Mt. St. Helens, Dismal Nitch, & the Dead Fish Dingo, Washington (8-24-12)

Day 17 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Once again, Lupe and SPHP were up before Lanis.  Lupe soon found the Loop Trail, which runs entirely around the Iron Creek campground, NE of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Iron Creek campground is located in an amazing mossy forest of huge Douglas firs.  Before it was time to head to Mt. St. Helens, Lupe and SPHP wanted to explore the Loop Trail, and see it all.

Iron Creek campground, Washington state.
Iron Creek campground, Washington state.

The trail was in good condition.  Lupe, as always, was an enthusiastic explorer.  She sniffed ferns, and jumped up on giant mossy logs laying on forest floor, using the logs as her own private green-cushioned Dingo trails.  If there were any squirrels, Lupe wasn’t finding them.  They may have been up in the stratosphere of the towering tree tops.

The N and NE sides of the Loop Trail went along a lovely blue river, the Cispus.  The water of the Cispus sparkled in the morning light.  Not far from the Cispus, on the W side of the Loop Trail, were signs next to two huge Douglas firs.  The little tree was 280 feet high, had an 8 foot diameter trunk, and was 600 years old.  The biggest one was 285 feet high, had an 8 foot 2 inch diameter trunk, and was also 600 years old.

These trees were already 80 years old when Columbus set sail for America!  It was hard to imagine they had been standing here all that time.  Both trees were still alive, and looked to be in good condition.  The forest was full of Douglas firs that looked almost as huge and ancient as these two.  Iron Creek campground was a pretty amazing place!

Lupe and SPHP completed their journey around the entire Loop Trail.  Lanis was up, when Lupe arrived back at her tiny house.  It was time to leave for Mt. St. Helens (8,333 ft.)!  A long, winding paved road took Lupe up through a dense forest to the E entrance of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Lanis parked the Element at the first overlook in the monument with a view toward Mt. St. Helens.

Lupe, sporting big soft Dingo ears, with Lanis at the first overlook in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Lupe, sporting big soft Dingo ears, with Lanis at the first overlook in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Mt. St. Helens is poking up in the distance. Yeah, thinking maybe Lanis would look better sporting big soft Dingo ears, too! They'd probably be useful for his music, too.
Mt. St. Helens is poking up in the distance. Yeah, thinking maybe Lanis would look better sporting big soft Dingo ears, too! They’d probably be useful for his music, too.
From the first viewpoint using a telephoto lens.
From the first viewpoint using a telephoto lens.

Lanis and SPHP started reading some plaques at the overlook showing pictures of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980.  Amazingly, the man who took those very photos, Gary Rosenquist, showed up while Lupe was at the overlook!

Gary Rosenquist, Lanis and Lupe. Gary had taken the photos of Mt. St. Helens' cataclysmic eruption on May 18, 1980 featured on the plaques Lanis and SPHP had been reading!
Gary Rosenquist, Lanis and Lupe. Gary had taken the photos of Mt. St. Helens’ cataclysmic eruption on May 18, 1980 featured on the plaques Lanis and SPHP had been reading!

Lupe got to meet Mr. Rosenquist.  Lanis and SPHP got to chat with him for a while about his experience photographing the Mt. St. Helens eruption, and then fleeing for his life from the falling ash.  Mr. Rosenquist said he still likes to visit Mt. St. Helens fairly frequently.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP continued on the road toward viewpoints closer to Mt. St. Helens.  From one of them, there were some great views of Spirit Lake.  The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was so powerful, it created a wave of water from Spirit Lake that went as high as 850 feet up the mountains on the N side of the lake.  Debris blocked the outlet to the lake, and the water level rose about 200 feet above its prior elevation.  The surface area of Spirit Lake is now about 2,200 acres compared to only 1,300 acres before.

Getting closer to Mt. St. Helens.
Getting closer to Mt. St. Helens.
Spirit Lake is N of Mt. St. Helens. The outlet from the lake was blocked by debris from the collapsed mountainside. The water level was stabilized by engineers at a level 200 feet higher than before the May, 1980 eruption.
Spirit Lake is N of Mt. St. Helens. The outlet from the lake was blocked by debris from the collapsed mountainside. The water level was stabilized by engineers at a level 200 feet higher than before the May, 1980 eruption.
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens stripped away 230 square miles of forest. Many thousands of trees were flung into Spirit Lake. More than 32 years later, thousands of tree trunks were still floating in giant mats on the lake.
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens stripped away 230 square miles of forest. Many thousands of trees were flung into Spirit Lake. More than 32 years later, thousands of tree trunks were still floating in giant mats on the lake.

The road ended at a final viewpoint, still quite a distance from the volcano.  From here it was possible to get a very good view of the huge debris flow extending down to Spirit Lake formed by the collapse of the former N slopes of Mt. St. Helens as the volcano erupted.

Shown here is the debris flow that blocked Spirit Lake at the part of the lake closest to the mountain.
Shown here is the debris flow that blocked Spirit Lake at the part of the lake closest to the mountain.
Mt. St. Helens as seen from the last viewpoint at the end of the road coming in from the E side of the national monument. The May 18, 1980 volcanic eruption reduced the elevation of Mt. St. Helen's summit from 9,677 feet to 8,363 feet when the N side of the mountain collapsed.
Mt. St. Helens as seen from the last viewpoint at the end of the road coming in from the E side of the national monument. The May 18, 1980 volcanic eruption reduced the elevation of Mt. St. Helen’s summit from 9,677 feet to 8,363 feet when the N side of the mountain collapsed.

At the last viewpoint, there was a set of stairs climbing up a steep hill above the parking area.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went up to the top of the hill for a better view.

From the hill, it was possible to get a better look not only at Mt. St. Helens, but also see Mt. Adams (12,276 ft.) and Mt. Hood (11,239 ft.) in the distance.  Lupe even got to see Mt. Rainier (14,411 ft.), after all, despite having missed seeing it due to cloud cover the day before.  The summit of Mt. Rainier was peaking up over the ridge beyond Spirit Lake.

Mt. St. Helens from the hill above the parking lot at the last viewpoint.
Mt. St. Helens from the hill above the parking lot at the last viewpoint.
Mt. Adams, seen here, is 34 miles E of Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Hood is 60 miles SSE. Lupe could see Mt. Hood, but it was too far away to show up well in a photograph under the prevailing light conditions while Lupe was near Mt. St. Helens.
Mt. Adams, seen here, is 34 miles E of Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Hood is 60 miles SSE. Lupe could see Mt. Hood, but it was too far away to show up well in a photograph.
Mt. Adams with the telephoto lens.
Mt. Adams with the telephoto lens.
Lupe did get to see the summit of Mt. Rainier after all! Here it is poking above the mountain ridges beyond Spirit Lake.
Lupe did get to see the summit of Mt. Rainier, after all! Here it is poking above the mountain ridges beyond Spirit Lake.

At the top of the hill above the final viewpoint, there was a trail leading one mile back to the best viewpoint over Spirit Lake.  The trail was high up on the side of the mountain facing Spirit Lake, so it was bound to be a very scenic path.  Lanis didn’t feel like taking the trail, but Lupe and SPHP did.

The one mile trail was very scenic, and did have great views of Spirit Lake, but at one point there was a stretch of trail a few hundred feet long that was a bit scary.  The trail was very narrow with cliffs directly above, and a very steep slope leading to more cliffs below.  Lupe and SPHP made it through easily enough, but it sure wouldn’t be a place to take little kids.

Lanis was waiting with the Element at the best Spirit Lake viewpoint along the road at the other end of the trail.  Lanis said there had been signs saying the trail was for experts or advanced hikers only.  SPHP had not noticed them.

Going back down the paved road heading back out of St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was interesting, too.  There were some pretty big drops off the side of the road, and no guardrails.

More concerning was that the road itself was cracking, and in many places had already slumped creating troughs in the road several feet deep.  The pavement was still smooth, these weren’t abrupt cracks, but after seeing a whole mountain that had collapsed, it was easy to envision a 50 or 100 foot section of the road failing, and plunging down the cliff!

Looking back at Mt. St. Helens as Lupe leaves the area.
Looking back at Mt. St. Helens as Lupe leaves the area.

Of course, nothing actually happened; the road did not fail.  (Some day it will!)  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Mt. St. Helens behind.

Lupe was heading back to the West Coast!  She traveled through the little towns of Cougar, Yale and Ariel on the way back to I-5.  She turned N on I-5, and then W on Hwy 4, which followed the N bank of the Columbia River.  Along Hwy 401, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped at Dismal Nitch, a cove along the Columbia River.

It was beautiful at Dismal Nitch!  The Columbia River is almost to the Pacific Ocean by the time it reaches Dismal Nitch.  The river was so wide, it was hard to tell if it was still even a river, or a bay of the ocean.  Seagulls were swirling around over the river.  The long bridge over to Astoria, on the Oregon side of the Columbia, could be seen just a few miles ahead.

Lupe & Lanis at Dismal Nitch on the N bank of the huge Columbia River, at this point almost as much ocean as river.
Lupe & Lanis at Dismal Nitch on the N bank of the huge Columbia River, at this point almost as much ocean as river.

Lupe & Lanis at Dismal Nitch, WA 8-24-12Lupe had just missed seeing Lewis & Clark!  Well, not quite “just” missed.  Lewis & Clark first reached Dismal Nitch on November 10, 1805, so Lupe was 206 years, 9 months and 14 days late.  It was a good thing, really.  Lewis & Clark had taken shelter here from a severe winter storm.  The storm forced them off the river for 6 days, causing them to miss their supply boat.  It was Captain William Clark who had named the place, calling it in his journals “that dismal little nitch”.

It was getting late enough in the day to start thinking about finding a place to camp.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Dismal Nitch, and continued W on Hwys 401 & 101 all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment.

Cape Disappointment is located at the very SW tip of Washington state on the N bank of the Columbia River.  It was named by a British fur trader, John Meares, who had been sailing S in search of trade and the Columbia.  On April 12, 1788, he sighted Cape Disappointment, but had to turn his ship around due to a storm, thereby failing to discover the mouth of the Columbia.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were also disappointed – the campground at the Lewis & Clark State Park was full.

Lupe saw the Pacific Ocean here, just N of Cape Disappointment in Lewis & Clark State Park, WA. Lupe was disappointed, too. The campground was full.
Lupe saw the Pacific Ocean here, just N of Cape Disappointment in Lewis & Clark State Park, WA. Lupe was disappointed, too. The campground was full.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP drove all around the general area, stopping at all the campgrounds.  Every one was full.  People were flocking to the area for some kind of big kite flying contest.  SPHP’s road atlas did show a “World Kite Museum & Hall of Fame” on the coast a little way N of Cape Disappointment State Park.  Well, no problem.  Lupe would just take the Astoria bridge over the Columbia River to Oregon, and find a place to stay over there.

When Lupe crossed the bridge, Oregon became the 6th Lupe state to join her Dingo Nation!  Unfortunately, the story was both different and the same in Oregon.  Just like in Washington, all the campgrounds were full.  So were all the motel rooms, except for a few luxury suites priced well beyond budget.  The reason was different, though.  People were flocking here for a big Mt. Hood to Seaside relay running event that was in progress.

Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP gave up finding a place to stay in Astoria.  Lanis drove S on Hwy 101 towards Seaside.  Suddenly, Lanis spotted a black lab on the very busy 4 lane highway.  The black lab was clearly lost.  He was running back and forth right on the highway looking at each car as it whizzed by, hoping to find his owner.  The poor black lab was doomed to cause an accident, and die within minutes doing this!

Lanis stopped the Element.  Lanis and SPHP intended to rescue the black lab, but time was of the essence.  Fortunately, someone else in a pickup truck also saw the dog’s plight, and stopped closer to where the dog had run to.  In just seconds, he had the dog safely in his truck.  The black lab was saved!

At Seaside, unsurprisingly, it soon became clear there were no campground vacancies here, either.  However, there was a little park right along the highway, and a large pullout parking lot for it.  The park had a big open field, with scattered stands of trees.  Beyond the field was a view of a bay of the ocean.  No tents allowed.  It wasn’t dark yet, but it soon would be.  Looked like car camping in the Element again.

As twilight was fading, SPHP and Lupe went for a walk through the park down to a little river flowing into the bay.  Very high, thick, coarse grass grew next to the river.  Lupe sniffed around in the grass forest, while SPHP gazed out over the river down to the ocean bay.  SPHP didn’t notice anything was wrong until getting into the Element for the night.

Within a few seconds, the Element just reeked.  The source of the stench was quickly identified as Lupe.  She must have found some dead fish along the shore of the river, and rolled in them.  Dogs, even Dingoes, sometimes love to roll in the nastiest, most awful things.  An instinctive way of hiding their scent from prey?  Well, it was true no sensible prey animal would likely suspect it was being added to the menu by an extraordinarily obnoxious dead fish.

Lupe was very happy curled up in the Element wearing her Eau-du-Dead Fish perfume, and wondered what all the fuss was about?  Lanis and SPHP were far less thrilled.  The smell was horrid and overwhelming.  Lanis refused to stay.  He took a sleeping bag outside, and tried to sleep on the ground next to the Element.  The air was much better, but the traffic roaring by on the highway did not bring sweet dreams.

After Lanis had suffered outside, and SPHP had suffered inside, for about an hour, neither could take it anymore.  Take your pick – traffic noise, or the stench of a Dead Fish Dingo – it was impossible to sleep.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went for a long walk in the darkness, just wandering around Seaside.

The walk helped.  By the time Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned to the Element, it had aired out somewhat.  Somehow, Lupe had, too.  She was still no rose garden, but the worst was clearly over.  For Lanis and SPHP, sleeping in the Element still wasn’t going to be a treat.  With the back loaded with gear, the front seats didn’t recline.  Sleeping in the Element always meant sleeping sitting up.

High up on her pile of blankets and pillows, Lupe curled up and drifted peacefully off to sleep, soothed by the aromatherapy of the hint of Eau-du-Dead Fish she was still wearing.

Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean

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Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula & Iron Creek Campground, Washington (8-23-12)

Day 16 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

After Lupe’s first day at the Pacific Ocean on the Washington coast, when she had visited both Rialto Beach and Beach 4; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had ended up camping near the end of the day at Lake Quinault.  Lake Quinault is a fairly large lake some distance inland from the ocean.  The lake is partly sandwiched between the Quinault Indian Reservation, and the south border of Olympic National Park.

The SE side of Lake Quinault is in the Olympic National Forest.  Lupe had spent the night with Lanis and SPHP in her tiny house at the Falls Creek campground.  In the morning, Lupe and SPHP were up before Lanis.  Lupe and SPHP started out the day sharing the remaining corned beef hash left over from the previous evening.  SPHP then did some camp chores.  Lanis still wasn’t up by the time they were done, so Lupe and SPHP used the opportunity to do a bit of exploring.

Naturally, the first thing to go look at was Lake Quinault itself.  Lupe and SPHP followed a trail through the heavily forested campground down to the lake.  Soon Lupe arrived near a beach where people could rent kayaks or canoes.

Lake Quinault. Photo looks NNE.
Lake Quinault. Photo looks NNE.
A pontoon boat went by. Photo looks W.
A pontoon boat went by. Photo looks W.
Kayakers on Lake Quinault.
Kayakers on Lake Quinault.

From the beach, a broad park-like lawn led up a hill to the Lake Quinault Lodge.  Near the lodge were bushes featuring striking large flower clusters.  The flower clusters came in either light blue or lavender.  Lupe and SPHP had never seen flowers like these before.  SPHP had no idea what kind of flowers these were, but they were really pretty.

Lake Quinault Lodge.
Lake Quinault Lodge.
Large flower clusters like these bloomed in impressive profusion near Lake Quinault Lodge. Some of the bushes had light blue flowers, like those shown here, others had lavender blossoms.
Large flower clusters like these bloomed in impressive profusion near Lake Quinault Lodge. Some of the bushes had light blue flowers, like those shown here, others had lavender blossoms.

Flowers near Lake Quinault, Olypmic Peninsula, WA 8-23-12Across the main road going by the Lake Quinault Lodge, Lupe and SPHP found a trail.  There was a great deal of heavy undergrowth on both sides of the first part of the trail, almost as if it was lined by hedges.  To Lupe, the trail was kind of like a path in a maze.  The undergrowth was so dense, she couldn’t leave the trail, and so tall, she couldn’t see over it.

At first, the trail switch-backed repeatedly up a hillside.  Farther on, the trail leveled out.  Lupe passed a couple of small waterfalls.  The trail then entered what signs said was a cedar bog.  The bog wasn’t very wet, due to drought and the late August season, but it was full of moss and ferns.  Tall cedar trees shaded most of the area.

Lupe came to a point where there was a sign that indicated she had come 1.7 miles from the road.  The trail went on, and Lupe and SPHP would have liked to explore further, but it was probably time to be getting back to see if Lanis was up.

When Lupe reached the road again, instead of going past Lake Quinault Lodge, she took a different trail through Falls Creek campground back to her tiny house.  On the way, Lupe and SPHP saw some pretty neat campsites.  The best one was close to a beautiful pool of water at the base of a small waterfall.  Other campsites were near a creek.  There were some interesting footbridges crossing the creek, too.

This awesome forested trail went right through the Falls Creek campground near Lake Quinault.
This awesome forested trail went right through the Falls Creek campground near Lake Quinault.
Footbridge in the Falls Creek campground.
Footbridge in the Falls Creek campground.
This sweet little waterfall and clear pool were right next to one of the campsites in the Falls Creek campground at Lake Quinault.
This sweet little waterfall and clear pool were right next to one of the campsites in the Falls Creek campground at Lake Quinault.

Lanis was up, when Lupe and SPHP returned.  He was ready to continue his duties as Lupe’s chauffeur!  SPHP was glad that Lupe had gotten to see Lake Quinault and go to the cedar bog.  It wouldn’t have been right to leave this pretty place without having a look around.  As it was, though, more adventures were awaiting Lupe elsewhere.  SPHP planned to take Lupe to see Mt. Rainier next!

As soon as everything was packed back up in the Honda Element; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed out.  Lupe went S to Hoquiam, and then turned E.  By the time she reached Olympia, the capitol of Washington state, she had almost completely circumnavigated the Olympic Peninsula since leaving Tacoma just 2 days before.

While Lupe was traveling from Seattle on the way to Tacoma a few days ago, SPHP had spotted Mt. Rainier in the distance.  The snow-capped peak had looked huge and most impressive.  SPHP wanted Lupe to get to see it.  From Olympia; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed ESE on a series of small highways all the way to Elbe.

Lupe didn’t get to see Mt. Rainier.  A big cloud bank hung over the area where Mt. Rainier was supposed to be.  It was disappointing, to say the least.  The small town of Elbe was as close to Mt. Rainier as Lupe got.  SPHP had Lanis just turn S at Elbe, instead of continuing on to Mt. Rainier National Park.  Since Lupe wasn’t going to get to see Mt. Rainier, SPHP at least had another destination in mind.

By the time Lupe, Lanis and SPHP reached the Iron Creek campground S of Randle, Lanis had done a lot of chauffeuring.  It was getting late in the day, and time to stop.  The campground was large and had a lot of loops.  There were quite a few open campsites.  Lanis and SPHP were able to find an open site well away from other campers.

Lupe’s tiny house was soon set up in a forest different from any others she had visited so far.  Iron Creek campground is situated in a forest of Douglas firs.  A few of the trees were ancient and gigantic.  In some places, huge ferns grew on the forest floor.  Moss was everywhere, and clung to everything.  In the fading light; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP explored around a little bit near Lupe’s tiny house.  This place was going to be worth seeing more of in the morning!

Iron Creek campground, Washington state.
Iron Creek campground, Washington state.

Iron Creek CG, NE of Mt. St. Helens, WA 8-23-12It was Lanis that suggested making a campfire.  In all the camping Lupe had done, SPHP had rarely, if ever, made a campfire for her.  Tonight it happened.

After dinner, Lupe lay beneath the picnic table watching the flickering flames light up the deep darkening forest.  Lanis and SPHP chatted, and played cards.  Who knows what thoughts went through the American Dingo’s mind, as darkness closed in on the dying embers in that primeval place?Iron Creek Campground, NE of Mt. St. Helens, WA 8-23-12

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Rialto Beach, the Hoh Rain Forest fiasco & Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula, Washington (8-22-12)

Day 15 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

After breaking camp at the Klahowya campground on the Olympic Peninsula; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed SW on Hwy 101 to the town of Forks.  There was a U.S. National Park Service Recreation Information Center in Forks, and SPHP wanted to stop in briefly to see if there was ANY place in Olympic National Park where Lupe could go on a trail.

As expected, the news wasn’t good.  Dogs are not allowed on any trails in Olympic National Park.  However, there was one place dogs could go, provided they were on a leash.  Dogs were allowed on Rialto Beach, from the parking lot N about a mile to Ellen Creek.  That sounded great!  Since Rialto Beach wasn’t too far away; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were on their way.

The Olympic Peninsula was turning out to be a far more dangerous place than SPHP had ever imagined.  On the way to Rialto Beach, there were signs warning about vampires!  Just yesterday, Lupe had battled Big Paw, and now vampires?!

No, vampires beyond this point!? Since when do vampires obey regulations?
No, vampires beyond this point!? Since when do vampires obey regulations?
The vampire threat level was Code Red!
The vampire threat level was Code Red!

If Lanis and SPHP were concerned, Lupe wasn’t.  It was a bright and beautiful morning.  Sundown wouldn’t be for many hours.  Lanis and SPHP could just chill for the time being.  Vampires never saunter around in broad daylight – everyone knows that!

Rialto Beach was wonderful!  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed N along the shore.  It was great to see the Pacific Ocean, see and hear the crashing waves, and smell the salty air.  The white bleached trunks of huge dead trees were scattered along the high tide line, looking like the bones of dinosaurs.  Lupe didn’t quite know what to make of it all.  She had seen the ocean at Puget Sound just a couple of days ago, but this was the first time she had ever been right on the beach and seen the endless expanse of the open ocean.

Lupe and Lanis at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park. Lupe had never seen the broad expanse of the open ocean before.
Lupe and Lanis at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park. Lupe had never seen the broad expanse of the open ocean before.
Near the high tide line were numerous dead tree trunks, bleached white by the sun and sea.
Near the high tide line were numerous dead tree trunks, bleached white by the sun and sea.

Lupe stayed up on the beach.  She was a little afraid of the waves.  Even though the waves were quite small for the ocean, they were bigger than any waves she had ever seen before.  Lupe got close to the ocean, but she didn’t go in it at all.  She retreated ahead of each incoming wave.  She enjoyed trotting along the wet sand, and sniffing all the very strange scents.  To Lupe, Rialto Beach was a very beautiful, but also a very strange and exotic place.

Lanis became engrossed with shells, rocks and creatures he was finding on the beach, or in tidal pools.  Lupe and SPHP continued N alone, thoroughly enjoying the stroll next to the Pacific Ocean.  Rialto Beach was the farthest W that Lupe had ever been.  She had reached the North American continent’s edge.  She could go no further W.

Pacific Ocean from Rialto Beach.
Pacific Ocean from Rialto Beach.

Pacific Ocean from Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park, WA 8-22-12Lupe couldn’t go any farther N, either.  As Lupe and SPHP approached a towering upright rock near the shore, suddenly a park ranger came running up.  Lupe couldn’t be here.  Lupe and SPHP had transgressed by crossing Ellen Creek.  Lupe was almost all the way to Split Rock, which just wasn’t allowed.

As it turned out, Ellen Creek was just a little trickle of water coming out of the sand 10 feet from the ocean.  Upstream, it had disappeared underground long before reaching the beach.  The ranger wasn’t upset; she said Ellen Creek is 20 feet wide in the spring, but there was a drought going on.  Now that it was late August, Ellen Creek had almost completely dried up.  The ranger wasn’t surprised SPHP had missed it, but Lupe still had to go back.

Split Rock at Rialto Beach, where the park ranger said Lupe couldn't be. Lupe and SPHP had to turn back.
Split Rock at Rialto Beach, where the park ranger said Lupe couldn’t be. Lupe and SPHP had to turn back.

Reluctantly, Lupe and SPHP returned S looking for Lanis.  Lanis was still busy looking at rocks and crab shells, but he was ready to go when Lupe found him.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Rialto Beach, and headed back to Forks for Subway sandwiches and ice cream bars.  Lupe liked both, but clearly favored the ice cream.

SPHP thought it would be fun to take Lupe to the Hoh Rain Forest.  SE of Forks, off Hwy 101, is a turn to the E on Upper Hoh Road.  Upper Hoh Road enters Olympic National Park, and ends at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.

It made no sense, though, to pay the park entrance fee, just so Lupe could sit in the Element.  SPHP came up with the bright idea of taking a different road to South Fork campground, instead.  South Fork campground isn’t in Olympic National Park, but is pretty close to it.  In fact, it’s not even very far from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.  Lupe could probably experience the Hoh Rain Forest just as easily at South Fork, and avoid the dog restrictions.

The turn to South Fork campground was a little farther S on Hwy 101, past the turn for Upper Hoh Road.  The South Fork road wasn’t bad, although it was narrow and winding.  After a while, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP found themselves high up on a mountainside.  The little road went on and on.  This couldn’t be right!  South Fork campground was supposed to be down on the South Fork of the Hoh River, not up on a mountain.

Some miles back, the road had divided.  SPHP must have told Lanis to take the wrong fork.  There was nothing to do, but turn around.  It wasn’t going to be easy up here.  Lanis slowly, and very carefully, turned the Element around on the narrow road.  Success!  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went back down the mountain the way they had come up.

This time, Lanis took the other fork in the road.  Sure enough, it eventually led to South Fork campground, but the road went on even farther from there.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went all the way to the end of the road.  At the end was a place that looked like some kind of small defunct rock quarry.

Lanis and the Element at the sort of rock quarry place at the end of the road beyond South Fork campground. So, now what?
Lanis and the Element at the sort of rock quarry place at the end of the road beyond South Fork campground. So, now what?

Lanis, Lupe and SPHP got out of the Element.  Hmm.  No one else was around.  Was this a trailhead?  There didn’t seem to be any trail.  The rock quarry, if that was what it ever was, didn’t look too promising.  It was surrounded by forest, but the forest didn’t look like anything special.  The forest back at Klahowya campground, where Lupe had spent the previous evening, looked much more like a rain forest than this did.

SPHP didn’t give up.  Looking around, SPHP spied what looked like an old abandoned road or trail heading into the forest.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP set off to explore it.  They didn’t get far.  A stream coming down the mountain had washed out, and completely exposed, a giant culvert.  A 50-100 foot wide section of the mountainside had collapsed, too, taking the trail with it.  The trail did continue beyond the huge gap, but there was no reasonable way forward to get to it.

So, that was it.  The whole Hoh Rain Forest episode was just another of SPHP’s adventure fiascoes.  A lot of time had been lost winding around on little roads to get nowhere.  Even SPHP was ready to give up.  Lupe came all this way to see the ocean, not a bunch of trees!  There were trees back home, different types, but they were still trees.  It was time to return to the Pacific Ocean!

Back at Hwy 101 again, Lanis turned S.  Hwy 101 curved SW, and followed the Hoh River.  At the coast, Hwy 101 curved S again.  The highway was now at some height above the ocean, but not far from it.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped at a parking lot for Beach 4.  A trail led down a steep little hillside to the ocean.

This was what Lupe had come all the way to the West Coast for!  Beach 4 was marvelous.  Lanis, SPHP, and even Lupe went wading in the Pacific Ocean.  For a few minutes, the cold water felt good.  Then it was time to warm paws and feet up again on the dry sand.  Back and forth, in and out of the sea, again and again.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP wandered N along the beach.  Waves crashed against rocks sending spray from the collisions skyward.  The sea, the sea, the beautiful sea!

Lupe and Lanis at Beach 4.
Lupe and Lanis at Beach 4.
Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula.
Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula.
At Beach 4, Lupe went wading in the Pacific Ocean for the very first time.
At Beach 4, Lupe went wading in the Pacific Ocean for the very first time.

Lupe wading at Beach 4, Pacific Ocean, Olympic Peninsula, WA 8-22-12

Full of deep meaning and profound significance, this what-cha-ma-call-it was at Beach 4. SPHP suspects it may have been built by a tribe of modern Lanis.
Full of deep meaning and profound significance, this what-cha-ma-call-it was at Beach 4. SPHP suspects it may have been built by a tribe of modern Lanis.

The Oregon coast has a reputation for the most beautiful scenery along the Pacific Ocean in the lower 48 states, but Washington state’s Beach 4, where she waded in the sea for the first time, was a place of wonder for Lupe.  Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP lingered at Beach 4 enjoying the beauty of the ocean, as the sun began slipping from the sky.

And that’s where this post leaves them, until another post by and by.Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula, WA 8-22-12Lupe at Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula, WA 8-22-12

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.

Klahowya Campground, the Sol Duc River & the Battle with Big Paw, Olympic Peninsula, Washington (8-21-12)

Day 14 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Lupe’s day began uneventfully enough.  She woke up on a soft bed at a motel in Tacoma.  Before checking out, SPHP gave her a bath.  Afterwards, Lupe and SPHP spent part of the morning at the same park where Lupe had played Frisbee the evening before.  Next was a boring stop at a laundromat.  When the clothes were all clean, the interesting part of the day began.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Tacoma on Hwy 16, and headed for the Olympic Peninsula.

It had been sunny and warm out in Tacoma, but by the time Lupe was crossing the Hood Canal on Hwy 104, the sky was overcast.  After a while, a light mist began, but it was intermittent and didn’t amount to much.  The Olympic Peninsula is mountainous, but between the clouds and the tall forest that lined both sides of the highway, there wasn’t much to be seen.

From the Port Angeles vicinity, there were views of the ocean off to the NE.  SPHP had been looking forward to taking Hwy 112 W along the N shore of the Olympic Peninsula, but Hwy 112 was closed due to road construction.  Instead, Hwy 101 took Lupe into the N end of Olympic National Park.  After Yellowstone and Glacier, Lanis and SPHP now knew better than to bother stopping anywhere in a U.S. National Park.  Dingoes just weren’t allowed in the backcountry.

Lupe, though, knew this place was different.  For here, in the towering old rain forests of the misty mountains, is the home of a creature from a forgotten age.  Seldom spoken of by American Dingoes and Carolina Dogs, and even then just in low growls and whines, is a race of ancestral Dingoes known only as Big Paw!  U.S. National Park or not, no human has ever been able to find, capture or record Big Paw.

Hwy 101 left Olympic National Park and entered the Olympic National Forest.  In the national forest, Lupe would be less restricted.  Lanis and SPHP started looking for a place to camp, and soon arrived at the Klahowya campground.  Klahowya campground was in a forest full of ferns and moss.  It had a real jungle look to it.  There were plenty of open sites in the campground, too, some of them next to the Sol Duc river.

Lupe's campsite at the Klahowya campground in the Olympic National Forest looked like a real jungle.
Lupe’s campsite at the Klahowya campground in the Olympic National Forest looked like a real jungle.

Lanis and SPHP selected a site, and set up Lupe’s tiny house.  Lupe was still sitting in the Honda Element.  She wasn’t so sure about things.  What if Big Paw was lurking somewhere out there?

Lupe in the safety of Lanis' Honda Element, but still on the alert for Big Paw!
Lupe in the safety of Lanis’ Honda Element, but still on the alert for Big Paw!

Eventually, Lupe came out of the Element to inspect the campsite.  Klahowya campground really was a very impressive place.  Lupe’s tiny house was set up in a jungle setting unlike any place Lupe had ever camped before.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took a short walk through the jungle down to the Sol Duc river.

From the size of the exposed rocky riverbed, it was easy to see that even though there was a fair amount of water in the Sol Duc now, normally it was a much larger river.  However, a dry spell and the late August season meant the river was quite low.   Lupe sniffed around in the bushes and young trees growing near the rocky riverbed.  She was having a good time exploring.

The Element parked in the Klahowya CG.
The Element parked in the Klahowya CG.

Element and tent at Klahowya CG, WA 8-21-12

Lupe's tiny house at Klahowya CG.
Lupe’s tiny house at Klahowya CG.
Lupe arrives to inspect the campsite.
Lupe arrives to inspect the campsite.

After spending a little time down along the Sol Duc river; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned to the campsite for a picnic.  When the meal was done, Lanis and SPHP thought it might be fun to find a trail.  Everyone got back into the Element.  Lanis drove back to Hwy 101, and turned W.  In just a few miles, there was a side road to the N that looked promising.

The side road wound around in the woods.  It emerged from the forest at a large clearing where there were some old abandoned buildings.  The road went past the buildings, and soon ended at a trailhead.  No other vehicles were there.  Lanis parked the Element.  A very wide, level trail led Lupe, Lanis and SPHP into a dense forest.  Perhaps 30 – 50 feet down a steep embankment to the right, flowed the Sol Duc river.

The wide level trail. It turned out this trail was an old roadbed mostly hidden beneath the leaves of the undergrowth on both sides of the apparent trail.
The wide level trail. It turned out this trail was an old roadbed mostly hidden beneath the leaves of the undergrowth on both sides of the apparent trail.

After a little while, SPHP realized the wide trail was actually an abandoned road.  Under the leaves on the trail was a layer of pavement, occasionally exposed at the edges where the where the old road was starting to crumble away.  From the left, small streams trickled down a mountainside.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP came to a single track trail that led up the mountain.  A sign said it led to Snider Peak, elevation 3,055 ft.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took the single track trail, although how far it was to Snider Peak, no one knew.  The trail switch-backed up the mountainside until it was out of view of the abandoned road below.  Although the trail was in seemingly good condition, no one else at all appeared.  Lupe was having fun exploring the forest, but Lanis and SPHP eventually decided Lupe had gone far enough.  It was time to return.

Back down at the old abandoned road, it was still early enough out so Lupe, Lanis and SPHP continued farther along the abandoned road instead of returning to the Element.  Through the trees were glimpses of the Sol Duc river down the embankment on the right, which was steeper and higher here than before.  The river was now 50 – 100 feet below the road.

The river curved away from the old road, and the road began to climb through an exceptionally shady and gloomy portion of the forest.  At the top of the rise, the road leveled out at the edge of a clearing.  On the opposite side of the clearing was a decaying old mobile home, and some dilapidated outbuildings.  No one was around, but a flag was flying – a black flag with the skull and crossbones on it.  Lupe had come to a pirate hideout!

Lanis and SPHP didn’t think it wise to tangle with pirates, and retreated back through the gloomy forest down the wide trail to the bend in the Sol Duc river.  There was no sign of pursuing pirates, but the hair on Lupe’s haunches was up.  She was staring down the abandoned road ahead.  On the side of the trail opposite the river, up on the mountainside, a dark form was moving at high speed through the trees – and coming closer.

Lupe growled deeply.  Suddenly, out of the forest and onto the abandoned road ahead, leaped the approaching menace.

It was huge, as tall as either Lanis or SPHP!  Its long, shaggy fur was mostly dark gray with silver streaks, but where Lupe sports a beautiful white vest on her chest, the creature had a vest of ebony.  A huge curly tail arched high over its back.  The creature’s large soft ears were flattened against its head.  Its gray eyes glowed with a distinctly reddish hue.  Saliva dripped from its fangs and gigantic pink tongue.  Big Paw!

With a low, snarling growl, Big Paw bounded to the attack!  There was no escape.  Lanis and SPHP faced certain doom.  A brown and white flash streaked toward Big Paw.  It was Lupe, barking wildly!  Big Paw paused to consider this noisy, tiny Carolina Dog for only a moment.  Big Paw lunged at Lupe, but she was too fast.

Lupe circled around and around Big Paw, biting his heels and harassing him.  Big Paw snapped at her again and again.  At times Lupe dashed into the trees to get away, with Big Paw hot on her tail.  Lupe barely escaped.  Once, Big Paw was so close, his slavering jaws snapped shut on the upper end of her tail, ripping her fur there away.

Lupe darted between the trees like lightning.  Big Paw crashed into several of them trying to catch her.  Finally, Big Paw hit one of the trees so hard, it leaned and then plummeted down to the Sol Duc river below.  As its roots tore away from under the old abandoned road, a big chunk of the road gave way.  It too, went crashing down into the Sol Duc river.  Lupe and Big Paw almost fell with it, but both managed to scramble back away from the crumbling bank.

Lupe was panting hard.  She had put up a valiant fight, but Big Paw was too fast and strong.  Only Lupe’s agility was saving her, but her energy was fading with each daring escape from Big Paw’s jaws.  Finally Big Paw had her cornered.  He snarled and lunged, but Lupe lunged first.  Her fangs sank into Big Paw’s neck.  She clamped her jaws shut, and hung on tightly.

Blood streaked Big Paw’s fur.  He howled with rage and pain.  Big Paw shook his head violently, but the little Carolina Dog dangling from his neck refused to let go.  Big Paw couldn’t shake himself free of Lupe!

Big Paw took off into the forest, retreating back up Snider Peak, howling in pain the entire time.  Lupe hung on.  For how long she didn’t know.  It seemed like an eternity, but may have been for just a minute or two, if that.  Big Paw made a mighty leap over a giant old tree trunk laying horizontal on the forest floor.  As he did, Lupe crashed into the tree trunk, smashed between Big Paw and giant tree.  She lost her grip and fell dazed to the ground.

When Lupe woke up, Big Paw was gone.  She was alone in the terrifying forest.  Big Paw might return hunting her at any moment!  Suddenly, she heard voices rising faintly up the mountainside.  Lanis and SPHP were calling her, and looking for her.  Lupe staggered to her paws, and took off running down the mountain.

Soon Lupe was back with Lanis and SPHP.  Both shouted with joy at seeing her alive.  They petted her, and hugged her, and kept congratulating her on her most stupendous victory ever in all of American Dingo or Carolina Dog history!  SPHP promised her endless treats, steak and ice cream.  Lanis said he had captured her entire battle with Big Paw on film.  She was going to be rich and famous!

Hmm? Did I doze off? Was I dreaming? Uh, yeah guys, you just go ahead and sleep in the tiny house without me. Think I want to stay here in the Honda Element tonight. Mind locking the doors for me, Lanis, before you turn in? In fact, leave me the keys if you would, please! And maybe pull the blankie back over my head before you go?
Hmm? Did I doze off? Was I dreaming? Uh, yeah guys, you just go ahead and sleep in the tiny house without me. Think I want to stay here in the Honda Element tonight. Mind locking the doors for me, Lanis, before you turn in? In fact, leave me the keys if you would, please! And maybe pull the blankie back over my head before you go?

It doesn’t happen often in that distant land of mist, but on the night of the full moon, when the wind is right and blows the clouds clear away from the mountains, as the pale light filters through the ancient rain forest, if you go to the old abandoned road above the bank of the Sol Duc river, and follow it to the start of the single track trail to Snider Peak, then there the Dingoes say, you can still hear Big Paw howling with rage far up the mountain.

And, if you continue on in the moonlight, on the abandoned old road, you will come to a wide open view of a curve in the Sol Duc river where the road and forested bank caved in during the Battle of Big Paw.  But unless you are looking for trouble, don’t continue on the road up to the pirate hideout, or worse yet, go up the single track trail to Snider Peak.

And, if you ever meet Lupe, the American Dingo, you will know why the fur on the top of the tip of her curly tail is missing to this day.Klahowya CG, Olympic NF, WA 8-21-12

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

Seattle & Puget Sound, Washington (8-20-12)

Day 13 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Today, Lupe was going to see the ocean for the first time ever!  Well, not the broad expanse of the open sea, but she was at least going to see Puget Sound in Seattle.  Lupe was nearly to Seattle already!

First things first, though.  Lupe’s day started with a visit to a dog park along the Cedar River in Renton, WA just to get some exercise and sniff the morning air.  The dog park turned out to be long and narrow, as it followed the Cedar River.  There wasn’t any access to the river itself, which flowed down in a steep narrow gorge.  A bike path went through the park.  Lupe had to be careful.  Bikers whizzed silently by with some frequency.

Even though the dog park was in the city, it was cool, shady and not too crowded.  Trees and blackberry bushes grew along the bike path.  There were grassy areas where Lupe could run.  Lupe searched the trees for squirrels with some success.  In the meantime, Lanis and SPHP discussed where to go next.  Lanis was interested in seeing the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.

Seattle, WA - a different type of wilderness than Lupe is used to.
Seattle, WA – a different type of wilderness than Lupe is used to.

The Washington Park Arboretum covers 230 acres.  A wide variety of trees, bushes, flowers and plants of all types were growing in great profusion.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP wandered the pathways looking at the displays.  It wasn’t long before SPHP noticed that Lupe was stopping frequently to lick her left front paw.  On examination, there was a little round circle on her biggest pad.  Lupe had stepped on a blackberry thorn back at the dog park in Renton.

Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.
Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.

Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, WA 8-20-12

The Washington Park Arboretum had many beautiful plants and flowers.
The Washington Park Arboretum features many beautiful plants and flowers.

Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, WA 8-20-12Lupe’s sore paw put an end to touring the Washington Park Arboretum.  Lupe needed help getting that blackberry thorn out of her paw!  At a Safeway store, SPHP bought tweezers and a set of needles.  SPHP operated on Lupe’s paw.  Lupe was very cooperative.  She clearly understood that SPHP was trying to help her.  Unfortunately, at first SPHP didn’t seem to be making any progress removing the thorn.

Suddenly, with a little flick of the needle, the blackberry thorn popped out.  It came out all in one piece, leaving a small round hole in Lupe’s pad.  Her paw wasn’t sore anymore.  She quit licking it, and forgot all about it.  A few days later, when SPHP examined her paw, there was no sign of the hole where the thorn had been.

Once the painful blackberry thorn was removed, it was time to go see Puget Sound.  Lupe saw the ocean for the first time at Golden Gardens Park.

Lupe saw the ocean for the first time ever at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, where she had a great view of Puget Sound.
Lupe saw the ocean for the first time ever at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, where she had a great view of Puget Sound.
There was a nice beach at Golden Gardens Park, but no dogs were allowed on it. Lupe saw the ocean, but she didn't get to swim or wade in it, or even run along the beach.
There was a nice beach at Golden Gardens Park, but no dogs were allowed on it. Lupe saw the ocean, but she didn’t get to swim or wade in it, or even run along the beach.

Ravens were flying around looking for tidbits on the lawn near the parking area where the Element was parked.  Lanis became interested in feeding them.  The ravens seemed to like graham crackers.  Lanis’ flock of ravens grew rapidly.  Seagulls noticed the action and started joining in.

Ravens and seagulls wander the lawn near Lanis' Honda Element looking for tidbits.
Ravens and seagulls wander the lawn near Lanis’ Honda Element looking for tidbits.
Lanis started feeding the ravens graham crackers.
Lanis started feeding the ravens graham crackers.
Lanis' flock started growing rapidly.
Lanis’ flock started growing rapidly.

Seagull near Puget Sound, WA 8-20-12The decimation of Lanis’ graham cracker supply led to a loss of interest by his flock of followers, which soon abandoned him.  Although Lupe hadn’t been allowed on the beach, she had at least seen the ocean.  Lupe had to be content with that for the time being.  Maybe it was time to check out the Space Needle?

Lupe saw the Space Needle, but there wasn’t any open parking nearby.  Lanis was ambivalent about paying to go up in the Space Needle, anyway.  Carolina Dogs aren’t generally that interested architecture, although Lupe would have liked the view from the top.  SPHP was pretty certain the view would have been fabulous.  However, since Lupe probably would have been prohibited from going, and there didn’t seem to be any place to park the Element, Lanis drove on.

It had been 5 days since Lupe’s first experience with the luxury of motel life back in Bozeman, MT.  Lanis and SPHP both needed to get cleaned up, and were looking forward to soft beds again.  Lupe certainly wasn’t going to object!  Soon Lupe was checked into a motel in Tacoma.  Now that she had a better idea what to expect, Lupe acted like living in a motel was the most natural thing in the world.

In the evening, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went to a park.  There was a big pond, trees fully equipped with squirrels, and a very spacious lawn for Lupe to race around on.  The park was a popular place.  Lots of people and other dogs were around.  Lupe played Frisbee with Lanis and SPHP.  Sometimes Lupe invited herself to play Frisbee with other people when their Frisbees strayed conveniently close.  The sun set.  It grew dark.  Time to head back to the motel for a long luxurious snooze.

Puget Sound
Puget Sound

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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.

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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.

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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.

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