Days 9 & 10 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.
On the morning of 8-16-12, Lupe woke up not in Lanis’ Honda Element or in her “tiny house” (tent), but on a comfy soft bed in a motel in Bozeman, MT. Ahhh! This was the life American Dingoes were meant to live! Lupe was clearly enjoying motel life.
Of course, the soft life lasted only until Lanis woke up. Then it was time to get back to the other life American Dingoes were meant to live – exploring and adventuring in the big, wide world! For Lupe, it was going to be a pretty passive day of exploring from a pile of blankets and pillows in the back of the Element, though. Day 9 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation was spent traveling.
From Bozeman, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went to Helena, and then on to Flathead Lake and Kalispell. By evening, Lupe’s tiny house was set up at Whitefish State Park in Whitefish, MT. The state park was quite a popular place. There were lots of other campers around. It was a pretty spot, but felt more like being in a small community than a wilderness experience.
Whitefish State Park featured a scenic lake where people were boating. The lake even had a small dog beach where Lupe could sniff around and wade in the water. Whitefish State Park had another interesting feature. It was situated right next to the railroad tracks. Trains rumbled by regularly during the night, each event causing Lupe some excitement, and SPHP some trouble trying to keep her from rousing the neighbors.
The next morning, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Whitefish State Park, and headed for Glacier National Park. To be certain to have a place to stay for the night, Lupe’s tiny house got set up almost right away at the Sprague Creek Campground on the E shore of Lake McDonald.
Once the tent was set up, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP drove E on the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Lanis parked the Element at one of the higher viewpoint turnouts for a chance to take some photos.
The intention was to stop up at Logan Pass to explore some trails, but when Lupe got there, the parking lots were completely full. Lanis had to continue driving E beyond the pass. Down at Saint Mary Lake, SPHP had Lanis stop to check out the prices on the boat tours.
It was $23.75 per person for the standard 1.5 hour boat tour on Saint Mary Lake, but the last tour of the day at 6:30 PM was a shorter 1.0 hour tour for only $16.00. Best of all, Lupe could ride along for free! Lupe had never been on a boat before in her entire life. Instantly, the plan became for Lupe to return at 6:30 PM for a spectacularly beautiful introduction to getting her sea legs!
There was still a lot time left in the day before then, though. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went on to the Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake. Lots of beautiful trails into the backcountry leave from the Swiftcurrent Lake area. Lanis and SPHP were looking forward to doing some exploring with Lupe!
Before hitting any of the trails, it was time for lunch. Lanis went in to the Many Glacier Hotel to buy a couple of box lunches containing hamburgers and French fries. Lupe got to share, too, of course. American Dingoes love hamburgers! They will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today! Lupe, Lanis and SPHP ate the lunches down by dazzling Swiftcurrent Lake.
After lunch, which didn’t take long with a Carolina Dog helping, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP drove around to the opposite side of Swiftcurrent Lake. The plan was to spend the afternoon exploring the trail up to Iceberg Lake with Lupe.
Disappointment awaited Lupe at the trailhead, though. Park regulations prohibited dogs (even American Dingoes) from going on any trails into the backcountry. Even on a leash, Lupe couldn’t go to Iceberg Lake, or pretty much anywhere else in Glacier National Park. It was just like Yellowstone National Park!
The light finally dawned on SPHP. It was going to be the same at every U.S. National Park! Dogs weren’t going to be welcome at any of them. Regulations were going to prevent Lupe from really experiencing or fully enjoying any of the National Parks that SPHP had planned to take her to on her Dingo Vacation. All she would be able to do would be sit in the Honda Element, or be on a leash in parking lots and campgrounds.
There was nothing that could be done about it, either. It was a major blow. Glacier National Park is full of trails that look so promising on the maps. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had been looking forward to exploring some of them. Now it seemed the only alternative was to avoid U. S. National Parks. It wouldn’t be fair or safe to leave Lupe stuck alone in the Element while Lanis and SPHP spent long hours away in the mountains.
Well, at least Lupe could still get her first ever boat ride on Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park. There was still time to kill before then, though. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP drove E out of Glacier National Park intending to take a look at Duck Lake on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The road to Duck Lake proved to be dusty and full of rocks. Lanis very reasonably wanted to avoid subjecting the Element to it. Lupe got close enough to see Duck Lake from a distance, but that was about it.
After Lupe’s rather pointless glimpse of Duck Lake, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went to the little community of St. Mary at a highway junction just E of the Glacier National Park Entrance. Lupe and SPHP stayed in the Element, while Lanis went in to kill a little time checking out the merchandise in an upscale tourist shop.
At least it was a very nice looking building, but apparently even upscale tourist shops aren’t above selling such delicacies as Moose Poo. Naturally, Lanis was intrigued even before entering the shop.
Lanis eventually returned with a humongous soft drink, but Moose Poo-less. There was still some time to go before the 6:30 PM Saint Mary Lake boat tour. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went over to the lake, anyway. SPHP bought the boat tour tickets. Lupe and SPHP then went on a little stroll along the lake shore. Finally, it was Saint Mary Lake tour time!
There were quite a few people on the tour, but the boat wasn’t entirely full. Once underway, Lupe wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. Cruising on a lake was something she had never experienced before. She liked it, but seemed to want to get out there and explore the lake, perhaps without the aid of a boat. She threatened to leap overboard on several occasions. SPHP had to keep Lupe on the leash and hang on to her.
It was great time relaxing on the beautiful lake listening to the tour guide, who was also the captain of the ship. The views were magnificent, the people friendly, and price was quite reasonable. Lupe and SPHP highly recommend the evening cruise on Saint Mary Lake!
It was only 7:30 PM and still light out, when Lupe returned from the boat tour having earned her sea legs. Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP returned to Logan Pass. The visitor center was closed. Most of the crowds were gone. There were plenty of places to park now, even though a large section of the parking lot was cordoned off for people who were setting up telescopes to view the expected Perseid Meteor shower after dark.
SPHP stayed with Lupe at the parking lot while Lanis took a stroll along the Hidden Lake trail. After a little while, SPHP noticed a trail across Going-to-the-Sun Road that didn’t have the usual no pets sign. Lupe and SPHP started crossing the road to take a look at the view from over there, and see if the trail looked promising. Instantly, a ranger came running over to make certain Lupe wasn’t going to set a single paw on the trail.
SPHP asked the ranger if there were any trails at all in Glacier National Park where dogs could go? The ranger said the only exception to the no pets policy was the Trail of the Cedars nature trail. Dogs could go there, but it was miles away close to Avalanche Creek. (Not true, as it turned out the next day! Sadly, there were no pets signs there, too.)
Lanis returned. SPHP was disappointed to learn he hadn’t gone far enough to get to the Hidden Lake viewpoint, but Lanis was happy with what he’d seen. He did have some photos of the Logan Pass area.
As the sun set behind the mountains, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned to the Sprague Creek campground at Lake McDonald for the night. Glacier National Park was gorgeous, and Lupe did have a good time on her first boat ride ever on Saint Mary Lake. However, since Lupe couldn’t explore the trails in the park, it was clear Lupe’s stay was going to be short. SPHP resolved to at least take Lupe to the Trail of the Cedars nature trail the next morning.
At 9:38 AM (38°F), SPHP parked the G6 at the Samelius Trailhead of Centennial Trail No. 89 near Hwy 16, about 3 miles W of the Keystone “Y”. The skies were overcast, but no precipitation and a forecast high of 50°F on nearly the shortest day of the year had brought Lupe and SPHP out to do a little peakbagging.
Lupe’s first two peakbagging goals, Samelius Peak(5,856 ft.) and Hardesty Peak(5,562 ft.) were both less than a mile from the trailhead, although Lupe’s proposed route might take her a little farther than that to reach Hardesty Peak. Lupe set out heading N on Centennial Trail No. 89 up a mostly forested little valley.
The trail gained elevation at an easy pace at first, but became a little steeper as it went on. About 0.5 mile from the trailhead, Lupe reached a saddle area NNW of Samelius Peak. It was time to leave the trail, and start up the mountain.
Lupe and SPHP had been up on Mount Warner(5,889 ft.), less than a mile to the N, before on several occasions. Having seen Samelius Peak from Mount Warner, SPHP was expecting Lupe might encounter some pretty steep climbs up boulder fields near the top of Samelius Peak, since the mountain had looked pretty rocky. The climb really wasn’t bad at all, though. Lupe encountered some deadfall timber, some rock outcroppings, and snow that made it slick in some places, but even SPHP was able to maneuver around most of the obstacles without much difficulty.
On the way up, Lupe came to two high points. The first one was just a rocky spot in the forest. Lupe only had to lose a little elevation to resume her climb up the NNW slope of the mountain. At the second high point, an exposed rocky ledge jutted out toward the W. The ledge seemed quite high, and offered some pretty good views. Lupe and SPHP went out on the ledge for a look around.
This ledge provided the most open panoramic views from anywhere Lupe went on Samelius Peak, and wasn’t too far below the summit. When Lupe arrived at the summit, there were enough trees around to partially obstruct the views in most directions. The summit area wasn’t terribly large, but Lupe found several spots to pose for photos.
Lupe’s next peakbagging goal was Hardesty Peak, but where was it? It was supposed to be just 0.5 mile to the SE, but SPHP didn’t see it. Time to check the maps again. Of course, Hardesty Peak was there all along. SPHP had assumed the two mountains were about the same elevation, but Hardesty Peak at only 5,562 ft. was actually almost 300 ft. lower than Samelius Peak. That puny hill to the SE that could only be seen from the E end of the Samelius Peak summit area was it!
Lupe and SPHP left Samelius Peak heading down on the NE side of a ridge that led SE toward Hardesty Peak. At first the going was rather steep, then it became rather rocky. After Lupe had lost a fair amount of elevation, a long line of large boulders appeared ahead. The area to the NE of the boulders dropped off very steeply. However, there was a little saddle area at the start of the line of boulders where Lupe could cross over to the SW side of the ridge.
Lupe and SPHP headed for the little saddle. It took SPHP a little while to get there due to the rockiness of the area. Once there, Lupe and SPHP went to investigate a nearby high point just to the E of the little saddle. There was a nice view of Boulder Hill(5,331 ft.) and Silver Mountain(5,405 ft.) off to the NE.
Lupe still needed to lose more elevation to reach the saddle between Samelius and Hardesty Peaks. She left the high point E of the little saddle heading SSE down the mountain. This area was thinly forested, quite steep, and covered with pine needles and a fair amount of loose rock. Lupe had a great time sniffing around this way and that. Rocks slid down the slopes as SPHP came down. SPHP threw many of them back up, so they were higher than before.
It was kind of slow going, but it wasn’t hard to find a way down. Near the bottom of the slope, there was a boulder field to be traversed, and beyond the boulder field was an area that was a jumble of deadfall timber. SPHP picked a way through it all, while Lupe continued exploring the forest. It turned out that Lupe and SPHP had come down a bit S of the saddle area. Lupe had to turn N and regain about 40 feet of elevation to get to the saddle.
From the saddle, the climb up Hardesty Peak was similar to Lupe’s climb up Samelius Peak, except that she didn’t have to gain nearly as much elevation. Lupe soon reached the summit of Hardesty Peak. She paused to take a look around from the rocks at the very top.
The summit area on Hardesty Peak is a fairly long E/W trending ridge. The forested ridge is wide enough to walk along easily. It was easy to see there wasn’t any higher ground to the W of where Lupe had come up, but the forest hid the rest of the ridge to the E. Lupe and SPHP wanted to make certain she had reached the actual true summit, so Lupe went E exploring the ridge.
Lupe and SPHP went far enough E to verify that Lupe had reached the true summit back where the summit photos were taken. She had. Near the E end of the ridge, Lupe found a rather nice view looking NNW between Samelius Peak and Mount Warner. Some higher hills could be seen in the distance. There was even a faint glimpse of Custer Peak(6,804 ft.) beyond the high hills.
Lupe and SPHP left Hardesty Peak near the E end of the summit ridge, heading back down toward the saddle over to Samelius Peak. From the saddle, SPHP tried to lead Lupe N looking for Centennial Trail No. 89. Lupe crossed a couple of small ridges, but the terrain kept forcing Lupe farther E until she reached the bottom of a gulch.
Lupe turned NW to go up the little valley on its E side. Lupe and SPHP had been in this area several times before, but going down the valley. Things just looked different going up it. SPHP kept expecting Lupe would find Centennial Trail No. 89 at any time, but she kept going without coming across it. SPHP stopped to check the maps again. They provided no further clues. It couldn’t be too much farther.
Before long, Lupe came to a road heading ESE. Lupe and SPHP followed it. SPHP thought maybe Centennial Trail No. 89 was still higher up the side of the mountain, but within just a few minutes, the road led past a rocky little hillside that SPHP remembered from Lupe’s prior expeditions. The road was Centennial Trail No. 89. That was good news!
Centennial Trail No. 89 wound around the SE end of Mount Warner, leaving the road and becoming a single track trail along the way. It turned NW going up a small valley to a saddle. Instead of going over the saddle, the trail started a climb up the mountain to the S, switchbacking a little bit on the way up. Eventually the trail turned W, and passed to the S of a rock outcropping where SPHP remembered there was a view to the N. Lupe and SPHP went to the edge of the rock formation to take a look.
From the rock outcropping, Lupe could see part of Sheridan Lake and Calumet Ridge(5,601 ft.) off to the NNE. From here, it wasn’t too much farther along Centennial Trail No. 89 up to the top of Mount Warner. On the way, Lupe started hearing gunfire coming from way off somewhere in the direction of Calumet Ridge. By the time Lupe reached the top of Mount Warner, she was one nervous Carolina Dog.
SPHP wanted to get a photo of Lupe up on the highest rocks on Mount Warner, but Lupe really just wanted to be close to SPHP. The gunfire was just too unnerving. Half a dozen times SPHP persuaded her to get up on the highest rocks, but each time SPHP backed off to take the photo, Lupe would hear more gunfire within a few seconds and jump down to follow SPHP.
Finally, it worked. A brief lull in someone’s target practice restored the American Dingo’s confidence. Lupe stayed up there for her summit photo on Mount Warner. Good doggie! After one quick photo, SPHP didn’t make her stay up there any longer. She was glad it was over with, and jumped down as soon as SPHP said it was OK.
There was still some time left in the day. Originally, SPHP had thought maybe Lupe should do some exploring toward Calumet Ridge, but with all the gunfire in that direction, that just wasn’t going to work. Instead, Lupe and SPHP left Mount Warner continuing NW on Centennial Trail No. 89.
The trail gradually lost elevation following a ridgeline, but eventually turned to start heading down the NE side of the ridge on its way down to Sheridan Lake. Instead of going that way, Lupe and SPHP left the trail and started down the SW side of the ridge. It was steep, but not as steep as going down Samelius Peak had been.
Lupe lost a lot of elevation. Finally things started leveling out. Somewhere along the way, she crossed Joe Dollar Gulch. Lupe came to a maze of little roads in the forest. She followed them S or SW. SPHP led her onto roads heading SE a time or two when the opportunity presented itself. SPHP was hoping to find a road going up a little gulch just S of Joe Dollar Gulch, but it didn’t happen.
Lupe and SPHP had a nice time just wandering the back roads. Lupe trotted ahead, leaving the road here and there to investigate interesting smells in the forest. Lupe crossed a saddle shown just to the E of High Point 5157 on the Peakbagger.com topo maps. During the last part of her journey, the sound of traffic on Hwy 16 wasn’t far off to the S. When SPHP saw the little tunnel that Centennial Trail No. 89 passes through under Hwy 16, SPHP knew Lupe was almost back to the Samelius trailhead.
The sun was down and the light was fading, when Lupe reached the trailhead again. There was a bunch of trash around. SPHP spent a little time picking it up while Lupe sniffed around. At 4:38 PM (37°F), when Lupe and SPHP finally got into the G6 to head home, it was practically dark out. Climbing Samelius and Hardesty Peaks had been fun. The big loop up to Mount Warner and beyond, and then down and around to the SW was a nice bonus.
Tomorrow would be the shortest day of the year. Christmas was almost here. Nearing home, Lupe and SPHP admired the cheerful, colorful Christmas lights. 2014 was fast drawing to a close, but Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 110 wouldn’t be Lupe’s last of 2014. SPHP was glad. When you’re lucky enough to have a Carolina Dog, you just don’t want the good times to ever end.
Note: SPHP isn’t certain of the correct spelling for Samelius Peak. The sign at the trailhead on Centennial Trail No. 89 says Samelius, as do SPHP’s old USFS maps. The Peakbagger.com maps and records show it as Samelias Peak.
Days 7 & 8 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.
The sky was just starting to get light. Lupe and SPHP were up and out of Lupe’s “tiny house” (tent) to greet the day before Lanis woke up. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were camped on the beautiful Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River. Lupe sat on SPHP’s lap wrapped in a blanket for a long time, watching the sunlight start shining on Pilot(11,699 ft.) and Index(11,240 ft.)Peaks beyond the bend in the river.
After a while, Lupe felt like sniffing around in the forest. After two days in Yellowstone National Park, where she wasn’t free to do much more than ride in Lanis’ Honda Element, Lupe was just happy to be free again. While SPHP made breakfast, Lupe roamed a little downstream exploring the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone.
Eventually Lanis woke up. Lanis & SPHP discussed plans for the day. If Lupe was going to get all the way to the west coast, it was probably time for her to start making her way farther W pretty soon. However, since Lupe’s recent trip to Beauty and Becker Lakes had been so gorgeous, SPHP suggested spending one more day in the Beartooths before moving on. Lupe would get a lot of exercise, which would make her happier riding in the Element the following day. Lanis agreed.
After breakfast, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP hopped in the Element and headed E on the Beartooth Hwy No. 212. Lanis stopped at the Top of the World store. SPHP ran in to buy a couple of topo maps. Meanwhile, Lanis checked out the directions outside.
After consulting SPHP’s new topo maps, it was decided to check out part of the Beartooth Loop National Recreational Trail. There was a trailhead just a few miles E along Hwy 212 near Long Lake. Soon Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were setting out on the trail. Lupe was very happy! There was a lot of open ground with sweeping vistas where she could run and run. She was full of energy!
The trail went past several lakes. Hauser Lake came first. Quite a bit farther on, down in a valley, Lupe reached Losekamp Lake. From Losekamp Lake, Lupe followed a spur trail that wound E up onto a ridge N of Tibbs Butte. Up on the ridge, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP turned N to reach Gardner Lake – Lupe’s ultimate destination.
The trek to Gardner Lake wasn’t as spectacularly beautiful as Lupe’s trip to Beauty and Becker Lakes a few days earlier. There weren’t as many lakes and streams, the mountains didn’t seem quite as close or high, the forests were sparser and more distant, and there weren’t as many wildflowers.
On the other hand, there was much more open grassland where Lupe could race along with her nose to the ground sniffing at top speed. At some points, there were some pretty grand sweeping vistas. Best of all, there was absolutely no one else around. And at Gardner Lake, Lanis did manage to find some pretty nice wildflowers near the shore.
Except for a long exploration of the forested ridge NE of Losekamp Lake, where Lanis and SPHP split up for a while, Lupe’s return trip from Gardner Lake just retraced her path from earlier in the day. By the time Lupe was back at the Honda Element again, there was no question that she’d gotten enough exercise. She had run all day long. It had been a wonderful day to be a Carolina Dog wild and free in the Beartooths!
Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned to the campsite on the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River for another night in Lupe’s tiny house. During her last evening on the beautiful river, the American Dingo slept very soundly.
The next morning, it was time to leave the Beartooths and start heading farther W. After breakfast, Lanis and SPHP broke camp and packed up Lupe’s tiny house. When everything was ready, Lupe jumped up into the Honda Element ready for whatever adventure might be next.
Lanis drove the Element E on Beartooth Hwy No. 212 again, just like the day before. This time, Lupe was going to go over 10,947 foot Beartooth Pass, the highest point she had ever been to yet! She was then going to cross the border into Montana for the very first time, making Montana the 3rd Lupe state!
Just a few miles before reaching Beartooth Pass, Hwy 212 was up on top of barren mountains overlooking Gardner Lake, where Lupe had been just the day before. Naturally, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP wanted to stop and take a look at Gardner Lake from above.
Fog started sweeping over the ridge ahead as Lupe neared Beartooth Pass. Up at the pass, the tops of the mountains were mostly clear, but the giant valleys and canyons to the N were full of clouds. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped for 20 or 30 minutes to look around, but it didn’t take long to get the idea what a bank of fog looked like. Soon Lupe was on her way again.
The border with Montana was just a few miles from Beartooth Pass, where the highway was still at a great height in the mountains. Amazingly, there was a speed limit 70 mph sign up there!
Lanis especially found this highly amusing. It was obviously some kind of Darwinian Introduction to Montana/Wyoming Intelligence Test (DIMWIT) to see if tourists were smart enough to survive in Montana. For what lay ahead was not a nice straight, smooth highway, but miles of 20 mph, 15 mph, and even 10 mph hairpin curves snaking tortuously along the brink of tremendous precipices.
Partway down the giant descent, there was a little parking lot at a viewpoint. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped to check it out.
With all the clouds trapped on the N side of the Beartooth Mountains, it wasn’t surprising that it was raining by the time Lupe reached Red Lodge, Montana. Lupe spent the afternoon snoozing comfortably in the Element while Lanis drove on to Bozeman.
In Bozeman, for the 1st time on her big 2012 Dingo Vacation, Lupe got to stay in the lap of luxury at a motel near I-90. She was very curious about it all, but was on her very best behavior. Dingoes are very adaptable to a wide range of conditions. Rest assured, Lupe took a dose of soft living completely in stride!
Two years ago, on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 41, Lupe and SPHP had climbed Peak 6046 for the first time on the last day of 2012. Back then, SPHP had given the private name “New Year’s Eve Peak” to the mountain. At the time, it had seemed like it might be fun to make a little tradition out of returning to New Year’s Eve Peak on the last day of each year. Of course, outdoor traditions at the end of December would always be subject to the weather, but that was just going to have to be a given. Some years, Lupe wouldn’t make it back.
Sure enough, Lupe didn’t make it back on the last day of 2013, but weather wasn’t the culprit. On December 30th, Lupe’s “grandma” suffered a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke), and wound up in the hospital.
Now it was the morning of December 31st, 2014. The morning was bright and frosty, very frosty – it had gotten down to -10°F overnight, way too cold for one of Lupe’s Black Hills, SD Expeditions. Maybe Lupe was going to have to skip New Year’s Eve Peak in 2014, too? The forecast held out some hope, though – it was supposed to get up into the low 30’s °F.
The forecast was accurate! Things started warming up rapidly. When it reached 30°F a bit before noon, it was time for Lupe to head out! At 12:22 PM (30°F), SPHP parked the G6 on USFS Road No. 710 just off Hwy 385, about 3.5 miles S of the Pactola Reservoir dam. Lupe was happy to be out in the hills again! Lupe and SPHP started off following USFS Road No. 710 going W.
The road gradually climbed up through a small forested valley. After more than half a mile, No. 710 started turning S, as it emerged from the valley onto more level, open ground. Soon No. 710 turned SE, so Lupe and SPHP left it going SW instead. Lupe was now out in an area that had burned years ago in a forest fire. Just to the S, there was a low hilly ridge with rock outcroppings. Lupe headed for it, and was rewarded with panoramic views of the snowy landscape.
Lupe followed the ridge heading WNW to stay up on the high ground, continuing to climb as she went. She skirted along to the S of High Point 5917, then angled W to go down into a saddle between High Point 5917 and the next ridge. It turned out there were two saddles, the first one being larger and deeper than the second one.
Instead of climbing up to the next ridge (Pistol Point), at the bottom of the second, smaller saddle, Lupe and SPHP turned NW heading directly for New Year’s Eve Peak, which was now only 0.33 mile away. This route took Lupe into a rather snowy forest, with at least 6″ of snow on the ground compared to only 3″ or 4″ back out on the open ground.
The deeper snow didn’t seem to bother Lupe at all. She lost some elevation as she went NW, but eventually reached a road. The road was snowy too, but headed WNW up toward New Year’s Eve Peak. A short distance S of the summit, the road curved around to the ENE. Lupe and SPHP left the road to climb directly up the S slope of New Year’s Eve Peak.
As Lupe neared the summit, she circled around a bit to make the final approach from the ESE. It was an easy climb. Before long, Lupe was perched up on the very highest rocks on top of New Year’s Eve Peak. Two years after first climbing the mountain, Lupe was back to say good-bye to yet another year!
After a couple of photos of Lupe at the summit, Lupe and SPHP took a little break. SPHP shared a chocolate-covered granola bar with Lupe. Lupe made it clear she would be perfectly happy to complete the entire task of consuming it all on her own, but SPHP didn’t need quite THAT much help.
The summit of New Year’s Eve Peak was fairly heavily forested, so there wasn’t much of a view in most directions. There were a couple of small openings in the forest, though, that provided a look off into the distance. The best view was toward a succession of snowy blue hills off to the W. Lupe and SPHP found a spot to sit down, huddled together against the cool breeze, to admire the view for a little while.
Lupe had a great 2014. This was her 39th Black Hills, SD Expedition of the year, in June she’d been on a luxurious Dingo Vacation to the Kabekona Lake cabin in Minnesota, she’d had a wonderful Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies and Beartooths, and she’d climbed Lonesome Mountain(11,399 ft.) in the Beartooths, the highest mountain she had ever been on. Now, on a chilly, quiet afternoon, way up on shady, lonely New Year’s Eve Peak, 2014 was slipping away forever.
It was actually a pretty good way to end the year, but didn’t change the sad fact that 2014 was passing into history. Lupe and SPHP would have liked to stay up on New Year’s Eve Peak until sunset, but sunset was still a couple of hours away. It was chilly enough up at the summit now, and wouldn’t be any warmer by then.
When Lupe and SPHP finally started back down off New Year’s Eve Peak, Lupe took the same route back to the G6, with one exception. Down in the forested draw just SSE of the summit, Lupe took a side road that went S out to a high rocky spot. From this high rocky spot, there were some great open views from the NE around to the S and W. SPHP later named the spot Pistol Point, for a large rock that looked like a pistol handle sticking up out of the ground.
It was 3:52 PM (24°F) by the time Lupe and SPHP made it back to the G6. Lupe’s final Black Hills, SD Expedition of 2014 was over. SPHP was glad that Lupe had made a trip to New Year’s Eve Peak a real tradition by returning to the mountain.
Back at home, 2014 stole away in the night. 2015 found SPHP snoozing with a tired, warm American Dingo. Peacefully and comfortably, another big year for Lupe was just beginning.
Day 6 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.
Yellowstone National Park is big. Even on just a very quick tour through the park, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had only made it as far as the Lower Geyser Basin on the first day. After the sun had set, Lanis drove to the town of West Yellowstone just outside the park for the night. The next morning, Lupe returned to Yellowstone National Park to complete her tour.
The day before, Lupe had been very good about being willing to wait in or near the Honda Element, while Lanis and SPHP took turns exploring sights along short trails off the road. She had been perhaps a bit tired from her prior fabulous long day in the Beartooth Mountains going to Beauty and Becker Lakes. After a day of rest, though, SPHP wasn’t sure how much longer the active Carolina Dog was going to be happy with this arrangement.
The main attraction SPHP still wanted to see was the Norris Geyser Basin. There could be other stops along the way for Lanis to get out and look around, but SPHP would have to skip taking a turn on the trails at some of those stops to save time. Hopefully, there would still be time later in the day to exit Yellowstone National Park and it’s not-too-dog-friendly rules, so Lupe could get to a trail where she would be free to explore and run around.
The first stop was Gibbon Falls, an 84 foot high waterfall on the Gibbon River. It was visible from right next to the highway, so Lupe got to see it.
There were a couple of other stops along the way prior to reaching the Norris Geyser Basin. Lanis toured the Artist Paint Pots. He returned to report that they were pretty similar in most respects to the Fountain Paint Pots at the Lower Geyser Basin.The Norris Geyser Basin is pretty big. SPHP was disappointed to learn that a former highlight of the Norris Geyser Basin, the Echinus Geyser (privately known as the “Big P’tui”), rarely erupts now. There were still plenty of pretty steaming hot springs and noisy steam vents to look at. SPHP judged the tiny Minute Geyser, which was very active, the best display on this day.
Both SPHP and Lanis took turns staying with Lupe to allow the other to tour the Norris Geyser Basin. Lupe had to content herself with squirrel and chipmunk watching from the parking lot.
SPHP had been to the Norris Geyser Basin before. It had seemed considerably more active years ago. However, it was now nearly mid-August. The weather was hot and dry for Yellowstone. The steam from all the vents, hot springs and geysers is always more impressive on cooler, higher humidity days when it hangs in the air longer and forms bigger clouds.
The last big stop in Yellowstone National Park was at Mammoth Hot Springs. SPHP stayed with Lupe. It was really hot and sunny by this time. Lupe and SPHP amused themselves as best they could while waiting for Lanis to return. It seemed like he was gone a long time, but eventually he did appear again.
Lanis had gotten so entranced with looking at Mammoth Hot Springs he had gone a long way down the stairs on the wooden trails. He hadn’t realized how huge Mammoth Hot Springs was, or how much elevation he had lost until it was time to return. Without any water with him, it had been a long, hot, slow climb back up to where the Element was parked.
Most of Mammoth Hot Springs was dry and dead looking at this time of year. The hot springs were most colorful and beautiful where there was still water. Interestingly, the water that surfaces at Mammoth Hot Springs comes underground along a fault line all the way from the Norris Geyser Basin.
Yellowstone National Park has the world’s largest collection of amazing geothermal features. Lupe would have been glad to stay there longer, if she had been allowed out on the trails. Park rules were against it, though, so it was time for Lupe to move on, content with the wonders she did have the good fortune to see.
Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP returned to the Beartooth Mountains E of Cooke City, MT. There was still time for a hike on a trail Lupe could explore. Before setting out on a trail to Kersey Lake, there was a quick rest stop at a campground.
The restroom there featured a rather sturdy looking lock. It looked brand new. It operated perfectly. The odd thing about it was that the lock was on the outside of the restroom, a cause of considerable mirth to Lanis. It would be so easy to lock someone in there! Neither Lanis nor SPHP could fathom why there was a lock on the outside that only prevented anyone inside from getting out.
After nearly 2 days, Lupe finally got to go on a trail again. The most interesting part of the trail to Kersey Lake was at almost the very start, where a bridge crossed the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone. Before even crossing the bridge, there was a bench from which to observe a pleasant bend in the river, plus a little side spur off the main trail with a view of the river below after it went over a waterfall in a narrow gorge.
Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP followed the trail all the way to Kersey Lake, only to find that it didn’t go down to the shore. It was hard to find anywhere, even off the trail, with much of a view of the lake. Lupe didn’t care. The trail went through the forest. That meant squirrels! The shrill bark of a very happy American Dingo echoed through the trees.
Yellowstone Falls, Old Faithful Geyser & Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (8-12-12)
Beauty & Becker Lakes, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming (8-11-12) – Lupe’s biggest adventure in the Beartooth Mountains on her 2012 Dingo Vacation.
January 10, 2015, 10:32 AM, 32°F. The first day since New Year’s Day 2015 that wasn’t too cold or windy. SPHP parked the G6 at the Pactola Reservoir overlook next to Hwy 385 at the N end of the dam. This time Lupe wasn’t fooling around. She was going to climb Thrall Mountain(5,091 ft.)!
Back on New Year’s Day, SPHP had parked the G6 at the visitor center at the S end of the Pactola Reservoir dam. From there, Lupe and SPHP had gone on a round about route on the way to Thrall Mountain. Due to navigation errors made by SPHP, Lupe’s route had been so round about that she hadn’t even seen Thrall Mountain all day, much less climbed it, even though it was only a little over 2 miles away from Pactola Reservoir.
On the way back to the G6, though, Lupe and SPHP had scouted out a much more direct route to Thrall Mountain from Pactola. Now Lupe was going to take that direct route back to a point only a mile or so from the mountain. From there, Lupe would find and climb Thrall Mountain before doing anything else. If there was additional time left for roaming around exploring, she could do it after claiming her peakbagging success.
Across Hwy 385 from the viewpoint at the N end of the dam, is a road that winds down below the dam to the Rapid Creek trailhead of Centennial Trail No. 89. If it hadn’t been so icy and snow-packed, SPHP would have just driven down to the TH. Instead, Lupe and SPHP went down the road on paw and foot. Just before reaching the TH, the road crossed Rapid Creek.
From the Rapid Creek trailhead, Lupe and SPHP followed Centennial Trail No. 89 heading ESE through the big flat meadow below the dam. Rapid Creek meanders through the meadow, and the trail had several nice footbridges crossing it. Lupe and SPHP paused on each bridge to see if there were any trout down in the creek, but saw none.
It didn’t take long to reach the Tamarack Gulch trailhead at the SE end of the meadow. Lupe and SPHP continued SE. Centennial Trail No. 89 climbed a little hill, and reached USFS Road No. 772.1B, a road Lupe had been on back on New Year’s Day. For a short distance, Centennial Trail No. 89 followed this road, but soon left it to continue S up a side road. Lupe left Centennial Trail No. 89 staying on No. 772.1B, which turned E.
Lupe and SPHP were now retracing the route Lupe had scouted out before on New Year’s Day. The snowy road made a long gradual climb up a valley. When it reached a saddle, there was a junction with another road coming in from the N. Lupe stayed on USFS Road No. 772.1B. She followed it down into a snowy little valley where SPHP had taken her picture on Expedition No. 113, and on up to another higher saddle at the upper end of Powerhouse Gulch.
At the saddle was an intersection with another road. SPHP hadn’t seen any marker the last time Lupe was here, but this time saw one identifying the side road as USFS Road No. 772.1C. In a sunny spot where there was no snow, Lupe and SPHP took a brief break. SPHP wanted to check the maps.
No. 772.1C was the right road to take. It would lead Lupe out of the upper end of Powerhouse Gulch over a saddle, and down into a smaller valley SW of Thrall Mountain. Lupe and SPHP set out on No. 772.1C. It climbed NW, turned N and soon reached the saddle. From the saddle, Lupe finally got to see Thrall Mountain, now less than a mile away to the NE.
No. 772.1C started down the N side of the saddle, passed under a power line, made a loop to the N, and then returned S to follow the power line E. As the road drew near Thrall Mountain, it started gaining elevation again. Lupe passed an unmarked minor road that headed off to the NW, but didn’t take it. Near the road’s highest point along the power line, Lupe left No. 772.1C to start climbing toward Thrall Mountain from the SSW.
The climb grew progressively steeper. Snowy boulder fields forced Lupe around to the SSE side of the mountain. Lupe and SPHP had to climb up through a short section of boulders, but made it without mishap. Lupe was now almost at the top of Thrall Mountain. Just short of the summit, Lupe reached the E viewpoint, one of three good viewpoints on or near the summit of Thrall Mountain.
From the E viewpoint, Lupe and SPHP could see Turkey Ridge and Prehistoric Ridge to the NE. To the E, Rapid City could be seen on the edge of the Black Hills. Beyond the town, the yellow plains of western South Dakota stretched to the far horizon. Lupe and SPHP also saw human tracks in the snow! By not reaching Thrall Mountain on New Year’s Day, someone else had beaten Lupe to becoming the first one to climb Thrall Mountain in 2015.
The summit was just 10’s of feet away. Lupe and SPHP strolled over to the summit to claim her Thrall Mountain peakbagging success! Whoever beat Lupe to the summit in 2015 was no longer around. Years ago, there had only been a very small cairn on top of Thrall Mountain. Now the cairn is easily 4 feet high. It is comprised of many small rocks. SPHP wanted Lupe to pose for a couple of photos at the cairn.
Normally Lupe is very cooperative, but coming up the mountain, Lupe had heard gunfire to the S. Gunshots continued to be heard occasionally from that direction. Lupe hates even the faint sound of gunfire. She stuck to SPHP like glue. Finally, the worried Carolina Dog relaxed enough for a couple of quick photos.
Lupe and SPHP left the summit to return to the Prehistoric Ridge viewpoint. There were still gunshots going on to the S. Lupe put her paw down. She refused to leave SPHP’s side for another photo. It was simply too dangerous!
Lupe and SPHP returned to the summit. Lupe was very nervous due to the gunfire. SPHP found a dry spot to sit down. Lupe snuggled right up, looking for reassurance. Together Lupe and SPHP stayed there for a while looking out at the view of Harney Peak(7,242 ft.) to the S. SPHP chatted with Lupe and stroked her, while she gave SPHP a good licking. SPHP ate an apple.
The best views to the S from Thrall Mountain are obtained just S of the summit. SPHP took one photo looking SW at Peak 5800. On a couple of prior occasions, (Expedition No. 77 on 2-16-13, and Expedition No. 80 on 3-23-14) Lupe and SPHP had gotten close enough to Peak 5800 to think about climbing it, but hadn’t actually done so. Seeing Peak 5800 from Thrall Mountain, SPHP resolved that Lupe would climb it someday. (Note: Lupe did eventually climb Peak 5800 on Expedition No. 150 on New Year’s Day 2016!)
One of the best views from Thrall Mountain is from a rocky ledge located on a slightly lower ridge a short distance NW of the summit. From the rocky ledge is a view to the NW toward nearby Johnson Siding, and the hills beyond all the way to Custer Peak(6,804 ft.). Lupe was still a bit nervous, but she got up on the rocky ledge despite it all.
By now, Lupe and SPHP had visited all three of the best viewpoints on Thrall Mountain. Lupe finally had her 2015 Thrall Mountain peakbagging success! It was time to move on.
Lupe and SPHP went back down the mountain pretty much the same way they had come up. While still near the top of the mountain, Lupe stepped on a cactus. There was a brief intermission while SPHP pulled a few small cactus spines out of her paw. Fortunately, she seemed none the worse for the wear.
Lupe returned to USFS Road No. 722.1B at the upper end of Powerhouse Gulch via No. 722.1C. Lupe and SPHP could have just returned to the G6, but there were still at least a couple of extra hours of daylight left for exploring around, if Lupe wanted to. She did! Lupe and SPHP went SE a little way into Powerhouse Gulch to a side road that SPHP had by now figured out was USFS Road No. 722.1. This was the road Lupe and SPHP should have taken on New Year’s Day to get from Gold Standard Gulch to Powerhouse Gulch.
Lupe and SPHP explored No. 722.1 heading SW. Lupe passed by a junction with No. 722.1E, she reached a high ridge where she could look back at Thrall Mountain, she went on to Gold Standard Gulch and Centennial Trail No. 89 again. Just roaming around exploring the back roads without any goal in mind was rather fun. Of course, the sun eventually sank toward the SW horizon. Time to start heading back to the G6.
The sun was down, but it was still somewhat light out when Lupe reached the G6 at 4:48 PM (27°F). Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 114 to Thrall Mountain was over, but Lupe’s fun wasn’t! Back at home, SPHP gave Lupe a big ham bone left over from a Christmas ham Guille had bought. There was still plenty of good ham, fat and gristle attached to it. Lupe’s eyes grew big as she gingerly accepted this treasure.
For several hours, Lupe gnawed energetically away on the precious ham bone. She stripped it of every shred of ham, fat and gristle. Her gnawing fangs reduced most of the ham bone itself to rubble. She ate almost the entire bone. During this time of Carolina Dog bliss, Lupe growled if SPHP got too close. She still loved SPHP, but some things are just sacred, ya know!?
Day 5 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.
Yellowstone National Park was close to where Lupe was staying on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. After a wonderful long day spent out in the Beartooth Mountains going to Beauty and Becker Lakes the day before, Lupe was going to get to tour Yellowstone, the first National Park in the whole world!
Lupe entered Yellowstone National Park at the NE entrance W of Cooke City, MT. The highway followed Soda Butte Creek downstream to its confluence with the Lamar River. As frequently happens in Yellowstone, suddenly there were vehicles stopped ahead on the highway. The cause was soon clear. A herd of buffalo was using the highway, too!
Lupe was astonished to see the herd of huge buffalo coming right for the Element. This alarming situation demanded immediate action! Lupe’s hackles rose up from her head to her tail. She sprang to the defense of the Honda Element, as it became completely engulfed by the buffalo herd. She leaped wildly from one window to the next barking like a Dingo possessed.
Lupe loves to bark at cows. She may have thought the buffalo were cows. If so, these cows weren’t acting right. None of them ran away. In fact, none of them seemed to pay the least bit of attention to the frenzied Carolina Dog just a few feet away as they ambled by the Element.Lupe was undeterred. She gave it everything she had. She bounded back and forth. She scrunched herself up on the dashboard in front of the steering wheel, barking till she foamed at the mouth. The only real result was that Lanis got battered by a wildly swinging Dingo tail.The buffalo herd passed on by. The proud American Dingo could finally rest. Her barker was totally dry. She needed a drink! Who knew Yellowstone would be so exciting? The place was just swarming with gigantic, dangerous wild beasts!
Lanis turned S at the Tower-Roosevelt junction. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP soon stopped at Tower Falls. Regulations in Yellowstone don’t allow dogs on any trails, or in the back country. Unfortunately, that meant that Lupe wasn’t going to get to see all the glories of Yellowstone up close. The entire time Lupe was in Yellowstone, Lanis and SPHP were going to have to take turns staying with Lupe while the other checked out Yellowstone’s scenic wonders.
SPHP stayed with Lupe, while Lanis checked out Tower Falls.
Tower Falls was nothing to sneeze at, but it wasn’t anything to compare to what was soon coming up a short drive to the S – Lower Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
An American Dingo wasn’t the only dangerous canine in Yellowstone National Park on this day. Right beside the highway, not far from Lower Yellowstone Falls, a black wolf was non-chalantly sniffing around. At least, it looked like a black wolf to Lupe, Lanis and SPHP. If it was really someone’s lost Fifi, it sure was doing a convincing impression of a black wolf.
From Yellowstone Falls, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed S toward Yellowstone Lake. SPHP stayed with Lupe at several stops along the way, so Lanis could get a look at some geothermal features. Lupe got to see the ones that were close to the highway and visible from parking areas.There were warnings signs for those who thought ideas like whitewater rafting above Yellowstone Falls would be a great experience. Despite the graphic depictions, a buffalo wasn’t too worried about it.Lupe got to visit Yellowstone Lake, a huge natural lake at 7,733 feet elevation. Yellowstone Lake, which has a very interesting shape and would be great fun to explore, is the largest body of water above 7,000 feet in North America. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP waded out to some rocks near the shore for a good look.
No trip to Yellowstone is complete without stopping by Old Faithful geyser. Lupe got to see it, too, from a distance.
From Old Faithful, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed N toward some other geyser basins along the Firehole River. Poor Lupe was kind of left out, since many of the geysers weren’t close enough to the parking lots or the highway where she could see them. A few were, though. Lupe did get to sniff around near the Element some, and she seemed happy enough with the situation. Lanis and SPHP took turns staying with her.
Excelsior Geyser in the Midway Geyser Basin was a highlight of the geyser basin tour. The Excelsior Geyser was once the largest geyser in the world, but its last known major eruptions occurred in the 1880’s. Back then it spouted boiling water 300 feet into the air. Now it is a large blue pool of water which boils up vigorously at frequent intervals, and then dies down again without really erupting.
Near the Excelsior Geyser in the Midway Geyser Basin was another very impressive hot spring. Grand Prismatic Spring is best viewed from above, from which vantage point it appears as a large steamy blue sun rimmed with greens and yellows. Orange flames radiate outward wherever water overflows the pool’s edges.
The different colors are caused by different types of algae and organisms that thrive in different temperature bands. It’s hard to get a good impression of the whole from the ground, since Grand Prismatic Spring is so large.
The sun was getting low by the time Lanis and SPHP were done taking tours of the Midway Geyser Basin. There were way more basins, trails and rare thermal features, even in just this little section of Yellowstone National Park, than could possibly be visited in a single day.
The last area Lupe, Lanis and SPHP visited before sunset was the Lower Geyser Basin. Again, Lanis and SPHP took turns staying with Lupe while the other toured the walkways to see fantastic sights found few other places on earth.
The Lower Geyser Basin featured some pretty active small geysers that erupted frequently. The steaming, erupting, sulfuric waters against the setting sun made for a scene that might easily have been from another world.
Back at the parking lot, while Lupe waited, the sun sank behind dead trees cooked by a change in the flow of waters heated by the giant Yellowstone caldera. The Yellowstone caldera is the site of a supervolcano which has erupted at intervals of roughly 650,000 years three times in the last 2 million years. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, so on a geological time scale, the next Yellowstone supervolcano eruption is coming due soon.
So someday, Yellowstone will be even more exciting that it is now. Too exciting even for bold-spirited Carolina Dogs.
By the time Lupe and SPHP arrived at grandma’s house, Joe and Dusty were ready and waiting. Joe had already entered an alert on Summits on the Air! Joe, Dusty, Lupe and SPHP lost no time leaving for Boulder Hill(5,331 ft.).
At 8:19 AM (71°F), Joe parked the G6 at the high point of the saddle on USFS Road No. 358 near the Boulder Hill access road. A cool N breeze could be heard in the pines. Lupe and Dusty were soon racing through the shady forest. Joe and SPHP took the access road.
Rain had finally arrived the day before – the real deal with thunder, lightning, small hail and at least an inch of moisture. Lupe found big tan mud puddles on the access road. She plunked herself down in several of them. She emerged with cool, tan mineral water streaming from her fur.
The access road was only 0.375 mile long. It ended at the base of the big rock outcropping at the top of Boulder Hill(5,331 ft.). A spur of Flume Trail No. 50 wound up among the rocks to a small, shallow saddle between the N and S high points at the summit of Boulder Hill. Good! No one was around. Joe would have his choice of sites to set up his ham radio equipment.
Two days earlier, Joe had had such a good time with his first Summits on the Air (SOTA) experience “activating” Custer Peak(6,804 ft.), that he wanted to try activating another peak in the Black Hills before he and Dusty had to head home to Arvada, Colorado. SOTA is “an award scheme for radio amateurs that encourages portable operation in mountainous areas”. Naturally, Lupe, Dusty, and SPHP had all wanted to come along again, too!
Joe decided to set up the radio equipment at the N end of the N high point. He taped a 12 foot fishing pole supporting an antenna wire as high up in a pine tree as he could. SPHP then helped Joe set up 4 lateral wires near the base of the antenna. Lupe and Dusty supervised, while guarding against intruders.
Pretty soon, the radio was ready. This time, Joe had a much better idea of what to expect once the radio was on. Before “activating” Boulder Hill, Joe gave SPHP the log book and a pen. SPHP received a 5 minute crash course on how to log the contact call signs, and other data Joe would call out while operating the radio.
Set up had gone smoothly. AA0Q was ready to go on the air 5 minutes before the alert time Joe had posted on the SOTA website. As soon as Joe started transmitting, the same thing happened as at Custer Peak two days earlier. Within seconds of turning the radio on, a contact “spotted” AA0Q on Boulder Hill on the SOTA website. Moments later, Joe told SPHP that it was another “pileup”. Joe said it sounded like 30 hams were trying to contact him at once.
It was impossible to respond to them all, but Joe was better prepared than last time. SPHP logged the contacts, while AA0Q “worked” them using Morse Code. Joe recognized some of the contacts as repeats from his SOTA activation of Custer Peak. Others were new. The most distant contact was in Great Britain, which Joe said was very good for transmitting only 4 watts.
Lupe and Dusty helped, too. At one point, three hikers arrived up on Boulder Hill while AA0Q was still transmitting. Both Lupe and Dusty barked a warning. SPHP stopped logging long enough to point out the lateral antenna wires, so they wouldn’t trip on them. SPHP also took a couple of group photos for the hikers using their camera.
Once again, Joe was rather amazed at the terrific response. His Summits on the Air activation of Boulder Hill was a big success. In roughly an hour, AA0Q worked 33 contacts by Morse Code, and one by voice. By activating Boulder Hill, AA0Q had earned 6 more points toward the SOTA “Mountain Goat” award. Including the 8 points earned on Custer Peak, he was now up to 14 points. SOTA was fun and added a whole new dimension to AA0Q’s amateur radio hobby!
When Joe was done transmitting, it was time to take down the antenna and pack up all the radio gear. When that was complete, Joe, Dusty, Lupe & SPHP went to explore a slightly lower high point a short distance to the N.
Of course, the peakbagger in Lupe wasn’t about to leave Boulder Hill without a visit to the S summit area, too!
By noon, Joe, Dusty, Lupe and SPHP were back at grandma’s house. Joe logged in all the QSO’s (contacts) he had made on the Summits on the Air website. All the contacts earned points toward the SOTA “Shack Sloth” award.
After lunch, Joe & SPHP went with other family members off into the hills again. SPHP wound up at Rushmore Cave, and Joe wound up at an antique shop in Keystone.
Lupe, Dusty and Maya (another dog in the family) were left behind with grandma. SPHP had given all three dogs water and a Beggin’ Strip before leaving. Grandma later reported that all the dogs spent the entire afternoon snoozing on the soft carpet in front of the fan. Being a “Radio-Active” Carolina Dog can be a tough life, but someone’s got to do it!
Light out. Looked like for a while already. Ugh! Loopster, you awake? Of course, she was, but even Lupe wasn’t looking too lively yet, still content to snuggle down on her sleeping bag. Lupe gazed sleepily back at SPHP. Is it time?
Uncharacteristically, Lupe had only wanted to go outside her “tiny house” once during the night to prowl around. The scene, the mood, had been magical. A full moon flooded Paint Rock Creek valley with ghostly light. Close by, but out of sight below the grassy ridge on which Lupe’s tiny house was perched, came the soothing sound of Paint Rock Creek gushing over a 15 foot high waterfall. Otherwise, silence prevailed beneath the night sky. Nothing stirred. Lupe and SPHP were utterly alone.
Now it was light out. Yes, it’s time, Loop. I wish it wasn’t – I’m not feeling it. Sheesh, why do I always do this? Bomber Mountain after Cloud Peak, indeed – what a joke! I must be delusional. Now I’ll be lucky to drag myself up Cloud today. I hope you’re more ready for this than I am. SPHP started preparations for the day’s climb. Lupe watched, but didn’t move. She made no comment.
Yesterday, Lupe and SPHP had made it from the trailhead at West Tensleep Lake to the junction of the Misty Moon Trail (No. 63) and the Solitude Trail (No. 38) SW of Misty Moon Lake in good time. The sun had still been high overhead. Lupe and SPHP could have made it to base camp on the ledge near Paint Rock Creek falls with many hours before sunset to relax and recuperate for the climb up Cloud Peak(13,167 ft.) today.
Hah! That would have been too easy. Instead, full of enthusiasm, SPHP had led Lupe E on the Solitude Trail off on a side excursion to see the Fortress Lakes and Gunboat Lake. Lupe even left the trail to climb a minor high point, Peak 10,860. From there, SPHP had seen what looked like a good route up Bomber Mountain(12,840 ft.) from the Florence Pass area. Wouldn’t it be fun for Lupe to climb Bomber Mountain, too, the day after climbing Cloud Peak?
The side excursion was fun and beautiful, but also chewed up lots of time. More importantly, it used up a lot of energy. As a result, Lupe and SPHP had dragged into base camp on the low ridge NW of Paint Rock Creek falls only an hour and a half before sunset. By then, the Bomber Mountain daydream was shattered. SPHP was played out. Even Lupe seemed tired. As soon as Lupe’s tiny house was pitched, Lupe and SPHP had crawled inside and crashed.
OK, Loop, let’s go! Yeah, yesterday’s side excursion may have been a mistake, but so what? You’re gonna make it to the top, sweet puppy! We still have lots of advantages. We are starting from the best and closest possible base camp, the weather is ideal, and we saw yesterday that there’s almost no snow left up there to stop us.
Not gonna set any speed records, unless it’s for the slowest ascent ever, but who cares? No one. It’s just us. We have all day. We can rest as often and long as we want to. There’s a reason for this SPHP tag, you know. Even so, this is still going to be a glorious day. Promise!
Lupe was ready! She grabbed a big stick and chomped it. She snarled and barked. She leaped around encouraging SPHP to please, finally, get on with it. And then she was off, tearing NE along the trail up Paint Rock Creek valley above the falls.
The unmaintained trail was good, at first. It paralleled Paint Rock Creek from a short distance to the NW. Lupe and SPHP went down to the creek, so Lupe could get a drink. Bluebells were growing in profusion along the banks.
Lupe and SPHP returned to the trail. Almost immediately, it veered N, leaving the creek behind. Gradually, the trail became more intermittent and harder to follow. Sometimes there were cairns to show the way. There was no reason to worry. It was just about impossible to get lost. To the N was a giant ridge of solid stone sweeping up to the NE toward Cloud Peak’s summit.
Lupe and SPHP came to several big rock formations that had to be traversed. Between the formations was much more level grassy ground. SPHP grew careless about following the trail, losing it several times. Lupe kept coming across it again. Once, at one of the formations, Lupe came to a rock wall that was too high for her to scramble up. SPHP lifted her up, but that was the only time she needed help.
Sometimes Lupe had to lose a little elevation leaving the rock formations to reach the next grassy section, but the elevation loss was never significant. The last grassy section was the largest of all. Several ponds were scattered around. Directly ahead, beyond the grass, was a headwall. Above it was a higher valley leading toward Cloud Peak.
After crossing the last big grassy area, Lupe was delighted to discover a big patch of snow in a cleft in the headwall. She frolicked, slid, and rolled on it. SPHP was happy for her. Down on the sagebrush prairies surrounding the Bighorns it was supposed to be 100°F, but here was Lupe having a blast in the snow!
Above the headwall, the long upper valley stretched ahead. There was a fair amount of grass in the center of the valley. A tributary of Paint Rock Creek cascaded down from above.
SPHP hadn’t really bothered to look for the route the intermittent trail took up over the headwall, but realized Lupe was probably SE of it. The center of the valley near the creek looked like the easiest way up. Unfortunately, instead of immediately working over to the middle, SPHP chose what looked like the easiest route from where Lupe had arrived on the headwall, which stayed SE of the valley center.
The route was full of boulders, but now and then there were short stretches of grass or dirt. They all led higher up on the SE side of the valley. Gradually, Lupe was getting farther away from the middle of the valley, instead of closer to it. Lupe didn’t seem to mind all the rock-hopping too much, but for SPHP it was time consuming and exhausting. Frequent stops were necessary to let heart and lungs catch up.
Eventually, Lupe was a long way up on the SE side of the upper valley. By now, even short stretches of grass or dirt were non-existent. Ahead was a seemingly endless boulder field. Somewhere up there, SPHP knew Lupe would arrive at the edge of massive cliffs to the SE.
From below, the boulders above repeatedly gave the impression that Lupe was nearing the top of the ridge. As Lupe scrambled ever higher, SPHP urged her to be careful. However, each time Lupe reached the apparent ridgeline, all that was revealed beyond were more boulders and an even higher ridge.
Slowly, Lupe and SPHP pressed onward and upward. There was no other reasonable choice. The floor of the upper valley was now much too far below to consider going back down looking for a better route. Sorry, Lupe, looks like I’ve really screwed this up again. We’re still going to make it, though. This can’t go on forever. On the way back down, we will find a better way.
By now, even Lupe was getting sick of all the rock hopping. Each time SPHP stopped for a breather, she curled up at SPHP’s feet as best as she could. SPHP tried to stop at tiny patches of grass, so she could be somewhat comfortable, but often there wasn’t anything resembling “comfortable” around.
Despite the horrible route SPHP had selected, there were still cairns scattered around here and there. They were utterly meaningless. SPHP did derive a little comfort from them. Well, Loop, looks like we aren’t the only suckers to ever come this way!
Over time, SPHP could see Lupe was making progress. She was gradually gaining on Elk Mountain (11,321 ft.), far off to the SW. After a while, she was even with it. Eventually, Elk Mountain was clearly below Lupe’s elevation.
At last, Lupe reached the edge of the cliffs! Across a chasm to the ESE was an impressive view of Bomber Mountain(12,840 ft.). To the NNE was Lupe’s first relatively close up view of “The Bridge”. It was farther away than SPHP had hoped. The entire intervening distance was still nothing but more boulders. Beyond “The Bridge”, boulder fields rose 1,000 feet above Lupe’s current position.
What SPHP refers to as “The Bridge” is a narrow band of rock connecting much wider portions of the long SW ridge leading up to the summit of Cloud Peak. If “The Bridge” didn’t exist, Cloud Peak would be a technical climb, the summit attainable only by those with genuine mountaineering skills and equipment. Casual day hikers and backpackers like Lupe and SPHP would have no way to ever reach the summit.
Lupe and SPHP had no choice, but to continue on to “The Bridge”. Lupe went N over the boulders along the edge of the chasm to the E. As she got closer to the narrowest part of “The Bridge”, Lupe turned NE to cross it. There were huge drop offs on both sides, with spectacular views, but “The Bridge” is plenty wide enough so that crossing it under favorable conditions isn’t a terrifying experience.
While crossing “The Bridge”, Lupe gained little net elevation, if any. The crossing was still slow, since “The Bridge” is all boulder field, just like the rest of the terrain. There appeared to be a somewhat easier route toward the S side, but naturally, SPHP had led Lupe along the N edge to see the views in that direction. Was it possible to go any slower? It was hard to see how.
Beyond “The Bridge”, Lupe resumed her climb. Only another 600 or 700 feet of elevation gain to the top! Only? SPHP was fading. Lupe wasn’t, though! There were many places where SPHP thought the Carolina Dog might need help over huge boulders. Each time SPHP offered to lend her a hand, though, all on her own she appeared a moment or two later grinning down at SPHP from above. Show off!
This high on the mountain, Lupe started coming to more snow. The snow actually helped. SPHP was able to trudge right on up it, where the snow wasn’t too steep. Although it was warm out and the snow was melting at a good clip, it didn’t give way. Crossing the snow was much faster than trying to negotiate the boulders.
Finally, less than 500 feet below the summit during one of SPHP’s innumerable rest breaks, SPHP saw something that had been expected for hours. Below, and not terribly far away, someone was coming! Two people and a white dog! They were moving fast. Soon they would overtake Lupe and SPHP. Until now, Lupe and SPHP had been totally alone on the mountain.
Before long, Lupe and SPHP met Garrett, Ariel, and their dog Apollo! They were from Casper, WY. After a pleasant few minutes chatting, Lupe and SPHP were left behind. Garrett, Ariel and Apollo blazed ahead, eventually disappearing high above. Lupe and SPHP plugged along slowly. At long last, from the SW, Lupe reached the summit area.
The summit area was quite large – a few hundred feet across or more. The whole area was still all boulder fields, but they sloped much less dramatically. There was a high point to the W, which had been visible at times on the way up. The true summit was a large boulder with a cairn on it off toward the E edge of the mountain. Huge precipices were to the E and S near the true summit, and W of the W high point.
Garrett, Ariel and Apollo were still at the true summit when Lupe and SPHP finally arrived. Lupe was more than a little ill-mannered toward poor unoffending Apollo. Apparently, SPHP had been moving so slowly, Lupe had spent enough time on Cloud Peak on the way up to start thinking of the mountain as her own territory. Lupe repeatedly growled warnings at Apollo. This mountain isn’t big enough for the two of us!
Come on now, Lupe, of course it is – behave!
This was it! Success! Despite the perfect weather, no one else was coming to climb Cloud Peak today. Garrett and Ariel said it was already 3:15 PM. (Good grief, had it really taken SPHP 8.25 hours to struggle up this mountain? A lousy 3,000 feet of elevation gain from base camp? Apparently so. Record crappy ascent time secured! No matter, it was still a successful ascent.) Time for everyone to celebrate with a few photos!
Garrett and Ariel stayed up at the summit talking with SPHP. They were trail runners, and spent quite a bit of time in the mountains when they could. They had only 2 days off work, and had come up to the Bighorns just to tag Cloud Peak. Amazingly, they had hopes of being down off the mountain and back to Pizza Hut in Buffalo, WY before it closed at 10 PM!
It seemed impossible! SPHP would be thrilled with stumbling back into Lupe’s base camp before it was pitch black. SPHP talked with Garrett and Ariel so long, they probably never stood a chance of enjoying that pizza. It was after 4 PM by the time Garrett, Ariel and Apollo took their leave, and disappeared off to the SW.
Alone again, Loop! What a glorious place! We did make it, didn’t we? Lupe panted happily at SPHP. Sure did! You knew we would! You’re with an American Dingo. It was in the bag all along. SPHP sat petting Lupe on the summit boulder for a while. Yeah, but you gotta remember, I’m no American Dingo. Lupe sighed and rolled over, paws in the air. Good! You can scratch my belly, then. SPHP complied, while surveying the world from 13,167 ft.
It must have been approaching 5 PM, by the time Lupe and SPHP started back down. Going down was easier, but still ridiculously slow. SPHP did improve on route selection, which in some places made virtually no difference, but in others helped tremendously.
The big improvements came below “The Bridge”. This time, Lupe stayed much farther to the N, heading W from “The Bridge”. This eventually brought Lupe down to a big, nearly flat area that swept off to the S and then down around to the SW. There were so few boulders here, that Lupe was free to run around exploring as she pleased. It was like a Cloud Peak super highway compared to the way Lupe and SPHP had struggled up earlier!
Better route selection hardly mattered at first. It took a long time just getting down to “The Bridge”. The scenery was spectacular, though!
By the time Lupe reached the Cloud Peak super highway, the sun was already very low, and the light was beginning to fade. It was still a very long way back to Lupe’s base camp. Fortunately, Lupe and SPHP could now make rapid progress for a while.
The big flat area gradually steepened, and eventually led down into the upper end of the valley above the headwall where the tributary of Paint Rock Creek was flowing. There were lots more boulders again here, but Lupe was able to avoid most of them. Successive trails marked by cairns went down long stretches of narrow, boulder-free paths of dirt or grass.
As Lupe got close to the stream, she found a lot more grass, plus big areas of relatively smooth exposed bedrock. Staying on the SE side of the stream, but close to it, was a lot better than Lupe’s tortuous climb among the boulders higher up on the SE side of the valley in the morning.
As fast as Lupe’s progress was, by the time Lupe and SPHP managed to get down the headwall to the biggest grassy area with scattered ponds, the sun was long gone. Twilight was fading fast. Beyond the grass, SPHP had a hard time finding a decent route over the first of the rock formations that had to be traversed. Once on the other side, nothing looked familiar, not that it was possible to see much.
SPHP brought out the flashlight and a headlamp. Ahead to the SW, a wide valley of exposed bedrock sloped down into a deep dark hole. Off to the SE was the outline of a dark ridge, but it wasn’t nearly high enough to be the ridge S of Paint Rock Creek. Confusion set in. SPHP couldn’t see much, but what was in view seemed wrong.
Did the map show the dark ridge to the SE? SPHP didn’t remember it from earlier in the day. A look at the topo map didn’t seem to show it either. Was it possible to miss going right by Lupe’s base camp by simply continuing down the canyon? Both the map and what SPHP could remember seemed to indicate that was impossible, yet the yawning black hole ahead looked totally unfamiliar.
Lupe, let’s go back up a way, maybe we are supposed to be on the other side of this dark ridge to the SE? Lupe was fine with that. For a few minutes, Lupe and SPHP headed back up to the NE. Reason soon set in again. SPHP stopped. Let’s have another look at the topo map.
Little bulges to the SW in the topographic lines probably indicated the presence of the dark SE ridge. SPHP probably hadn’t paid any attention to the ridge in the morning, because it wasn’t really as big as it looked in the dark.
Loop, we are turning around again to go back down into the dark hole. If we persist in trying to reach the other side this SE ridge, we may find ourselves in a real jumble down along Paint Rock Creek way before it reaches the trail. Keep an eye out for the trail, and sniff around for it, too. We need to find it!
Cautiously, SPHP headed back down toward the dark abyss. Lupe sniffed around. She found the trail! It was faint, but here was a little cairn. This had to be it. Across the grassy areas and over the rock formations, Lupe helped SPHP stay on the trail. It had been intermittent and kind of hard to follow in the day. In the dark, it was really tricky.
Whenever the trail disappeared, SPHP watched Lupe, in a minute or two she was usually on it again. Several times SPHP disagreed with Lupe on which way to go. Lupe was soon proven right almost every time.
The rock formations seemed much steeper and rougher in the darkness than during the day. The way back seemed much longer than expected, too. Darkness does that. Time passes much more slowly than one thinks. SPHP went on and on in the darkness, but with growing confidence. The little cairns were helpful. Lupe was helpful. The trail gradually improved.
Finally, Paint Rock Creek could be heard not too far away. The trail still didn’t go toward it for what seemed like a long time. Eventually it did, though, and not long afterward, Lupe arrived back at her tiny house. Ta da! That was quite a day, Lupe! Thanks so much for your help! We are going to remember Cloud Peak for a long time. Hungry?
Lupe was hungry. Famished, actually. She had hardly eaten anything all day. She inhaled her Taste of the Wild. Then she was ready to curl up on her sleeping bag. SPHP pulled part of it over her. Keep the puppy warm! Lupe was asleep in no time. SPHP was too weary to eat. Out like a light.
Suddenly, it was morning again. Bright and beautiful, but not a cloud in the sky. It was going to be a scorcher, even way up here. Now it was SPHP’s turn to eat. Lupe hardly stirred, happy curled up on her sleeping bag. SPHP wrapped it around her a little better again. Hope you weren’t too cold in the night Loop, I never regained consciousness to check on you.
Well, Loopster, Cloud Peak was your toughest peakbagging success yet, but it’s time to go home today. We are low on water, and even if we had gallons of it, I am totally out of energy to climb Bomber Mountain. That was pure fantasy for this trip. Not going to happen. It wasn’t in the original plan, anyway. Would you like to explore the ridge to the W for a little way, though, before we leave?
Lupe was fine with sniffing around to the W. She climbed some low hills. She saw a beautiful unnamed lake. She drank from a tiny stream. SPHP admired Paint Rock Creek valley, and all the wonderful sights in and around it.
Lupe and SPHP returned to base camp. It was time to go. SPHP took down Lupe’s tiny house. Away went Lupe and SPHP, S across Paint Rock Creek valley, up the other side to the Solitude Trail, and over the pass. Lupe went by Misty Moon Lake, reached the Misty Moon Trail, and proceeded S past Lake Marion and Lake Helen.
At 4:14 PM (81°F), Lupe’s 3 day/2 night adventure to Cloud Peak was over. She was back at the trailhead at West Tensleep Lake ready to bark at cows and horses from the comfort of the G6 on her air-conditioned ride home to the Black Hills.
A couple days later, Lupe had an email from her mountaineer friend, Jobe Wymore, congratulating Lupe on her ascent of Cloud Peak. By sheer coincidence, Sam Grant, a mountaineer buddy of Jobe’s had climbed Cloud Peak on 7-21-16, the day after Lupe did! Had Lupe run into Sam by any chance? Sam would have made the entire trip as a day hike in one day!
SPHP saw on Peakbagger.com that Sam had taken the Misty Moon Trail from West Tensleep Lake, too. Lupe and SPHP almost certainly passed by Sam somewhere along the trail on the way back to the G6. Jobe was soon able to confirm that Sam thought he might have actually talked to SPHP for a few minutes! Fun stuff! Too bad Lupe and SPHP hadn’t realized who Sam was. Lupe could have gotten her picture taken with him, and added another genuine mountaineer to her collection of friends.
Just think, Lupe! Sam Grant can do in one day what took me 3 days and 2 nights! Maybe Garrett, Ariel and Apollo did get to Pizza Hut in Buffalo in time, after all? I’m clearly holding you back. Maybe you better consider an upgrade from SPHP? You could get a lot more accomplished!
Aren’t we going on my wonderful, most stupendous ever Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation in less than a week?
Well then, I’m stuck with you, SPHP, at least for the time being.
Good thing, Lupe! I’d sure miss you, if you ever left. Now you are going to help me pack all this stuff, right?
Start without me SPHP, I’m kind of busy resting up for all the adventures I have to star in ahead!
Editor’s Note: Looking for Part 1 of Lupe’s adventure to Cloud Peak? It sort of hasn’t been published yet. Mostly because it hasn’t been written yet. Of course, it will be. Someday. Maybe even soon. Or maybe not until Lupe is back from her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation. Lupe has her priorities, you know?
Day 4 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast
The clouds were gone and the rain had stopped when Lupe woke SPHP up in the Honda Element. Despite having slept sitting up, SPHP felt pretty good. Lupe, of course, felt great. She’d slept very comfortably on a pile of pillows and blankets in the back of the Element. Lanis was still asleep in the driver’s seat getting his beauty rest.
Lupe and SPHP got out to greet the day, and take a look at the fabulous view of Pilot(11,699 ft.) and Index(11,240 ft.) Peaks from the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. Despite the cloudless sky, there was a haze in the air that kept the view from being as crisp as it might have been. Only days later did SPHP realize that the persistent haze was due to huge wildfires burning in Idaho.
While Lanis continued getting 40 winks, Lupe and SPHP went across to the S side of the Beartooth Hwy and took a stroll up a very grassy little valley. Lupe was happy barking at squirrels in the forest along the edges of the valley.
Returning to the Element, Lupe and SPHP woke Lanis up. Time to get a move on! New adventures and explorations awaited! Lanis drove E on the Beartooth Highway. E of the junction with the St. Joseph Scenic Byway, the Beartooth Hwy wound up to an overlook with a view toward the huge canyon to the S.
It turned out that in the few minutes Lanis and SPHP were admiring the view, Lupe had found another way to entertain herself. She was very industriously, though unsuccessfully thus far, trying to dig marmots out of their holes in the ground. It was hard work, but Lupe was pursuing it with great vigor and enthusiasm. SPHP had to hustle her into the Element before there was trouble.
A little over a mile E of the Top of the World Store was a turn to the N to the Island Lake campground. Breakfast was enjoyed at a picnic ground overlooking Island Lake. At over 9,500 feet elevation, Island Lake was already in alpine territory. It was going to be a great starting point for Lupe’s first exploratory trek into the Beartooth Mountains.
After breakfast, Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP took the Beartooth High Lakes trail heading N along the W side of Island Lake. There were gorgeous wildflowers everywhere. The trail was in good shape and easy to follow. There wasn’t much elevation gain or loss. Around each bend was another delightful scene of alpine splendor. The trail went past Island Lake, Night Sky Lake, and then a series of smaller lakes.
After a while, the trail turned S and went down a hill to Beauty Lake. The intention hadn’t been to come here. Somewhere just upstream, SPHP had lost the Beartooth High Lakes trail and wound up on the Beauty Lake trail. It really didn’t matter. Lupe was on a first time exploration of the area. Everything was new and exciting no matter which way she went.
Beauty Lake was large, and looked deep compared to most of the other lakes Lupe had been by so far. It was in a very pretty setting. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP climbed up on a rocky knob along the NE side of the lake that provided a nice viewpoint. By now, it was time for a lunch break. Lupe played among the rocks and trees.
Soon it felt so warm out, SPHP considered taking a dip in the lake. The water felt pretty cold, though. Only Lupe was actually brave enough to enter the water. Even she just waded around close to the shore.
The only map of the area that Lanis and SPHP had was a very simple tourist map called “Wayfinding on the Beartooth All-American Road” that Lanis had picked up at a visitor center in Cooke City. It showed that the Beauty Lake trail would take Lupe back to the Beartooth Highway close to Beartooth Lake, which was miles from the Honda Element. SPHP didn’t want to go that way.
The map also showed that the Beartooth High Lakes trail continued NW across a stream near the N end of Beauty Lake. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went a short distance back N to where a very lovely stream flowed down to Beauty Lake. Searching for the Beartooth High Lakes trail on the other side of the stream revealed nothing. There were lots of beautiful wildflowers, but no continuation of the trail was in sight.
Not ready to give up, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP followed the stream for a little way up a small canyon. There were more rocks and wildflowers, but again, no trail was found. The going got progressively more difficult. Lanis had an exciting time chasing a water bottle he dropped in the creek back a considerable distance downstream before he was able to retrieve it.
Hmm, maybe the tourist map wasn’t terribly accurate? Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left the stream, and followed the Beauty Lake trail farther back up the hill looking for a junction with the Beartooth High Lakes trail. As it turned out, there was a trail junction up there!
Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed N on this new trail. None of them realized this wasn’t the Beartooth High Lakes trail either. Again it didn’t matter. The new trail was in good shape, and went into even more beautiful country!
The new trail went N, passing by a couple of ponds. Then it went down a short hill to go between two lakes (Mutt & Jeff) that were very close together. A broad stream flowed gently between the lakes, and required some rock hopping to get across. Beyond the stream, the trail went across a boulder field on the NW side of Jeff Lake, before continuing up a hillside to a relatively low gap between mountains.
In the gap was a mucky pond and some boulders to work around. The trail then went gradually downhill. Before too long, there was a view of the S end of a gorgeous lake. Unknown to Lupe, Lanis and SPHP at the time, this was Becker Lake.
Becker Lake is a fairly large, long lake extending N/S. The S end is the largest, and tucked in against big rock walls and hills. The N end is narrower, and more out in the open. The trail did not go down to Becker Lake, but stayed well above it to the E. For a while, the trail went completely out of sight of the lake, but the lake eventually came into view again farther N.
Lupe, Lanis and SPHP followed the trail N past Becker Lake. The trail was now passing along the E side of a creek coming down through a broad grassy valley. A woman coming down the trail said this part of the trail was in Montana!
Lupe, Lanis and SPHP continued on a little way, but it was close to 5:00 PM now. It was soon time to turn around and head back to the Honda Element at Island Lake, before it got too late. Lupe’s route back included everything except the side trip to Beauty Lake again. She had a wonderful time sniffing and exploring the entire way back.
Going to Beauty and Becker Lakes was one of the most glorious days Lupe had ever spent in the mountains anywhere. This day was a real highlight of her 2012 Dingo Vacation!
Lupe and SPHP returned on subsequent Dingo Vacations in 2013 & 2014 to explore farther into Montana N of Becker Lake. Click on the red links below to view Lupe’s other posts about this stunning part of the Beartooth Mountains: