It seemed like a very long night. SPHP kept waking up expecting it to be dawn, but it wasn’t. Finally dawn came. The sky was about 50% clear with some haze – a promising start to the day. Lupe and SPHP were on USFS Road No. 28 at Merle Creek in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming.
Disappointingly, by the time breakfast was done, the sky was completely overcast. SPHP drove Lupe over to USFS Road No. 29 off Hwy 16 near Hesse Mountain(10,385 ft.) and Hazelton Pyramid(10,534 ft.). Both peaks were socked in the fog with the darkest clouds around.
Hope sprang from a patch of blue sky to the W. SPHP decided Lupe should try Hesse even in the clouds. If the fog lifted, Lupe would go on to Hazelton Pyramid. If not, Hesse Mountain would be Lupe’s last peakbagging success of her grand summer of 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies and Beartooths. SPHP took USFS Road No. 444 to Munkres Pass and parked the G6. Lupe left for Hesse Mountain at 8:20 AM. It was 48°F and calm. Hesse Mountain was still in the fog.
There was no trail, but Hesse Mountain is only about 1.25 miles SE of Munkres Pass as the crow flies. Lupe and SPHP climbed through the forest. Eventually Lupe reached tree line. Fog was now swirling around the mountain. At times Lupe and SPHP could see the summit or in other directions. Visibility was good enough to guide Lupe to the top. The area above tree line was dominated by boulder fields interspersed with some grassy areas which became increasingly scarce as Lupe gained elevation.
Lupe reached the summit of Hesse Mountain and found a cairn there. On the other side of the mountain was a steep drop. Soon fog moved in and completely shut off all views.
Reluctantly, SPHP decided this was it. There was no sense in having Lupe try to go on to Hazelton Pyramid, which was seldom even in view with all the fog. With no trails, if the fog moved in and stayed, it would be easy to get turned around and lost. It didn’t seem that likely, but on the other hand, the Beartooths to the W where Lupe had just come from had been overcast and drippy for several days. The weather in the Bighorns usually comes from that direction.
Lupe seemed perfectly happy with her ascent of Hesse Mountain. SPHP was happy with it, too. At least Lupe had gotten to the summit of Hesse, even if Hazelton Pyramid had to be left for another day on another dingo vacation. On the way back down, the fog continued to swirl around and come and go. At times, the views were pretty good. Five or ten minutes later, the clouds would close in again. It felt kind of mystical. Views came and went in unpredictable directions.
Lupe reached the G6 again at 12:22 PM. It was a pleasant 65°F, still overcast, calm and almost foggy. Lupe and SPHP had lunch near the stone pillar at Munkres Pass before heading out.
SPHP hatched another peakbagging plan for Lupe. Even though she was about to leave the Bighorn Mountains, she might still go up to Warren Peaks(6,650 ft.) or climb Inyan Kara(6,360 ft.) in the Black Hills of Wyoming on the way home. It didn’t happen. At a gas station convenience store in Buffalo, WY there was news on the TV about severe storms and flooding in the Black Hills.
Lupe and SPHP just cruised E on I-90 back to the Black Hills of South Dakota and home. The 74th annual Black Hills Motorcycle Classic was going on in Sturgis, SD. It was kind of fun to be packed in with huge numbers of motorcyclists flocking to the area. There were still big clouds around, but the storms seemed to be over in the Black Hills by the time Lupe reached them.
Shortly before 6:00 PM, Lupe arrived home. Her great summer of 2014 Dingo Vacation all the way to the Canadian Rockies and back was over. Lupe had been gone 23 days, 22 nights and traveled 3,288 miles in the G6. Dingoes are very practical. They don’t dwell on the past or statistics much. If Lupe was sad that it was all over, she didn’t show it. As soon as she got home, Lupe happily ran next door to Dog Heaven to hit up the neighbors for a treat.
SPHP woke up in the G6 about 7:30 AM on the morning of 8-4-14. Lupe and SPHP were parked near their favorite camping spot on the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River in the Beartooth Mountains. The previous day Lupe and SPHP had spent a wonderful long day climbing Lonesome Mountain, the highest mountain Lupe has ever climbed so far. The sky was overcast, but not too dark. SPHP had hopes of pitching the tent next to the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone, and spending a lazy recovery day there with Lupe while plotting new adventures in the Beartooths.
It was not to be. Although by 11:30 AM SPHP was able to claim Lupe’s favorite camping site, it started to rain. The rain lasted for several hours and then quit. The skies remained heavily overcast. The tent didn’t get set up. The mosquitoes were bad. The skies never cleared. Everything outside was sopping wet. No ray of sun appeared. Lupe and SPHP spent most of the day in the G6 resting up and waiting for the weather to break. It looked like it could start raining again at any moment. Another night was spent in the G6.
On 8-5-14, SPHP woke up at 6:45 AM. 52°F and still heavily overcast, almost foggy. Lupe was well rested again by now. There wasn’t going to be any keeping the lively dingo satisfied with another day in the G6. SPHP’s plans for more Lupe adventures in the Beartooths had to be scrapped. It was time to move on. Lupe and SPHP headed for Cody, WY via the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, Hwy 296 and then Hwy 120. Lupe’s 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies & Beartooth Mountains was rapidly drawing to a close.
It wasn’t over yet, though. The fog and clouds were hanging over the mountains to the W, but Lupe and SPHP drove out into the sunshine even before reaching the pass on Hwy 296. SPHP still had a few adventures in mind for Lupe. After fueling up in Cody, just to see something new Lupe and SPHP continued SE on Hwy 120 through Meeteetse all the way to Thermopolis. Lupe was happy just to be moving again with the opportunity to bark at cows and horses along the way. Neither SPHP nor Lupe had ever taken this route before, so it was all new and interesting.
Most of the way from Cody to Thermopolis was like much of Wyoming – sagebrush, dry high plains with ridges and buttes all around and higher mountains in the distance. Very Old West looking and largely unspoiled. Meeteetse is in the Greybull River valley where there were some green trees, green irrigated fields, and a little more going on. Meeteetse itself is less than 400 population. Thermopolis was considerably larger, around 3,000 population. It is named after natural hot springs in the area. After days spent outdoors, SPHP was pretty grimy. SPHP was looking forward to the hot springs as a great relaxing way to get cleaned up.
Fortunately the day hadn’t heated up much yet, with temperatures still around a comfortable 70°F. SPHP left Lupe in the G6 parked in the shade with the windows partially down. She set about entertaining herself by watching squirrels in the trees. SPHP spent a pleasant hour and a half in the pools or on the waterslide at the State Bath House, and returned much revived to the by-now bored dingo in the G6. Nothing promotes an appreciation of cleanliness like long days spent outdoors.
It was time to head for the Bighorn Mountains! The drive on Hwy 16/20 from Thermopolis to Worland was flat and dull with little to commend it, but heading E from Worland to Ten Sleep on Hwy 16 was another matter. The scenery was wild, remote and dramatic. At Ten Sleep, SPHP noticed that Dirty Sally’s was still open, but didn’t stop. E of Ten Sleep, Hwy 16 started up beautiful Ten Sleep canyon into the Bighorns.
A little over a mile past the lodge on Meadowlark Lake, SPHP turned S on FS road No. 429. SPHP parked the G6 just off No. 429 close to the highway. Lupe was certainly ready to get out and stretch her legs again. No. 429 is a gravel road that leads about a mile up through mostly open meadows to a forest near High Park Lookout(9,477 ft.). There is a small parking lot at the edge of the forest. A 15 minute hiking trail winds up through the forest to the old lookout tower. The now unmanned lookout tower is closed to the public due to a broken support beam.
Lupe and SPHP followed No. 429 and then the hiking trail to the High Park Lookout summit. From some rocks near the lookout tower the best views were toward Meadowlark Lake to the NW and the higher mountains to the NNE. On the way back down to the G6, Lupe followed the trail to the little parking lot, but did not follow No. 429 again.
Instead, Lupe and SPHP took a shortcut through the beautiful high country meadows and a small forest. That got Lupe more into the spirit of things than just following the road. She started sniffing and exploring around more enthusiastically.
From High Park Lookout, Lupe and SPHP had seen lots of clouds around. To the N where the Cloud Peak Wilderness is, all the high country was lost in dark clouds and fog. Any thoughts SPHP had of taking Lupe to Cloud Peak were dashed.
There were fewer clouds to the S though, and SPHP started thinking about climbing Hazelton Pyramid as a substitute. Consulting the maps, SPHP found it might be possible to hike three 10,000+ foot peaks easily enough in a day – Hesse Mountain(10,382 ft.), Hazelton Pyramid(10,534 ft.), and Hazelton Peak(10,264 ft.). SPHP decided Lupe would try it the next day.
Lupe and SPHP headed E on Hwy 16 over Powder River Pass. About a mile E of Powder River Pass, SPHP turned S on gravel road No. 29 and about 1/8 mile later onto USFS Road No. 448. Half a mile later Lupe arrived at Munkres Pass. Hesse Mountain and Hazelton Pyramid had been visible from No. 29 and looked like easy climbs. SPHP was satisfied that Munkres Pass was a good starting point for Hesse Mountain the next day.
Lupe and SPHP left Munkres Pass to find water and a place to park for the night. Water was found at Lost Cabin campground, and SPHP was fortunate to find a dispersed camping spot along gravel road No. 28 just after it crossed Merle Creek.
Lupe was quite happy with Merle Creek, a rushing little stream where she was able to drink and lay down to get cooled off. She soon found squirrels to bark at in the surrounding forest, always a major dingo benefit. SPHP checked the map and saw that only another 1.5 miles from Merle Creek, road No. 28 ended at the Sheep Mountain(9,610 ft.) lookout tower. Leaving the G6 at Merle Creek to claim the spot, Lupe and SPHP set out along No. 28 to go see the views from Sheep Mountain.
There wasn’t much to see. By the time Lupe and SPHP reached the top of Sheep Mountain, there was fog in every direction. Dark clouds and thunder were to the E, but were moving farther away out onto the prairie beyond the Bighorns. No one else was around. Lupe and SPHP got up on the platform around the top of the lookout tower. SPHP took a few photos.
The area immediately around the tower was not yet in the fog, but it was close by on all sides. Less than 10 minutes after Lupe left, the Sheep Mountain Lookout Tower itself disappeared in the fog. On the way back, instead of following the road, Lupe and SPHP headed down the SW slope of Sheep Mountain going almost directly back to the G6 through a big opening in the forest.
Despite the fog, the trek up Sheep Mountain had still been a pleasant excursion. Once back at the G6, Lupe had some Alpo and entertained herself barking at squirrels. Dusk came on. The squirrels called it a day and disappeared. Without the squirrels around, Lupe realized she was kind of tired too. She wanted to get in the G6. There she curled up for the night on her throne of blankets and pillows. SPHP stayed up sitting on a big stone next to Merle Creek until it was too dark to write.
The highest peak Lupe has ever climbed to date is Lonesome Mountain(11,399 ft.)in the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains. Lupe and SPHP first saw Lonesome Mountain on a day hike with Lanis on Lupe’s first ever big Dingo Vacation in the summer of 2012. Lupe and SPHP returned to the area for two more treks, one to Two Bits Lake and another to Sky Pilot Lake during Lupe’s 2013 summer Dingo Vacation. There are other higher ridges and peaks around, but Lonesome Mountain stands separate and alone in all its glory. SPHP always thought it looked potentially climbable from the S by an adventurous little Carolina Dog.
This long day hike starts at the Island Lake Trailhead near the Island Lake campground on the N side of the Beartooth Highway No. 212 in NW Wyoming. The Island Lake campground is approximately 2 miles E of the Top of the World Store & Motel or roughly 15 miles E of Hwy 212’s junction with the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, Hwy 296. The hike starts at Island Lake (elevation 9,518 ft.) and gains less than 500 ft. all the way to Albino Lake (elevation 10,000 ft.) at the foot of Lonesome Mountain. Then the real work begins.
Lupe and SPHP left the Little Belt mountains of Montana on the morning of August 2, 2014, after climbing King’s Hill. The plan was to head for the Beartooth Mountains in NW Wyoming and southern Montana. Lupe took Hwy 89 down to White Sulphur Springs and eventually all the way S to I-90. This was a very pretty scenic drive through big rounded mountains of the Little Belt range, soon followed by high rolling prairie and wide river valleys. It all looked very Old West and mostly still unspoiled.
SPHP stopped at a city park along the N bank of the Yellowstone River after getting food and gas in Columbus, MT. Lupe drank out of the Yellowstone River and cooled off in it. She also managed to find something very stinky to roll in to hide her scent. SPHP objected to her proudly worn new scent. Lupe had to get back in the river again to wash it off. From Columbus, Lupe took Hwy 78 to Red Lodge, MT and then Hwy 212 up and over fabulous Beartooth Pass (elevation 10,947′).
Lupe and SPHP arrived at their favorite camping spot on the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River by mid-afternoon, but the site SPHP wanted wasn’t available. Lupe and SPHP hung around enjoying the beauty of the location while waiting to see if the site would open up. After a few hours, it did! SPHP ran for the G6, turned the key – and nothing happened. The battery was dead! It started to rain. The windows were open and couldn’t be closed. An error message on the G6 said “Service Traction”. This helpful message went unmentioned in the owner’s manual.
Eventually two people appeared and were kind enough to give the G6 a jump. Lupe and SPHP headed for Cody, WY over the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway in rain, lightning, thunder and hail. A double rainbow cheerily appeared on the E side of the pass. It was late on Saturday evening when Lupe reached Cody. SPHP found a Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart was a great place to be since it had almost anything Lupe or SPHP might desire, was open all night, and a new battery for the G6 could be had there in the morning. After getting a sandwich at the Subway in Wal-Mart (plus 3 free cookies they were about to throw away because it was closing time), SPHP tried the G6. It fired right up! Maybe the battery wasn’t really bad.
The night was spent in the G6 in the Wal-Mart parking lot. SPHP dreamed wild and vivid dreams, but Lupe slept soundly. Or maybe she always has wild and vivid dreams. Sometimes she twitches. It was already very late, after 8 AM, by the time SPHP regained consciousness on Sunday morning. The G6 started right up again! Nevertheless, SPHP talked to a gentleman in the Wal-Mart automotive center. They couldn’t diagnose or fix complicated problems, but they could install a new battery. The gentleman suggested waiting until Monday to take the G6 to a repair shop.
SPHP had a better idea. Why not drive all the way back to the Beartooths and make the most of the day? The secret was to park the G6 so it would be easy to get another jump if the battery pooped out again. Lupe was going to climb Lonesome Mountain! It was 10:13 AM, clear, calm and a perfect 61°F when Lupe and SPHP left the quirky G6 at the Island Lake trailhead in the Beartooths. The mosquitoes were bad and SPHP was slathered with unhealthy DEET.
Lots of people were around on the trail, which headed N on the W side of Island Lake. A guy from Michigan said it was supposed to rain at 3 PM. This was concerning. There were already some clouds on the western horizon. One lady reported having seen a grizzly bear and two cubs just 10 minutes before Lupe and SPHP came along. Lupe wasn’t even past Island Lake yet. The fishermen SPHP talked to were all having good success catching fish – mostly cutthroat trout.
The trail passed through gorgeous territory. This may be the best hike Lupe and SPHP have ever been on outside of the Canadian Rockies. There were beautiful wildflowers everywhere. The mountain scenery was impressive. Lupe and SPHP passed a succession of splendid alpine lakes – Island Lake, Night Lake, Flake Lake, Mutt & Jeff Lakes, and Becker Lake. There was only one trail intersection to watch for, which was a right turn 2.5 miles from the start (at the S end of Island Lake) onto the trail that goes between Mutt & Jeff Lakes. The only bad thing was the mosquitoes. Lupe really couldn’t stop anywhere for more than a few minutes before they came swarming in.
N of Becker Lake, Lupe and SPHP left Wyoming and entered Montana. There was no sign. At the S end of Albino Lake at 10,000 feet it was time to leave the trail. Lonesome Mountain loomed high above Albino Lake just to the W. Lupe and SPHP turned SW and headed for the big ridge that projects SSE from Lonesome Mountain. Once up on the ridge, Lupe discovered lots of hidden ponds and deep snow banks. Lupe and SPHP turned NNW and headed for the summit of Lonesome Mountain scrambling up and down over big granite ridges.
Eventually the climb turned into just a scramble over huge boulder fields all the rest of the way to the top of Lonesome Mountain. Lupe is an excellent scrambler and could have been at the top of the mountain long before SPHP got there. The weather started deteriorating all around as Lupe and SPHP scrambled ever higher on the mountain. SPHP’s progress over the big boulders was painfully slow. Lupe was always appearing nearby looking like a true explorer surveying the world from the heights of various boulders.
As SPHP finally got close to the top of Lonesome Mountain, the rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance. A big rainstorm was in progress some miles to the S. Fortunately, SPHP did not see any cloud to ground lightning. Lupe and SPHP finally reached the top of Lonesome Mountain. The view was spectacular. Lupe and SPHP could see lots of lakes and mountains that SPHP hadn’t ever seen before except on maps.
A woman on the trail between Albino and Becker Lakes had told SPHP she tried to climb Lonesome Mountain earlier this day, but ran out of time. She told SPHP that the summit in view was a false summit. Lupe and SPHP had climbed the false summit. Quite a distance to the NW, SPHP could see another summit separated from where Lupe was by a big drop-off and then a saddle consisting of another boulder field. It all looked very possible to get over to the true summit easily enough, but it was late in the day already and would have taken at least an hour to get over there.
In a way it really didn’t matter – the true summit looked to be at essentially the same elevation as the false summit. A check of SPHP’s maps showed both summits within the same elevation contours. The difference in height between the two summits can only be a matter of 0-20 feet. (Later on SPHP found out that on Peakbagger.com the false summit at 10,399′ which Lupe did climb is listed as the high point on the mountain, although a 10,400′ contour is shown to the NW. SPHP’s Alpine Quadrangle of the Absaroka-Beartooth mountains shows a height of 10,409′ to the NW.)
Lupe and SPHP would have loved to stay up on the summit (false or not) of Lonesome Mountain to enjoy the views while figuring out which lake below was which. However, although current conditions were just cool with a light breeze, Lonesome Mountain was now surrounded by threatening weather.
To the S there was a big storm going on. Dark clouds hung just over the huge ridge to the NE. Back at Island Lake where Lupe had come from, SPHP could see it was raining hard. Off to the W an ominous line of dark clouds and showers was approaching. A cloudburst was going on to the SW. SPHP was pretty certain rain was going to hit within 30 minutes. Rain wouldn’t be too bothersome, and even hail might be avoidable under the shelter of a big boulder, but lightning would be potentially deadly.
SPHP snapped a few quick photos and told Lupe it was time to get down off Lonesome Mountain ASAP. So began the scramble down. It took quite a long time, but not as long as going up. SPHP thought about going down by Lonesome Lake, which could be seen clearly to the SW. Lupe and SPHP have never been there before. That whole area looked full of lakes easy to reach. It would have been fun to explore there, but a look at the map showed it would be a longer hike back to the G6. SPHP knew Lupe was going to be late enough getting back to the G6 as it was.
About 20 minutes after Lupe started down, it did start to rain, but it never rained hard. Lupe and SPHP only got sprinkled on, and even that only lasted maybe 20 minutes. Eventually the skies to the W cleared. The storm to the S still rumbled. There was some cloud to ground lightning, but it was far away. It became apparent Lupe and SPHP were not going to get caught in any significant storm.
It took Lupe and SPHP a long time to work their way back down to Albino Lake. The were-puppy liked to attack SPHP on the big snow banks that had to be traversed, but SPHP was now in too much of a hurry to play the were-puppy game. On one snow bank SPHP suddenly noticed a dark pink, almost red color on Lupe’s white vest and paws.
Initially SPHP thought maybe Lupe was injured and bleeding from some mishap in the boulder fields, but upon examination it proved to be just some of the pink coloration that is common on the old snow banks here. Lupe certainly acted like she felt not only fine, but terrific! Once down out of all the super rocky stuff up on the ridge, Lupe took off running great distances at top speed racing here and there over the heather. She had an absolutely wonderful time.
Lupe and SPHP rejoined the trail at Albino Lake. They went long distances on the trail without seeing anyone. The last sunlight to shine on Lupe was at Becker Lake. Other day hikers had already returned to the trailhead. Backpackers had already reached their camping destinations. Lupe and SPHP met just a very few people, but otherwise the trail was empty. It grew so dark it was hard to see the trail, but SPHP didn’t use the flashlight until the final major stream crossing at the outlet from Island Lake. The campground was totally dark and quiet.
Lupe arrived at the G6 at 10:09 PM. It was 44 degrees F. SPHP fed Lupe some Taste of the Wild and Alpo. She was tired. SPHP was tired too. Thankfully, the G6 started up. SPHP drove in the darkness back to Lupe’s favorite spot on the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River for another night in the G6. At nearly 12 hours, this hike proved to be Lupe’s last really long day hike of her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies & Beartooth Mountains. Climbing Lonesome Mountain had been a wonderful time. Lupe agreed it sure beat spending the day cooped up in the G6 in the Wal-Mart parking lot!
Lupe did her Pretty Puppy Parade one last time up and down both sides of Banff Avenue on the evening of July 31, 2014. The Pretty Puppy Parade is really just an evening stroll on a leash through the crowds of tourists in beautiful downtown Banff, Canada. Lupe often draws the attention of some people in the crowd, and gets to sniff with other doggies too. During Lupe’s 2013 and 2014 visits to the Canadian Rockies, the Banff Pretty Puppy Parade has grown to be an evening tradition.
Sometimes SPHP feels kind of bad about the Pretty Puppy Parade. Lupe often wants to go into the various interesting and exciting stores and restaurants that have their doors open to the street. Lupe looks happily and expectantly at the open doorways and back at SPHP. Clearly she is expecting and hoping SPHP is really going to take her shopping or dining out! Of course, SPHP always has to disappoint her and tell Lupe she can’t go inside. It’s a hard thing to do to the beloved dingo when she has such a big excited grin and believes you can make all good things happen for her.
The next morning was August 1st. Lupe and SPHP woke up at 6 AM still in Banff. It was time to leave. Lupe’s annual Canadian National Parks Pass, which SPHP had purchased in July, 2013, had expired at midnight. Lupe and SPHP immediately left Banff National Park heading E on Hwy 1 towards Calgary. After messing up the route through Calgary, SPHP finally got the G6 heading S on Hwy 2. It was a beautiful day and everything was fine. Naturally, SPHP had to change something.
Desiring a less busy highway, SPHP turned E at High River on Hwy 23. For 10 or 12 miles, things were still fine. Then the left front tire on the G6 suddenly deflated. Totally flat in seconds. SPHP was changing the tire when a friendly Canadian in a big pickup truck stopped and offered to help. The little toy spare tire that came with the G6 was soon on and the friendly Canadian left.
The G6 didn’t like the little toy spare tire. The low traction light came on and the G6 didn’t drive well at all. SPHP stopped for a look. The little toy spare tire hadn’t been used or aired up in years. It was also nearly flat. Not a good thing. However, nearly flat was not the same as totally flat. SPHP got back in the G6. For some inexplicable reason it now drove better. The low traction light did not come on again. With the flashers on, SPHP drove on the paved shoulder at speeds between 40 and 45 mph.
Lupe and SPHP eventually made it to the little town of Vulcan, Canada on Hwy 24. Fountain Tire was the only tire store in all of Vulcan. They had only one tire that would fit the G6 in stock. Someone had ordered it and then decided against purchasing it. Maybe it was the $260.00+ price Fountain Tire wanted for it. SPHP could have bought at least 2 tires for the G6 for that price back home in the U.S. Faced with such an outrageous price, SPHP immediately summoned all negotiating skills. “I’ll take it.” said SPHP. Fountain Tire threw in a free tire rotation and Lupe was soon on her way again.
By 7:30 PM, Lupe was back in the states at King’s Hill Pass in the Little Belt Mountains of Montana where Lupe had spent the first night of this vacation on July 15th. Back then everything had been wet and lush. Now things were still green, but everything was dry. The temperature was thankfully only 66 °F. Earlier in Great Falls, the G6 was registering 96 °F. Lupe and SPHP went up to the top of Porphyry Peak(8,192 ft.) again. This time Lupe even climbed up the ranger tower as far as she could go, although the top platform couldn’t be reached since the hatch was locked.
From Porphyry Peak, SPHP studied King’s Hill(8,008 ft.) to the E just across Hwy 89. SPHP concluded there were at least two ways to get up there without much trouble. The next morning, August 2nd, Lupe and SPHP followed a road around the S end of King’s Hill on up to the top. It was a beautiful morning. Even though Lupe had left the wonderful Canadian Rockies behind, there was still fun ahead. Dingo Vacation 2015 wasn’t over yet.
Lupe and SPHP took a shortcut down the N slope of King’s Hill under a big power line. Then they hopped in the G6 and took off for Beartooth Pass and the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River. New dingo adventures lay ahead!
The Athabasca River originates at the Columbia Glacier, part of the Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies. By the time the Athabasca reaches Athabasca Falls 30 km S of Jasper on the W side of the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93, it is already a large river. The Athabasca flows NE out of the Canadian Rockies to Athabasca Lake. Eventually the waters of the Athabasca reach Great Slave Lake and become part of the Mackenzie River system which flows NW into the Arctic Ocean. Athabasca Falls is 24 meters in height and a major tourist attraction. Parking lots and viewpoints can be accessed from Hwy 93A.
Lupe and SPHP woke up at 6:17 AM on July 30, 2014 to see sunrise on Mount Athabasca(11,453 ft.). It was already an incredibly warm 47 °F out. SPHP first heard and then saw a big chunk of ice and snow falling off the side of Snow Dome(11,483 ft.) as dawn was breaking. The night had been clear and filled with amazing stars. Yesterday Lupe had been on wonderful hikes in the area to Parker Ridge and Wilcox Pass. It was time to press on to the N.
SPHP stopped at Sunwapta Falls to let Lupe see the falls again (she had been here in 2013) and stretch her legs on the trail for a little while. From Sunwapta Falls, Lupe and SPHP continued N to SPHP’s favorite picnic area in Jasper National Park. This picnic area is just off the W side of Icefields Parkway Hwy No. 93 perhaps 8 to 10 km S of Athabasca Falls. For some reason it is unmarked and easy to pass by, but it is located in a forested area right next to the E bank of the mighty Athabasca River.
Lupe entertained herself playing with a tennis ball and barking at squirrels. SPHP had breakfast and watched the river roll on by. It was going to be a very hot day for the Canadian Rockies and the Athabasca was running high. SPHP dawdled with little chores at the picnic ground for a while. No one else was around. The shade of the forest was pleasant and the view of high mountains to the W of the river was inspiring.
It was just a 10 minute drive to Athabasca Falls from the picnic area. The place was packed with tourists. Lupe and SPHP had to wait for their turn at many of the lookout points. The falls were amazing, though. The huge flow of water thundered into the solid rock channel beneath the falls. Trapped in the narrow channel it churned and frothed before flowing out into a wide open area a short distance downstream. Below the falls and the narrow channel, whitewater rafters were heading out for a trip downriver.
Lupe and SPHP spent about 45 minutes at Athabasca Falls before continuing on to Jasper. It was 85 °F a little after noon when Lupe arrived. Jasper was packed with tourists. SPHP took Lupe window shopping, all done on the shady side of the street. Lupe met and sniffed with many other doggies, so she wasn’t bored. By 1:30 PM it was 91 °F. SPHP took Lupe to a crowded beach at Pyramid Lake. Lupe did get to cool off in the water, but SPHP didn’t want to stay with the mob very long. SPHP bought ice cream. It melted very quickly. Lupe and SPHP had to consume all they could at once.
The heat sapped SPHP’s energy and all desire to go on any trails. Lupe wasn’t feeling any more ambitious than SPHP. She lay panting on a hot blanket in her fur coat in the G6. At 2:45 PM, SPHP decided to leave Jasper, turn on the AC for Lupe, and head NNE on Hwy 16. Lupe loved the AC and soon perked up. The temperature outside peaked at 94 °F. SPHP didn’t think it ever got that hot way up here, but it did. SPHP envisioned all the beautiful glaciers completely melting away. It wasn’t a happy thought.
44 km east of Jasper, SPHP turned S on the road to Miette Hot Springs. Another 17 km along a forested mountain road and Lupe arrived at the resort. Hot springs ordinarily wouldn’t have sounded good on a hot day like this one, but SPHP knew from past experience that Miette Hot Springs also has a couple of cool or even cold water pools. SPHP was looking forward to the cool water, but Lupe couldn’t be abandoned in the hot G6. It was going to be a long wait before things cooled down enough to leave Lupe alone for even a little while.
Lupe was very interested in the herd of mountain sheep that roamed the grounds. Although there were signs everywhere saying not to feed them, there was a picnic area where the mountain sheep were obviously very used to dining. They came right up to people and demanded an invitation to the picnic. They didn’t get anything from Lupe, who barked at the mountain sheep furiously whenever they got close. The mountain sheep were not used to such rude behavior and gave Lupe a wide berth.
SPHP figured it was best to separate Lupe from the mountain sheep. Lupe and SPHP headed down a road to a stream away from the picnic area. The stream was cold and clear. Lupe eagerly lapped up the cold water. SPHP repeatedly dangled both feet in the water until they were so cold the bones ached. Lupe and SPHP stayed next to the stream for hours. Bees buzzed. Butterflies flitted around. SPHP got situated as comfortably as possible among the boulders along the stream bank, which wasn’t all that easy. Lupe curled up nearby. She dozed with her head resting on SPHP’s hand.
The sun shone like a demon in the cloudless sky, but finally disappeared behind a high ridge to the SW. Things cooled off a bit. It was after 7:00 PM by the time it was cool enough to leave Lupe in the G6. She had water and was happy watching the mountain sheep. SPHP went and enjoyed Miette Hot Springs for an hour and a half. The cool pool was delightful. The cold pool soon made the hotter ones seem desirable. SPHP cycled back and forth between all the pools.
At 8:30 PM Lupe was glad to see SPHP returning to the G6. Watching mountain sheep has its limits when you can’t get at them for a fresh mutton dinner. For SPHP, Miette Hot Springs was a refreshing and wonderful time. Too bad Lupe couldn’t come to the pools, too, but SPHP would make it up to her. On the way back to Jasper, SPHP felt great and optimistic. It was a beautiful drive. Lupe rode in air conditioned comfort again, just happy to be with SPHP. Dingoes make the best friends!
There are three hot springs that Lupe and SPHP have been to in the Canadian Rockies: Miette Hot Springs NE of Jasper, Banff Upper Hot Springs in Banff, and Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park. SPHP considers all of them very affordable and great bargains. While all are nice facilities, Miette Hot Springs is SPHP’s clear favorite of the three.
Lupe had previously visited Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls on July 28, 2013 during her 2013 Dingo Vacation. Click the red link to see her post about that trip to these amazing, powerful waterfalls!
The trailhead for the hike to Rawson Lake is at the far SE corner of Upper Kananaskis Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. There is a large paved parking area next to the trailhead and a picnic ground there next to the Upper Kananaskis Lake. Elevation gain to reach Rawson Lake is approximately 918 feet or 279 meters.
After a very long and wonderful day hike from Upper Kananaskis Lake to the Turbine Campground along the Maude-Lawson Trail the previous day, Lupe and SPHP got off to a very slow start this morning. The wind was gusting across Upper Kananaskis Lake creating whitecaps, and it was much cooler than the previous day. There were occasional rain showers. The air was clear of the smoky haze that had been present the day before. It was Saturday and throngs of people were arriving despite the wet weather.
Lupe and SPHP had a very late breakfast. SPHP repacked and rearranged the gear in the G6. The wind and rains continued. Lots of people in rain gear came and went. SPHP was kind of spent after the long trek to Turbine Campground and felt lethargic. Lupe was fine with a lazy day too. Lupe and SPHP dozed in the G6 for hours. It was late afternoon by the time SPHP woke up again. The parking lot had been full earlier, but was now emptying out fast. The rain had stopped, although it was still quite breezy by Upper Kananaskis Lake.
Finally SPHP was ready for action again. There was plenty of time for Lupe to take the trail to Rawson Lake! Lupe and SPHP started heading W on the circuit trail around Upper Kananaskis Lake from the SE corner of the lake. Two days before, when Lupe had first arrived at Upper Kananaskis Lake, Lupe and SPHP had gone as far as the waterfall on Sarrail Creek on this same trail. This time Lupe and SPHP carefully crossed the wet three log “bridge” across the creek and went onward.
Soon after crossing Sarrail Creek, Lupe reached the junction with the Rawson Lake trail, which was 1.4 km from the parking lot. The trail along Upper Kananaskis Lake had been very easy with little elevation change. The 2.7 km Rawson Lake trail, however, climbed steadily nearly all the way to Rawson Lake. Until Lupe was halfway up the Rawson Lake trail, there was a steady stream of hikers coming back down from Rawson Lake. After halfway though, Lupe met no one.
One group of hikers told SPHP that there had been over 100 people up at Rawson Lake when they’d first arrived there. Many people had been fishing. Nearly all of them reported catching cutthroat trout. It was all catch and release, and the fish were pretty small. The most interesting report was from three guys who said they had seen two grizzly bears at Rawson Lake. One of the grizzlies got within 20 feet of them before passing on by. One of the guys said it was the first time he had ever released the safety latch on his bear spray.
When Lupe arrived at Rawson Lake no one was there. SPHP couldn’t help but smile at the thought of all the people who had come earlier in the day when the weather was worse and had to contend with crowds. SPHP sat on a log by the shore of Rawson Lake. Lupe rested next to the log and sometimes got up on the log with SPHP. Lupe and SPHP watched fish jumping in the lake and listened to birds singing. No grizzly bears were in sight. The lake was calm, protected from the wind by Mount Sarrail(10,413 ft.). SPHP shared a Cliff bar with Lupe.
After 30+ peaceful minutes of unbroken solitude at tranquil Rawson Lake, Lupe and SPHP left and headed back down the trail. The were-puppy attacked SPHP a couple of times not far from Rawson Lake, and nearly knocked SPHP down once. Lupe was having a great time! Lupe and SPHP saw no one until nearly back to the parking lot. Upon reaching the parking lot, SPHP ditched the backpack in the G6 and got a drink. Then Lupe and SPHP went back to a bench along the trail not far from the parking lot which had a view of Upper Kananaskis Lake.
Together Lupe and SPHP sat on the bench, listened to the waves on the shore, and watched the sun disappear behind the clouds and mountains. A cool breeze was blowing from off the lake. SPHP wrote and drank the drink. The hoped for colorful sunset never materialized. Instead everything just faded to gray. SPHP stayed there talking to and petting an appreciative Lupe until the growing darkness indicated it was time to head back to the G6.
On the third day of Lupe’s 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies & Beartooths, she woke up in Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. SPHP was disappointed to see that it was still smoky out. Although the area was gorgeous, the heat and bugs hadn’t been much fun on the previous day’s hike to Bertha Lake either. Lupe and SPHP had breakfast at a picnic table near Upper Waterton Lake. After breakfast there was a stroll along the beach admiring the lake. The lake was fabulous, but it looked like another hot, smoky day was on its way.
SPHP was in the mood to head farther N. Heat, bugs, smoke and lots of people around wasn’t really what Lupe & SPHP were after. So after the stroll along the beach, Lupe bid farewell to Upper Waterton Lake. Back in the G6, Lupe and SPHP headed N on Hwy 6 to Pincher Creek. After a short jog to the W on Hwy 3, there was a beautiful drive N on Hwy 22 to Longview. From Longview, SPHP drove SW on Hwy 542 to Hwy 40. There were lots of cows in this area and Lupe was delighted to have the opportunity to conduct a dingo-satisfying barking frenzy.
SPHP turned N on Hwy 40, a wonderful drive through big mountains. SPHP had forgotten to get water before leaving Waterton Park and stopped at several places along Hwy 40, but none of them had water. Hwy 40 climbed up and over a pass into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. With no clear destination in mind, SPHP decided to check out the Kananaskis Lakes area. Maybe there would be water? Soon Lupe was at Upper Kananaskis Lake. There were lots of people around here too, but not so many as at Waterton Lakes. SPHP was impressed enough to want to do a bit of exploring.
Lupe’s first exploration at Upper Kananaskis Lake was along a trail above the S shore heading W from the SE corner of the lake. Although the day had been bright and sunny earlier (it hit 84 °F according to the G6), Lupe and SPHP didn’t get very far along the trail before encountering intermittent rain and thunder. Lots of people suddenly appeared on the trail heading back towards the parking lot. Lupe got as far as a waterfall where the bridge across Sarrail Creek was out, if there had ever been one. Three large, wet and slippery looking logs at varying levels served as the only bridge across the stream.
Other people were having no difficulty negotiating the logs across the stream, but SPHP decided against having Lupe try it. The weather was deteriorating and everyone else was heading back to the parking lot. Lupe and SPHP retreated to the parking lot, too. Lupe took a nap in the G6 while SPHP wrote. It rained on and off. It even hailed a bit, but the hail was small and didn’t last long. Eventually the rain stopped, and it became sunny and breezy out, although there were still quite a few clouds around.
The rain had temporarily cleared the smoky haze out of the air, and the evening was shaping up to be cool and pleasant. Lupe had snoozed enough and was ready for another exploration. The trail she had been on earlier was part of a trail that circumnavigates Upper Kananaskis Lake. This time Lupe and SPHP took the trail in the opposite direction, heading NW along the NE shore. To get to this portion of the trail, Lupe had to cross a dam. (Although Upper Kananaskis Lake is a natural lake, the level has been raised by the construction of two dams.) She picked up the trail on the other side of the dam and continued along the NE shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake.
There were lots of great viewpoints along the trail, which was typically elevated 10 – 40 feet above the lake. After crossing the 1st dam, Lupe met no one at all on the entire trail, which was puzzling to SPHP until Lupe neared the 2nd dam. Lupe had already traversed about 4.0 km of the 4.2 km between the dams, when suddenly she could go no further. On a steep slope 40 feet above the lake, a 30 foot section had caved in. The area was taped off and marked as closed. There was no way to continue, so Lupe and SPHP turned around and again got to enjoy a private stroll back to the first dam.
SPHP liked Upper Kananaskis Lake so much that Lupe got to spend several more days in the area. She went on two fabulous daylong expeditions while in the area. One was on the Maude-Lawson Lakes trail to the Turbine Campground where she saw three grizzly bears. The other was to Three Isle Lake and South Kananaskis Pass where she crossed into British Columbia from Alberta. Oh, and yes, there was drinking water available in campgrounds near Upper Kananaskis Lake – there was even a shower house!
Lupe entered Canada via Hwy 17 on the afternoon of July 16, 2014, the 2nd day of her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies & Beartooths. She was already in Waterton Lakes National Park, and the first order of business was to go see the lake itself. Lupe soon arrived in the small community and tourist town of Waterton Park, which is located on the NW shore at the N end of Upper Waterton Lake. SPHP found a place to park near the S end of town near the lake.
It was a hot day. According to the G6 it was 90 °F. Not exactly the weather Lupe and SPHP had been anticipating in Canada, but certainly a good day to check out the beach. The beach was rocky, with rounded rocks of various sizes. A breeze was blowing and there was some moderate wave action. Lupe was hot and was eager to wade in the lake to cool off. Lupe doesn’t like to swim, but she loves to wade and lay down in the water. She was clearly glad to have the opportunity to get wet and cool down.
Upper Waterton Lake was quite beautiful. The deeper water was a brilliant and very appealing blue color, while the shallower water near the shore took on the gray color of the rocks on the bottom of the lake. Unfortunately, the scene was not quite as beautiful as it normally would have been due to considerable smoke in the air. The smoke was from wildfires somewhere, but SPHP never really found out where the fires were. The smoke was thick enough to detract from the view.
There are actually three Waterton Lakes. Lupe and SPHP had driven by Lower Waterton Lake on the way to Waterton Park. The lower lake is good-sized at a couple of km long, but is the smallest of the three lakes. Upper Waterton Lake is the largest and goes all the way S into Glacier National Park in the United States. Middle Waterton Lake is 4 km long and actually at the same level as Upper Waterton Lake, since the two lakes are connected by a narrow straight called the Bosporus. However, Middle Waterton Lake lies outside the long canyon flanked by dramatic peaks Upper Waterton Lake lies within.
After Lupe had cooled off in the lake, SPHP thought it might be fun to go take a look at the lake from the grounds of the Prince of Wales Hotel up on a hill at the very N end of Upper Waterton Lakes. This involved a drive back through the town of Waterton Park, but it wasn’t far and didn’t take long despite all the tourist traffic. The views from the grounds of the Prince of Wales Hotel were quite grand, but still just as smoky. Quite a few people were around, and Lupe made a few new acquaintances.
After the jaunt up to the Prince of Wales Hotel, Lupe and SPHP returned to the shore of Upper Waterton Lake near the S end of Waterton Park. Lupe and SPHP wandered SW along the shore of the lake and came to a trail that heads S along the W shore of Upper Waterton Lakes. A map near the start of the trail showed another trail about 1.5 km S to Bertha Lake. Bertha Lake was located up a steep side canyon to the W. The whole trip to Bertha Lake was about 5 km long and involved an elevation gain of 475 meters or over 1,500 feet. SPHP thought that a trip to Bertha Lake looked like an interesting thing to do. Lupe was happy to be on a trail again.
For the first 1.5 km heading S, the trail climbed gradually. Upper Waterton Lake was always in view extending away to the S sandwiched in between jagged mountains to the E & W. There were bushes 2 or 3 feet high on both sides of the trail, so most of the time Lupe probably didn’t have much of a view. Even though it was getting to be late in the afternoon, it was still very warm out.
There were lots of hikers heading back towards Waterton Park. There were even more mosquitoes and flies feasting upon them, Lupe & SPHP. The bugs weren’t too bad though along this first stretch, as it was easy to just keep moving and avoid most of the swarm. SPHP chatted briefly with some of the returning hikers. Quite a few had been up to Bertha Lake and all declared the trek to be worthwhile.
Shortly before reaching the side trail to Bertha Lake, there was a very short spur trail to a little point. At the point was a bench situated looking S to have beautiful view of Upper Waterton Lake. Lupe and SPHP paused here for maybe 10 minutes to relish the scene. There was a bit of a breeze up on the point to help ward off the bugs. It was a great view. SPHP wished there wasn’t so much smoke around, but there was nothing to be done about it.
There were two waterfalls on Bertha Creek on the way to Bertha Lake. The first one was reached 1.4 km from the main trail along Upper Waterton Lake. The trail to this point was gaining elevation faster than along Upper Waterton Lake, but still at a generally modest pace. The trail crossed to the S of Bertha Creek just below the lower Bertha Creek falls. Once past the falls, the trail began a long relentless ascent up the forested S side of the side canyon Bertha Lake is in.
The switchbacks lasted nearly the entire 2.8 km from the lower falls to Bertha Lake. They seemed endless. It was still hot. SPHP was sweating. The heat drained away energy. Even Lupe plodded along dispiritedly behind SPHP. It was a tough grind. SPHP felt out of shape. At each stop for a breather, though, flies and mosquitoes descended instantly and drove SPHP and Lupe onward. The trail never got close to the upper falls on Bertha Creek, and didn’t start to level out until nearly at Bertha Lake.
Bertha Lake was very pretty in the early evening light. There was a campground on the NW shore. Lupe and SPHP crossed Bertha Creek again to get over to the campground. SPHP was surprised to find the campground was completely abandoned. Peakbagger.com shows a trail completely around Bertha Lake. Lupe and SPHP continued SW on the trail leaving the campground behind. SPHP intended to circumnavigate the lake, but about 2/3 of the way to the SW end of Bertha Lake the trail was blocked by thick deadfall timber.
It was too late to consider forcing a way through the deadfall. Lupe and SPHP turned back. The way back down the trail to Upper Waterton Lake was much more fun than the climb up had been. With gravity now a friend, it was easy to keep going and outpace most of the flies and mosquitoes that were still around. With the sun low enough so Lupe and SPHP were in the shadow of the mountain, it had cooled off a bit by now, too. Lupe trotted along looking lively again. There were spectacular views of the N side of the canyon, and eventually out to the E towards Upper Waterton Lake. SPHP hadn’t noticed them much on the struggle up.
Lupe and SPHP had only seen one person on the way up to Bertha Lake after passing the lower falls, and saw no one at all on the way back down until below the lower falls again. There were still some people on the main trail back to Waterton Park, even a few just starting out. This far N, it was later than SPHP had realized. Although it was still light out, it was 9:30 PM by the time Lupe reached the G6. Time for a bit of dinner and then a good snooze!
SPHP came to at 6:15 AM on July 15, 2014. A very late beginning for Lupe’s 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies! Despite the occasion, SPHP just felt lazy and spent another half an hour summoning the energy to roll out of bed. In truth, SPHP felt somewhat unprepared. Other than go to the Canadian Rockies, SPHP really didn’t have any specific idea what was going to happen over the next few weeks. Unlike SPHP, Lupe was bright-eyed, expectant and ready for action!
The house and yard were in as good shape as they were going to be, and the G6 was half packed the previous evening. At 8:00 AM, Lupe got her heartworm medicine. At 9:40 AM the G6 was finally rolling out of the driveway. It was hazy out and a rather cool day for mid-July. Lupe and SPHP headed W on I-90. All day it felt like weather was building up farther to the W where Lupe was going.
Lupe’s first stop was a little side trip up to Warren Peaks(6,650 ft.) in the Bear Lodge mountains in NE Wyoming. Warren Peaks became Lupe’s first peakbagging success of her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies & Beartooths. It didn’t seem like much of an achievement, since a road goes all the way up to the lookout tower and SPHP just drove the G6 up there. Still, the view was pretty, and just being up there further lifted SPHP’s rising enthusiasm for the glorious days ahead that were now just beginning.
It had only been 62°F at Warren Peaks at 11:35 AM, but it was 81°F by the time Lupe reached the Powder River two hours later. Things cooled off again just E of the Bighorn Mountains where Lupe encountered the first rain shower of the day. The rain was harder and steadier in Montana. At Billings, MT, SPHP was glad to leave I-90 and all its road construction. Lupe headed N on Hwy 3 to Lavina and turned W on Hwy 12 following the Musselshell River.
W of Harlowton, Hwy 12 goes up into the Little Belt Mountains. Neither Lupe nor SPHP had ever been to the Little Belts before. Lupe saw lots of pretty country on this day’s drive, but other than the glorious Bighorn Mountains which Lupe didn’t enter, the Little Belt Mountains were the best. The Little Belts were gently rolling and forested with meadows in the valleys. They were quite beautiful and sparsely populated. Lupe and SPHP turned N on Hwy 89 just N of White Sulphur Springs, and went as far as a big parking pullout up at King’s Hill Pass (7,393 ft. elevation).
By the time Lupe reached King’s Hill Pass, the sun was close to setting. SPHP parked the G6. For 45 minutes Lupe got to romp around in the wet woods while SPHP explored a bit too. It felt good to be out of the G6 and moving, but with all the clouds around, darkness started coming on fast. Soon after retiring to the G6 for the night, rain and fog rolled in.
By morning on July 16th, the skies were clear. The first order of business was for Lupe to climb Porphyry Peak(8,192 ft.), which was a couple of miles W of Hwy 89 at King’s Hill Pass according to the map. Lupe and SPHP started up a road that skirted the S side of the King’s Hill Campground. Lupe dashed around in and out of the wet forest, very pleased with the way this day was starting out. Soon she was a very soggy doggie, but it didn’t bother her in the least.
The road wound around all the way up to the summit of Porphyry Peak where there was a lookout tower plus a couple of ski lifts and a few other facilities connected with the Showdown Montana Ski area. A sign at the bottom of the lookout tower said to shout for permission to climb the tower. SPHP shouted, but there was no answer. The tower went unclimbed by Lupe and SPHP. The views were pretty nice even without climbing the lookout tower. After wandering around the top of the mountain by the ski lifts where the views were best, Lupe and SPHP headed back down to the G6.
From King’s Hill Pass, Hwy 89 lost elevation for many miles. It was a pretty drive, and SPHP was convinced the Little Belt Mountains are the most scenic route through this part of Montana. Near the bottom of the range was a picnic area close to a little creek. SPHP stopped there long enough for Lupe to sniff around a bit and get a drink. Then it was back in the G6 and onward to Great Falls, MT.
W of Great Falls, the air was no longer clear and clean. The mountains farther W were in a haze, which eventually proved to be smoke. SPHP stayed on Hwy 89 all the way through Choteau and Browning to St. Mary just E of Glacier National Park. It was all new territory to both Lupe and SPHP. Lupe happily barked at cows and horses along the way. In Choteau was a pretty neat statue of a dinosaur. Later on, SPHP regretted not stopping there to get a picture of Lupe next to the dinosaur.
From St. Mary, SPHP took Hwy 2 N to Hwy 12, which led Lupe to the Canadian border. At the drive up window, there was no one else in line to get into Canada. SPHP presented a U.S. passport and the Canadian border agent asked a bunch of standard questions.
SPHP must have been somehow suspicious, or perhaps it was just a dull, boring day on the border. SPHP was asked to park the G6 and go inside the main building while Lupe waited in the car. There SPHP presented the exact same passport, different Canadian border patrol personnel asked the exact same questions, and SPHP gave the exact same answers. Somehow this cleared up all difficulties or misunderstandings, whatever they may have been, and Lupe was free to proceed into beautiful Canada! Her 2nd Canadian Rockies adventure was now truly underway!
It was 41°F and still totally overcast when Lupe and SPHP woke up in the G6. It had rained a little during the night, but by now the pavement was mostly dry. SPHP drove over to a picnic area near the N end of the Bow Parkway. No one else was around yet. While SPHP made a bit of breakfast, Lupe sniffed around. There wasn’t too much for her to do since the squirrels weren’t even up yet.
On the drive over to the picnic ground, SPHP had seen new snow high up on the mountains. Not so much to the E & S, but a fair amount to the N. The gray skies, mountaintops lost in the clouds, and new snow made the mountains look beautiful, but also remote and vaguely threatening.
After breakfast, Lupe and SPHP drove over to Lake Louise Village so SPHP could mail a postcard. While there, SPHP chanced to meet a 74 year old man from San Diego, CA. He was friendly and talkative. He was on a six month tour of the Canadian Rockies and the American West in a little motor home all by himself.
That sounded pretty awesome! SPHP enjoyed chatting with him. The man mentioned the hike to Sherbrooke Lake as a pretty nice one, and not too long. It sounded like a good idea to SPHP on a cool, drippy, overcast day when the mountains were hidden in the clouds anyway.
Lupe and SPHP had actually planned to go to Sherbrooke Lake while in the Canadian Rockies back in 2013, but SPHP had not found the trailhead. This time, with the help of a tip from the guy from San Diego, it wasn’t a problem.
From Lake Louise, Lupe and SPHP headed N and then W on the Trans-Canada Hwy No. 1 past the turn off for the Icefields Parkway Hwy No. 93. After entering Yoho National Park, SPHP slowed down when Wapta Lake came into view on the S side of the highway. On the N side of the highway across from the lake is the Great Divide Lodge. SPHP turned into the big parking lot for the Great Divide Lodge. It turned out the trailhead wasn’t there, but SPHP knew it had to be close by.
Getting back on Trans-Canada Hwy No. 1 and continuing W just 0.25 mile from the Great Divide Lodge, SPHP saw another turnoff on the N side of the highway. There was no sign, but this was the correct turn for the Sherbrooke Lake trailhead. The road went N up a little hill, and then curved E to end at the trailhead parking lot, which wasn’t far from the highway at all. There were no other vehicles at the misty trailhead. Low gray clouds were dripping light rain sporadically when Lupe set out on the trail to Sherbrooke Lake.
The trail goes through the forest the entire 3.1 km to Sherbrooke Lake. Nearly all of the 165 m elevation gain occurs on the first part of the trail before it reaches a junction at 1.4 km with a trail to the lookout on Paget Peak(8,465 ft.). Ordinarily, SPHP would have been tempted to check out Paget Peak, but it seemed pointless to climb up into the fog. The last part of the trek to Sherbrooke Lake was a pleasant stroll through the dripping forest with little elevation change. Lupe was pretty damp, but in good spirits when she reached Sherbrooke Lake along its SE shore.
Under the overcast skies, Sherbrooke Lake was a light gray-green color. The air was calm, and the lake was smooth with hardly a ripple on its surface. The trail continued another 1.4 km along the E shore of the lake to the far N end.
Everything was sopping wet, as Lupe and SPHP headed N along the lakeshore trail. Little streams crossed the trail on their way down into the lake. Small birds were perched up in the trees near the water’s edge. Lupe barked enthusiastically at them. There were even a few squirrels around. Her barking echoed through the valley, but no one else was around to care.
At the far NE corner of Sherbrooke Lake, the trail went into some terrain covered with tall bushes as it started around the N shore. Here there were larger creeks flowing down into the lake. The trail started to fade quickly as it went into the wet bushes. There were rounded stones on the ground and muddy places. SPHP got the impression that this whole area Lupe was approaching was a big wash where a larger braided stream was depositing rocks and mud, slowly filling in the N end of the lake.
It was starting to rain more steadily. The trail was fading away as it headed into the tall wet bushes. The larger streams Lupe now encountered were difficult to cross without getting wet. It was becoming clear that continuing on meant both Lupe and SPHP would get totally soaked. Without adequate rain gear, it was time to turn around. Lupe was just as happy barking at birds on the way back S along the E shore of the lake, as she had been going N.
Lupe and SPHP had seen no one at all on the entire trip to Sherbrooke Lake, but on the way back a couple from Edmonton appeared at the junction with the trail to the Paget Peak lookout. They were very nice and SPHP chatted with them for a while.
The Edmonton couple were on their way to the N end of Sherbrooke Lake where Lupe had just been, except they were going to continue on beyond the lake. They said that the trail does not end at the N end of Sherbrooke Lake. Not too far N of the lake is a headwall. The trail climbs up and over the headwall to some fantastically beautiful territory (Niles Meadows) and goes on toward Niles Peak. Definitely worth checking out sometime, but sissy SPHP wanted to do it in better weather.
The Edmonton couple was justifiably excited about a trip to the Himalayas they were going to take in the relatively near future. They planned on spending time at a 14,000 foot elevation base camp near Mt. Everest, although they had no plans to climb Everest. The airfare there was the big expense. They could hire a Sherpa for $10 per day to haul all of their gear, cook, make camp, etc. SPHP made a mental note to cross Sherpa off the list of possible career opportunities.
Of more immediate interest to SPHP was another trek in the Canadian Rockies that they recommended. Across the Icefields Parkway Hwy No. 93 from the Crowfoot Glacier near Bow Lake is the Helen Lake trailhead. From Helen Lake it is possible to climb up to the top of Cirque Peak where there are fabulous views of the Wapta Icefield, Bow Lake and Bow Glacier Falls. Two days later Lupe and SPHP actually climbed Cirque Peak. The experience was everything the couple from Edmonton promised it would be and more!
Just before 1:00 PM, a very soggy Lupe was back at the trailhead. Lupe hopped right into the G6 and began licking herself dry. She’d had a great time on the trail to Sherbrooke Lake. It really had been an enjoyable outing and had only taken a few hours. Sometime in the future Lupe and SPHP hope to return to see Niles Meadows.
Lupe’s 2014 visit to Sherbrooke Lake was over. It rained for a while. Lupe and SPHP took a nap. By the time SPHP woke up, the rain had tapered off. Lupe and SPHP returned to Lake Louise Village. There was still time left in the day to do something else. Lupe and SPHP headed for Moraine Lake for a walk along the lakeshore trail.
From the big rock pile at the outlet end of Moraine Lake, SPHP was amazed how blue the lake was despite the still cloudy skies.
After dinner, Lupe and SPHP went to Lake Louise to take a wonderful evening stroll to the end of the lake.
The views at Lake Louise looked even a bit more spectacular this evening with the bit of fresh snow from last night still lingering on the peaks.