Dry Falls & Crossing the Columbia River, WA (8-19-12)

Day 12 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Lupe and SPHP went down to Howard Lake early in the morning before Lanis was up.  The lake was calm and quiet.  Even the fishermen weren’t up yet.  Perfect!  Lupe and SPHP took the single track trail heading S along the E shore.

Lupe saw ducks floating peacefully on the lake.  She crossed a tiny inlet stream.  Near the S end of the lake, the trail left the shoreline and went back into the cedar forest.  A large crane was spooked by SPHP’s approach, and flew away with a great flapping of wings.  Lupe found a few early-rising squirrels.  SPHP did as much as possible to discourage her from barking at this early hour.

Looking back to the N, it was possible to see some of the higher mountains to the NW Lupe had seen the evening before on the mysterious Great Northern Mountain Trail No. 117.  At the very S end of the lake, Lupe crossed another small inlet stream, shortly before reaching the broad cedar-lined trail on the W side of the lake.

By the time Lupe and SPHP had completed their circumnavigation of Howard Lake, Lanis was stirring.  It was time to break camp, and continue W.  Lupe was soon on her way.  NW of Libby, a huge beautiful river, the Kootenai, flowed NW paralleling Hwy 2.  Near Troy; Lanis, Lupe and SPHP turned S on Hwy 56 in order to go see the Ross Creek Scenic Area Giant Cedars.

The turn for the Giant Cedars off Hwy 56 was 0.5 mile S of Bull Lake.  The side road ended at a trailhead 4 miles from the highway.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP all took the 1 mile loop trail through the towering forest.  A small creek meandered through the area, and the trail crossed it several times.  The ancient western red cedars had huge trunks.  Ferns and moss grew between the monstrous trees.  The forest felt prehistoric, like a dinosaur could come crashing along at any time.  Lupe hadn’t been allowed to go on the Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park, but the Ross Creek Scenic Area Giant Cedars had to be just as impressive.

Lupe’s travels continued.  Hwy 200 took her W into Idaho for the 1st time.  Idaho became the 4th Lupe state!  Soon huge Lake Pend Oreille was in view SW of the highway.  At the N end of Pend Oreille, 3 bears ran across the road, right in broad daylight.  They were gone in a flash.  At Sandpoint, Lupe got back on Hwy 2 again.  Washington became the 5th Lupe state.  The American Dingo’s empire was expanding rapidly!

Hwy 2 took Lupe through Spokane, and then out onto barren plains in eastern Washington state.  The area is probably quite pretty at other times of the year, but in late August it felt like a desert.  It had been 95°F back in Sandpoint, ID, and it wasn’t any less out here.  The sun beat down mercilessly.

The Element was air conditioned, of course.  Lupe rode in comfort past yellow wheat fields, and many black fields that had burned or been plowed under.  Dust devils whirled across the desolate landscape.  Far to the N, mountains were on the horizon.  To the S, there was nothing.

SPHP had bought a fried chicken at Safeway in Spokane.  The plan had been to eat it at a city park in one of the little towns along the way.  However, there didn’t seem to be any parks.  Lupe passed through Deep Creek, Reardon and Davenport, and found nothing.  On the way to Creston, there was a forlorn rest area with a couple of picnic tables.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP devoured the chicken there, but there wasn’t a green blade of grass anywhere.  The place was like an oven.

Of course, at Creston there was a pretty nice little park, but with the chicken already gone, there was no longer a reason to stop.  Lupe continued W.  Past Coulee City, Lanis turned SW on Hwy 17.  Soon Lupe came to a most amazing sight – Dry Falls.  Lanis and SPHP had never even heard of Dry Falls before, but there was a parking area and a little visitor center right next to Hwy 17.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped to take in the scene.

Dry Falls is thought by some to have been the site of the mightiest waterfall ever known. At the end of the last ice age, it is estimated there were recurring floods here with a volume of water 10 times that of all the rivers in the world combined!
Dry Falls is thought by some to have been the site of the mightiest waterfall ever known. At the end of the last ice age, it is estimated there were recurring floods here with a volume of water 10 times that of all the rivers in the world combined!

On the opposite side of a chain link fence were sheer 400 foot cliffs down to a broad canyon below.  As the name implies, there is no giant waterfall at Dry Falls now, but the huge canyon downstream is thought to have been carved by recurring flooding on a cataclysmic scale at the end of the last ice age.  A volume of water 10 times that of all the rivers now in the world combined plunged over a precipice 5 times as wide as Niagara Falls.

The canyon below Dry Falls.
The canyon below Dry Falls.

Hwy 17 eventually sloped down into the canyon several miles downstream of Dry Falls, and went past a series of lakes.  At Sun Lakes State Park, lots of people were actively boating, swimming and camping.  Of all the lakes, Lenore Lake was the largest.  Hwy 17 went for miles along its E shore.

Lenore Lake is the largest lake in the Dry Falls canyon, but is miles downstream from the falls. This photo looks back upstream toward the N.
Lenore Lake is the largest lake in the Dry Falls canyon, but is miles downstream from the falls. This photo looks back upstream toward the N.
Lenore Lake in the canyon downstream of Dry Falls. Photo looks S (downstream).
Lenore Lake in the canyon downstream of Dry Falls. Photo looks S (downstream).

The entire canyon below Dry Falls was close to 20 miles long.  Along the way, the canyon walls slowly became less impressive, gradually fading away completely before reaching Soap Lake.

From Soap Lake; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took Hwy 283 SW to I-90.  Pretty soon, Lupe came to another river gorge, that of the mighty Columbia River.

Lupe crossed the Columbia River on this I-90 bridge.
Lupe crossed the Columbia River on this I-90 bridge.
The Columbia River.
The Columbia River.

The light started slowly fading as Lupe, Lanis and SPHP rolled on W of the Columbia River.  Suddenly it didn’t feel like it was too much farther to Puget Sound and Seattle.  Off to the N of I-90, an impressive mountain came into view in the distance.  SPHP figured it was probably Mt. Stuart.

The bright searing heat of eastern Washington state was gone.  Clouds hung over the Wenatchee mountains ahead.  It was much cooler and foggy as Lupe went over 3,022 ft. Snoqualmie Pass.  Darkness fell.  Near Lake Sammamish State Park; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped for the night.  Lupe was almost to Seattle.  Tomorrow, Lupe would see the ocean!

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Glacier National Park to Howard Lake, MT (8-18-12)

Day 11 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

When Lupe set out on her 2012 Dingo Vacation, SPHP had hoped she might make it as far as the west coast to see the Pacific Ocean.  It hadn’t been certain, though.  An alternate plan had been to just go as far as Glacier National Park in Montana.  Lupe woke up on Day 11 of her 2012 Dingo Vacation at the Sprague Creek campground along Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, having arrived the previous day.

The prior day’s events had changed everything, however.  SPHP had finally realized that U.S. National Parks are not dog friendly.  Glacier National Park was full of great trails to spectacular mountains, lakes, streams, and even a few remaining glaciers, but regulations prohibited Lupe from going on any of the trails.  Dogs weren’t permitted, even on a leash.

So, Lupe was going to leave.  Before she did, she was going to see the Trail of the Cedars nature trail.  The evening before, a ranger up at Logan Pass had told SPHP that the Trail of the Cedars nature trail was the only trail in Glacier National Park where dogs were allowed.

Except they weren’t.  When Lupe, Lanis and SPHP arrived at the start of the Trail of the Cedars, there were no pets signs – just like everywhere else.  The ranger had been wrong.  Lupe wasn’t even allowed here.  Nearby, on the opposite side of Going-to-the-Sun Road, there was an observation deck with a view of McDonald Creek.  The rushing creek was very clear and pretty.  The observation deck was as far as Lupe got to explore in Glacier National Park.

Lanis on the Trail of the Cedars. Lupe wasn't allowed on it, and Lanis didn't go very far.
Lanis on the Trail of the Cedars. Lupe wasn’t allowed on it, and Lanis didn’t go very far.
McDonald Creek was a wonderful clear blue-green color.
McDonald Creek was a wonderful clear blue-green color.
Dancing with Dingoes: Lanis and Lupe dance on the McDonald Creek observation deck. SPHP cut in for a couple dances with Lupe shortly afterward.
Lanis and Lupe dance on the McDonald Creek observation deck. SPHP cut in for a couple dances with Lupe, too.

McDonald Creek, Glacier NP, 8-18-12McDonald Creek, Glacier NP, 8-18-12Lupe & Lanis at McDonald Creek, Glacier NP, 8-18-12McDonald Creek, Glacier NP, 8-18-12And that was it for Lupe in Glacier National Park.  Since she couldn’t do much of anything here, it was time to start heading farther W!  Due to the park regulations, it was settled – Lupe was going to see the Pacific Ocean!

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were soon heading W out of Glacier National Park.  In Kalispell, Lanis stopped at a gas station.  SPHP gassed up the Element.  Lanis spent a frantic 20 minutes looking for his cell phone, only to discover that SPHP had been sitting on it.  Next was a stop (one of many on Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation) at the local McDonald’s.  From the Dollar Menu, Lanis got a giant soft drink, Lupe got a chocolate sundae, and SPHP got a caramel sundae.

As usual, SPHP spoon fed Lupe her chocolate sundae, as Lanis drove W out of Kalispell on Hwy 2.  Lupe always had to devour them rather quickly, since the chocolate sundaes tended to melt fast in the summer heat.  Fortunately, Lupe was consistently willing to apply herself to the task at paw.  The sundaes never really had a chance.

Once both sundaes were gone, SPHP checked the road atlas.  In the Cabinet Mountains of NW Montana, there was a lake shown S of the town of Libby.  The lake was back in the Kootenai National Forest along a gravel loop road W of Hwy 2.  The lake wasn’t a very big one, but it still looked like it might be interesting.  There was a campground shown, too.  Maybe Lupe could have some fun there?

Six miles in on the gravel loop road, there was a side road going to the Lake Creek campground.  A mile off the main loop, the side road ended at a rather nice level campground with a big open area.  There was no lake, but there was a stream.  This was the rather confusingly named Lake Creek.  Lake Creek looked like it sometimes had a lot of water in it.  There was some water in it now, too, but most of the creek bed was dry.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had lunch at the Lake Creek campground, and did a little exploring along Lake Creek.  Even though there wasn’t any lake, this campground was pretty nice.  It felt quiet and remote.  Only two spots were taken.  For a little while, Lanis and SPHP debated whether or not to skip looking for the lake and just stay here.  Lupe was busy sniffing around.  She seemed happy enough at Lake Creek.

In the end, Lanis and SPHP decided to move on and continue looking for the lake.  By now, signs had revealed that the lake Lupe was looking for was Howard Lake.  The main loop road went on and on.   A black bear ran across the road, and quickly disappeared into the forest again.  It was an exciting moment!  This was the first bear Lupe had seen on her 2012 Dingo Vacation, despite all the warning signs about bears back in the Beartooths, Yellowstone and Glacier.

After some confusion and needless backtracking, Lanis and SPHP finally found Howard Lake.  By now it was late enough to camp, so a site was selected.  Lupe’s tiny house was set up again.  Howard Lake was only 33 acres in size.  It seemed to be a favorite of the locals.  It was a fishing lake, and there were a number of small boats with people fishing in them.

Howard Lake was only 33 acres. It was a popular fishing lake for locals. Lupe cooled off swimming and wading at this small beach.
Howard Lake was only 33 acres. It was a popular fishing lake for locals. Lupe cooled off swimming and wading at this small beach.

Although only one picture still survives from Lupe’s time at Howard Lake, she did have a number of adventures there.  She cooled off swimming and wading at the small beach.  She went with Lanis and SPHP following a wide trail (which apparently used to be the old road) through a tall cedar forest on the W side of the lake.  Lupe was thrilled to find that the cedar forest was full of squirrels.

Later, while Lanis spent some time resting in Lupe’s tiny house after all the driving he’d been doing, Lupe and SPHP went and explored part way along a mysterious trail that climbed into the forest W of the lake.  A sign said this was Great Northern Mountain Trail No. 117, but neither Lupe nor SPHP knew where it went.

The trail gained elevation, and then leveled out.  Up here there were quite a few dead trees in the forest.  Some had fallen across the trail.  Lupe and SPHP worked their way around them.  Some higher mountains came into view to the N.  The trail turned and went into a dense part of the forest.  By now, the sun was starting to get low.  The cedar forest became darker, denser and progressively more mysterious.  Lupe and SPHP met no one.

Finally, Great Northern Mountain Trail No. 117 came to a junction.  There was a sign, but nothing on the sign meant anything to SPHP.  Lupe and SPHP took the left branch of the trail for a little way, but it was going to be dark soon.  SPHP hadn’t brought a flashlight.  It was time for Lupe to turn back.  On the return trip, she had fun barking at squirrels.  By the time Lupe arrived back at Howard Lake, it was already pretty dark.

As soon as Lupe reached the campground, a big German Shepherd spotted her.  Lupe snarled at him and fled.  The German Shepherd gave chase.  Lupe raced in circles between the trees, frequently zig-zagging and doubling back desperate to escape.  She is very fast for her size, but the German Shepherd was young, huge, and had much longer legs.  Lupe was too agile for the German Shepherd to catch her, but he was keeping up a hot pursuit, and frequently getting very close.

SPHP called to Lupe.  She came running.  SPHP picked her up and carried her to the safety of the Honda Element.  When the German Shepherd finally realized the game was over, it went away.  Lupe could come out of the Element again.  Lanis and SPHP were cooking beef stew.  Carolina Dogs love beef stew!

Dancing with Dingoes: Lanis and Lupe dance on the McDonald Creek observation deck. SPHP cut in for a couple dances with Lupe shortly afterward.
Dances with Dingoes, Glacier National Park.

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Glacier National Park, Montana (8-17-12)

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.

Lake McDonald from the Sprague Creek campground.
Lake McDonald from the Sprague Creek campground.

Lake McDonald, Glacier NP, 8-17-15Once 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.

Lupe and Lanis along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.
Lupe and Lanis along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.
Looking WSW from Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Looking WSW from Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Heavens Peak (R) from Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Heavens Peak (8,987 ft.) (R) from Going-to-the-Sun Road.
SPHP believes the mountain toward the R may be Mount Cannon.
SPHP believes the mountain toward the R may be Mount Cannon (8,952 ft.).

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!

Lupe and Lanis arrive near the Many Glacier Hotel at Swiftcurrent Lake.
Lupe and Lanis arrive near the Many Glacier Hotel at Swiftcurrent Lake.
Many Glacier Hotel
Many Glacier Hotel

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.

Lupe at Swiftcurrent Lake. It was pretty sunny and hot out. The sensible Carolina Dog liked staying in the shade, while digesting a sizable portion of Lanis' and SPHP's hamburgers.
Lupe at Swiftcurrent Lake. It was pretty sunny and hot out. The sensible Carolina Dog liked staying in the shade, while digesting a sizable portion of Lanis’ and SPHP’s hamburgers.
Swiftcurrent Lake
Swiftcurrent Lake

Swiftcurrent Lake, Glacier NP, 8-17-15After 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.

Swiftcurrent Lake and the Many Glacier Hotel from the opposite side of the lake.
Swiftcurrent Lake and the Many Glacier Hotel from the opposite side of the lake.

Swiftcurrent Lake & Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier NP, 8-17-12Disappointment 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.

Duck Lake E of Glacier National Park on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Lupe never got all the way to the lake. The mountains in Glacier National Park are seen in the distance to the W.
Duck Lake E of Glacier National Park on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Lupe never got all the way to the lake. The mountains in Glacier National Park are seen in the distance to the W.

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.

SPHP hoped Lanis wasn't really going to stock up on Moose Poo! Even chocolate-covered Moose Poo didn't sound very appealing. On the other hand, you can't get Moose Poo just anywhere. Right now was Lanis' big Moose Poo opportunity!
SPHP hoped Lanis wasn’t really going to stock up on Moose Poo! Even chocolate-covered Moose Poo didn’t sound very appealing. On the other hand, you can’t get Moose Poo just anywhere. Right now was Lanis’ big Moose Poo opportunity!

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!

The boat tour dock at Saint Mary Lake.
The boat tour dock at Saint Mary Lake.

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!

Lupe on her first ever boat ride on Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.
Lupe on her first ever boat ride on Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.
Wild Goose Island in Saint Mary Lake.
Wild Goose Island in 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.

Clements Mountain and the Hidden Lake trail at Logan Pass. The trail leads to the L of Clements Mountain where there is a viewpoint overlooking Hidden Lake. Lanis didn't go that far.
Clements Mountain (8,760 ft.) and the Hidden Lake trail at Logan Pass. The trail leads to the L of Clements Mountain where there is a viewpoint overlooking Hidden Lake. Lanis didn’t go that far.
Logan Pass, Glacier National Park
Logan Pass, Glacier National Park
Mountains N of Logan Pass. Lupe wasn't allowed to set a single paw on a trail heading off in this direction.
Mountains N of Logan Pass. Lupe wasn’t allowed to set a single paw on a trail heading off in this direction.

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.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Gardner Lake & Beartooth Pass, Wyoming (8-14-12 & 8-15-12)

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.

Lupe explores the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River in the early morning light.
Lupe explores the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River in the early morning light.
A deer visited Lupe's camp.
A deer visited Lupe’s camp.
So did a spider.
So did a spider.
But Lupe was too busy watching squirrels to worry about deer and spiders.
But Lupe was too busy watching squirrels to worry about the deer and spider.

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.

The Honda Element and Lupe's tiny house along the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River.
The Honda Element and Lupe’s tiny house along the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River.
Lanis has breakfast along the river with Pilot and Index Peak in the distance. It was pretty hazy out all day long due to big forest fires in Idaho.
Lanis has breakfast along the river with Pilot (L) and Index (R) Peaks in the distance. It was pretty hazy out all day long due to big forest fires far away in Idaho.

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.

The directions outside the Top of the World Store weren't as helpful as Lanis had hoped.
The directions outside the Top of the World Store weren’t as helpful as Lanis had hoped.

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.

Open ground along the Beartooth Loop National Recreational Trail. Lupe ran all day!
Open ground along the Beartooth Loop National Recreational Trail. Lupe ran all day!
Gardner Lake in the Beartooths. Photo looks N along the W shore.
Gardner Lake in the Beartooths. Photo looks N along the W shore.
Mountains NW of Gardner Lake.
Mountains NW of Gardner Lake.

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.Wildflowers near Gardner Lake, Beartooths, WY 8-14-12Wildflowers near Gardner Lake, Beartooths, WY 8-14-12

Wildflowers at Gardner Lake.
Wildflowers at Gardner Lake.

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 and Lanis near a pond just downstream of Gardner Lake. Tibbs Butte is seen in the distance. Photo looks S.
Lupe and Lanis near a pond just downstream of Gardner Lake. Tibbs Butte is seen in the distance. Photo looks S.

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.

From the Beartooth Hwy overlook, Lupe surveys Gardner Lake, where she'd had such a good time running around the day before. Tibbs Butte is seen on the L.
From the Beartooth Hwy overlook, Lupe surveys Gardner Lake, where she’d had such a good time running around the day before. Tibbs Butte is seen on the L.

Gardner Lake from Hwy 212, Beartooths, WY 8-15-12

Lanis and Gardner Lake.
Lanis and Gardner Lake.

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.

Fog starts sweeping across the highway in places as Lupe approaches Beartooth Pass.
Fog starts sweeping across the highway in places as Lupe approaches Beartooth Pass.
Above the clouds at Beartooth Pass.
Above the clouds at Beartooth Pass.
The mountains had trapped a big bank of clouds N of Beartooth Pass. Photo looks NW.
The mountains had trapped a big bank of clouds N of the pass. Photo looks NW.

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.

The first thing Lupe discovered at the viewpoint, was that squirrels were using little holes built into the bottom of the rock retaining walls to come onto the walkways and beg for food from tourists. Lupe was keenly interested in the frequent sudden appearance, and subsequent disappearance of all these squirrels! She peered over the walls to see where all these squirrels were disappearing to.
The first thing Lupe discovered at the viewpoint, was that squirrels were using little holes built into the bottom of the rock retaining walls to come onto the walkways and beg for food from tourists. Lupe was keenly interested in the frequent sudden appearance, and subsequent disappearance of all these squirrels! She peered over the walls to see where all these squirrels were disappearing to.
Lanis at the viewpoint N of Beartooth Pass in Montana. Clearly not having as much fun as Lupe! Perhaps suffering from coffee deprivation?
Lanis at the viewpoint N of Beartooth Pass in Montana. Clearly not having as much fun as Lupe! Perhaps suffering from coffee deprivation?

Montana along the Beartooth Hwy, 8-15-12View along Beartooth Hwy, MT 8-15-12View along Beartooth Hwy, MT 8-15-12

Lupe thought this viewpoint along the Beartooth Hwy, was great fun! She wanted to stay and play Catch-A-Squirrel (the American Dingo version of Whack-A-Mole) all day!
Lupe thought this viewpoint along the Beartooth Hwy, was great fun! She wanted to stay and play Catch-A-Squirrel (the American Dingo version of Whack-A-Mole) all day!

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!

Lupe leaves the driving to Lanis on the way to Bozeman, MT.
Lupe leaves the driving to Lanis on the way to Bozeman, MT.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Norris Geyser Basin & Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (8-13-12)

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.

Gibbon Falls.
Gibbon Falls.

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.Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12The 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.Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12

Norris Geyser Basin.
Norris Geyser Basin.

Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12SPHP 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.

Mammoth Hot Springs is the largest travertine terrace in the world.
Mammoth Hot Springs is the largest travertine terrace in the world.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-13-12Yellowstone 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.

Umm, let me out, please?
Umm, let me out, please?  Someone NOT named Einstein did a beautiful job of installing a sturdy new lock on the wrong side of the door.

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.

Kersey Lake from the SW.
Kersey Lake from the SW.
The Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone rushes into a narrow gorge. Photo taken from the bridge near the start of the trail to Kersey Lake.
The Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone rushes into a narrow gorge. Photo taken from the bridge near the start of the trail to Kersey Lake.

Related Posts:

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.

Fizzle Lake, Beartooth Mountains, Montana (7-15-13) – Lupe returns to the Beartooths on her 2013 Dingo Vacation to explore the trail far beyond Kersey Lake on her search for Fossil Lake.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Yellowstone Falls, Old Faithful Geyser & Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (8-12-12)

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!

Buffalo approach along the highway unaware that the Honda Element is protected by a ferocious predator.
Buffalo approach along the highway unaware that the Honda Element is protected by a ferocious predator.

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.Buffalo in Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Buffalo in Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Buffalo in Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Buffalo in Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Buffalo in Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Buffalo in Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Lupe 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.Buffalo in Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12The 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!

The proud American Dingo that chased away an entire herd of buffalo and saved Lanis, SPHP and the Honda Element rests satisfied with a job bravely performed.
The proud American Dingo that chased (well, ambled) away an entire herd of buffalo thereby saving Lanis, SPHP and the Honda Element rests satisfied with a job bravely performed.

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 Fall
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.

Looking down on Lower Yellowstone Falls from the N rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Looking down on Lower Yellowstone Falls from the N rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The Yellowstone River just above Lower Yellowstone Falls rushes toward a clearly (final) class VI whitewater rafting experience! NOT recommended for ages 0-120.
The Yellowstone River just above Lower Yellowstone Falls rushes toward a clearly (final) class VI whitewater rafting experience! NOT recommended for ages 0-120.
Lower Yellowstone Falls plunges 308 feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Lower Yellowstone Falls plunges 308 feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Lower Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Lower Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone NP, WY

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
Don't let a disastrous failure of a poorly conceived and executed erosion control program turn your farm or ranch into this! (Unless you want to be able to sell tickets.)
Don’t let a disastrous failure of a poorly conceived and executed erosion control program turn your farm or ranch into this! (Unless you want to be able to sell tickets.)

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.

Black Wolf or Fifi in disguise?
Black Wolf or Fifi in disguise?

Black Wolf, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12

Say, there's an idea! Lupe wonders if she might be an even scarier stealth predator as a black Dingo? Think of the possibilities!
Say, there’s an idea! Lupe wonders if she might be an even scarier stealth predator as a black Dingo? Think of the possibilities!

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.Sulphur Cauldron, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12There 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.Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Lupe 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.Lupe at Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12

Lupe & Lanis at Yellowstone Lake. Lupe tasted the lake. It seemed to be constructed entirely of water.
Lupe & Lanis at Yellowstone Lake. Lupe tasted the lake. It seemed to be constructed entirely of water.

No trip to Yellowstone is complete without stopping by Old Faithful geyser.  Lupe got to see it, too, from a distance.

Old Faithful doesn't disappoint.
Old Faithful doesn’t disappoint.

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12

Old Faithful Inn. Despite being called an Inn, Lupe stayed Outt.
Old Faithful Inn. Despite being called an Inn, Lupe stayed Outt.

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.

Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Excelsior 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.

The Excelsior Geyser in the Midway Geyser Basin is a steaming hot spring these days.
The Excelsior Geyser in the Midway Geyser Basin is a steaming hot spring these days.

Excelsior Hot Spring, Midway Geyser Basin, WY 8-12-12

Water near the boiling point flows at 4,050 gallons per minute from the Excelsior Geyser into the Firehole River.
Water near the boiling point flows at 4,050 gallons per minute from the Excelsior Geyser into the Firehole River.
Lupe didn't get to see the Excelsior Geyser, but she did see the hot water from it entering the Firehole River.
Lupe didn’t get to see the Excelsior Geyser, but she did see the hot water from it entering the Firehole River.

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.

A fiery colored arm of the Grand Prismatic Spring.
A fiery colored arm of the Grand Prismatic Spring.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Midway Geyser Basin, WY 8-12-12Grand Prismatic Spring, Midway Geyser Basin, WY 8-12-12

Near the Firehole River, Lupe waits for the return of SPHP from the Midway Geyser Basin.
Near the Firehole River, Lupe waits for the return of SPHP from the Midway Geyser Basin.

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 Fountain Paint Pots are steaming, moist mud. Where there is enough moisture, the mud gloops and blurps and bubbles continuously.
The Fountain Paint Pots are steaming, moist mud. Where there is enough moisture, the mud gloops and blurps and bubbles continuously.
Some pretty pools of water steam endlessly away, seldom or never erupting.
Some pretty pools of water steam endlessly away, seldom or never erupting.
Some vents don't have any pool of water at the surface. Steam just hisses out of the ground.
Some vents don’t have any pool of water at the surface. Steam just hisses out of the ground.

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.Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12

Why, there's an alien being here right now!
Why, there’s an alien being here right now!

Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Back 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.Sunset at Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Lupe at the Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12Sunset at Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP, WY 8-12-12

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Beauty & Becker Lakes, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming (8-11-12)

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.

Pilot (L) and Index (R) Peaks from the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone.
Pilot (L) and Index (R) Peaks from the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone.

Pilot & Index Peaks, WY 8-11-12While 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.

Lanis at the overlook. Yes, that's Pilot and Index Peaks again in the distance on the R.
Lanis at the overlook. Yes, that’s Pilot and Index Peaks again in the distance on the R.
Looking S across the huge canyon that the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone flows through.
Looking S across the huge canyon that the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone flows through.

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.

Lanis drove on to the Top of the World Store.  The Element was in need of fuel.

Looking WNW at Beartooth Butte from Hwy 212 at the Top of the World Store.
Looking WNW at Beartooth Butte (10,514 ft.) from Hwy 212 at the Top of the World Store.
The Top of the World Store along Beartooth Hwy No. 212.
The Top of the World Store along Beartooth Hwy No. 212.
Lupe waits while the Element gets fueled up.
Lupe waits while the Element gets fueled up.
Lanis props up the Top of the World Store sign.
Lanis props up the Top of the World Store sign.  Or is it the other way around?

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.

Island Lake in the Beartooth Mountains. Photo looks NNW.
Island Lake in the Beartooth Mountains. Photo looks NNW.
Cheerios and blueberries!
Cheerios and blueberries!  Alpo for Lupe.

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.

Looking N along the Beartooth High Lakes trail.
Looking N along the Beartooth High Lakes trail.

Wildflowers in Beartooths, WY 8-11-12Wildflower near Island Lake, Beartooths Mountains, WY 8-11-12

Lonesome Mountain looms in the distance beyond a pond in the Beartooth Mountains. Photo looks NNW.
Lonesome Mountain looms in the distance beyond a pond in the Beartooth Mountains. Photo looks NNW.

Wildflowers in the Beartooth Mountains, WY 8-11-12After 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.

Looking W across Beauty Lake.
Looking W across Beauty Lake.
Looking S.
Looking S.
Don't tell me you're going to chicken out on me again, SPHP! The water is fine, really! You'll be numb soon enough!
Don’t tell me you’re going to chicken out on me again, SPHP! The water is fine, really! You’ll be numb soon enough!
Lupe wades around in the cold waters of Beauty Lake.
Lupe wades around in the cold waters of Beauty Lake.

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.

The stream N of Beauty Lake. Photo looks S.
The stream N of Beauty Lake. Photo looks S.
Lanis looking for the rest of the Beartooth High Lakes trail. Not really finding it. Lots of flowers blooming by the stream, though!
Lanis looking for the rest of the Beartooth High Lakes trail. Not really finding it. Lots of flowers blooming by the stream, though!

Wildflowers along stream N of Beauty Lake, Beartooth Mountains 8-11-12

Lupe supposedly looking for the trail. SPHP suspects she was really looking for squirrels.
Lupe supposedly looking for the trail. SPHP suspects she was really looking for squirrels.

Lupe near stream N of Beauty Lake, Beartooth Mountains, 8-11-12

Lupe thought Lanis was just hilarious trying to catch that water bottle!
Lupe thought Lanis was just hilarious trying to catch that water bottle!

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 soon headed N between Mutt & Jeff Lakes, which are very close together and connected by a stream that flows down to Mutt Lake (not pictured to the L of this photo). Jeff Lake is seen beyond Lanis. The trail continued across the rocks seen on the far side of Jeff Lake, and on up a hill through the gap to a little pass. In the pass there was a mucky pond and rocks to scramble around. Photo looks N.
The new trail soon headed N between Mutt & Jeff Lakes, which are very close together and connected by a stream that flows down to Mutt Lake (not pictured to the L of this photo). Jeff Lake is seen beyond Lanis. The trail continued across the rocks seen on the far side of Jeff Lake, and on up a hill through the gap to a little pass. In the pass there was a mucky pond and rocks to scramble around. Photo looks N.
The mucky little pond in the pass N of Jeff Lake. Photo looks S.
The mucky little pond in the pass N of Jeff Lake. Photo looks S.

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.

Part of the S end of Becker Lake comes into view. Lonesome Mountain is seen in the distance on the R.
Part of the S end of Becker Lake comes into view. Lonesome Mountain is seen in the distance on the R.
Lupe explores the forest near the trail.
Lupe explores the forest near the trail.

Lupe in the Beartooth Mountains, WY 8-11-12

This big tree scarred by lightning was near the trail.
This big tree scarred by lightning was near the trail.
Lanis' moss and lichens photo of the day!
Lanis’ moss and lichens photo of the day!
While out of sight of Becker Lake, the trail passed by the W shore of this little pond. Photo looks N.
While out of sight of Becker Lake, the trail passed by the W shore of this little pond. Photo looks N.
Looking SW across Becker Lake.
Looking SW across Becker Lake.
Part of the high ridge to the E of Becker Lake.
Part of the high ridge to the E of Becker Lake.
Lupe nears the N end of Becker Lake. Photo looks NNW toward Lonesome Mountain (R of center).
Lupe nears the N end of Becker Lake. Photo looks NNW toward Lonesome Mountain (11,399 ft.) (R of center).

Wildflowers near Becker Lake, Beartooth Mountains, WY 8-11-12Lupe, 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!Flowers near the trail E of Becker Lake, Beartooth Mountains, WY 8-11-12

Don't forget to sniff the air!
Don’t forget to sniff the air!

Wildflowers in the Beartooth Mountains, WY 8-11-12

Going back down from the little pass toward Jeff Lake near the end of the day.
Going back down from the little pass toward Jeff Lake near the end of the day.  Photo looks S.
Looking NNW back across Island Lake toward the high country where Lupe had such a great time in the Beartooths.
Looking NNW back across Island Lake toward the high country where Lupe had such a great time in the Beartooths.

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:

The Journey to Two Bits Lake, Beartooth Mountains (7-12-13)

Sky Pilot Lake, Beartooth Mountains of Montana (7-17-13)

Lonesome Mountain in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana (8-3-14)

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

To the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River (8-10-12)

Day 3 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Lupe was somersaulting again against the door of her “tiny house”.  She still hadn’t figured out that she couldn’t go through the tent door when it was zipped shut, but it had only been her second night ever in a tent.  A squirrel was chattering away in a tree outside.  Lupe wanted to go bark at it, but it was very early.  Lanis was still asleep in the Honda Element, after his gear got soaked in a sudden downpour the previous evening.

Lanis isn’t much of a morning person.  SPHP figured he would sleep for several more hours.  This was an opportunity for Lupe to return to Bald Mountain (10,042 ft.).  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had climbed Bald Mountain the evening before, only to be almost immediately chased off of it by a brief intense rain shower.  It wasn’t going to rain now, though.  Lupe and SPHP left the squirrel and the campground in peace, and climbed Bald Mountain again.

After searching around on top of the mountain, SPHP had almost given up.  Then, suddenly, there they were.  Lupe had found the names that had been up there for a quarter century or more now.  The names were just made out of loose rocks, but they were still easily recognizable.  SPHP spent a little time repairing them.

SPHP wanted to add Lupe’s name to the mountain, but so much time had been lost looking around, it was probably best to get back down to the campground before Lanis awoke to find himself alone.  It would take too much time to search around for some rocks to use.  So Lupe and SPHP went down Bald Mountain enjoying the panoramic views, sunshine and fresh air.

(Just 11 months later, Lupe returned to spend a night on Bald Mountain and SPHP added her name then.)

SPHP needn’t have worried.  Lanis was still sound asleep when Lupe returned.  After having been responsible for getting Lanis’ gear wet the night before, SPHP wasn’t eager to further aggravate him by waking him up.  Lupe and SPHP stayed busy in camp.  Lanis eventually came to on his own.  He was in a better mood than when he’d gone to sleep in the Element.

It was time for Lupe to leave the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming and head farther W.  The sun was much higher now.  Lanis and SPHP dried things out while Lupe sniffed around.  Pretty soon things were dry enough to pack them back in the Honda Element, and Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were underway.

Lanis drove W out of the Bighorns on steep, windy Hwy 14A.  The route continued through Lovell, Powell and Cody, WY.  From Cody, Lupe went N on Hwy 120 to Hwy 296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.  The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway lived up to its name.  The road wound high up over a lofty pass.  At a pullout on the W side of the pass, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP got out for a look.

View from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Photo looks W from the pullout near the pass.
View from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Photo looks W from the pullout near the pass.

The view was most impressive, but there was a chilly wind.  It looked rather stormy on the W side of the pass.  Lupe hadn’t been at the pullout long when a cold rain began to fall.  American Dingoes do have the good sense to come in out of the rain.  Lanis and SPHP quickly joined Lupe in the Honda Element.  Lupe’s journey continued down the winding highway on the W side of the pass.

The rain eventually stopped, but it was still pretty cloudy out.  The St. Joseph Scenic Byway led to the Beartooth Hwy (No. 212).  The Beartooth Highway goes NE over spectacular Beartooth Pass on its way to Red Lodge, MT, but Lupe wasn’t going that way yet.  Instead Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed W on the Beartooth Highway toward Cooke City, MT.

A side road off the St. Joseph Scenic Byway. The rain had stopped, but it was still pretty cloudy out.
A side road off the St. Joseph Scenic Byway. The rain had stopped, but it was still pretty cloudy out.

Lanis and SPHP were looking for a campsite along the way.  There were some campgrounds, but SPHP was picky and found nothing that looked quite right before reaching Cooke City, MT.  Along the way, Montana became the 3rd U.S. Lupe state!

Cooke City, MT is basically a one street tourist town strategically situated 5 miles from the NE entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  After looking around town just a little bit, it was time to get more serious about finding a campsite.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed back E on the Beartooth Hwy.  This time Lanis was driving slower to allow for a more complete reconnaissance of the possibilities.

Not long after entering Wyoming again, Lanis and SPHP saw a turn to a little parking lot just N of the highway.  A pickup truck with a camper was parked there close to a bend in a very beautiful river just 200 feet from the highway.   It looked like a great dispersed camping site.  Lanis pulled in off the highway.  Everyone piled out of the Element to check things out.

This bend in the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River, became home base for Lupe, Lanis & SPHP during Lupe's stay in the Beartooths on her 2012 Dingo Vacation. Photo looks NW toward Pilot Peak (L) and Index Peak (R).
This bend in the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River, became home base for Lupe, Lanis & SPHP during Lupe’s stay in the Beartooths on her 2012 Dingo Vacation. Photo looks NW toward Pilot Peak (L) and Index Peak (R).
This small waterfall or rapid was just downstream of the bend in the river.
This small waterfall or rapid was just downstream of the bend in the river.
Lanis is liking what he sees.
Lanis is liking what he sees.

Unknown to Lupe, Lanis and SPHP at the time, the river was the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone.  This gorgeous site would become home base for the entire time Lupe spent in the Beartooths on her 2012 Dingo Vacation.  The bend in the river offered a terrific view of the dramatic spire of Pilot Peak (11,699 ft.) and its neighbor Index Peak (11,240 ft.) to the NW.  Just downstream of the bend, was a small waterfall or rapid with a nice pool of clear, cold water below it.

The reconnaissance downstream quickly met with the approval of Lupe, Lanis and SPHP.  A walk upstream through a wooded area to a field next to the river followed.  After being cooped up in the Honda Element a good part of the day, Lupe was so stirred up by the wild river and glorious surroundings, she got a crazed look in her eye.  She pranced and growled and demonstrated just how ferociously prepared American Dingoes are for life in the wilderness.

Lanis has an eye for detail and took this shot of some mossy lichens growing on a rotting log near the river.
Lanis has an eye for detail and took this shot of some mossy lichens growing on a rotting log near the river.
Squirrels, schmirrels! Lupe feeling ready to take on elk, moose, grizzly bears and anything else the Beartooths can throw at her!
Squirrels, schmirrels! Lupe feeling ready to take on elk, moose, grizzly bears and anything else the Beartooths can throw at her!
And then I'll crack their bones like this!
And then I’ll crack their bones like this!

Returning to the bend in the river, SPHP had a chat with the other campers there, who already occupied the best site right next to the river.  They told SPHP about a waterfall worth seeing just a mile or two to the E.  The falls were up a short trail on the N side of the Beartooth Hwy.  Why not check that out, too?  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP hopped back in the Element to go find the waterfall.

As promised, a short, but steep hike up a trail led to a roaring torrent on Crazy Creek.  The stream was strewn with logs.  The falls were large, but this wasn’t really a classic straight down over an edge type of waterfall.  It was too steep to be just rapids either.  A better name is Crazy Creek Cascade.  Lupe,  Lanis and SPHP followed the trail all the way up to the top of the falls.

 

Crazy Creek Cascade. This waterfall was up a short, but steep climb N of the Beartooth Hwy.
Crazy Creek Cascade. This waterfall was up a short, but steep climb N of the Beartooth Hwy.
Lupe at Crazy Creek just above the big cascade.
Lupe at Crazy Creek just above the big cascade.
Lanis at Crazy Creek.
Lanis at Crazy Creek.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP played around on the rocks next to Crazy Creek just above the cascade until it started getting dark.  Time to head back to the Element, and the great campsite on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone.

When Lupe returned, the sky was still overcast.  In fact, the clouds were darker and denser than before.  It looked like it would almost certainly rain overnight.  It didn’t seem to make any sense to set up the tent, which would surely leak if it rained hard enough.  Tonight, Lanis was going to have company in the Element.  Outside the rain began.Rain threatens near the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone, WY 8-10-12

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Shell Falls, Porcupine Falls & Bald Mountain in the Bighorn Mountains, WY (8-9-12)

Day 2 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Lupe was doing somersaults.  A squirrel was chattering away in a tree somewhere outside Lupe’s “tiny house”.  Lupe was desperate to go bark at it.  She was hurling herself repeatedly against the screen door of the tent, not realizing it was zipped shut.  She couldn’t get out.  The crazy Carolina Dog was going paws over head, and doing a complete somersault each time she charged the fabric.  The whole tent shook.  SPHP and Lanis woke up.

Lanis, SPHP and Lupe were camped at Shell Creek in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming.  It was morning, and clearly time to get up to relieve the American Dingo’s anxiety.  After breakfast, Lanis, Lupe and SPHP took a short walk along Shell Creek.  Returning from the walk, it was time to leave Shell Creek campground.  Someone else had reservations for Site No. 11 tonight.

Lupe runs along a trail next to Shell Creek.
Lupe runs along a trail next to Shell Creek.
Lupe busy at Shell Creek.
Lupe busy at Shell Creek.

Lupe at Shell Creek, Bighorn Mountains, WY 8-8-12Shell Creek, Bighorn Mountains, WY

Shell Creek, Bighorn Mountains, WY
Shell Creek, Bighorn Mountains, WY
Lanis and Lupe's "tiny house" at Shell Creek.
Lanis and Lupe’s “tiny house” at Shell Creek.
Lanis' Honda Element was a great vehicle for Lupe's first ever Dingo Vacation. There was lots of cargo space and lots of doors for easy access to everything, including this set of double doors. Lupe had a great time riding in the Element.
Lanis’ Honda Element was a great vehicle for Lupe’s first ever Dingo Vacation. There was lots of cargo space.  Plenty of doors, including this set of double doors, provided easy access to everything. Lupe had a great time riding in the Element.

Where to next?  Shell Falls was relatively close by farther down Shell Canyon.  About a mile upstream of Shell Falls, there were also some smaller waterfalls just off Hwy 14 where Lupe could go wading.  Lupe went to visit both Shell Falls, and the smaller falls.

Lupe and Lanis visit Shell Falls in the Bighorn Mountains.
Lupe and Lanis visit Shell Falls in the Bighorn Mountains.
Below the falls.
The gorge below Shell Falls.

Below Shell Falls, Bighorn Mountains, WY 8-9-15

Shell Creek cascades down a series of smaller waterfalls about a mile upstream of Shell Falls.
Shell Creek cascades down a series of smaller waterfalls about a mile upstream of Shell Falls.

Waterfall in Shell Canyon, Bighorn Mountains, WY 8-9-15

Lanis and Lupe at the smaller waterfalls in Shell Canyon.
Lanis and Lupe at the smaller waterfalls in Shell Canyon.

After visiting Shell Falls and the other smaller waterfalls in Shell Canyon, there was a debate over what to do next.  Should Lupe return to Shell Creek campground to see if another site had opened up?

In the end, Lupe wound up going to Burgess Junction instead.  Lanis went into the store and bought ice cream bars again, just like he’d done the previous day at Spotted Horse.  Lupe liked this new ice cream bar tradition.  She sacrificed any concerns over her own health, to help make sure SPHP didn’t get fat.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed W on Hwy 14A.  There were two more waterfalls that would be worth seeing.  One was Bucking Mule Falls.  The other was Porcupine Falls.  Both were miles N of the highway along gravel roads, but they were in the same general area.  Since SPHP had seen Bucking Mule Falls once before, Porcupine Falls was chosen as Lupe’s destination.

The trail to Porcupine Falls wasn’t very long, but it was steep.  Shortly after leaving the trailhead, it went steeply downhill most of the way.  Porcupine Falls poured through a narrow gap in a rock wall into a big pool below.  It was very pretty and dramatic looking gushing out between the high cliffs.

Porcupine Falls in the Bighorn Mountains, WY.
Porcupine Falls in the Bighorn Mountains, WY.
Lanis relaxes at Porcupine Falls.
Lanis relaxes at Porcupine Falls.

After seeing Porcupine Falls, and spending some time sniffing around the edges of the big pool below it, Lupe led everyone back up the trail to the Honda Element.  Now that the trail was going steeply uphill, it didn’t seem nearly so short as before.

Once everyone was back at the Element, the consensus was that it was time to eat and secure a campsite.  Bucking Mule Falls would have to wait for another day.  Lupe went back to Hwy 14A.  At the Bald Mountain campground, once again, Site 11 was the best one available.  Lanis and SPHP pitched the tent and made dinner.  After dinner, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP started climbing Bald Mountain.  It was a really easy climb up a long grassy slope SE of the campground.

Lupe snoops around on her way up Bald Mountain. Photo looks NW toward Medicine Mountain, where the Bighorn Medicine Wheel is located.
Lupe snoops around on her way to climb Bald Mountain. Photo looks NW toward Medicine Mountain (9,962 ft.), where the Bighorn Medicine Wheel is located.  The Bald Mountain campground, where Lupe would spend the night, is at the closest clump of forest at the right edge of this photo.

When Lupe was about halfway up Bald Mountain (10,042 ft.), it started becoming apparent that a rainstorm was coming.  A line of showers that had been quite some distance away to the W was moving in.  By the time Lupe was near the top, rain showers were all around to the S, W & N.  Now and then, there was some lightning off in these directions, too.

Within just a few minutes of when Lupe, Lanis and SPHP reached the top of Bald Mountain, the storm hit.  A chill wind blew fiercely, and there was a cold stinging rain.  The downpour was much harder than expected.  With absolutely no cover on Bald Mountain, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP all got soaking wet.  The storm wasn’t a big one, though, and would soon pass.  SPHP expected to be able to just tough it out.

Suddenly there was a flash of lightning relatively close by, followed by the roar of thunder.  There’s no toughing out lightning.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP all hastily abandoned the summit of Bald Mountain.  Fifteen minutes later, the storm had blown on by.  There was still light rain, but nothing of consequence.  The rain had dampened everyone’s spirits, though.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP continued on down back to the campground.

After setting up Lupe’s “tiny house”, SPHP had thrown everything needed for the night into the tent.  Unfortunately, SPHP had not put the rain cover on the tent.  Most things were now damp.  Lanis’ sleeping bag was just plain soaking wet.  Lanis was not amused.  Lupe and SPHP spent the night in the tent.  Fortunately, there were still some dry blankets in the Honda Element.  Lanis spent the night in the Element huddled under them, running the heater now and then to keep warm.Medicine Mountain from Bald Mountain, Bighorn Mountains, WY 8-9-12Shell Falls is located 14 miles E of Greybull, WY in Shell Canyon.  A parking lot and visitor center are right next to the N side of the highway.  Shell Falls is a quick scenic stop for travelers on their way W to Yellowstone National Park.

Porcupine Falls and Bucking Mule Falls are located N of Hwy 14A (E of Lovell, WY) toward the W side of the Bighorn Mountain Range.  Gravel roads lead to the trailheads.  The 0.5 mile hike to Porcupine Falls leads to a large pool at the base of the falls.  The trail to Bucking Mule Falls leads 1.5 miles to a scenic overlook from which the falls can be viewed from a distance.

Directions to Porcupine Falls and Bucking Mule Falls:  E of Bald Mountain campground, there are two roads going N from Hwy 14A.  (The first road is just E of the turn to Bald Mountain campground, the second is 2 miles farther E.)  Both roads lead in just a few miles to an intersection with Devil’s Canyon Road.  Take Devil’s Canyon Road W 4 miles to the Porcupine Falls trailhead, or 7 miles to the Bucking Mule Falls trailhead.

Advisory: Online information on the Bucking Mule Falls National Recreation Trail indicates that the trail to the scenic overlook of the falls is part of a much longer 15 mile trail.  Continuing on beyond the viewpoint, the trail drops steeply 2,000 feet in 2 miles into Devil’s Canyon.  One online trip report dating from July, 2013 said there were 5 miles of trail down in Devil’s Canyon choked with dead trees.  In some places the trees had fallen 3 and 4 deep across the trail.  Lupe recommends checking for current information on the trail’s condition before continuing beyond the overlook.

Lupe returned to Bald Mountain on the first day of her 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and Canadian Rockies.  Click the red link to view Lupe’s post about her return visit.

Shell Falls
Shell Falls

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Spotted Horse, The Giant Mushroom & Shell Creek, Wyoming (8-8-12)

Day 1 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Something different was happening.  Lupe didn’t know what it all meant.  She was 1 year and 7 months old, so the world was still pretty new.  A couple days before, Lanis had arrived from Indiana in his Honda Element.  Now Lanis and SPHP were carting the rear seats out of the Element, and into the living room.  Lots of gear got stuffed into the back of the Element.

Lupe wondered what was going on.  She had no idea what was coming.  She didn’t know she was about to set out on her first ever Dingo Vacation.  Even Lanis and SPHP had only a vague idea where Lupe was ultimately going to go.  For starters, the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, then probably to the Beartooths, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Park.  After that, well, who knew?  It was an adventure!

Shortly after 10:00 AM on 8-8-12, Lupe, Lanis & SPHP headed out.  Lanis drove, SPHP was navigator, and Lupe was perched on a pile of camping gear and supplies covered with blankets and pillows.

When Lupe was a little puppy, she hated riding in the car.  It made her sick.  Her ears drooped at just the mention of the car.  It took a long time, but Lupe had outgrown her car sickness.  She finally realized riding in the car meant that something fun was about to happen.  Still, SPHP wondered how she would fare on a long trip.

Lupe sets out on her first ever Dingo Vacation in Lanis' Honda Element perched comfortably on a pile of blankets.
Lupe sets out on her first ever Dingo Vacation in Lanis’ Honda Element perched comfortably on a pile of blankets.

Lupe did great in the Honda Element!  She was getting attention, and having a good time looking out the windows.  Soon Lupe was in Wyoming heading W on I-90.  She was going to the big mountains for the first time ever.  Her first big mountain range would be the Bighorns in north central Wyoming.

At Gillette, WY, Lupe left I-90.  She went N to Spotted Horse on Hwy 14/16.  This was a slightly longer route than just staying on I-90, but SPHP was curious to see what was there.  Spotted Horse turned out to be just a wide spot in the road.  However, there was a little store.  More importantly, there actually was a spotted horse!

Lanis went into the store to see what they had.  Meanwhile, Lupe met a white and black dog.  Lanis returned with ice cream bars, the first treat of the trip.  Lupe was quite enthusiastic about this turn of events.  She eagerly helped SPHP out.

Lanis at Spotted Horse, WY. Lupe met a white and black dog here, and helped SPHP devour an ice cream bar. Her first ever Dingo Vacation was off to a good start.
Lanis at Spotted Horse, WY. Lupe met a white and black dog here, and helped SPHP devour an ice cream bar. Her first ever Dingo Vacation was off to a good start.

By the time Lupe reached Sheridan, WY, it was getting to be time for something a little more substantial than an ice cream bar.  Lanis and SPHP stopped, and got Subway sandwiches.  Lupe would have her Taste of the Wild.  At Dayton, WY, there was a park on the Tongue River.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped at the park for a peaceful picnic along the clear running stream.

At least it started off as a peaceful picnic, but after a few minutes, there was the sound of machinery.  It seemed to be coming from upstream.  It got louder.  In a couple of minutes, the source of the noise appeared – a front end loader came right down the middle of the stream carrying a boulder.  Back and forth it went.  The front end loader was busy retrieving and rearranging boulders in the Tongue River.  Apparently nature had placed them in the wrong spot.

Lanis was rather amazed and amused by the front end loader charging up and down through the river.  Somehow it just didn’t seem right.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went farther downstream to escape the noise, but the clear running river wasn’t clear any more, at least not during the picnic.

A front end loader moving boulders around in the Tongue River attended Lupe's picnic in Dayton, WY.
A front end loader moving boulders around in the Tongue River attended Lupe’s picnic in Dayton, WY.  Even Lupe looks like she thinks it’s funny.

From Dayton, Lupe headed up into the Bighorn Mountains on Hwy 14.  SPHP suggested going to Dead Swede campground, which is situated in a beautiful location on the Tongue River.  At Dead Swede, Lupe and SPHP stayed at a campsite to claim it, while Lanis went to get a registration slip.  Campground hosts came by patrolling on an ATV.  They saw Lupe and SPHP standing at the empty campsite.

Right away they stopped and launched into a speech about how Lupe couldn’t be off leash, we had to pay within 30 minutes, we couldn’t do this and couldn’t do that.  We had to do this and had to do that.  The campground hosts claimed to be here to help us enjoy OUR national forest and wilderness experience.  Then they left.

Yeah, right!  SPHP has no use for Washington bureaucrats, and certainly doesn’t need them to enjoy a “wilderness” experience.  Lanis was back within a few minutes with the registration slip.  SPHP told him to forget it – Lupe was leaving!

Looking NE out at the high plains from one of the turnouts along Hwy 14 heading up into the Bighorn Mountains.
Looking NE out at the high plains from one of the turnouts along Hwy 14 heading up into the Bighorn Mountains.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went on to check out the Giant Mushroom area.  There were some nice views from up on a ridge there to the SE toward Cloud Peak (13,167 ft.), the highest mountain in the Bighorns.  There were interesting dolomite rock formations, including the Giant Mushroom.  Lupe had fun exploring.  The ground was pretty lumpy for camping, though.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went on to Shell Creek campground.

Lanis at the giant mushroom in the Bighorn Mountains.
Lanis at the giant mushroom in the Bighorn Mountains.

SPHP had a chat with the campground hosts at Shell Creek.  They were pretty cool and laid back.  They didn’t care too much what happened, as long as no one complained and everyone acted responsibly.  That was fine.  Lanis and Lupe also approved of Shell Creek campground, which was in a beautiful spot in the upper end of Shell Canyon.

So Lanis and SPHP reserved site No. 11.  Like all the other sites, it was right next to Shell Creek.  Lanis and SPHP set up the tent, or Lupe’s “tiny house”.  Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP all went for a walk along Shell Creek.  For the first time ever, Lupe saw a moose.  The moose had a calf.  Mama and baby were down along the creek getting a drink.  They soon sauntered off into the woods.

The moose at Shell Creek, Bighorn Mountains, WY.
Mama moose at Shell Creek, Bighorn Mountains, WY.

Back at the campsite, Lanis and SPHP made a late dinner.  Lupe had some Alpo.  By the time dinner was done and cleaned up, it was 10:00 PM.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP all piled into the tent.  Lupe was pretty excited.  She was going to spend the night out here?!  This was new and different.  It took her a while to settle down.  She finally fell asleep to the soothing sound of the rushing waters of Shell Creek.

Now and then as she dreamed, she still twitched in excitement.

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