Buffalo Peak, Jefferson County High Point, Colorado (11-9-15)

The days aren’t very long in November.  Lupe and SPHP should have gotten off to an earlier start.  The plan was for Lupe to climb Buffalo Peak (11,589 ft.), the high point of Jefferson County, Colorado.  With no trail and over 3,000 feet of elevation gain involved, it was a fairly ambitious plan for this time of year.

SPHP had intended to park the G6 up at Stoney Pass, but just past Wellington Lake there was a creek running across the road.  The creek wasn’t very large.  It was about a foot deep, and maybe 6 feet wide, as it crossed the road.  SPHP stood peering into the clear water.  The creek bottom looked flat and smooth and firm.  But, what if it wasn’t really?  The G6 didn’t have much clearance.  If it sank another foot into mud and the engine got wet, Lupe and SPHP were in for an adventure of the wrong sort.

It would probably have been fine to ford the creek with the G6, but SPHP wasn’t going to chance it.  Not way out here.  SPHP found a place nearby to park.  Lupe and SPHP were just going to have to walk the 1.5 miles up the road to Stoney Pass.  The only real problem was the time it took.  It was already 9:42 AM when Lupe and SPHP left the G6 behind.

Looking NW at The Castle near Wellington Lake as Lupe starts for Buffalo Peak.
Looking WNW at The Castle (9,691 ft.) near Wellington Lake as Lupe starts for Buffalo Peak.

It was a beautiful, clear and calm day as Lupe crossed the little creek, and started up the road for Stoney Pass.  It was already 45°F.  Back in Arvada, where Lupe was staying with cousin Dusty while on vacation in Colorado, it was supposed to get into the low 60’s.  It wouldn’t get that warm out here, though, not way up on Buffalo Peak.  Even so, at least weather wasn’t going to be an issue.

SPHP reached Stoney Pass after a trudge up the road.  Lupe had already been busy racing around in the forest sniffing everything of interest.  Now it was time to leave the road together and plunge into a dense forest.  The plan was to reach the summit of Buffalo Peak by following a ridge from the NE.  SPHP already knew there was no trail, that the mountain was heavily forested, and that the ridge wasn’t all that distinct.

The topo map showed the climb up would be pretty relentless, although there were some flatter areas near the top.  SPHP wondered if there would be any viewpoints along the way.  It would sure help to be able to catch a glimpse of the summit every now and then, just to make certain Lupe was going the right way.

Despite the possible obstacles, SPHP felt pretty confident Lupe was going to reach the top.  Lupe showed no concerns, whatsoever.  It was just another big, fun romp in the woods to her.  As Lupe started the climb, SPHP wondered what the summit would be like.  Would it even be worth the effort to get there?  From a distance, Buffalo Peak had looked like just a big forested hump.  Would there be any place from which to get a view?  Or would Lupe’s efforts just end at a high spot in a forest that looked like the entire rest of the mountain?

There hadn’t been any snow at Stoney Pass, but as Lupe climbed, she started encountering a thin layer of snow.  SPHP worried that Lupe was going too far to the W instead of heading SW.  Lupe didn’t really seem to be up on a ridge.  The blue sky seen between the trees above was always hundreds of feet higher than where Lupe and SPHP were.  There was little deadfall timber at first, but as Lupe went on, gradually there was more.  Most of it was pretty small stuff, though, so it wasn’t much of a hindrance.

Lupe climbed a very long way before she finally came to a big rock outcropping.  SPHP was eager to see what could be seen from the other side.  Lupe and SPHP found a way through to the SW side of the rock outcropping.  The view wasn’t all that encouraging.  Farther off to the W than SPHP had been hoping was what might be a part of Buffalo Peak near the summit.  To the SW was a little valley, and beyond it another ridge.  Now SPHP wasn’t even sure Lupe had been following the correct ridge up.

Intrepid American Dingo Lupe reaches the first big rock outcropping on her journey up Buffalo Peak.
Intrepid American Dingo Lupe reaches the first big rock outcropping on her journey up Buffalo Peak.
This view to the W toward the general direction of the summit of Buffalo Peak from the 1st big rock outcropping wasn't too encouraging.
This view to the W toward the general direction of the summit of Buffalo Peak from the 1st big rock outcropping wasn’t too encouraging.
The first big rock outcropping as seen from the S.
The first big rock outcropping as seen from the S.

To the S of the first big rock outcropping, Lupe passed through a nearly level area.  She headed for the next ridge that SPHP had seen ahead.  She climbed several hundred feet up it to find a 2nd big rock outcropping.  The views from here were a little more encouraging.  What SPHP believed was the summit area was now at least in clear view.

Part of the 2nd big rock outcropping Lupe reached.
Part of the 2nd big rock outcropping Lupe reached.
Buffalo Peak from the 2nd rock outcropping. Photo looks SW.
Buffalo Peak from the 2nd rock outcropping. Photo looks SW.
A glimpse at mountains to the WNW from the 2nd big rock outcropping.
A glimpse at mountains to the WNW from the 2nd big rock outcropping.

Lupe had to head S down into another valley from the 2nd big rock outcropping.  When the land started rising again on the other side of the valley, Lupe and SPHP faced another long climb.  The snow got deeper.  Maybe SPHP was just getting tired, but the climb seemed to go on and on.  Except at the rock outcroppings, it was difficult to have much sense of where one was in the snowy forest.Lupe climbing Buffalo Peak, CO 11-9-15Finally, Lupe reached a viewpoint on the N side of the mountain.  SPHP isn’t certain about it, but this may have been the high point marked on the Peakbagger.com topo map as point 10,778.  Wherever Lupe was, there were some impressive views to the N from this high point.

Looking N.
Looking N.
Looking NW.
Looking NW.
Looking down to the N toward Wellington Lake (Center) and The Castle (L).
Looking down to the N toward Wellington Lake (Center) and The Castle (L).

View N while climbing Buffalo Peak, CO 11-9-15

Looking NE toward Green Mountain.
Looking NE toward Green Mountain (10,421 ft.). Stoney Pass and the road where Lupe came from are way back down at the base of Green Mountain.
The Castle.
The Castle.

If Lupe was at point 10,778, there was still another 800 feet of elevation left to be gained.  Lupe and SPHP headed SW still climbing, but the mountain was no longer as steep as it had been.  The going was easier.  The main concern was the time.  SPHP knew that Lupe had to hurry if she was going to make it to the summit of Buffalo Peak, and still have enough daylight to make it back down to the road at Stoney Pass.

After climbing and heading SW for a considerable distance, Lupe emerged into a little open area where the ground was flat.  Here it was possible to catch a glimpse of mountains to the S between the trees.  Lupe had to be getting close to the summit of Buffalo Peak.  There couldn’t be an awful lot of elevation left to gain.

Lupe emerged into this flat little clearing high up on Buffalo Peak. Mountains to the S could be glimpsed between the trees.
Lupe emerged into this flat little clearing high up on Buffalo Peak. Mountains to the S could be glimpsed between the trees.

Lupe and SPHP turned W from the little clearing.  Lupe hurried onward, but it was still farther to the summit than SPHP realized.  Lupe would have to gain more elevation and cover more ground, if she wanted to reach the top.  At a bigger opening in the forest, the summit area was still ahead and higher up.

Looking W across the 2nd larger clearing toward the summit of Buffalo Peak.
Looking W across the 2nd larger clearing toward the summit of Buffalo Peak.

SPHP knew it was decision time.  Although the sun wouldn’t set for close to 2 hours yet, Lupe would need all that time, plus any twilight, to get back down to Stoney Pass.  Continuing onward clearly meant breaking the rule.  The rule is that Lupe and SPHP are supposed to turn around in time to be able to reach a road or trail before dark from which SHPH knows for certain the way back to the G6.

As far as complying with the rule goes, it doesn’t matter if the road or trail to the G6 is a long one.  It’s perfectly fine if Lupe has to spend a few hours of the night getting back to the car.  Darkness isn’t the problem.  Not knowing the way to go in the darkness is….

Buffalo Peak is a big mountain.  It is heavily forested, and the forest offers few views even in the daytime.  There is no trail.  Except near the top, the mountain sides are fairly steep.  It was November.  There were a lot of good reasons for Lupe to abandon the attempt on Buffalo Peak and turn around.

On the other hand, the summit of Buffalo Peak wasn’t much farther.  Lupe was very close to it compared to all the distance she had already come.  SPHP decided to break the rule.

SPHP reasoned that even though it was going to get dark before Lupe reached Stoney Pass, she would have enough daylight and twilight to retrace most of the way back to the road.  Once darkness descended, Lupe could just head directly for Green Mountain.  She would inevitably reach the road, even if she didn’t hit it right at Stoney Pass.  In a sense, the route was known.  It just wasn’t a trail or road.

Lupe continued onward.  The snow was 6″ deep in the forest near the summit.  At first, SPHP wasn’t even certain this was the summit of Buffalo Peak.  SPHP was surprised by what Lupe found in the forest.  Ahead was a 30 or 40 foot high ridge of rounded red rocks and boulders.  To the NE, the forested ground was steeper than expected.  To the SW, there was – nothing?  SPHP couldn’t get a clear view over there, but it seemed like there might be a cliff.

The ridge ran SE/NW.  There was no easy way up it from the SE end where Lupe first reached it.  Lupe and SPHP worked around to the NW along the NE side of the ridge.  Before long there was a place where Lupe could climb up.  When SPHP got up there, the view was both fantastic and concerning.

From the narrow, rocky ridge, there were fabulous views in every direction except to the NE, which was hidden by the forest.  SPHP’s earlier concerns that Lupe would climb all the way up Buffalo Peak to see nothing but trees was totally unjustified.  The top of Buffalo Peak offers splendid views.

Wow, what a view! Lupe at the SE end of the rocky ridge up on Buffalo Peak. Pikes Peak towers in the distance. Photo looks S.
Wow, what a view! Lupe at the SE end of the rocky ridge up on Buffalo Peak. Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.)towers in the distance. Photo looks S.
Looking SW at remote snowy mountains from Buffalo Peak.
Looking SW at remote snowy mountains from Buffalo Peak.
From Buffalo Peak, Lupe could see Cheesman Lake to the SE. Beyond the lake was Thunder Butte, the high point of Douglas County, which Lupe had climbed just 3 days earlier. Thunder Butte and Sheep Nose looked so tiny from up on Buffalo Peak!
From Buffalo Peak, Lupe could see Cheesman Lake to the SE. Beyond the lake was Thunder Butte (9,836 ft.) (on L), the high point of Douglas County, which Lupe had climbed just 3 days earlier. Thunder Butte and Sheep Nose (8,894 ft.) looked so tiny from up on Buffalo Peak!

The object of concern was to the NW.  In that direction there was clearly a break in the ridge.  Beyond the break, the ridge continued.  What concerned SPHP was that the ridge was clearly a little higher beyond the break.  Lupe was not yet at the true summit of Buffalo Peak.  It was going to take more time for Lupe and SPHP to work their way back down and around through the snow, deadfall and boulders to reach the true summit.

Looking NW along the ridge line on Buffalo Peak. Beyond Lupe is a break in the ridge. The true summit is past the break. Lupe and SPHP would have to spend more time climbing back down and then up again to get over there.
Looking NW along the ridge line on top of Buffalo Peak. Beyond Lupe is a break in the ridge. The true summit is past the break. Lupe and SPHP would have to spend more time climbing back down and then up again to get over there.

Well, there was nothing to do, but spend the time necessary to reach the true summit.  Lupe and SPHP carefully climbed back down to the NE off the ridge.  It only took 10 minutes or so even with the snow, deadfall, and rocky terrain to get over to the higher NW part of the ridge.  Lupe and SPHP were soon up on top of it.  SPHP was very happy to find a register and a USGS Benchmark.  Lupe had made it to the very top of Buffalo Peak!

Lupe astride the true summit of Buffalo Peak, the high point of Jefferson County, Colorado. The blue top of the registry container is seen below her.
Lupe astride the true summit of Buffalo Peak, the high point of Jefferson County, Colorado. The blue top of the registry container is seen below her.
Buffalo Peak is also known as Freeman Peak. This is one of two USGS Benchmarks Lupe found on Buffalo Peak. This one was near the registry container.
Buffalo Peak is also known as Freeman Peak. This is one of two USGS Benchmarks Lupe found on Buffalo Peak. This one was near the registry container.

Lupe and SPHP were soon signed in on the registry.  It was fun to see that Lupe’s blogging and peakbagging acquaintances Beth & Sprocket from 3UpAdventures had been here over a month earlier on 10-2-15.  (Those two peakbagging maniacs had also signed the Thunder Butte registry the same day!)  Lupe had the good fortune to briefly meet Beth & Sprocket in person (in Dingo?) back in the Flat Top Mountains in August, 2015.

Beth & Sprocket of 3UpAdventures were here on 10-2-15!
Beth & Sprocket of 3UpAdventures were here on 10-2-15!

After registering, it was time for a little break.  Lupe gobbled up most of the Taste of the Wild supply.  SPHP hadn’t bothered to bring any human food along.  SPHP eyed the remaining Taste of the Wild, but decided to save it for later.  At least there was plenty of water.  Lupe wasn’t drinking much since she prefers to eat snow.  After a short rest, it was final summit photos time.  The Carolina Dog was quite willing to add a little canine interest to some of the shots.

Looking SSE. Pikes Peak on the R.
Looking SSE. Pikes Peak on the R.
There wasn't much time for taking breaks up on Buffalo Peak, but Lupe took a short one. Photo looks toward the wild country to the WNW.
There wasn’t much time for taking breaks up on Buffalo Peak, but Lupe took a short one after gobbling up most of the Taste of the Wild supply.  A dingo gets hungry climbing mountains!  Photo looks toward the wild country to the WNW.
Wellington Lake from the top. Photo looks N.
Wellington Lake from the top. Photo looks N.
Looking NNW.
Looking NNW with the telephoto lens.
Lupe near the 2nd USGS Benchmark.
Lupe near the 2nd USGS Benchmark.  (Near her left front paw.)

After all the time and effort it took to get up here, it was a shame to have to leave so soon, but it was important to get as far down the mountain as possible before the light was all gone.  SPHP was glad the snow was around on the way down.  Lupe and SPHP followed their tracks back down the mountain for a long way, before SPHP lost them for the final time.

The sun went down.  The twilight faded.  The mountain and the forest went on and on.  The deadfall, which hadn’t seemed too bad on the way up, seemed more prevalent, larger and troublesome on the way down.  The slopes seemed steeper in the darkness.  Still, Lupe succeeded in losing a tremendous amount of elevation before it was so dark the flashlight had to come out.  By that time, SPHP thought Lupe must already be getting close to Stoney Pass.

SPHP was wrong.  Down, down, down went the dingo in the dark.  Lupe and SPHP headed for the black outline of Green Mountain against the stars.  It was the only thing that showed the way.  Once SPHP distinctly heard voices.  SPHP must have been losing it.  There was no one out here.  Suddenly a big bird flew away with a great deal of noisy fluttering.  Lupe had passed beneath its perch.

Finally the steep slopes grew less steep.  Lupe and SPHP emerged from the forest into a small grassy and level valley.  A low dark ridge loomed ahead.  There didn’t seem to be a road.  Green Mountain was out of sight.  Just great!  No telling which way to go.  It didn’t make sense.  SPHP shone the little flashlight around.

A small patch of light similar to others on the aspen trees nearby looked a little different.  It looked a little like it was reflective.  Lupe and SPHP headed toward it.  Soon it was clear that it was indeed reflective.  There was some kind of sign.  Before SPHP even reached it, Lupe found the road.  A little wandering around in the grassy valley brought Lupe to a familiar spot.  She had come down the huge mountain in the darkness to arrive just 150 feet NW of Stoney Pass.

No worries now.  Everything was cool.  Lupe and SPHP headed NW down the road.  Although it was only 1.5 miles back to the G6, it seemed to take a longer than it should.  Time always seems to go by very slowly in the dark.  Lupe crossed the little creek that had prevented the G6 from reaching Stoney Pass.  In just a couple of minutes, she was at the G6.  It was 7:17 PM and 30°F.

It was after 9:00 PM by the time Lupe and SPHP were back at cousin Dusty’s house in Arvada.  SPHP served up some Alpo for Lupe and Dusty.  Andrea had a roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions ready and waiting in the crock pot.  SPHP wasn’t going to have to finish Lupe’s Taste of the Wild after all.

Lupe on Buffalo Peak, the Jefferson County, Colorado high point.
Lupe on Buffalo Peak, the Jefferson County, Colorado high point.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Arvada, CO Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Belcher Hill & Upper White Ranch Park, Colorado (11-8-15)

On Sunday afternoon, 11-8-15, Joe and Dusty were free to join Lupe and SPHP for a little adventure in the mountains W of Arvada, Colorado.  Joe suggested hiking some of the trails in upper White Ranch Park, which wasn’t too far away.  Unlike the trails in the lower part of the park, the trails in upper White Ranch Park don’t lose or gain an awful lot of elevation.  It would be a pleasant, relaxing afternoon outing.

Naturally, Lupe and cousin Dusty were both eager to go.  Everyone piled into the G6.  Even though the Broncos were playing, it was such a nice afternoon for November that lots of people were already at the park when Lupe and Dusty arrived.  The parking lot closest to the old ranch headquarters was completely full.  Luckily, Joe did find an empty spot for the G6 in the parking lot near the Belcher Hill trail.

The first, and longest, trail that Lupe, Dusty, Joe and SPHP took was a clockwise circuit of the entire Rawhide trail, which makes a loop.  At the far N end of the trail is a bench with a little roof over it.  There was a view toward a high snow-capped peak far to the N from the bench.

Upper White Ranch Park from the Rawhide trail. Photo looks SE.
Upper White Ranch Park from the Rawhide trail. Photo looks SE.
A high, snow-capped peak is seen far away from the bench at the N end of the Rawhide trail in upper White Ranch Park.
A high, snow-capped peak is seen far away barely poking up over the ridge line.  This photo was taken from in front of the bench at the N end of the Rawhide trail in upper White Ranch Park.  The bench is about 2.5 miles from the parking lots.  Photo looks N.

Joe and SPHP sat on the bench contemplating the view and munching apples, while water from a bit of melting snow on the roof dripped in front of them.  Lupe and Dusty shared some Taste of the Wild, which Dusty devoured with special relish since she doesn’t ordinarily get it.  Dusty polished off the apple cores, too, when they became available.  As far as Lupe was concerned, Dusty could have the apple cores.

The E section of the Rawhide trail stayed more in the forest than the W part of the trail had.  Along the NE section of the trail, there were occasional views across the deep Ralston Creek valley toward the high rocky ridge to the E.  Lupe passed by another bench commemorating a visit by Princess Anne.  Trees had grown up to mostly obscure the view from there.

Looking ENE across the deep Ralston Creek.
Looking ENE across the deep Ralston Creek valley.
The rocky ridge across the Ralston Creek valley from the E portion of the Rawhide Trail in upper White Ranch Park. Photo looks NE.
The rocky ridge beyond Ralston Creek from the E portion of the Rawhide Trail in upper White Ranch Park. Photo looks ENE.

A little way S of the Princess Anne bench was a nice view to the SE toward North Table Mountain (6,566 ft.).

North Table Mountain from the Rawhide trail in upper White Ranch Park, Colorado. Photo looks SE.
North Table Mountain from the Rawhide trail in upper White Ranch Park, Colorado. Photo looks SE.
Lupe, Joe & Dusty on the Rawhide trail. Photo looks WNW.
Lupe, Joe & Dusty on the Rawhide trail. Photo looks WNW.

Except near the N end, the Rawhide trail was pretty busy.  There were hikers, runners, dogs, and especially mountain bikers.  By the time Lupe was getting close to the parking lots again, though, the crowds were beginning to thin out.

Upper White Ranch Park from the Rawhide trail.
Upper White Ranch Park from the Rawhide trail.
Lupe near the Rawhide Trail not far from the parking lots.
Lupe near the Rawhide Trail not far from the parking lots.

When Lupe reached the parking lot again, the sun was starting to get low in the W.  Since it would still be up for at least another hour, SPHP suggested taking the trail to Belcher Hill (7,949 ft.).  Joe, Dusty and Lupe were all up for it.  From the parking lot near the old ranch headquarters, Lupe took the Sawmill trail to the Belcher Hill trail.  There were views of the ranch headquarters and North Table Mountain along the way.

Looking N at the White Ranch headquarters from the Sawmill trail.
Looking N at the White Ranch headquarters from the Sawmill trail.
North Table Mountain from the Sawmill trail. Downtown Denver, CO is seen on the L.
North Table Mountain from the Sawmill trail. Downtown Denver, CO is seen on the L.

From the Sawmill trail, the Belcher Hill trail headed WNW up a forested ridge.  The trail eventually leveled out near the high point on the ridge.  Lupe climbed up on the highest rocks on the ridge to claim another peakbagging success.

These highest rocks were in the forest, so there wasn’t much of a view from the top.  However, back closer to the trail, there were some lower rocks along more open ground.  From these lower rocks were pretty views from the S around to the W.

Lupe on the highest rocks on the Belcher Hill ridge.
Lupe on the highest rocks on the Belcher Hill ridge.
Looking WNW from rocks near the Belcher Hill trail.
Looking WNW from rocks near the Belcher Hill trail.
Looking SW from Belcher Hill, CO.
Looking SSW from Belcher Hill, Colorado.

From the high point on the ridge, it was a short pleasant stroll through the forest to the junction with the Mustang trail.

Lupe and Dusty at the trail junction.
Lupe and Dusty at the trail junction.

From the junction with the Mustang trail, the Belcher Hill trail headed N down the ridge to the parking lot.  There was just enough packed snow on the trail on the N side of the ridge to make things a bit slippery.  It didn’t take long to reach the parking lot, but the sun was down behind the mountains by the time Lupe and Dusty got there.

Back at Dusty’s house in Arvada, it turned out that Lupe, Dusty, Joe & SPHP had a better afternoon at upper White Ranch Park than the Denver Broncos had in Indianapolis.  The Colts defeated the previously unbeaten Broncos 27-24.P1070527

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Arvada, CO Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Thunder Butte, Douglas County High Point, Colorado (11-6-15)

Heading S on Hwy 67, SPHP saw a sign that said Teller County.  Lupe was too far S!  SPHP must have missed the turn for Westcreek.  SPHP turned the G6 around, and headed back N looking for it.  Between mile markers 91 and 92, SPHP found two turns to Westbrook.  Both had green street signs, but there was no other evidence of a community along the highway.

Abbey Road was the first turn, and led a short distance down a hill to Westcreek Road (County Road No. 73), which left Hwy 67 about 0.5 mile farther N.  A left turn on Westcreek Road took Lupe past a few buildings, which comprised what there was of the tiny community of Westcreek.  Less than a mile after getting on Westcreek Road, there was a junction with County Road No. 68 near a little lake and the Mountain Communities Volunteer Fire Department.

County Road No. 68 was what SPHP had been looking for.  Lupe was on her way to climb Thunder Butte (9,836 ft.) , the high point of Douglas County, Colorado.  In a couple of miles, No. 68 would lead Lupe past Sheep Nose (8,894 ft.) to 9-J Road.  About 1.5 miles in on 9-J Road, there was supposed to be a place to park at a sharp bend where the road turns NW.  From there, Thunder Butte would be just a couple of miles to the NNE.

Lupe nears Sheep Nose just off Douglas County Road No. 68. Photo looks W.
Lupe near Sheep Nose just off Douglas County Road No. 68. Photo looks W.
Sheep Nose in Douglas County, Colorado. Photo looks W.
Sheep Nose in Douglas County, Colorado. Photo looks W.

At 10:24 AM, SPHP parked the G6 at the bend in 9-J Road.  There wasn’t any trailhead or real parking lot, but there were at least a couple of places to pull off the road.  It was only 33°F, with a light NW breeze.  There were a few small snowflakes in the air.  Lupe would get lightly snowed on a few times during the day, but the snow squalls stayed mostly off to the N.

Thunder Butte was in clear view to the NNE.  Lupe was going to have a great time climbing it!  There was no trail up Thunder Butte, but it looked like a pretty easy trek.

Thunder Butte from near the G6. Photo looks NNE.
Thunder Butte from near the G6. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe starts her trek to Thunder Butte. Sheep Nose is behind her to the SE.
Lupe starts her trek to Thunder Butte. Sheep Nose is behind her to the SSE.

The first part of Lupe’s journey to Thunder Butte was very easy.  She just had to follow a nearly level ridge heading NE.  When she got to the edge of Shrewsbury Gulch, she turned N staying on the ridge.  It was easiest to just stay to the W of Shrewsbury Gulch until Lupe could get around the N end of it without losing elevation.

Lupe reaches the W edge of Shrewsbury Gulch. From here she headed N staying on the ridge. Thunder Butte, her peakbagging goal for the day is visible ahead the whole way. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe reaches the W edge of Shrewsbury Gulch. From here she headed N staying on the ridge. Thunder Butte, her peakbagging goal for the day, is visible ahead the whole way. Photo looks NNE.

Partway N along the W edge of Shrewsbury Gulch, Lupe came to Pedestal Point – a rock carved by nature over millions of years for the sole purpose of serving as a pedestal for the display of an adventurous Carolina Dog with Thunder Butte in the background.  Since Lupe was the only Carolina Dog available this day, she hopped right up on Pedestal Point rock.

Lupe poses on Pedestal Point rock. SPHP nicknamed the large rock outcropping seen above Lupe on Thunder Butte the "Snout". This photo shows the long low forested ridge at the N end of Shrewsbury Gulch that led Lupe up to the area below the Snout.
Lupe poses on Pedestal Point rock. SPHP nicknamed the large gumdrop-shaped rock outcropping seen above Lupe on Thunder Butte the “Snout”. This photo shows the long, low forested ridge at the N end of Shrewsbury Gulch that led Lupe up to the area below the Snout.
Getting close to the forested ridge at the N end of Shrewsbury Gulch. Lupe did not climb up to the lowest point of the saddle between the two halves of Thunder Butte. Instead, she climbed up below the Snout to the high point seen just to its right.
Getting close to the forested ridge at the N end of Shrewsbury Gulch. Lupe did not climb up to the lowest point of the saddle between the two halves of Thunder Butte. Instead, she climbed up below the Snout to the high point seen just to its right.

The ground along the W edge of Shrewsbury Gulch undulated up and down a little bit, but with little net elevation change.  Towards the N end of Shrewsbury Gulch, Lupe started turning slowly E towards Thunder Butte.  In some places she found a faint trail, but it quickly disappeared again each time.  Lupe worked her way through the forest over to the N side of the ridge.  The forest was full of interesting rock formations along the way.

Lupe among the boulders on the forested ridge.
Lupe among the boulders on the forested ridge.

Over on the N side of the low forested ridge, there was a little meadow with views to the NW.  Here Lupe turned to the E and headed directly up toward the Snout.  On the way, she emerged from the living forest and climbed up through young aspens growing in a previously burned area.

This seemed to be the easiest way up.  There was some deadfall timber, but it wasn’t too bad.  There were quite a few dead trees still standing, however.  At some point in the future when more of them fall over, the easiest route up will likely be through the living forest.

Lupe starts the climb up to the E towards the Snout. Here she is a few hundred feet N of the living forest (not pictured) on the low ridge.
Lupe starts the climb up to the E towards the Snout. Here she is a few hundred feet N of the living forest (not pictured) on the low ridge.  Photo looks E.
Approaching the Snout (R)from the W. The summit of Thunder Butte is seen on the L.
Approaching the Snout (R) from the W. The summit of Thunder Butte is seen on the L.
A look over to the lower S peak of Thunder Butte as Lupe climbed up toward the Snout. Photo looks S.
A look over to the lower S peak of Thunder Butte as Lupe climbed up toward the Snout. Photo looks S.

When Lupe got pretty close to the base of the Snout, she stayed to the S of it.  She was now above the living forest in an area that had been pretty thoroughly burned back in 2003.  Although that meant the immediate surroundings weren’t too pretty, it also meant there were some terrific views off in the distance.

The terrain near the Snout was fairly steep, but not dangerously so.  Lupe sniffed around, while SPHP trudged slowly up the mountain.  Lupe and SPHP arrived at a rocky outcropping to the SSE of the Snout.  From here, Lupe could get a clear view of the saddle area between the two summits of Thunder Butte.  The lower summit was to the S.  The true summit was to the N.

Lupe reaches the rocks at the high point SSE of the Snout. This photo looks S toward the lower half of Thunder Butte.
Lupe reaches the rocks at the high point SSE of the Snout. This photo looks S toward the lower half of Thunder Butte.
Looking W now. The low forested ridge is now way down there on the L. Lupe is almost as high as the Snout, seen on the R.
Looking W. The low forested ridge is now way down there on the L. Lupe is almost as high as the Snout, seen on the R.
Looking S toward the lowest part of the saddle over to the lower S summit of Thunder Butte.
Looking S toward the lowest part of the saddle over to the lower S summit of Thunder Butte.
Looking W from the rocks at the high point SSE of the Snout.
Looking W from the rocks at the high point SSE of the Snout.
Looking S again.
Looking S again.
The beautiful remaining climb to the N up to the true summit of Thunder Butte.
The beautiful remaining climb to the N up to the true summit of Thunder Butte.

Lupe and SPHP did a bit of exploring around the rocky high point SSE of the Snout.  SPHP wanted to see if there was an easy way up here from the lowest part of the saddle between the two halves of Thunder Butte.  It turned out there was a break in the rocks with a wide grassy pass between them.  The pass led down to the saddle.  It looked kind of steep, but was certainly a feasible route up or down.

In this pass, Lupe and SPHP also discovered the Most Interesting Rock of Thunder Butte.  The Most Interesting Rock stuck out over part of the pass from the W.  SPHP liked the unusual shape of the rock and its overhanging positioning.  Lupe agreed to strike a dramatic American Dingo pose on the Most Interesting Rock.

An American Dingo poses dramatically upon the Most Interesting Rock on Thunder Butte.
An American Dingo poses dramatically upon the Most Interesting Rock on Thunder Butte.
Lupe on the Most Interesting Rock. Photo looks SE.
Lupe on the Most Interesting Rock. Photo looks SE.

From the Most Interesting Rock, Lupe and SPHP started the climb to the N up to the true summit of Thunder Butte.  Shortly before getting there, Lupe reached a ridge that led the last little way to the NW up to top.  Soon Lupe was sitting on the highest rocks on Thunder Butte next to a registry.  SPHP entered Lupe’s name on the registry for her, and signed in as well.

After registering, it was time for a break.  Lupe chowed down on some Taste of the Wild, while SPHP consumed an apple.  Then there was plenty of time for admiring views, and taking some pictures.  There were great views to the SE, S, W, and NW.  A small area of living forest mostly hid the views to the N, NE and E.

Lupe gains the ridge that leads the last little bit of the way up to the NW to the true summit of Thunder Butte.
Lupe gains the ridge that leads the last little bit of the way up to the NW to the true summit of Thunder Butte.
Lupe reaches the register on Thunder Butte, successfully completing her 2nd peakbagging goal of her November, 2015 vacation to Colorado.
Lupe reaches the registry on Thunder Butte, successfully completing her 2nd peakbagging goal of her November, 2015 vacation to Colorado.  Photo looks S.

Thunder Butte, CO 11-6-15

Lupe gets speckled with a bit of snow as she enjoys some Taste of the Wild on Thunder Butte.
Lupe gets speckled with a bit of snow as she enjoys some Taste of the Wild on Thunder Butte.
Looking S from the top of Thunder Butte. The lower S summit is seen in the foreground. SPHP believes the high mountain in the clouds in the distance is Pikes Peak.
Looking S from the top of Thunder Butte. The lower S summit is seen in the foreground. SPHP believes the high mountain in the clouds in the distance is Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.).

Pikes Peak from Thunder Butte, CO 11-6-15

Lupe on Thunder Butte, CO 11-6-15

Looking NW. Portions of Cheesman Lake are visible.
Looking NW. Portions of Cheesman Lake are visible.

Looking NW from Thunder Butte, CO 11-6-15

Looking S toward Pikes Peak. Sheep Nose is visible on the R.
Looking S toward Pikes Peak. Sheep Nose is visible on the R.

Lupe on Thunder Butte, CO 11-6-15

Looking NW from Thunder Butte, CO 11-6-15Looking W from Thunder Butte, CO 11-6-15Lupe and SPHP had a fun time up on the summit of Thunder Butte.  The views were magnificent, and the solitude complete.  Sadly, eventually, it was time to go.  On the way down, SPHP tried to get some pictures of the views to the NE which weren’t available from the summit.

Looking NE from Thunder Butte. SPHP believes Turtle Mountain is shown here.
Looking NE from Thunder Butte. SPHP believes Turtle Mountain (8,882 ft.) is shown here.
Going SE down the ridge from the summit.
Going SE down the ridge from the summit.
Looking S at the lower S peak of Thunder Butte. Sheep Nose is on the R. At lower R is the top of the Snout. Pikes Peak in the distance.
Looking S at the lower S peak of Thunder Butte. Sheep Nose is on the R. At lower R is the top of the Snout. Pikes Peak in the distance.

The Snout on Thunder Butte, CO from above 11-6-15

Looking E.
Looking E.
Looking NE at Turtle Mountain.
Looking NE at Turtle Mountain.

Lupe and SPHP retraced their route up back down Thunder Butte.  Once down to the low forested ridge, Lupe did some sniffing around in the forest among the interesting rock formations.  The sun was starting to get low in the W.  However, there was still plenty of time to get back to the G6.  Lupe and SPHP had some fun among the rocks.

Lupe turned SW from this rock formation along the low, forested ridge N of Shrewsbury Gulch.
Lupe went SW from this rock formation along the low, forested ridge N of Shrewsbury Gulch.  Photo looks SW.
Looking NE at the turning point rock.
Looking back NE at the rock after Lupe passed it.
Looking S at Sheep Nose from the low, forested ridge W of Thunder Butte.
Looking S at Sheep Nose from the low, forested ridge W of Thunder Butte.
Lupe's route back to the G6 went along the W side of Shrewsbury Gulch almost directly toward Sheep Nose.
Lupe’s route back to the G6 went along the W side of Shrewsbury Gulch almost directly toward Sheep Nose.
The S sub-peak of Thunder Butte. Photo looks E.
The S sub-peak of Thunder Butte. Photo looks E.
Sheep Nose from the N.
Sheep Nose from the N.
Lupe returns to Pedestal Point rock.
Lupe returns to Pedestal Point rock.
You guessed it! Sheep Nose!
You guessed it! Sheep Nose!

Lupe found her way to the G6, but SPHP called her away again.  It was so nice out, SPHP wanted to go a little closer to Sheep Nose for a better look.  Earlier in the day, SPHP had ruled out trying to climb Sheep Nose, which looked like it might require some technical climbing skills and equipment.  Sheep Nose was still an interesting looking peak.  Maybe it looked less troublesome from closer up.

Lupe near Sheep Nose. Not a huge peak, but still fairly rugged and quite interesting looking. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe near Sheep Nose. Not a huge peak, but still fairly rugged and quite interesting looking. Photo looks SSE.  Interested in living near Sheep Nose?  Go back to the first photo of Sheep Nose near the start of this post.  The roof of a mobile home can be seen.  The home was for sale by owner when Lupe went by it this day.
Looking toward Pikes Peak from the W side of Sheep Nose.
Looking toward Pikes Peak from the W side of Sheep Nose.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the G6 at 4:00 PM exactly.  It was 35°F, and a beautiful calm late afternoon.  Lupe’s trek to Thunder Butte had been a fun day, and a great success!

There had been easy parts on nearly level ground near Shrewsbury Gulch, and harder parts climbing steeply up the mountain.  Lupe had seen and/or explored cool rock formations like Pedestal Point rock, the Snout, the Most Interesting Rock, and the boulders along the low forested ridge.  There had been great views from the top of the mountain, and at many points on the way up.

Lupe did have one complaint, though.  She never found a single squirrel in the forest the whole day long.

Thunder Butte, CO, the Douglas County high point from N of Sheep Nose.
Thunder Butte, the Douglas County, Colorado high point from N of Sheep Nose.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Arvada, CO Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Bergen Peak, Elk Meadow Park, Colorado (11-4-15)

By 2:45 AM on 11-3-15, Lupe and SPHP were up and about.  Erik and Ana were flying to California.  They needed a ride to the Denver International Airport, 400 miles away.  That meant Lupe was about to set out on a week long Dingo Vacation!  It was getting close to 2 years since Lupe had gone to see her cousin, Dusty in Arvada, Colorado.  Now she and SPHP were going to get to spend a week with Joe, Andrea and Dusty, while staying in the cowboy room at Dusty’s house.

The drive across the western Nebraska panhandle was uneventful.  Lupe and SPHP dropped Erik and Ana off at the Denver International Airport at 10:40 AM.  Then it was off to Dusty’s house in Arvada!  Lupe was soon bored with the drive through Denver.  (Not a single cow or squirrel in sight!)  Less than a mile from Dusty’s house, though, she suddenly picked her head up and started sniffing the air.  Could she have known?  Did she still remember, after all this time?  She acted like she did.

A couple of minutes later, a very surprised and happy Dusty greeted her cousin Lupe and SPHP at the door.  Andrea was back from the chiropractor 15 minutes later.  In the meantime, Lupe and SPHP had already established themselves in the cowboy room.  Andrea had to work, but Lupe, Dusty and SPHP got the fun started by taking a walk around the 100 acre field.

In the evening, Joe was back from work.  Joe and SPHP went to the nearby Apex Center for a little workout and swimming.  Lupe hung out at home with Dusty, Misty (the cat) and Andrea.  Dusty snuck into the cowboy room, and ate an entire banana bread that SPHP had brought with.  It was a bit much.  Dusty was sick all night.

The next morning, Lupe and SPHP set out for Elk Meadow Park near Evergreen, Colorado.  Way back on 12-23-13, Lupe, Dusty, Joe and SPHP had gone to Elk Meadow Park intending to climb Bergen Peak.  Unfortunately, a mile from the summit Joe hadn’t felt well, so that attempt was called off.  Now Lupe and SPHP were going to try again.

Bergen Peak (9,708 ft.) was already in sight from the trailhead.  Lupe and SPHP started off heading WNW on the Sleepy S trail.  Soon SPHP mistook an old road across the big field to the N as part of the trail system.  Lupe and SPHP followed the old road until it started turning E.  SPHP hoped to find the Too Long trail, but unknowingly wound up on the Meadow View trail instead.  Eventually, SPHP realized the error as the Meadow View trail turned back to the S.

Lupe near the trailhead at Elk Meadow Park. Photo looks W toward Bergen Peak.
Lupe near the trailhead at Elk Meadow Park. Photo looks W toward Bergen Peak (center).
Lupe on the old road in Elk Meadow Park. Bergen Peak in the background. Photo looks W.
Lupe on the old road in Elk Meadow Park. Bergen Peak in the background. Photo looks W.
Looking ESE back across the big meadow in Elk Meadow Park near Evergreen, Colorado.
Looking ESE back across the big meadow in Elk Meadow Park near Evergreen, Colorado.

The Meadow View trail went mostly through the forest.  SPHP’s mistake in missing the Too Long trail made the route longer than it need have been.  It really didn’t matter.  Lupe was having a good time exploring the trail.  Lupe and SPHP followed the Meadow View trail past an intersection with the Elk Ridge trail.  Shortly after that, Lupe reached the junction with the Bergen Peak trail.

The Bergen Peak trail was nearly all in the forest, too.  Lupe did come to one place with some open views to the SW.  Even though it was a Wednesday in November, there had been a surprising number of hikers, runners, and mountain bikers on the Sleepy S and Meadow View trails.  Lupe encountered far fewer people and dogs up on the Bergen Peak trail, as it steadily switch-backed its way up the mountain.

Lupe on a rock outcropping along the Bergen Peak trail. Photo looks SW.
Lupe on a rock outcropping along the Bergen Peak trail. Photo looks SW.

Lupe reached an intersection with the Too Long trail well up on the mountain.  She stayed on the Bergen Peak trail to the summit.  This last mile of the Bergen Peak trail was easier, since it gained less elevation.  It was also more interesting, too, as it wound around the N side of Bergen Peak.  The trail leveled out as it curled around the mountain to the W and then S.

Lupe hadn’t encountered any snow before reaching the junction with the Too Long trail, but there was a little up on the shady N side of the mountain.  The snow made her very happy.  After a fun frolic on the snow, Lupe proceeded on the trail around Bergen Peak to the S of the summit.  Here there were some big rock outcroppings.  The rocks offered views to the E, S and W.

Lupe wasn’t quite at the summit yet.  She turned N and followed the last bit of the trail to the top.  On the way was a high point where there was a little tower and a rusty old shed.  The actual summit was just a couple hundred feet farther N.  Lupe reached the Bergen Peak sign at the top of the mountain – successfully achieving her first peakbagging goal of her November, 2015 Dingo Vacation to Colorado!

This rusty shed near a little tower on Bergen Peak is just a couple hundred feet S of the summit.
This rusty shed near a little tower on Bergen Peak is just a couple hundred feet S of the summit.
Lupe on the highest rocks near the little tower close to the rusty shed. Turned out this was not the true summit.
Lupe on the highest rocks near the little tower close to the rusty shed. Turned out this was not the true summit.
Lupe on Bergen Peak!
Lupe on Bergen Peak!

With her peakbagging goal successfully completed, Lupe returned to the rock outcroppings S of the summit to check out the views.

The big meadow of Elk Meadow Park near Evergreen, CO as seen from Bergen Peak. The tall buildings of downtown Denver are seen faintly in the distance (L of center).
The big meadow of Elk Meadow Park near Evergreen, CO as seen from Bergen Peak. The tall buildings of downtown Denver are seen faintly in the distance (L of center).  Photo looks E.
Looking SSE from Bergen Peak.
Looking SSE from Bergen Peak.
The grandest view from Bergen Peak was to the W. SPHP believes this may be Mount Evans.
The grandest view from Bergen Peak was to the WSW. SPHP believes this may be Mount Evans (14,264 ft.).
Pikes Peak could be seen faintly on the horizon to the S.
Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.) could be seen faintly on the horizon to the S.

After taking in the views, Lupe and SPHP explored just a little bit off the trail before leaving the summit area of Bergen Peak.Lupe on Bergen Peak, CO 11-4-15P1070439Lupe on Bergen Peak, CO 11-4-15Snow showers were due to move in from the W.  The clouds started spitting a little snow.  It amounted to almost nothing at all, really, but it was time to head back down anyway.

The Bergen Peak trail high up on the N side of the mountain featured a bit of snow.
The Bergen Peak trail high up on the N side of the mountain featured a bit of snow.

On the way back, Lupe did get to take the Too Long trail from where the Bergen Trail reached it.  Going down the mountain, it didn’t seem too long at all.  In fact, since there was still plenty of time, Lupe and SPHP took a long route back to the G6 by retracing the Meadow View trail back to the Elk Ridge trail, and following it back to Sleepy S again.

Lupe’s successful ascent of Bergen Peak was a great start to her November, 2015 Dingo Vacation to Arvada, Colorado, but it was only a start.  Lupe was just getting warmed up.  More mountains of fun and adventures were still to come!Lupe on N side of Bergen Peak, CO 11-4-15

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Arvada, CO Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.