Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.) can be seen on the L. Photo looks NNW.

Once Lupe’s exploration of the W end of Duling Hill was complete, she headed almost straight N down a long ridge.  The ridge became quite narrow as Lupe lost elevation.  More than half way down, Lupe discovered bones strewn about a small level spot.  Some wild animal had met its fate here.  It must have happened quite a while ago.  The scattered bones were totally bare.

Lupe discovered these bones on the narrow N ridge coming down Duling Hill.
Lupe discovered these bones on the narrow N ridge coming down Duling Hill.

After following the N ridge down from Duling Hill for 0.75 mile, Lupe entered a wide valley of open meadows.  A bright yellow stand of aspens was on display.  Off to the NW was a clear view of Iron Mountain (5,887 ft.), the forested ridge that was Lupe’s next peakbagging goal.

A stand of yellow aspens greeted Lupe in the valley at the lower end of the N ridge from Duling Hill. Photo looks NE.
A stand of yellow aspens greeted Lupe in the valley at the lower end of the N ridge from Duling Hill. Photo looks NE.
Iron Mountain, the long forested ridge seen here, was Lupe's next peakbagging goal. Photo looks NW.
Iron Mountain, the long forested ridge seen here, was Lupe’s next peakbagging goal. Photo looks NW.

Iron Mountain was less than a mile away to the NW.  However, small bands of cliffs were visible along the S and SE slopes.  The mountain looked like it could be much more easily approached from the NE than the SE.  Lupe traveled N through the valley, looking for the easiest way up Iron Mountain.  Along the way, she passed a stock pond.

Apparently the stock pond was fed by the tiny stream Lupe had crossed before beginning her ascent of Duling Hill.  The trickle of flow was enough to keep the stock pond from going dry even this late in the season.  The stock pond was kind of a scenic spot, in addition to a source of water for wildlife.

Lupe on her way past a scenic little stock pond SE of Iron Mountain. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on her way past a scenic little stock pond SE of Iron Mountain. Photo looks NE.

N of the stock pond, Lupe came to a dirt road.  It was unmarked, but was probably some branch of USFS Road No. 882.  Lupe followed this road only a short distance, then crossed to the other side and followed a single track trail closer to Iron Mountain.  It lead to another road, which was grassy and climbed at an easy pace, winding its way N.

The grassy road took Lupe to a pass NE of Iron Mountain where there was an intersection.  A road marked as USFS Road No. 882.1B went W from the pass, and looked like it was about to turn SW to go up Iron Mountain.  Perfect!

Lupe followed No. 882.1B.  She was feeling better again.  Sometime after she had left the stock pond, target practice had ceased.  No more gunfire!  Lupe was regaining her confidence.  Life is always better when you don’t have to worry about being gunned down!

No. 882.1B brought Lupe high up on the E slope of Iron Mountain, but did not go to the top.  Instead, it turned S, paralleling the ridgeline.  Lupe and SPHP left the road to finish the easy climb through open forest.  Lupe only needed to gain another 70 feet of elevation or so to reach the N end of the summit ridge.

From a distance, Iron Mountain had looked quite densely forested.  SPHP was surprised when Lupe found a flat grassy field at the N end of the ridge.  The meadow was ringed by trees, explaining why this bare spot hadn’t been visible from a distance.  At the N end was a small opening between trees.  Lupe had a clear view of Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.) from here.

To SPHP's surprise, Lupe discovered a meadow up at the N end of the Iron Mountain summit ridge. Later on, SPHP found out that topo maps show this part of the mountain as the true summit. Photo looks NNW.
To SPHP’s surprise, Lupe discovered a meadow up at the N end of the Iron Mountain summit ridge. Later on, SPHP found out that topo maps show this part of the mountain as the true summit. Photo looks NNW.
The lookout tower on Warren Peaks (Center) can be seen in this photo taken from the N end of the summit ridge of Iron Mountain. Photo looks NW using the telephoto lens.
The lookout tower on Warren Peaks (Center) can be seen in this photo taken from the N end of the summit ridge of Iron Mountain. Photo looks NW using the telephoto lens.

The summit ridge on Iron Mountain was quite broad E/W, and ran N/S for a good 500 to 600 feet.  To the E, the ground sloped away at a moderate pace.  To the W was a line of limestone (Why not iron for Pete’s sake?  This is Iron Mountain, not Limestone Mountain!) cliffs.  The cliffs were on the order of 30 to 40 feet high.

Looking farther W into Wyoming from the cliffs along the summit ridge on Iron Mountain. Hwy 585 can be seen below.
Looking farther W into Wyoming from the cliffs along the summit ridge on Iron Mountain. Hwy 585 can be seen below.
Lupe up on the limestone cliffs along the W edge of the Iron Mountain summit ridge. Photo looks SSW.
Lupe up on the limestone cliffs along the W edge of the Iron Mountain summit ridge. Photo looks SSW.
Hope you got that shot of the cliff, SPHP. I'm outta here!
Hope you got that shot of the cliff, SPHP. I’m outta here!

The highest part of the summit ridge near the limestone cliffs was nearly level for quite a distance going S from the N end of the ridge.  Lupe and SPHP headed S exploring the ridgeline.  Although SPHP later discovered that topo maps show the true summit of Iron Mountain very close to the N end of the mountain, there was an area 150 feet farther S that seemed a little higher to SPHP.

This more southern high point was certainly more scenic.  It was forested and shady, but right next to the cliffs where there was with an opening between the trees permitting a look at Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.).  Lupe declared it the official true summit of Iron Mountain as far as she was concerned, by posing on the highest rock she could find.

Lupe stands atop the highest rock she could find at her official true summit of Iron Mountain. Unseen just beyond her is a 40 foot cliff. Inyan Kara is seen on the horizon. Photo looks SW.
Lupe stands atop the highest rock she could find at her official true summit of Iron Mountain. Unseen just beyond her is a 40 foot cliff. Inyan Kara is seen on the horizon. Photo looks SW.

Inyan Kara from the summit of Iron Mountain, WY 10-10-16

Inyan Kara as seen from Iron Mountain. Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.
Inyan Kara as seen from Iron Mountain. Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.

Lupe and SPHP went S along the Iron Mountain ridgeline far enough to be absolutely certain the Carolina Dog had visited the true summit.  Then Lupe turned around and went back to the N end of the ridge one more time.  Lupe’s explorations of Iron Mountain were complete.  So were all of her peakbagging goals in this remote part of the Black Hills.  It was time to head back to the G6.

Lupe returned to USFS Road No. 882.1B, following it NE back down Iron Mountain.  She left the road a couple of times to take a look around from two different viewpoints along the way.  Far below to the SE, she saw the stock pond she had passed by earlier.  To the N was Hooker Peak (5,862 ft.), which she had climbed as the sun set yesterday.

On her way down Iron Mountain, Lupe saw the stock pond she had passed by earlier in the day. Photo looks SE.
On her way down Iron Mountain, Lupe saw the stock pond she had passed by earlier in the day. Photo looks SE.
Hooker Peak as seen from the NE slopes of Iron Mountain. Lupe had been up on top of Hooker Peak yesterday at sunset! Photo looks N using the telephoto lens.
Hooker Peak as seen from the NE slopes of Iron Mountain. Lupe had been up on top of Hooker Peak yesterday at sunset! Photo looks N using the telephoto lens.

When Lupe reached the pass NE of Iron Mountain at the start of USFS Road No. 882.1B, it would have been very easy to get back to the G6 by taking the road going N from the pass.  That road would soon have turned E and headed almost directly to the G6.  However, SPHP didn’t look at the maps and guessed wrong, taking a road winding SE instead.

Pretty soon it became apparent that the road going SE would eventually lead Lupe right back to the stock pond.  It seemed like the long way around.  SPHP now compounded the first error by making another one.  SPHP left the road taking Lupe NE up a side valley, expecting to find a pass over the ridge.

There was a pass, alright, but much higher up than SPHP expected.  Lupe climbed until she was nearly up to High Point 5783.  She then lost all her elevation gains going E down a steep slope to a road visible below.  SPHP didn’t recognize the road, but Lupe had been here before, just hours ago.  She was back on No. 872.1F, but following the road the wrong way, away from the G6!

Even when Lupe passed by the same stand of golden aspens along USFS Road No. 872.1F where she had found the squirrel early in the morning, SPHP didn't realize where she was, or that she was going the wrong way!
Even when Lupe passed by the same stand of golden aspens along USFS Road No. 872.1F where she had found the squirrel early in the morning, SPHP didn’t realize where she was, or that she was going the wrong way!
Although Lupe and SPHP went the wrong way on USFS Road No. 872.1F, seeing fall colors like these a second time around could hardly be considered a waste of time.
Although Lupe and SPHP went the wrong way on USFS Road No. 872.1F, seeing fall colors like these a second time around could hardly be considered a waste of time.

When the big, round, tan water trough came into view, SPHP realized Lupe was back at the tiny stream where she had started her climb up Duling Hill.  Good grief!  SPHP had been leading the American Dingo the wrong way!  Lupe didn’t mind.  She was still having fun.

There was nothing to do about it, except turn around and traipse right back up USFS Road No. 872.1F for the third time today, this time going uphill.  Lupe reached the little pass at the high point on the road, passed by the canvas tent (which was still vacant), and finally arrived at the G6 (1:51 PM, 71°F).

Well, all those navigation mistakes SPHP had made since leaving Iron Mountain had chewed up at least an hour.  It was too bad.  SPHP had been thinking Lupe might travel farther N to the portion of the Black Hills N of Sundance, WY known as the Bear Lodge Mountains.  It would take time to get there, though.  Now, Lupe would arrive with only a few hours left before sunset.

And so, the decision was made to call it for the day.  Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 177 was over.  Lupe and SPHP headed for home.  Lupe had achieved her original peakbagging goals for her two day excursion to this part of the Black Hills in Wyoming.  It wouldn’t be that long before she could return to explore peaks in the Bear Lodge Mountains.

In the meantime, the Carolina Dog was very happy barking at cows and horses along Moskee Road and I90 all the way home.Lupe in the G6 a little after 5 AM in WY on 10-10-16Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.