Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 207 – Peak 6720, Medicine Mountain, Peak 6680 & Copper Mountain (6-3-17)

Start 10:06 AM, 67°F, USFS Road No. 304 near the lower end of Tree Draw, about 4 miles S of Deerfield Road

Well, this was it!  Lupe trotted happily along the road leading up Tree Draw.  At least there was some shade.  It was already warm out.  Only a few little white clouds dotted the sunny blue sky.  Lupe’s pink tongue dangled so far out of her mouth, it looked like it ought to belong to a considerably larger Dingo.

Lupe was destined to spend a good deal of the day panting.  Summer was here!  Due to the heat, Expedition No. 207 would be her last Black Hills Expedition until cooler weather arrives in the fall.

Miss Enormous Pink Tongue on the way up Tree Draw on her last Black Hills expedition until cooler weather comes in the fall. Photo looks WNW.
At least the trees in Tree Draw provided some welcome shade. Photo looks WSW.

The road went W for 0.5 mile, then turned S for 0.375 mile.  Lupe was now approaching the upper end of Tree Draw.  The road angled SW and started climbing more steeply.  It faded away entirely at a barbed wire fence.  Lupe ducked under the fence, and quickly reached a minor pass.  This was the saddle NNW of Peak 6720, her first peakbagging destination for the day.

A broad, gently rounded ridge led SSE up to the top of the mountain.  On the way, Lupe dodged scattered deadfall timber.  Near the summit, the deadfall was worse and had fallen over the barbed wire fence, which unfortunately came up here, too.  SPHP lifted Lupe over the dangerous downed fence.

At the saddle on the ridge above Tree Draw. Lupe followed this broad ridge right on up to the top of Peak 6720, which is dead ahead. Photo looks SSE.

At the N end of the first sizable rock outcropping she came to, Lupe reached the true summit of Peak 6720.

Lupe on the true summit of Peak 6720. Photo looks NW.
Astride the highest rock formation at the N end of the summit ridge. Photo looks NNW.
Dingo on the Rocks.

The summit ridge sloped gradually down toward the SSE.  Beyond a gap of relatively level ground were more rock formations.  Lupe left the true summit to explore them, too.

Lupe went over to explore slightly lower rock formations farther along the ridge. Photo looks SSE.
The rock layers along the spine of Peak 6720 were tilted nearly straight up. A jumble of loose rocks lay scattered immediately below the highest ones. Photo looks SSE.

Fewer trees grew around the rock formations S of the true summit.  Lupe enjoyed better views from here, even though she wasn’t quite as high on the mountain as before.  She could see Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) off to the SE where she’d been only a week ago on Expedition No. 206.

Lupe liked scrambling around on the rocks strung out along the spine of Peak 6720. Here she’s at the top of the S high point. Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) where she had been only a week ago on Expedition No. 206 is seen on the horizon right behind her. Photo looks SSE.
Loopster enjoying being up on the S high point. Why not? The views were terrific! Photo looks SE.

Looking NNW back along the jagged spine of Peak 6720.
Black Elk Peak (7,231 ft.) (R of Center) from Peak 6720 with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks SE.
Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) (L) and Peak 6733 (highest point on the far ridge on the R) from Peak 6720.  Lupe had been to both on Expedition No. 206.  Photo looks SSE.

It hadn’t taken long to get to Peak 6720, so Lupe wasn’t ready for much of a break yet.  She remained on the summit ridge only 20 minutes.  That was long enough to get a drink, scramble around on the rocks some, and see the views.

Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.), 2 miles to the SSW, was next on the Carolina Dog’s peakbagging agenda.  Lupe left Peak 6720 heading straight on down the SW slope.  Progress was slow at first.  SPHP had to navigate a band of loose rock directly below the spine of the mountain.  This was followed by a much longer band of deadfall timber.  The deadfall was considerably worse here than on the way Lupe had gone up.

Loose rocks and deadfall were left behind, though, well before Lupe reached the floor of the valley to the W.  A dirt road in the valley headed straight for Medicine Mountain.

Leaving Peak 6720 behind. Photo looks back to the NE.
Down in the valley on the dirt road leading straight for Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.). Photo looks SSW.

Loop had about a mile to go to reach USFS Road No. 297 down by Negro Creek, but the dirt road she was on veered off onto the W (R) slope of the valley after only half that distance.  The Carolina Dog left the road to remain in the valley instead.  Following an old cow path, she went around the E side of a large fenced area on the valley floor.

When a spring and small creek appeared, Lupe made good use of them.

In the lower part of the valley. Photo looks WSW.

Lupe reached USFS Road No. 297.  She was halfway from Peak 6720 to Medicine Mountain.  Negro Creek, a small stream, but much larger than the tiny tributary in the valley she’d just come through, was flowing through an interestingly shaped pond on the other (SW) side of the road.  The pond was home to a family of Canadian geese.

Negro Creek flows through this interestingly shaped pond N of Medicine Mountain (Center).  Photo looks S.
A family of Canadian geese made the pond on Negro Creek their home.

Lupe and SPHP trudged S on USFS Road No. 297 far enough to get past a barbed wire fence before leaving the road to cross Negro Creek.  While SPHP jumped across, Lupe hopped right in the creek and laid down.  She then got up, and strolled up and down the creek a few times while drinking the cold water.  When the Carolina Dog felt sufficiently refreshed, she leapt out of the creek to start climbing Medicine Mountain.

The day was hot.  At least, it was hot for climbing mountains.  Despite her revitalizing dip in Negro Creek, Lupe’s tongue was soon hanging out again.  The heat sapped SPHP’s energy.  Most of the mountain was forested, but Lupe came to a few sunny fields on the way up, too.  Lupe and SPHP made numerous short rest stops in shady places.

Lupe explored the forest while SPHP kept chugging slowly up Medicine Mountain.  There wasn’t much deadfall until almost to the top.  Lupe arrived at the base of a narrow rock outcropping after coming up the N ridge.  The outcropping looked only 20 feet high.  A route existed where SPHP might be able to scramble directly up.

No problem with the little scramble, but the first 20 feet led only to a false summit. However, Lupe didn’t have much more to go.   Loop and SPHP worked a little higher along the E side of a rocky ledge, while proceeding S.  In a couple of minutes, Lupe was at the top of Medicine Mountain’s N summit.  A line of rocks of roughly equal elevation along the ledge provided terrific views to the N.

This time, break first – then views.  Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild.  An apple, as usual, for SPHP.  Lupe curled up in the shade of a tree, surrounded by delicate white wildflowers.  Medicine Mountain was a busy place.  Flies buzzed, bees hummed, butterflies chased each other in dizzying circles.

A variety of butterflies chased each other in dizzying circles. This one landed briefly to take a break with Lupe.
Relaxing in the shade among the wildflowers.

After a 10 minute rest, Loop and SPHP were ready for a look around.  From the rocks of the N ledge, Lupe could see in every direction except S.  The best views were toward the N & W.

After her break, Lupe went out on the rocks of the N ledge for a look around. She could see Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) (L) the 2nd highest in all of South Dakota. Green Mountain (7,164 ft.) is the high point in the distance to the R of Lupe. Photo looks NW.
The view to the NNW. Green Mountain (7,164 ft.) again in sunlight on the far L. Copper Mountain (6,920 ft.) is the ridge L of Center.
Peak 6680 is the lower hill to the L of Lupe. Looper would be going there next after leaving Medicine Mountain. Photo looks W.
Gillette Prairie, an area of grasslands within the Black Hills, is in view on the R.  Distant ridges along the E edge of the high limestone plateau country lie beyond it. The closest ridge on the L is Copper Mountain (6,920 ft.). Lupe hoped to get there, too, before her day was over. Photo looks NNW.
Odakota Mountain (R of Center) and Peak 6680 (L). Photo looks WNW.

So far, Lupe had only made it to the lower N summit of Medicine Mountain.  If she wanted to see the views to the S and complete her peakbagging goal, she would have to go to the mountain’s true summit.  A saddle with considerable deadfall timber led over to the higher S summit, which wasn’t far off.  Lupe could be there in minutes.

Lupe ready to head for Medicine Mountain’s S summit (Center). Photo looks S.

Once she was across the saddle, Lupe found a short, faint trail leading up the NW side of the S summit.  The highest point on Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.) proved to be occupied by a young aspen tree.

The young aspen tree on the right sprawled out over all the very highest rocks on Medicine Mountain. As far as Lupe was concerned, this was close enough. Photo looks NW
Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) (L) from the true summit of Medicine Mountain. Photo looks WNW.

The best views from the S summit were toward the rugged country around Black Elk Peak (7,231 ft.) to the SE.

Black Elk Peak (7,231 ft.) (Center) and Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) (R).
Black Elk Peak (straight up from Lupe) with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks SE.

Looper could see a long way to the S.

Looking S from Medicine Mountain’s true summit. Atlantic Hill (6,393 ft.) is the bump on the horizon straight up from Lupe. Northeast Cicero Peak (6,240 ft.) is the highest point far off at Center L. Photo looks S.

Lupe spent a little while near the true summit of Medicine Mountain.  However, if she wanted to have enough time to actually get to Peak 6680 and Copper Mountain, she couldn’t dilly dally too long.  Disappointingly, a little sniffing around revealed no medicine on Medicine Mountain, so Lupe moved on.  She took the faint path leading back to the saddle, and began a descent down the mountain’s W slope.

The W slope was moderately steep and full of deadfall timber.  Lupe was nearly down to a huge field in the next valley before she was out of it.  She continued W across the field, and headed for a saddle ESE of Peak 6680.  The saddle and much of the rest of the way up were covered with a forest of dense young pines 10 to 15 feet high.

The young pine forest would have been difficult to travel through, but fortunately, a series of lanes free of trees existed by which it was possible to weave up the mountain mostly unhindered.  As Lupe approached the summit of Peak 6680, she came to an older forest and started seeing rock outcroppings.

Lupe saw a great many wild irises on Expedition No. 207. She found these on the W slope of Medicine Mountain on her way to Peak 6680.
Approaching Peak 6680‘s summit ridge from the ESE.

Lupe had been to Peak 6680 once before, way back on Expedition No. 96 on 9-20-14.  It had been so long ago, SPHP couldn’t remember what the summit was like.  Lupe rediscovered a 150 foot long summit ridge oriented E/W with large rocks scattered along the N edge where the slope below was steepest.  This whole ridge was forested, but a few spots offered Loop glimpses of distant views.

The rocks at the far E and W ends of Peak 6680’s summit ridge seemed to be the two highest points on the mountain. Here Lupe is at the E high point. Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.) can be glimpsed beyond Lupe. Farther away, Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) is in view on the R. Photo looks E.
Lupe out on a slightly lower ledge near the E high point. Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) in view beyond her. Photo looks NW.
Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.) with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks E.

Lupe had come up at the E end of Peak 6680’s summit ridge.  The ridge was roughly level, but with slightly higher points at each end.  Lupe could see a rock at the far W end which looked like it might be the true summit.

Naturally, the American Dingo had to go check it out.

Looking W along the summit ridge from near the E end. The rock that is the high point at the far W end can be seen between the trees straight up from Lupe’s nose.
Up on the highest rock at the W end of the ridge. This might have been the true summit of Peak 6680, but it was hard to tell for sure. In any case, Lupe had already been to the E high point, so she was here to claim another peakbagging success! Photo looks N.
Not a bad perch!

Although it wasn’t really clear if the E or W high point was the true summit of Peak 6680, Lupe had now been to both.  She could now claim peakbagging successes at 3 different mountains today.  SPHP was pretty certain she still had time to get to Copper Mountain, too.

Copper Mountain was 2 miles due N.  Loop wasted no time getting started.  She went E back a little beyond the rocks at Peak 6680’s E high point, before turning N.  She traveled down to a very wide saddle leading to the long S ridge that would take her to Copper Mountain.  It was a bushwhack all the way through the forest until she came to a dirt road upon attaining the S ridge.

Now Lupe and SPHP could make good time.  The dirt road followed the top of the ridge to Sixmile Road (USFS Road No. 301), a major gravel road.  Lupe crossed No. 301 continuing N before eventually turning E.  The sun was getting low, but would still be up for another hour or so, when Lupe reached the cliffs at the SE end of Copper Mountain (6,920 ft.).

The last time Lupe had been here was 14 months ago, when she’d first met her mountaineering friend Jobe Wymore.  Jobe had used Lupe’s Black Hills scouting services, and come all the way from the west coast to visit Odakota Mountain.  Lupe and SPHP had then gone with Jobe all the way to the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska.

Fun times, and it was fun to think about them again now!  Neither Lupe nor SPHP had ever met a real mountaineer before.  Jobe had turned out to be such a great guy with so many interesting tales to tell!  Lupe hadn’t seen Jobe since that day, but it was possible she was going to see him again on one of her 2017 Dingo Vacations this summer!

Medicine Mountain is the conical peak on the R. Photo looks SE.
Looking SW at Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) from Copper Mountain. Jobe Wymore had come all the way from the W coast to peak bag Odakota Mountain, because it is the 2nd highest in South Dakota. (Jobe had already climbed the highest mountains in all 50 states.)  After Odakota, Lupe had also brought Jobe here to Copper Mountain where the views are better.
Lupe at the far SE end of the cliffs on Copper Mountain. Black Elk Peak (7,231 ft.) is on the L. Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.) is on the R. Negro Creek with the pond where the Canadian geese live is in the valley with the green grass seen near Lupe’s head. Photo looks SE.
A closer look with the telephoto lens at the Negro Creek valley. Photo looks SE.
Looking N across Copper Mountain’s summit area from the high point at the edge of the cliffs.
Looking N across Gillette Prairie. Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) (L) and Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) (Center) are faint on the far horizon.

The evening views from Copper Mountain were beautiful.  Lupe and SPHP stayed a little while admiring them, talking about Jobe, and remembering.  The sun was getting lower, though, and Lupe had a bit of a bushwhack ahead of her to get back to the saddle above Tree Draw near Peak 6720.

Lupe’s return trip went fine.  The heat of the day was gone.  Lupe and SPHP were both energized.  Lupe saw many deer, a few squirrels, and one giant deer (elk) on the way.  She had a blast!  She made such good progress, she even had time for a quick side trek back up to the top of Peak 6720 to see the sun set.

Expedition No. 207 marked the end of Lupe’s Black Hills expeditions for a while.  The first of her splendid Summer of 2017 Dingo Vacations full of more distant adventures would be starting soon!  (9:11 PM, 52°F)

On the tippy top of Peak 6720 again at sunset.
Expedition No. 207 nears its conclusion.
On the jagged spine of Peak 6720.

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Going Home & The Farm Near Beach, North Dakota (8-2-13 thru 8-4-13)

Lupe and SPHP were on the road before 6:00 AM on 8-2-13, Day 24 of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and Canadian Rockies.  It had rained steadily during the night.  It wasn’t raining now, but the low mountains of southern British Columbia were shrouded in fog.  Just S of Roosville, Lupe crossed the border back into the USA.  She really was on her way home now.

It was a long drive clear across northern Montana.  At first, it was scenic and damp.  There were mountains and intermittent rain.  Lupe headed SE to Whitefish on Hwy 93, and then cut across on Hwy 40 to Columbia Falls.  Hwy 2 took Lupe through the mountains around the S end of Glacier National Park.

The mountains disappeared in the rear view mirror first.  For a while, E of Glacier National Park, the rain did not.  In fact, Lupe went through two cloudbursts.  When it wasn’t raining hard where the G6 was, downpours could be seen scattered here and there in various directions.

An hour E of Shelby, the G6 finally got ahead of the rain.  Low gray clouds still stretched out to the horizon in every direction.  SPHP stopped the G6 twice to get out and stretch.  Lupe and SPHP took walks in the little towns of Chester and Chinook.

Neither Lupe nor SPHP had ever been in central or eastern parts of northern Montana before.  To SPHP, it was rather disappointing.  There were no mountains.  There wasn’t even anything noteworthy on the horizon most of the way.  The Bear Paw mountains could be seen in the distance S of Havre, and there were some ridges SE of Saco, but otherwise the land was gently rolling and featureless.

Lupe certainly wasn’t disappointed in northern Montana, though.  She was having a field day!  Cows were everywhere!  The dingy Dingo leapt wildly from window to window trying to bark at all of them at once.  It was exhausting, but clearly exhilarating, work.  Outside the G6 was a placid, pastoral scene.  Inside it was deafening almost non-stop action.  At least the American Dingo had to stop for water, and to catch her breath now and then.

It was evening by the time Lupe and SPHP paid a short visit to the Fort Peck dam on the Missouri River SE of Glasgow.  Fort Peck Lake was vast and stretched to the horizon.  It seemed lonely and remote.  No doubt it would have been fun to explore the huge lake by boat.  More fun than seeing it from the land, as Lupe soon found out.

Lupe near Fort Peck Lake. This view is of a smaller lake below the dam.
Lupe near Fort Peck Lake. This view is of a smaller lake below the dam.
Lupe with a view from the dam of Fort Peck Lake on the Missouri River in NE Montana.
Lupe with a view from the dam of Fort Peck Lake on the Missouri River in NE Montana.  The lake was huge!  It stretched far away to the horizon and beyond.
Buildings along the Fort Peck Dam. SPHP presumes they were somehow related to power generation.
Buildings along the Fort Peck Dam. SPHP presumes they were somehow related to power generation.
Lupe near Fort Peck dam shortly before the cactus incident.
Lupe near Fort Peck dam shortly before the cactus incident.

While sniffing around in the weeds near a viewpoint, Lupe’s left rear paw stepped on a cactus.  She whirled around to bite whatever was biting her.  She got the piece of cactus off her paw, but was rewarded with a cactus spine stuck in the roof of her mouth.  SPHP had to use tweezers to remove it.  All evening, the poor Carolina Dog tried to lick her own mouth to sooth the sore spot.

Still in Montana, Lupe and SPHP called it a day in Wolf Point.  Before turning in, SPHP bought a milkshake at the local McDonald’s to help cool and provide some relief to Lupe’s sore mouth.  Lupe proved quite willing to take this medicine.  The milkshake was highly effective.  Lupe’s sore mouth was cured.

The next morning, Lupe and SPHP started out shortly after sunrise again.  Lupe was still going E across northern Montana on Hwy 2, but now she wasn’t far from North Dakota.  North Dakota was about to join the American Dingo nation, and become the 9th Lupe state!

While in North Dakota, SPHP planned to take Lupe on a little tour of Williston.  SPHP wanted to see what Williston looked like.  The once sleepy, very remote town had been transformed by the Bakken shale oil and gas boom, which was in full swing.  Lupe might also get a chance to visit her great Uncle Andy and Aunt Connie, meet King III, their old yellow lab, and see their farm near Beach, ND.

Before Lupe reached North Dakota, SPHP started seeing new housing subdivisions in tiny, formerly dying towns in NE Montana.  The first new subdivision was in Poplar.  There was a bigger one in Culbertson.  Lupe started seeing a few oil wells.  There were stacks of big blue pipes N of Hwy 2.  Then a big blue pipeline appeared, not yet buried.  Overall though, the effects of the oil and gas boom didn’t really look all that great, until Lupe crossed the border into North Dakota.

The first stoplight was 7 miles W of Williston.  From then on, there was heavy traffic, especially truck traffic.  Even though it was Saturday morning, Williston was a swarming hive of activity.  Everything on the W and N sides of town looked brand new.

There were rows of metal buildings housing energy related companies, both famous and unfamiliar.  Stacks of materials and lots of machinery were kept in adjacent fenced yards.  New houses, new apartments, new restaurants, new businesses, new roads, new everything was all over the place.  Williston was a genuine boom town.

Lupe and SPHP went and found a park in the old part of Williston.  There were big old trees here, and a lot less going on.  Lupe struck it rich, and found a squirrel in the very first tree she checked.  She made such a ruckus about it, SPHP decided it might be best to move on.  SPHP called Lupe’s great Aunt Connie in Beach.  Right away, Connie invited Lupe and SPHP to come on down to Beach for a visit.

So before Lupe got in trouble for disturbing what little peace there was in Williston, she and SPHP headed S for Beach, ND, a tiny town along I-94 barely across the border from Montana.

Connie and Andy had an old yellow lab named King.  Technically King was King III, the third in a line of yellow labs that Connie and Andy had.  When Connie opened the door at their house in Beach, King III was right there.  King III could hardly believe his eyes!  Here was a cute little Dingo wanting to come in for a visit!  King III loved the idea.  He wanted to play!  Lupe growled.  King III was mighty big!

SPHP was interested in seeing Connie and Andy’s farm, but didn’t even have to ask for a tour.  After visiting with Connie and Andy for a short while, they asked if Lupe and SPHP would like to see it.  Of course!  So everyone piled into Connie and Andy’s car, both dogs included, with SPHP between them to keep the peace.  The farm was 16 miles S of town.  Lupe and SPHP got the grand tour.

The G6 at Connie and Andy's house in Beach, ND.
The G6 at Connie and Andy’s house in Beach, ND.
Lupe's great uncle Andy and great aunt Connie and King III out at the farm.
Lupe’s great uncle Andy, great aunt Connie and King III out at the farm.

Andy & Connie at the farm near Beach, ND 8-3-15

The farm S of Beach, ND. Wow, after crossing central and eastern Montana, that hill in the distance is a veritable mountain! Crops are looking good, too. Wheat and lentils.
The farm S of Beach, ND. Wow, after crossing central and eastern Montana, that hill in the distance is a veritable mountain! Crops are looking good, too. Wheat and lentils.

Connie & Andy's farm S of Beach, ND 8-3-15

Lupe enjoyed the tour of the farm. She and King III got to get out and sniff around, and run after the car for exercise. King III was an old farm dog, but it was all a new and interesting experience for Lupe.
Lupe enjoyed the tour of the farm. She and King III got to get out and sniff around, and run after the car for exercise. King III was an old farm dog, but it was all a new and interesting experience for Lupe.

Connie, Andy and SPHP spent so much time visiting, that Lupe and SPHP got invited to spend the night in Beach.  The next morning, Lupe, King III, Connie and SPHP all took a walk to the edge of town.  After breakfast, it was time for Lupe to finish her trip home.  It was now 8-4-15, Day 26 of Lupe’s great Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and Canadian Rockies, and time to get back to the Black Hills.

Of course, SPHP dawdled along taking roads never seen before, instead of just taking the most direct route home.  Lupe’s vacation continued all day.  Lupe went back into eastern Montana.  She went through Baker and Ekalaka.  She passed Medicine Rocks State Park.

A forested section of hills in the Custer National Forest looked very similar to Lupe’s Black Hills back home.  S of the Custer National Forest was a rather impressive long high ridge, topped with rock, which stretched far off to the SE.  The Little Missouri River valley was beautiful.  Cows and horses kept Lupe busy.  She took up the sport of barking at hay bales, too, just for good measure.

The 73rd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Classic (Sturgis Rally), a week long event that brings huge numbers of motorcycle enthusiasts to the little town of Sturgis, SD on the NE edge of the Black Hills every year, was just beginning.  Before Lupe even left Montana and entered Wyoming, there were bikers on motorcycles pouring in from all over.

Lupe dropped by the KOA campground just E of Devil’s Tower National Monument.  A couple of motorcyclists had the same idea.

SPHP had planned on getting Lupe a little blue ice cream at the store E of Devil's Tower National Monument. All the parking lots at the KOA campground were totally jammed with motorcycle enthusiasts here for the annual Sturgis Rally, held the 1st full week of August each year. SPHP decided Lupe would have to wait for ice cream.
SPHP had planned on getting Lupe a little blue ice cream at the store E of Devil’s Tower National Monument. All the parking lots at the KOA campground were totally jammed with motorcycle enthusiasts here for the annual Sturgis Rally, held the 1st full week of August each year. SPHP decided Lupe would have to wait for ice cream.

Actually, the place was packed.  There were hundreds of motorcycles.  Everyone seemed to be in good spirits and having a great time.  There was a big party going on.  The store was doing a brisk business.  Lupe got lots of compliments from the friendly bikers.  She was loving it and basking in glory.

Lupe at Devil's Tower, WY. She is looking pretty happy about it. She was basking in the glory of a lot of compliments from the friendly bikers.
Lupe at Devil’s Tower, WY. She is looking pretty happy about it. She was basking in the glory of a lot of compliments from the friendly bikers.

It has been a tradition with SPHP to buy blue ice cream at the store just E of the monument on each visit to Devil’s Tower.  SPHP had intended to get Lupe some.  This time, though, it looked like it was going to take a long time to get waited on.  It was too hot out to make Lupe wait in the G6 that long.

So Lupe didn’t get any blue ice cream at Devil’s Tower (5,112 ft.).  Lupe and SPHP headed S for Sundance, WY.  There were 6 bikers riding 2 abreast ahead of the G6.  They were taking their time enjoying the scenery while winding through forested hills W of the Black Hills of Wyoming, also called the Bear Lodge Mountains.  Before long there were 50 or 100 motorcycles following the G6.  It was fun!  It was like Lupe was leading a grand motorcycle parade!

Lupe and SPHP left the motorcycle parade at Sundance.  SPHP stopped at the grocery store there.  Since Lupe hadn’t gotten any ice cream at Devil’s Tower, SPHP was going to make it up to her.  SPHP came out with a box of 6 Eskimo pies.  Lupe was forced to help devour every last one of them as fast as possible, since they were soon melting fast.  She was completely up to the task.  She would have been willing to do more, if only the need had arisen.

Instead of heading home on I-90, SPHP took Lupe S on Hwy 585 from Sundance.  Lupe saw Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.) mountain.  She was soon back in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  In the Black Hills, Lupe went on the final exploration of her entire 2013 Dingo Vacation.  From Black Fox campground, she headed up the Rhoades Fork of Rapid Creek following USFS Road No. 233 for more than a mile.

Of course, she drank from the cool, clear stream!  Of course, she posed for the final pictures of her 2013 Dingo Vacation!

Lupe gets a drink in Rhoad's Fork of Rapid Creek upstream of Black Fox CG.
Lupe gets a drink in Rhoad’s Fork of Rapid Creek upstream of Black Fox CG.

A little more than an hour after returning to the G6, Lupe was home.  Her 26 day summer of 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and Canadian Rockies was finally over.  It seemed like a long time since Day 1, when she went to the Elysian Fields of Puppy Happiness and spent the night on Bald Mountain (10,042 ft.).  It had been a wonderful trip, but it was still good to be home!

Lupe's final photo of her 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and the Canadian Rockies. Here she is back in the Black Hills of South Dakota about a mile upstream of Black Fox campground.
Lupe’s final photo of her 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and the Canadian Rockies. Here she is on 8-4-13 back in the Black Hills of South Dakota about 1.5 miles upstream of Black Fox campground.

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Peyto Lake & Bow Summit, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (8-1-13)

5:30 AM.  Daylight already.  Lupe was wide awake.  Soon SPHP was, too.  It was August 1, 2013, Day 23 of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths & Canada.  This was to be Lupe’s last full day in Canada.  Yesterday she had already started heading S from the Mount Robson area to begin the trip back home.  Before leaving Canada, Lupe and SPHP still had a few places to go and things to see.  It was good to be up early!

Shortly after 6:00 AM, SPHP was parking the G6 at the Peyto Lake parking lot near Bow Pass on the Icefields Parkway Highway No. 93.  Although the Peyto Lake observation deck at the end of a short paved path is a very popular tourist destination, no one else was around this early in the day.  The G6 was the only vehicle in the parking lot.  It wouldn’t stay that way for very long.  Lupe and SPHP took the short path to see Peyto Lake.

Peyto Lake in Banff National Park from the observation deck at Bow Pass.
Peyto Lake in Banff National Park from the observation deck at Bow Pass.  Mountains along the Mistaya River valley stretch out as far as the eye can see.  Peyto Lake is named after Ebenezer “Wild Bill” Peyto, a legendary early hunter, trapper, prospector, guide & outfitter in the Canadian Rockies.  Photo looks NW.

There used to be a lookout tower at Bow Summit.  After admiring the view of Peyto Lake and the Mistaya River valley from the observation deck, Lupe and SPHP went in search of the old fire lookout service road.  SPHP had brought along the following note summarizing instructions on how to get to Bow Summit from research done online:

“From the Peyto Lake overlook, take the right hand of two paved trails leading uphill.  After 100 meters, there will be a 3 way junction at an interpretive sign.  Continue on the middle branch angling uphill to the left of the sign (this is part of the upper nature trail).  In a few minutes, the paved nature trail will continue on to the right, but continue straight on the old fire lookout service road.”

Soon Lupe was trotting happily on up the road to the old fire lookout.  It was a gorgeous morning with views to match.  After gaining 760 feet of elevation, Lupe and SPHP reached the end of the road at Bow Summit.  There were wonderful views to the N back toward the Mistaya River valley and Waterfowl Lakes.  The best views to the S toward Bow Lake and beyond were a little farther on.

Looking SE from Bow Summit toward Bow Lake.
Looking SE from Bow Summit toward Bow Lake.  From L to R:  Mount Andromache (9,829 ft.), Mount Hector (11,135 ft.), Bow Peak (9,318 ft.), and Crowfoot Mountain (10,023 ft.).

L to R: Mount Hector, Bow Peak, Crowfoot Mountain as seen from Bow Summit.

Mountains along the Mistaya River valley, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada from Bow Summit.
Mountains along the Mistaya River valley, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada from Bow Summit.
Looking NNW from Bow Summit at mountains along the Mistaya River valley.
Looking NNW from Bow Summit at mountains along the Mistaya River valley.

The views at Bow Summit were wonderful, amazing and incredible.  It was hard not to feel sad that Lupe had to leave Canada.  The views weren’t the only thing that were amazing and incredible, though.  Amazing and incredible swarms of not-so-wonderful mosquitoes started plaguing Lupe and SPHP within just a minute or two of arriving at Bow Summit.

Although Lupe doesn’t like strong winds, a good stiff breeze would have been welcome.  As it was, Lupe and SPHP tired very quickly of serving as local blood banks.  The mosquitoes had been only a minor annoyance while moving on the way up, but they were intolerable staying put in any one place.  Definitely time to be moving on.  Two hours after leaving the G6, Lupe and SPHP were back at the now bustling Peyto Lake parking lot.

After Bow Summit, Lupe went on one more outing in the Canadian Rockies.  Near the high point on Hwy 93 heading W toward Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, there was a trailhead for Boom Lake.  The trail was only 5.1 km to Boom Lake, which was perfect for the limited time Lupe had to spend.

At the trailhead parking lot, Lupe met a skinny 7 month old black lab puppy named Geeko.  Lupe and Geeko played with each other in the parking lot, and each time they met along the trail.

SPHP met a Canadian biologist from Winnipeg along the way.  When SPHP learned the biologist had hiked more than 2,000 km of trails in the Canadian Rockies, SPHP asked for recommendations on day hikes.  The biologist recommended a trail quite near by, which goes to the Stanley Glacier.  Lupe didn’t have time to check it out this trip, but SPHP hopes some day she will.

By the time Lupe and SPHP reached Boom Lake, it was raining and foggy.  It looked like a beautiful spot, but Lupe would have to return under better conditions to explore further and get some photos worthy of the area.  Lupe had fun, but she was a rather soggy doggie by the time she completed the trek back to the G6.

Lupe and SPHP enjoyed a wonderful drive through scenic Kootenay National Park, but made no more stops until reaching Radium Hot Springs.  Lupe had to wait in the G6 at Radium Hot Springs, while SPHP went in to get cleaned up and bask in the warm mineral waters.

After so many days exploring the Canadian Rockies, Lupe was fine with spending a little time chillin' in the G6 while it rained outside and SPHP went to the Radium Hot Springs.
After so many days exploring the Canadian Rockies, Lupe was fine with spending a little time chillin’ in the G6 while it rained outside and SPHP went to the Radium Hot Springs.

SPHP returned from the Radium Hot Springs clean and refreshed.  Cleanliness always boosts SPHP’s spirits, especially while traveling.  It was time to get serious about making some progress getting home!  Lupe was in for a good time – after all, the cows and horses in Montana alone were going to provide at least 500 miles of frenzied Dingo barking pleasure!

Click on the links below to view related posts on The (Mostly) True Adventures of Lupe that may be of interest:

Peyto Lake & Lupe’s Search for the Peyto Glacier (7-26-13)

Bow Lake & The Trail to Bow Glacier Falls (7-25-13)

Book Review: Ain’t it Hell, Bill Peyto’s Mountain Journal

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2013 Beartooths & Canadian Rockies Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Wilcox Pass Trail, Jasper National Park (7-31-13)

Early on the morning of 7-31-13, the day after Lupe’s explorations up the glorious Berg Lake Trail to see Mt. Robson and Berg Lake, Lupe and SPHP headed S in the G6 back towards Jasper.  It was the 23rd Day of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation, and time to start the long drive back home.  There wasn’t any huge rush though – there was still time for a few more great Dingo adventures along the way!

From Jasper, Lupe and SPHP continued S along the beautiful Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  SPHP stopped the G6 at a pullout a few km before reaching the Icefields Centre across from the Athabasca Glacier.  The pullout provided an excellent spot to admire the upper Sunwapta River Valley, and a portion of the Columbia Icefield beyond.  At this point, the Sunwapta River is just a braided stream bearing little resemblance to the mighty river it becomes further N by the time it roars over Sunwapta Falls.

The Sunwapta River Valley & the Columbia Icefield from the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.
The Sunwapta River Valley & the Columbia Icefield from the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.
Lupe wasn't concentrating much on the view from the pullout along the highway. Instead she seemed plenty happy just hiding out in the lush foliage near the road.
Lupe wasn’t concentrating much on the view from the pullout along the highway. Instead she seemed plenty happy just hiding out in the lush foliage near the road.

While still in the area of the Columbia Icefield, SPHP thought it would be a good idea for Lupe to check out the Wilcox Pass Trail before leaving Jasper National Park.  Just a few km S of the Icefields Centre across from the Athabasca Glacier is a short gravel road on the E side of the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 which goes to the Wilcox Creek Campground.  The Wilcox Pass Trailhead is located along this gravel road immediately before the road reaches the campground.

Wilcox Pass is only a 4 km hike from the trailhead, but until nearing the pass, most of the way the trail climbs pretty steeply.  It starts off winding around through a forest, but the forest thins out about the time the trail comes around a bend and reaches the first stunning views of the Athabasca Glacier and surrounding mountains.

The Athabasca Glacier comes into view along the Wilcox Pass Trail.
The Athabasca Glacier comes into view along the Wilcox Pass Trail.
The Dome Glacier between Snow Dome and Mt. Kitchener from the Wilcox Pass Trail.
The Dome Glacier (C) between Snow Dome (11,483 ft.) (L) and Mt. Kitchener (11,417 ft.) (R) from the Wilcox Pass Trail.
Mt. Athabasca (L), Mt. Andromeda (C) and the Athabasca Glacier (R)from the Wilcox Pass Trail.
Mt. Athabasca (11, 453 ft.) (L), Mt. Andromeda (11,286 ft.) (C) and the Athabasca Glacier (R) from the Wilcox Pass Trail.

There were lots of people on the trail.  It was easy to understand why.  The already amazing views became better and better as the trail continued climbing above the remaining forest.  Eventually the trail reached the high point of Wilcox Pass, which proved to be at a very broad, gently sloping open area of heather dotted with small ponds and streams.

The trail continued NNW on over the pass to the E of Mount Wilcox, but the best views were clearly going to be towards the SW in the direction of the Athabasca Glacier and surrounding peaks.  Lupe and SPHP left the pass heading that direction.  Lupe loved the open high ground along the way.  Pretty soon, Lupe and SPHP arrived at the edge of a ridge situated 1,400 feet above and just NE of the Icefields Center.

The views of the Athabasca Glacier and surrounding snow-covered peaks from Lupe’s final perch were astonishing.  Photos barely begin to convey the sense of height, space and frozen splendor inspired by the icy panoramic sweep of the towering mountains and gleaming white glaciers that met Lupe’s gaze from that high ridge.  More of the dazzling Columbia Icefield shone brilliantly above the glaciers than Lupe and SPHP had ever seen before, yet even that was still just a tiny part of the whole.  In an instant, the Wilcox Pass Trail became Lupe and SPHP’s favorite half-day hike in the Canadian Rockies or anywhere else.

Lupe at the viewpoint SW of Wilcox Pass.
Lupe at the viewpoint SW of Wilcox Pass.
Mount Athabasca from the ridge SW of Wilcox Pass.
Mount Athabasca (11,453 ft.) from the ridge SW of Wilcox Pass.
Mount Andromeda & the Athabasca Glacier
Mount Andromeda (11,286 ft.) & the Athabasca Glacier
Lupe relaxes with Snow Dome (L) and Mt. Kitchener (R) in the background.
Lupe stays alert while relaxing with Snow Dome (11,483 ft.) (L) and Mt. Kitchener (11,417 ft.) (R) in the background.
This shot shows the Icefields Centre and Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 both 1,400 feet below the ridge.
This shot shows the Icefields Centre and Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 both 1,400 feet below the ridge.

Lupe and SPHP stayed at the edge of the ridge SW of Wilcox Pass for a long time.  It seemed like a shame to ever leave, but time waits for no Dingo, nor even any Carolina Dogs.  Fortunately Carolina Dogs are immensely practical.  Lupe was in high spirits on the return trip from the SW ridge back across the heather to the Wilcox Pass Trail, and on down to the G6.

A last look at Snow Dome (L) and Mt. Kitchener (R) on the way down the Wilcox Pass Trail.
A last look at Snow Dome (L) and Mt. Kitchener (R) from near the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.

Lupe and SPHP resumed the drive heading S over Sunwapta Pass, the border between Jasper and Banff National Parks.  The Wilcox Pass Trail had been so wonderful, SPHP had already started thinking about what else Lupe could still do this day.  So, just 5.5 miles S of the pass, SPHP turned off the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 to the Nigel Creek trailhead.  The map at the trailhead showed that it was 7 km up to Nigel Pass.  The first part of the trail was actually a continuation of the gravel road to the trailhead.  Lupe and SPHP set off for Nigel Pass.

Lupe was quite ready for another adventure, but after trudging up the road 0.5 mile or so, SPHP realized it wasn’t really going to happen.  After the 42 km round trip up to Berg Lake and Mt. Robson the previous day, and hardly a break after the climb up to Wilcox Pass, SPHP didn’t really have the steam left to continue – at least, not for a little while.  It was time to rest.  Lupe was surely puzzled when SPHP turned around and led her back to the G6.  The beautiful drive S on the Icefields Parkway resumed.

Near the Waterfowl Lakes campground, SPHP parked the G6 again.  SPHP still wanted to do something easy that Lupe would like.  After a bit to eat, Lupe and SPHP walked through the campground and took the bridge over the lovely Mistaya River.  Lupe followed the same trail she had just a few days before to Chephren and Cirque Lakes.

This trail gains very little elevation while proceeding through a dense forest.  With the campground closed for the summer for repairs to the flood-damaged water system, no one was around.  The trail was abandoned.  It was a pleasant, easy stroll through the very quiet forest.  At least, it had been quiet until an American Dingo arrived.  Lupe found lots of squirrels to bark at along the way.  Her excitement rang through the forest.  She was having a most excellent time.

This time, the junction where the trail divides to go to either Chephren or Cirque Lake was as far as Lupe and SPHP went before turning around.  Gradually twilight was coming on.  The squirrels started hitting the hay.  Slowly the darkening forest grew quiet again.  By 10:00 PM, Lupe was back snoozing peacefully in the G6.

Did she dream about the scenic wonders of Wilcox Pass, or the squirrels in the forest?  SPHP bet on the squirrels.Lupe at Wilcox Pass 7-31-13A year later, Lupe returned to the fabulous Canadian Rockies on her 2014 Dingo Vacation for more adventures on the Wilcox Pass Trail.  She also returned to the Nigel Pass Trail, and this time both Lupe and SPHP reached Nigel Pass.  Click the red links to see Lupe’s posts on those fun times!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2013 Beartooths & Canadian Rockies Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Mount Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park, Canada (7-29-13)

On 7-28-13, Day 19 of her 2013 Dingo Vacation, Lupe visited Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park.  After seeing both of these impressive waterfalls, it was still early afternoon, so there was plenty of time for Lupe to look for more adventures.  From Athabasca Falls, SPHP drove N on Hwy 93A instead of returning to the main Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  Although paved, Hwy 93A proved to be much more of a back woods road than the main highway.  It was bumpy and patchy, and didn’t have much traffic on it.

A paved side road leading W to Moab Lake (7 km) looked interesting, but shortly after getting on it, the pavement ended.  The gravel road that continued onward was full of stones and potholes.  It wasn’t long before SPHP gave up on the Moab Lake idea, and turned the G6 around to return to Hwy 93A and continue N.  Eventually Lupe & SPHP reached the side road to Mount Edith Cavell (11,033 ft.) the main attraction SPHP was aware of accessible from Hwy 93A.

The road to Mt. Edith Cavell was 14 km long, very narrow and windy, but all paved and in beautiful, almost new condition.  It started raining lightly as the G6 wound its way up the mountain.  After quite a distance, Lupe and SPHP arrived at a very small pullout with an overview of a cloudy, but gorgeous mountain valley with a river running through it far below.  Snowy peaks were visible at the upper end miles to the NW.

The Tonquin Valley from the road to Mount Edith Cavell. This looked like a beautiful place to explore, but unfortunately for Lupe, dogs are not allowed in Tonquin Valley.
The Tonquin Valley from the road to Mount Edith Cavell. This looked like a beautiful place to explore, but unfortunately for Lupe, dogs are not allowed in Tonquin Valley.

A sign a bit farther along the road indicated that Lupe and SPHP had just seen a portion of the famous Tonquin Valley.  Unfortunately for Lupe, Tonquin Valley is closed to dogs.  It looked like a beautiful place to explore.

After winding around on the road a bit longer, Lupe and SPHP were getting quite close to Mount Edith Cavell.  The place was so busy, it wasn’t even possible to get to the large parking lot.  There were cars parked along the road well before the parking lot was reached.  SPHP parked the G6 by the side of the road, too.  By now the weather had closed in enough so clouds hid the top of Mount Edith Cavell, while it continued to sprinkle rain.  It was still only about 2:30 PM.  Lupe and SPHP stayed in the G6 and took a nap in the hope that the weather would eventually clear.

SPHP awoke a bit after 5:00 PM to find that it was raining harder, not less.  Quite a few cars had left, but Mt. Edith Cavell must be a very popular destination as cars continued to come and go despite the rain.  SPHP moved the G6 forward to the main paved parking lot, which was now less than 1/2 full.  Lupe stared out the window and watched people, while SPHP wrote in the trip journal.

By 6:45 PM, the rain had stopped.  There were only 5 or 6 other cars left in the parking lot.  The sky was still completely overcast and it was a chilly 45°F out.  Lupe and SPHP hopped out of the G6 and took the not very long trek (about 20 minutes one way) up the trail to see Mount Edith Cavell.  There was a clear view of much of the mountain, including the Angel Glacier, but the top of the mountain remained shrouded in clouds.  There was more trail to explore, but signs said the rest of it was closed to Dingoes.  Since everything was still wet and gloomy, Lupe and SPHP returned to the G6.

The next morning (7-29-13 and Day 20 of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation), everything had changed.  At 6:30 AM, Lupe and SPHP headed back up the trail to Mount Edith Cavell as far as Lupe was allowed to go.  It was a brisk morning (32°F according to the G6), but the skies were clear and the sun was shining on the mountain.  No one else was around yet.  Lupe and SPHP enjoyed the silent majesty of the scene.

Mount Edith Cavell
Mount Edith Cavell
The melt pond at the base of Mount Edith Cavell. This was as close as Lupe was allowed to get according to signs.
The mostly ice-filled melt pond at the base of Mount Edith Cavell. This was as close as Lupe was allowed to get according to signs.
An arm of the Angel Glacier hangs down from Mount Edith Cavell.
An arm of the Angel Glacier hangs down from Mount Edith Cavell.

Angel Glacier, Mount Edith Cavell 7-29-13SPHP knew that it wouldn’t be long before people would start coming.  Since Lupe wasn’t permitted to explore any of the additional trails, all too soon it was time for Lupe and SPHP to start back down the valley to the G6.

A look N back down the valley from Mount Edith Cavell.
A look N back down the valley from Mount Edith Cavell.
Lupe on the Mount Edith Cavell trail.
Lupe on the Mount Edith Cavell trail.

From Mount Edith Cavell, Lupe and SPHP went on to Jasper, a pretty and busy little tourist town.  Coming into town, Lupe was very interested in 2 female elk with fawns standing right on the road!

Since Lupe had been cooped up in the G6 much of the previous afternoon and all of the evening, SPHP knew she really needed a longer walk than she had at Edith Cavell.  Along the road to Pyramid Lake, SPHP found a trailhead on the edge of town.  Lupe and SPHP spent a couple of hours hiking trails No. 8, 6 & 6A.  The trails made a loop past a swamp and through the forest, eventually going past Patricia Lake.  Best of all there were lots of squirrels in the trees to bark at!  Lupe had an exciting time of it, although SPHP was a bit concerned about how noisy the Dingo was this close to town.

Although there wasn’t much elevation change on this loop, near the end on trail No. 6A, the trail climbed a small hill with a clearing from which there was a nice view of Mount Edith Cavell off in the distance.  After having just been there, SPHP now recognized Mount Edith Cavell as the mountain frequently featured on postcards of the town of Jasper.

During the rest of the day, Lupe got to spent a little time at the beach at Pyramid Lake near Jasper and then enjoyed a scenic drive to Miette Hot Springs.  At the picnic ground there, Lupe endured an hour of temptation, while a herd of 6 or 7 bighorn sheep panhandled from all the picnickers and bold squirrels did the same.  Despite ineffective signs everywhere insisting that people shouldn’t feed the bighorn sheep, they were so tame and used to getting their way, people could pat them without them even backing away.

However, when the bighorn sheep got too close to an excitable Dingo which barked furiously and lunged at them (restrained by a leash, of course), the bighorns did seem to think that was a bit rude.  They gave the foamy-mouthed Dingo a wider berth for a little while, but kept forgetting the experience.  The bighorn sheep had to be repeatedly reminded by the Dingo that they looked like Dingo food.  The squirrels only had to be told once, but chattered taunts and insults back from the safety of the trees.  It was almost more than an American Dingo could bear.

The picnic finally done, Lupe was relegated to the G6 for a while, during which time SPHP had a marvelous alternately relaxing, soothing and invigorating time at the Miette Hot Springs, which features a big hot pool, a big warm pool, and much smaller cool and frigid pools.  All-day admission was only $6.05 Canadian for as long as one wanted to stay, an absolute bargain compared to anything else in the Canadian Rockies!  Miette Hot Springs was fabulous!  If Carolina Dogs could have gone in the hot springs, Lupe and SPHP would have stayed there a couple of days.

By evening Lupe and a much cleaner SPHP were back at Jasper again.  Across a bridge over the Athabasca River from Jasper, Lupe and SPHP found a trail around nearby Lake Annette for an evening stroll.  About 1/4 of the way around the lake though, a couple with a baby in a stroller and a dog approached from the opposite direction.  They said their dog had found and treed a bear cub just a few minutes earlier.  Since momma bear was likely still around somewhere close at hand, and not likely to be entirely pleased with the situation, they were beating a hasty retreat to their vehicle.

Bear hunting in the Canadian Rockies sounded even more exciting than bighorn sheep hunting to Lupe.  SPHP had to admit it would sound impressive to the folks back home.  But the cowardly SPHP quickly overruled and headed for the G6 to end all possibility of a truly exciting end to the day and a most memorable blog post.

Edith Cavell was a British nurse who lived in German-occupied Belgium during WW1. She indiscriminately helped save the lives of soldiers of both sides during the war. However, she also helped 200 allied soldiers escape to the Netherlands or England. For this she was found guilty of treason by the Germans and executed by firing squad. She never saw the mountain in the Canadian Rockies that was eventually named after her. The Indian name for the mountain was White Ghost.
Edith Cavell was a British nurse who lived in German-occupied Belgium during WW1. She indiscriminately helped save the lives of soldiers of both sides during the war. However, she also helped 200 allied soldiers escape to the Netherlands or England. For this she was found guilty of treason by the Germans and executed by firing squad. She never saw the mountain in the Canadian Rockies that was eventually named in her honor. The Indian name for the mountain translates as White Ghost.

On July 30, 2013, Day 21 of her 2013 Dingo Vacation, and the day after she visited Mount Edith Cavell and Miette Hot Springs, Lupe had one of the most fabulously scenic adventures of her trip to the Canadian Rockies.  Click the red link to view her post on the Berg Lake Trail to Mt. Robson!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2013 Beartooths & Canadian Rockies Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Sunwapta & Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park, Canada (7-28-13)

At 6:00 AM on 7-28-13, Day 19 of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths & Canadian Rockies, Lupe was back at the Icefields Centre just off the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  The sun was starting to shine on the snowy peaks surrounding the Athabasca Glacier.  No one else was around.  The Icefields Centre wouldn’t open for a quite a while yet.  Even though it was statistically close to the very hottest time of year, the morning had the bright crisp feel of a day in late fall back home.  It was a chilly 32°F.  Lupe and SPHP admired the magnificent mountain scene in the early morning glow.

Dawn at Mt. Athabasca 7-28-13.
Dawn of a new day on Mt. Athabasca (11,453 ft.) 7-28-13.
Snow Dome and the Dome Glacier
Snow Dome (11,483 ft.) and the Dome Glacier

A couple of really big waterfalls were on Lupe’s agenda for the day.  Lupe and SPHP headed N on the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  The road steadily lost elevation at a pretty good clip.  After a 15 minute drive admiring the towering mountains in every direction, the G6 descended into a bank of fog that lasted for miles.  There were road signs for Caribou crossings that added to a sense of mystery and isolation.  Lupe was farther N than she had ever been before.

Eventually the fog bank ended.  The mountains were visible again.  The road by now was only losing elevation slowly.  It was almost level.  On the right (E) side of the highway, SPHP spotted a sign for the Poboktan Creek trailhead.  SPHP turned off the highway to check it out, but had to disappoint Lupe when it turned out to be a trailhead for long distance backpacking.  Dogs, even American Dingoes and Carolina Dogs, were prohibited.

Back on the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 again, it wasn’t long before SPHP drove past a restaurant on the left (W) side of the road.  Going past the restaurant, SPHP saw signs on it that said something about Sunwapta Falls.  SPHP had been watching for road signs for the Sunwapta Falls turnoff, but SPHP had either missed them or they didn’t exist.  No matter.  SPHP turned around and drove back to take the paved side road heading W to the Sunwapta Falls picnic ground and trailhead.  It wasn’t far at all to the falls and Lupe was there within just a few minutes.

Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park 7-28-13
Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park 7-28-13

The Sunwapta River starts at the Athabasca Glacier, which wasn’t that far away back where Lupe had just started her morning only a little while ago.  It was already a powerful river.  Sunwapta Falls was impressive.  The Sunwapta River is a tributary of the Athabasca River, which it would soon join not too many more miles away downstream.

SPHP casually checked the trail information and map posted near the parking lot.  There were 2 trails.  One went a long distance far beyond anything SPHP had in mind.  However, there was another shorter one going down to Lower Sunwapta Falls.  The information said Lower Sunwapta Falls actually consists of a series of 3 more waterfalls in close succession.

The hike to Lower Sunwapta Falls was supposed to be just a 1 hour round trip.  It sounded like fun.  There probably wouldn’t be that many people going to the lower falls.  Upper Sunwapta Falls was the tallest of the falls, and very conveniently right there at the parking lot.  Lupe could probably bark at squirrels along the trail to the lower falls without annoying anyone.

There was a bridge across the river just downstream of Sunwapta Falls.  Lupe and SPHP admired the falls from the bridge.  SPHP then continued on across and followed the trail on the other side.  The trail disappeared into the forest.  Lupe likes being in forests and was having a good time.  There were, indeed, a few squirrels to bark at, which she did with great enthusiasm.

However, it started becoming clear that the trail was leaving the Sunwapta River far behind.  SPHP started to suspect this was the long distance trail.  SPHP should have paid closer attention to the map back at the falls.  After following this trail for at least a mile, the Sunwapta River could barely be heard in the distance.  It was time to turn around.

Back at Sunwapta Falls again, SPHP looked around.  From the high fenced viewpoint farthest downstream was a trail following the river.  This trail was on the same side of the river as the parking lot.  It proved to be the trail that does lead down to Lower Sunwapta Falls.  It lost elevation at a pretty good clip.  Soon Lupe reached the lower falls.

Lower Sunwapta Falls
Lower Sunwapta Falls
Sunwapta River below the falls.
Sunwapta River.

The lower falls were pretty impressive and worth seeing.  The trail continued along the Sunwapta River for some distance downstream beyond the lower falls.  Lupe was having such a good time, that SPHP followed it a while longer before turning around.  The Sunwapta River became a gentler stream as it continued on its way.

Sunwapta River
Sunwapta River

Sunwapta River, Jasper NP 7-28-13When Lupe and SPHP finally got back to the G6, it was after 10:00 AM, but still only 36°F.  Things had gotten busy again.  The parking lot isn’t all that large, but cars and people were coming and going.

Leaving Sunwapta Falls behind, Lupe and SPHP got back on the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 again still going N.  Very soon SPHP saw another turnout for a trail on the right (E) side of the highway.  Only one other car was at the trailhead when Lupe arrived.  A sign said the trail went to Buck and Osprey Lakes, but there were no maps or distances given.  SPHP had no idea what to expect, but it looked like an opportunity for some exploration with Lupe where there wouldn’t be too many people around.

The forest was leafy and damp.  Lupe was soon quite a soggy doggie, but she was perfectly happy with that.  Lupe didn’t have to look long to find the first lake.  A short trek led to a sign at a trail intersection.  Buck Lake was just 0.1 km straight ahead, and Osprey Lake was only 1.2 km to the left.  Lupe checked out Buck Lake first.  Buck Lake was shallow and weedy, but looked like it might be a great quiet place for ducks or other waterfowl.  Lupe went back to the intersection and took the trail to Osprey Lake.

Osprey Lake was bigger, more open, deeper and cleaner looking.  There were a couple of kayakers on it.  It appeared as though there was better access to Osprey Lake from the other side.  There were more people and kayaks over there.  There was no continuation of the trails Lupe was on along the shores of either Buck or Osprey Lake, so Lupe and SPHP just went to each lake, took a look, and headed back.  Lupe still had a great time in the wet, leafy, mossy forest.

Osprey Lake
Osprey Lake

It was a bit past 11 AM when Lupe returned to the G6.  She had already been on 3 trails this morning.  SPHP found a picnic ground on the W side of the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 just a short drive N from the Buck & Osprey Lakes trailhead.  This little picnic ground is now a favorite spot.  It is just off the highway, so access is super easy.  Its great attraction, though, is that it is right next to the Athabasca River with some excellent views.  Several of the picnic tables are just a few feet away from the edge of the riverbank.

After lunch, it was only 5 or 6 miles farther N on the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 to a left turn onto Hwy 93A, which very shortly leads to parking lots for the mighty Athabasca Falls.  By this point, the Sunwapta River has joined the Athabasca.  The flow of water over Athabasca Falls is tremendous and powerful.Athabasca Falls, Jasper NP 7-28-13

The Athabasca River has carved a narrow canyon right through the rock below the falls.
The Athabasca River has carved a narrow channel right through the rock below the falls.

Athabasca Falls, Jasper NP 7-28-13Athabasca Falls, Jasper NP 7-28-13Athabasca River, Jasper NP 7-28-13Athabasca Falls is a huge tourist attraction.  SPHP was very glad Lupe got to see it.  The falls are gorgeous and amazing.

Athabasca Falls was justifiably a very busy place.  Lupe spent a good 30 or 45 minutes there, during which time she made a few friends among the throng.  In truth, though, she probably far preferred the less dramatic and much more ordinary forest trail to Buck and Osprey Lakes.  One good chattering squirrel makes her happier than a crowd of strangers.  SPHP often feels the same way.

Lupe returned to Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls just over a year later on July 30, 2014 during her 2014 Dingo Vacation.  Click on the red link to view her post on that visit to these impressive waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies.  To see her post on another impressive waterfall in Yoho National Park in British Columbia, click on this link to Takakkaw Falls!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2013 Beartooths & Canadian Rockies Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Parker Ridge & the Saskatchewan Glacier, The Icefields Centre & the Athabasca Glacier (7-27-13)

7-23-13.  The 18th Day of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and Canadian Rockies.  Lupe and SPHP woke up fairly early, around 6:30 AM.  It was already light out, of course, and had been for over an hour.  The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun shone brightly on the mountain peaks to the W.

Lupe and SPHP were still in the shadows of the mountains to the E.  Lupe and SPHP went down to the bridge they had crossed the previous evening when Lupe had gone to see Chephren and Cirque Lakes.  For a few minutes, Lupe and SPHP just stood on the middle of the bridge looking at the Mistaya River and enjoying the moment.

Then it was time to go.  Lupe had things to do!  SPHP was really looking forward to it, too.  Lupe was going to go on the most anticipated trek of the entire vacation, the short hike up to Parker Ridge for a magnificent view of the Saskatchewan Glacier!  After a quick breakfast, Lupe and SPHP headed N in the G6 along the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.

Even from the highway, there were great views of snow-clad peaks all around.  N of Saskatchewan Crossing, the impressive North Saskatchewan River meandered through the huge valley just W of the Icefields Parkway.  A medium-sized black bear ran across the highway from the (W) river side to the (E) mountain side of the highway.  Lupe saw it.  It was the first bear she had seen on this trip and she got a very good look at it.  She barked ferociously.  The bear took no apparent notice of the noisy dingo whizzing on by.

Climbing up past the big loop in Hwy 93, the skies suddenly darkened.  It wasn’t any more than 4 or 5 more miles up to the Parker Ridge turnout.  Lupe was soon at the Parker Ridge trailhead right alongside the Icefields Parkway, but the weather was suddenly very threatening.  Dark clouds with heavy fingers of fog were rolling down the mountainsides from the NW.

Lupe and SPHP got out of the G6.  SPHP checked out the map on display at the Parker Ridge trailhead.  A chill wind was blowing.  Within just a minute or two, a cold rain descended on Lupe and SPHP.  Clearly conditions were not favorable for climbing Parker Ridge.  Even if Lupe and SPHP could endure the cold wind and rain and get up on the ridge, there wouldn’t be anything to see in the fog. Lupe wisely jumped back in the G6 before she got bone-chilling soaking wet.  Carolina Dogs know enough to come in out of the rain.

SPHP decided Lupe might just as well head on over Sunwapta Pass to the Icefields Centre near the Athabasca glacier, which wasn’t far away.  At Sunwapta Pass, Lupe left Banff National Park and entered Jasper National Park for the first time.  It was still quite early and people were just starting to arrive when Lupe and SPHP pulled in to the parking lot at the Icefields Centre.  A cold rain was coming down steadily.  The whole sky looked as dark and threatening as if a huge November blizzard was about to strike.  Across the highway, the Athabasca glacier and surrounding snow-covered peaks loomed gloomily and mysteriously through the fog.

The Icefields Centre had just opened.  Lupe stayed in the G6, while SPHP went in to see if there was any weather forecast available.  Lupe’s bright cheerful summer day had changed to a very convincing display of the onset of winter in the span of 30 minutes.  The weather looked so bad outside, SPHP had started thinking that if this was really a major front moving in, maybe the Athabasca glacier was as far as Lupe would get on here 2013 Dingo Vacation.  The notion that Lupe was going to miss out on climbing Parker Ridge and seeing the Saskatchewan glacier was very disappointing.

SPHP talked to a young woman at the information desk and asked for a weather forecast for Jasper for the next few days.  Someone else was interested in the same information.  She got on her computer and checked it out.  Today and tomorrow would be rather iffy with thunderstorms possible, with highs of 17°C (63°F) and 20 degrees C (68°F) expected.  The following two days were supposed to be clear and 25°C (77°F).  SPHP was relieved.  The forecast was far less ominous than the weather outside.  SPHP returned to join Lupe in the G6 and wait.

The rain continued for the better part of an hour.  Lupe snoozed.  SPHP read.  By the time an hour was up, the rain had pretty much stopped.  Lupe and SPHP could see a little patch of blue sky trying to peek through over the Athabasca glacier.  The weather improved rapidly.  The little patch of blue sky was growing and spreading out fast from the Athabasca glacier.  Soon the mountainsides 1,000 feet above the Icefields Centre parking lot were becoming visible revealing a significant dusting of new snow.

Clearing skies over one of Lupe and SPHP's very favorite mountains in the Canadian Rockies, Mt. Athabasca (11,453 ft.)
Clearing skies over one of Lupe and SPHP’s very favorite mountains in the Canadian Rockies, Mt. Athabasca (11,453 ft.)
Crisp, clear and clean with a new dusting of snow. Mt. Andromeda (11,286 ft.) and the Athabasca Glacier.
Crisp, clear and clean with a new dusting of snow on the heights. Mt. Andromeda (11,286 ft.) and the Athabasca Glacier.
Snow Dome (11,483 ft. on L) and Mt. Kitchener (11,417 ft. on R) with the Dome Glacier between them. Jasper National Park 7-27-13
Snow Dome (11,483 ft.)(L) and Mt. Kitchener (11,417 ft.) (R) with the Dome Glacier between them. Jasper National Park 7-27-13
The Icefields Centre in Jasper National Park. Tickets for snowbus tours that go right up onto the Athabasca Glacier and guided walks on the toe of the glacier are available here.
The Icefields Centre in Jasper National Park. Tickets for snowbus tours that go right up onto the Athabasca Glacier, and guided walks on the toe of the glacier are available here.
Clearing skies over Snow Dome, another favorite mountain.
Clearing skies over Snow Dome, another favorite mountain, and the Dome Glacier.  Snow Dome is the only spot on earth (outside of Antarctica) from which water flows to 3 different oceans.
Clear skies over Mt. Andromeda and the Athabasca Glacier. Time for Lupe to go climb Parker Ridge to see the Saskatchewan Glacier!
Clear skies over Mt. Andromeda and the Athabasca Glacier. Time for Lupe to go climb Parker Ridge to see the Saskatchewan Glacier!

SPHP was elated!  Lupe was not only going to get to go up Parker Ridge to see the Saskatchewan Glacier, but the scene would be even more fantastic with a dusting of new snow on the mountains.  Lupe and SPHP headed back to the Parker Ridge turnout.  Other people were already gathering there for the hike up as well.  The climb along the excellent trail only takes 45 minutes or so to reach the crest of Parker Ridge.

The Saskatchewan Glacier is visible flowing down from the Columbia Icefield near the head of the huge valley on the other side of Parker Ridge.  Except it wasn’t.  The valley below was full of fog when Lupe first arrived.  Lupe and SPHP waited for it to clear.  SPHP chatted with a couple of guys from Edmonton.  After 20 or 30 minutes, the fog started dissipating.  Eventually it disappeared entirely.

Looking SE from Parker Ridge down into the lower portion of the glacial valley. The glacier (not shown) has retreated to the upper end of this long valley.
Looking SE from Parker Ridge down into the lower portion of the glacial valley. The glacier (not shown) has retreated to the upper end of this long valley.
Looking S directly across the valley from Parker Ridge.
Looking S directly across the valley from Parker Ridge.
The Saskatchewan Glacier flows down from the Columbia Icefield.
The Saskatchewan Glacier flows down from the Columbia Icefield.
Lupe on Parker Ridge 7-27-13
Lupe on Parker Ridge 7-27-13

Lupe on Parker Ridge, Canada 7-27-13Lupe on Parker Ridge & Saskatchewan Glacier 7-27-13Lupe and SPHP wandered around up on Parker Ridge for quite a while.  Different vantage points gave slightly different perspectives.  Due to the lay of the terrain, climbing higher up on the ridge seemed to just hide more of the glacier from view.  Some of the best vantage points were achieved by following a trail towards the E along the edge of the valley going away from the glacier.

Saskatchewan Glacier from Parker Ridge 7-27-13
Saskatchewan Glacier from Parker Ridge 7-27-13

Saskatchewan Glacier, Canada 7-27-13Lupe on Parker Ridge & Saskatchewan Glacier, Canada 7-27-13

The E end of the Saskatchewan Glacier valley as seen from Parker Ridge. The Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 is visible way down below.
The E end of the Saskatchewan Glacier valley as seen from Parker Ridge. The Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 is faintly visible way down below.
Heading back down to the G6 along the Parker Ridge trail in northern Banff National Park, Canada.
Heading back down to the G6 along the Parker Ridge trail in northern Banff National Park, Canada.

On the way back down to the G6, Lupe was amidst a crowd of tourists coming up or going back down.  Lupe made a few new acquaintances along the way.   Once back to the G6, Lupe and SPHP headed N again on Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 over Sunwapta Pass (the border between Banff and Jasper National Parks).  SPHP drove on down to the Icefields Centre again, but this time turned off the opposite side of the Icefields Parkway and went down to the parking lots below the Athabasca Glacier.

The parking lots were 80% full and there were a lot of people around.  Not exactly a wilderness experience, but where else can you drive practically up to the toe of a big glacier?  A short trail led Lupe to a viewpoint well short of the glacier’s edge.  Fences and lots of signs warning of the extreme dangers posed by glaciers blocked any further advance.  It was all typical over-the-top hype that applies to everything these days, but whatever.  (Drizzle on Jersey turnpike!  Millions affected!  Take appropriate precautions and stay tuned for further updates!)

Toe of the Athabasca Glacier, Canada 7-27-13
Toe of the Athabasca Glacier, Canada 7-27-13
Lupe near the toe of the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, Canada 7-27-13
Lupe near the toe of the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, Canada 7-27-13
People on the Athabasca Glacier. Presumably they bought tickets at the Icefields Centre to one of the guided walks on the glacier.
People on the Athabasca Glacier. Presumably they bought tickets at the Icefields Centre to one of the guided walks on the glacier.

Lupe at the Athabasca Glacier, 7-27-13The Athabasca Glacier was making its own weather.  A strong, chill wind blew down off it into Lupe’s face.  Away from the glacier, summer had returned.  Close to it, cold locked in the ice during winters long centuries ago made itself felt one more time.

Lupe returned to climb Parker Ridge on 7-29-14 for a second time during her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and Canadian Rockies.  Click on the Parker Ridge link to see Lupe’s post on that ascent!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2013 Beartooths & Canadian Rockies Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Chephren & Cirque Lakes, Banff National Park, Canada (7-26-13)

It was after 2 PM on 7-26-13 by the time Lupe and SPHP had finished with Lupe’s explorations up Peyto Creek looking for a way to reach the Peyto Glacier.  Lupe and SPHP left the Peyto Lake area heading N in the G6 on the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  Now that Lupe was N of the pass, the Icefields Parkway was dropping steadily down into the Mistaya River valley.  Beautiful high peaks were on both sides of the road, but the highest and most easily seen ones, since the highway was closest to the E side of the valley, were to the W.

There was still plenty of time for Lupe to do something fun, but SPHP had no clear idea of where to go next.  SPHP drove slowly to watch for possibilities.  A quick side trip to an overflow campground S of Waterfowl Lakes did not prove interesting.  A bit farther on was a pullout along the Icefields Parkway where there was a short trail down to the southernmost of the two large Waterfowl Lakes.  The lake was a beautiful turquoise color, quite large and had impressive snow-capped peaks across the lake to the W.  Sadly, other than the short trail to this lake, there was no sign of any other trail going anywhere.

Howse Peak (10,810 ft.) from the Icefields Parkway near the southernmost of the two large Waterfowl Lakes.
Howse Peak from the Icefields Parkway near the southernmost of the two large Waterfowl Lakes.
Howse Peak (L) and Mount Chephren (R) from Waterfowl Lakes.
Howse Peak (10,810 ft.) (L) and Mount Chephren (10,741 ft.) (R) from Waterfowl Lakes.  Photo looks W.
Looking SW across S Waterfowl Lakes.
Looking SW across S Waterfowl Lakes.
Looking S from the southernmost of the 2 largest Waterfowl Lakes.
Looking S from the southernmost of the 2 largest Waterfowl Lakes.

Lupe and SPHP drove on and very shortly came to the Waterfowl Lakes campground.   SPHP pulled in there, but a chain was across the entrance to the campground.  It was closed due to damage to the water system sustained during floods in June.

Back on the Icefields Parkway again, Lupe and SPHP continued N several miles and came to a pullout for the Mistaya River canyon.  Lupe took a short 300 meter trail down to a bridge across a deep, narrow chasm in the rock into which the very beautiful blue-green Mistaya River was pouring.  Lots of people were around taking pictures.  SPHP took a few, too.

Lupe at the Mistaya River just upstream of where it plunges into a deep, narrow chasm.
Lupe at the Mistaya River just upstream of where it plunges into a deep, narrow chasm.
Mistaya River
Mistaya River

Back near the highway, there was something else of interest, too.  A Gem Trek map was posted showing hiking trails in the region.  The ones right there at the Mistaya River were mostly long, but it also showed some shorter treks starting at the Waterfowl Lakes campground.  SPHP started thinking it would be the perfect thing to do with the rest of the day.  Since the campground was closed, there would be hardly any traffic on those trails.  There had been plenty of space to park the G6 just outside the campground.

So SPHP drove back to the entrance to Waterfowl Lakes campground and parked the G6.  Lupe and SPHP set off through the abandoned campground to find the main trail by looking for a bridge across the Mistaya River.  The bridge turned out to be just upstream of where Lupe reached the river.  There was also another trail map on display at the bridge confirming the information SPHP had seen at the Mistaya River Canyon pullout.

The map showed the trail system as forming a “T”.  The main trail crossed the Mistaya River via a couple of decent bridges and went 1.3 km into the forest on the other side to a junction where one could go either left or right.  To the right (N) was a trail to Chephren Lake, and to the left (S) a trail to Cirque Lake.  Chephren was the bigger lake and the shortest distance from the trail junction at 2.4 km. The trail to the left went 2.9 km to Cirque Lake.  Neither trail involved a lot of elevation gain or loss, but the trail to Cirque Lake gained more elevation than the trail to Chephren Lake, which hardly gained any at all.

Lupe and SPHP crossed the bridges over the Mistaya River and headed into the forest.  Shortly before reaching the junction, Lupe met 7 or 8 people on their way back from one of the lakes.  They went right on by and didn’t stop to talk to SPHP.  They were the only people Lupe saw the rest of the day.  At the junction, Lupe and SPHP chose to take the trail to the right to Chephren Lake.  The entire route was almost flat and in the forest.  There were some small open swampy areas off the trail.  There were lots of exposed tree roots on the trail and some soggy spots, too.  Lupe enjoyed going through the forest.  There were squirrels now and then in the trees.

Lupe looking for squirrels.
Lupe looking for squirrels.

The trail just dead-ended at Chephren Lake.  The lake shore where the trail reached the lake was rather swampy.  SPHP was disappointed there wasn’t any way to explore the shoreline.  Chephren Lake was certainly beautiful and surrounded by impressive mountains, including Howse Peak and Mount Chephren.  It would have been great to have a canoe there.

Chephren Lake. Mount Howse is the tallest peak in the distance. Lower slopes of Mt. Chephren are seen on the R.
Chephren Lake. Mount Howse is the tallest peak in the distance. Lower slopes of Mt. Chephren are seen on the R.
Lupe at Chephren Lake
Lupe at Chephren Lake
Lupe at Chephren Lake
Lupe at Chephren Lake

With no way to easily explore the lake shore, Lupe and SPHP didn’t stay too long at Chephren Lake.  When Lupe reached the trail junction again, SPHP thought there was still time to go on to see Cirque Lake.  The trail to Cirque Lake actually went downhill for a little way, but was mostly level.  When it finally got close to Cirque Lake, though, the trail started climbing steadily.  Sometimes there were glimpses through the forest of the outlet stream from Cirque Lake as it rushed down the hillside.

The sun was still shining on the high peaks to the W & SW of Cirque Lake, but the lake itself was in shadow by the time Lupe arrived.  SPHP was again disappointed to find that the trail just dead-ended at the lake.  At least the ground was not swampy.  There was a boulder field extending a short distance out into the lake.  Lupe and SPHP boulder-hopped out a little way from the shore and selected a handsome boulder for Lupe’s own private tiny island.  SPHP rested on Lupe’s island admiring the splendid scene, while Lupe sniffed around.

Evening at Cirque Lake
Evening at Cirque Lake

Lupe and SPHP stayed at Cirque Lake longer than they had a Chephren Lake.  However, with the sun setting behind the mountains, sadly it was soon time to leave Cirque Lake and head back to the Waterfowl Lakes campground.

On the way to Cirque Lake there had been a white washcloth someone had forgotten hanging on a bush next to the trail not too far from the lake.  Lupe hadn’t noticed it on the way to the lake, but on the way back she did.  Lupe was suspicious of the white washcloth and barked ferociously at it.  She would not get close to it.  SPHP had to pluck it off the bush and throw it in the backpack, before Lupe dared to go on.  Now it is Lupe’s washcloth and souvenir of her days in the Canadian Rockies.  At home it hasn’t been a scary thing.  It is just a washcloth here, not some dread unknown creature of the dark forest.

Shortly after Lupe and SPHP got back to the trail junction for the last time, and had already started back towards the Mistaya River and Waterfowl Lakes campground, Lupe did see a real dread creature of the darkening forest.  She barked at it as ferociously as if it had been a white washcloth.  It was a porcupine!  The porcupine was up in a tree near the trail.  It climbed even higher up, annoyed by the crazy noisy American Dingo below.  SPHP led Lupe onward.  Though Lupe seemed to think otherwise, a porcupine encounter would not be the least bit fun.

It was almost 10:00 PM when Lupe got back to the G6.  Although the sun was long down behind the mountains, it was still light out.  Lupe had some Alpo for dinner, and ate quite a few Milk Bones, too.  Soon she was fast asleep and dreaming of tearing a deadly white washcloth apart bit by bit.  Carolina Dogs are strong and fearless like that.  In our dreams, we all are.

Lupe at Cirque Lake
Lupe at Cirque Lake

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2013 Beartooths & Canadian Rockies Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Peyto Lake & Lupe’s Search for the Peyto Glacier (7-26-13)

Lupe’s 17th day of her 2013 Dingo Vacation started with a short drive up to Bow Pass (6,785 ft.) on the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  South of the pass water drains into the Bow River system.  North of Bow Pass it drains into the Mistaya River and then into the Saskatchewan.  At Bow Pass there is a turn off the Icefields Parkway to the Peyto Lake overlook.  The short access road is paved and so are the parking lots.  Even the short trail up to the observation deck is paved.

Peyto Lake lies just W of Bow Pass, but is within the area that drains N down into the Mistaya River.  Peyto Lake was named after “Wild Bill” Peyto, an early guide, outfitter, trapper and ultimately a game warden, who was usually based out of Banff.  Lupe and SPHP took the paved trail to the observation deck for a look at Peyto Lake.

Peyto Lake as seen from the observation deck near Bow Pass.
Peyto Lake as seen from the observation deck near Bow Pass.  Cauldron Peak (9,554 ft.) is on the L across the lake.
Looking N from the observation deck at Peyto Lake towards mountains along the Mistaya River valley.
Looking N from the observation deck at Peyto Lake towards mountains along the Mistaya River valley.

SPHP had more in mind for Lupe than just a look at the lake from the observation deck, though.  An unpaved trail left the area just above the observation deck and headed SW into the forest.  Lupe was going to follow it down into the valley S of Peyto Lake.  Then SPHP hoped that Lupe could continue on up Peyto Creek to find and reach the Peyto Glacier.

The view SW from the Peyto Lake observation deck. The Peyto Glacier is visible on the left. Lupe descended to the floor of the valley by Peyto Creek at the very lower right corner of the picture to begin her search for a way to reach the glacier.
The view SW from the Peyto Lake observation deck. The Peyto Glacier is visible on the left. Lupe descended to the floor of the valley by Peyto Creek at the very lower right corner of the picture to begin her search for a way to reach the glacier.

The trail descended the forested side of the valley quite steeply.  There were switchbacks in some places.  It was a long way down to the floor of the valley.

A glimpse back to the NE at Peyto Lake coming down the forested side of the valley.
A glimpse back to the NE at Peyto Lake coming down the forested side of the valley.

At the bottom of the valley, the going was trickier than SPHP expected.  The trail completely disappeared.  There was quite a bit of mucky, marshy ground full of tall slender willow-like bushes.  Just beyond them the open and gently sloping valley floor was covered with rocks and gravel deposited by Peyto Creek, which was a braided stream with many branches in this area.

SPHP couldn’t find an easy way through, but after some wandering around heading generally downstream among the willows eventually found a way to reach the more solid ground without getting non-waterproof boots and feet totally soaked.  Dingoes don’t suffer these travails.  Lupe had no problem getting across to the gravel and wondered what the holdup was.

Once on the gravel, the footing was good.  Lupe and SPHP headed upstream toward the right side of a low forested ridge ahead.  Peyto Creek was coming down around through a big flat gap to the right of the ridge.

The gravel strewn floor of the valley upstream (SW) of Peyto Lake. Lupe and SPHP headed for the gap at the right side of the low forested ridge ahead.
The gravel strewn floor of the valley upstream (SW) of Peyto Lake. Lupe and SPHP headed for the gap at the right side of the low forested ridge ahead.

Along the way to the low ridge, Peyto Creek was a braided stream with a lot of little branches.  A few were too big to step or easily jump across.  SPHP eventually gave up and just walked right through even the largest ones.  SPHP’s boots and feet got soaked, of course, but the cold water felt good.  Lupe thought this area was cool, too.  It was only a few feet between cold drinks and refreshed paws.

Exactly as SPHP feared, upon nearing the right side of the low ridge, Peyto Creek was not a braided stream any more.  All of the water channeled into one swiftly flowing stream.  It wasn’t big enough to be dangerous, but it was still more than SPHP wanted to take on.  Especially since it could be seen that just a little farther upstream, the full force of Peyto Creek swept up against the steep opposite side of the valley, blocking the way forward again.  There was no point in fording the stream.  It would just have to be forded again a short distance upstream.

Peyto Creek gets its act all together to force Lupe and SPHP to climb up and over the low forested ridge.
At the right side of the low ridge, Peyto Creek gets its act all together.  Lupe and SPHP were forced to climb up and over the forested ridge.

Some of Peyto Creek was branching off to block access even to the low forested ridge.  Fortunately, there wasn’t so much water that Lupe and SPHP couldn’t get across to reach the ridge easily enough.  SPHP hoped to be able to stay just a little above creek level working upstream along the base of the ridge long enough to get past the creek.  Then Lupe and SPHP could drop down to the valley floor again.  Soon it became evident that wasn’t going to work.  The edge of the ridge became too steep.

Lupe and SPHP had to start climbing.  The ridge was steep enough so that SPHP had to grab onto trees to make progress up the slope.  It was steep, but not treacherously steep.  Lupe again had to wait and wonder why the delay?  One thing about low forested ridges among towering mountains – they may be forested alright, but they aren’t as low as they look.  It was probably 200 or 300 feet elevation gain up to the top.  Before even reaching the top, when the ground started leveling out, SPHP had the unexpected pleasure of coming upon the trail again.

The trail crossed the rest of the ridge and brought Lupe and SPHP to another rocky open area beyond.  The ground to the left was higher than the ground to the right where Peyto Creek now stayed for a while instead of meandering around.  Lupe and SPHP crossed the open ground, which was considerably rougher with larger rocks than before crossing the ridge.  The trail was fainter in this area, but continued on.

Lupe exploring the rougher terrain beyond the forested ridge.
Lupe exploring the rougher terrain beyond the forested ridge.

The trail eventually headed back towards Peyto Creek, which was also curving back towards the trail.  The terrain was forcing a convergence once again.  Nearing the creek, there was a view of waterfalls plunging down from very high up on the opposite side of the valley.  A tributary of Peyto Creek came down from the opposite side of the creek cutting a narrow little canyon just for itself through solid rock.

Waterfalls high above Peyto Creek and a tributary carving a path down through solid rock.
Waterfalls high above Peyto Creek and a tributary carving a path down through solid rock.

The terrain now forced Lupe and SPHP into an increasingly narrow “V-shaped” valley with Peyto Creek rushing though the bottom.  Away from the creek, at the entrance to this valley, was a huge sloping slab of rock that was swept clear of debris.  The slab of rock jutted up toward the sky at a 45° angle.

Lupe on the steep slab of rock. The slab went towards Peyto Creek below.
Lupe on the steep slab of rock. The slab sloped down towards Peyto Creek below.

Lupe near Peyto Creek, Banff NP 7-26-13Lupe and SPHP continued on past the big sloping slab, but SPHP could see that the way forward was getting increasingly challenging.  Ahead, Peyto Creek was churning violently as it came down around a narrow curve on the valley floor.  If there was a way through this narrow spot, Lupe might be able to go much further.  However, the terrain ahead couldn’t be seen, because it was around a corner to the right.

As Lupe and SPHP got closer, the way ahead on Lupe’s side of the creek looked daunting.  There was a steep wall of rock that didn’t look safe to climb, yet it probably had to be climbed in order to follow the creek any farther upstream.  Higher up were more towering rock walls.  It wasn’t clear how far up Lupe might have to climb.  The opposite bank of Peyto Creek looked more promising, but there wasn’t a way across.

Peyto Creek churns down around a narrow curve.
Peyto Creek churns down around a narrow curve.

Lupe and SPHP advanced as far as was easily possible.  Then SPHP paused to consider the situation.  Lupe had gotten far enough to see a little way around the bend, but not very far.  What could be seen wasn’t all that encouraging, although SPHP suspected better terrain was not much farther ahead.  It was now clear that getting to the opposite bank of Peyto Creek wouldn’t help a bit.  The terrain rapidly became even worse over there.

Lupe shows the way. SPHP are you coming, or not?
Lupe shows the way. SPHP are you coming, or not?
Oh, come on! We didn't come all this way NOT to see the glacier, did we?
Oh, come on! We didn’t come all this way NOT to see the glacier, did we?
Lupe licks the backpack while awaiting a final decision from the dithering SPHP.
Lupe licks the backpack while awaiting a final decision from the dithering SPHP.

In the end, it just didn’t seem safe.  It was time to turn around.  Even just a badly sprained ankle, never mind a fall, would ruin what had so far been a wonderful day.  Lupe and SPHP took a break and spent a little time enjoying Lupe’s farthest point of advance towards the Peyto Glacier.  How many people or dingoes ever even get this far, to this amazing spot? – not very many.  On the way back, Lupe hid her disappointment at not reaching the Peyto Glacier well by showing interest in everything around her.  She was still having a great time!

Lupe checks things out along the way back to Peyto Lake.
Lupe checks things out along the way back to Peyto Lake.

On the way back, in the middle of the rough open ground before getting back to the low forested ridge, Lupe met the only two people she saw during the entire jaunt from the Peyto Lake observation deck up to her farthest point of advance along Peyto Creek and back.  SPHP stopped and chatted with them for a few minutes.  They had skis and planned to ski on the glacier and snowfields, which sounded like fabulous fun.  They had also brought ropes and climbing gear specifically for working their way past the narrow gorge where Lupe and SPHP had turned around.

Oh, and one other thing!  Lupe and SPHP, of course, followed the trail back over the “low” forested ridge.  On the downstream side of the ridge, the trail did go down to the gravel at the bottom of the valley, but farther away from where Peyto Creek goes around the ridge.  SPHP still had to get wet boots and feet again.

However, it was possible to get back to the stretch of trail coming down the side of the valley from the Peyto Lake observation deck by passing through a smaller section of willows with less annoyance than where SPHP had wandered through them farther downstream earlier in the day.  There was no obvious trail on the gravel of the floor of the valley anywhere.  Head upstream, though, not downstream to get through the willows as quickly and easily as possible.

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Bow Lake & the Trail to Bow Glacier Falls, Banff National Park, Canada (7-25-13)

Bow Lake is located on the W side of the spectacular Icefields Parkway Hwy No. 93 in Banff National Park roughly 22 miles N of the junction with Trans-Canada Hwy No. 1.  Bow Lake is clearly visible from the Icefields Parkway which goes right past the E shore.  The trail to Bow Glacier Falls starts at the red-roofed Num-Ti-Jah lodge on the N shore of the lake.  There is parking, but no sign or official trailhead that Lupe and SPHP have noticed.  Just look for the trail heading W along the N shore.  It’s easy to find.

Lupe visited Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park on the morning of July 25, 2013, the 16th Day of her 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths & Canadian Rockies.  After seeing the falls, Lupe and SPHP returned to Banff National Park and headed N on the Icefields Parkway, Hwy 93.  There was still time for an afternoon trek.  On this hot summer day, SPHP had a good one in mind that doesn’t involve too much elevation gain – the trail from Bow Lake to Bow Glacier Falls.

Looking SE across Bow Lake. The Crowfoot Glacier is visible just right of center.
Looking SE across Bow Lake. The Crowfoot Glacier is visible just right of center.

SPHP parked the G6 near Num-Ti-Jah lodge located near the N shore of Bow Lake.  The lodge is within sight of Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  It’s red roof is easy to spot coming up the Icefields Parkway from the S.  The first thing Lupe did was trot on down to the lake to check out the small beach near the lodge.

The Nim-Ti-Jah lodge located near the N shore of Bow Lake. The trail to Bow Glacier Falls starts from the lodge.
The Num-Ti-Jah lodge located near the N shore of Bow Lake. The trail to Bow Glacier Falls starts from the lodge.
Lupe on the beach at Bow Lake near the Nim-Ti-Jah lodge. There were actually quite a few people around at the beach on this hot summer day. SPHP suspects it is best to be part Canadian if you want to go in the water. The water comes from that glacier in the distance!
Lupe on the pebbly beach at Bow Lake near the Nim-Ti-Jah lodge. There were actually quite a few people around at the beach on this hot summer day. SPHP suspects it is best to be part Canadian if you want to go in the water. The water comes right from that glacier in the distance!  Bow Glacier Falls, where Lupe was headed, is seen just below the left side of the glacier.

Lupe cooled off a bit wading around in the cold water.  She had a big drink out of Bow Lake.  There were more people than SPHP expected to see at the beach, but it wasn’t a big crowd.  A few hardy souls were even in the water, mostly children who tend not to notice hypothermia much.  Lupe and SPHP set off on the trail to Bow Glacier Falls sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 PM.  The trail starts off heading W along the N shore of Bow Lake.

Looking S across Bow Lake at Crowfoot Mountain from the Bow Glacier Falls trail.
Looking S across Bow Lake at Crowfoot Mountain (10,023 ft.) from the Bow Glacier Falls trail.
Looking back to the E along Bow Glacier Falls trail along the N shore of Bow Lake.
Looking back to the E along Bow Glacier Falls trail on the N shore of Bow Lake.
Bow Lake in Banff National Park. Bow Glacier Falls is visible below the Bow Glacier, which is part of the Wapta Icefield.
Bow Lake in Banff National Park. Bow Glacier Falls is visible below the Bow Glacier, which is part of the Wapta Icefield.

There were quite a few people on the trail to the falls.  There were a couple of big scary dogs, too.  Lupe got by them when the big dogs decided to go for a swim in the lake.  The trail gradually curves toward the S as it proceeds along Bow Lake.  By the time it leaves the lake behind, the trail is heading SW.  There the trail enters a still nearly level area of gravel deposited by the Bow River.  The trail heads for a narrow gap at the S end of a small ridge ahead.  A steep set of stairs climbs up the small ridge on the N side of the gap.

Beyond the lake now, Bow Glacier Falls trail heads for the gap at the S end of the small ridge ahead. Bow Glacier Falls is visible above the small ridge.
Beyond the lake now, Bow Glacier Falls trail heads for the gap at the S end of the small ridge ahead. Bow Glacier Falls is visible above the small ridge.
Looking NE back at the stream from Bow Glacier Falls on its way to Bow Lake. A small section of Bow Lake is visible through the trees. The bottom of the stairs leading up the small ridge is in the foreground.
Looking NE back at the stream from Bow Glacier Falls on its way to Bow Lake. A small section of Bow Lake is visible through the trees. The bottom of the stairs leading up the small ridge is in the foreground.

As the trail climbs the stairway, it can be seen that the stream from Bow Glacier Falls is passing in a torrent through a very narrow, but deep gorge just to the S of the trail.  The gorge is so narrow that near the top there is a huge boulder wedged high up between the edges of the gorge.  The boulder spans the gorge creating a natural bridge.  People cross this boulder to a side trail that heads S into a gorgeous valley leading to St. Nicholas Peak, Mount Olive and part of the Wapta Icefield.

(Note:  Later in the day, on the way back from Bow Glacier Falls, SPHP really wanted to go explore this wonderful valley to the S, but crossing the boulder looked just too scary.  Although the boulder was very large, it was rounded, not flat.  It really wasn’t all that tricky, but the roaring water gushing through the narrow chasm below gave SPHP visions of Lupe’s claws being unable to hang onto the solid rock of the boulder, and Lupe falling into the raging torrent to be lost forever.  No valley, no matter how wonderful, was worth a chance of losing the sweet dingo.  If SPHP had thought of exploring this valley earlier, it would have been easy to just cross the stream below Bow Glacier Falls and head for this valley.)

The wonderful valley to the S that SPHP was too chicken to let Lupe explore.
The wonderful valley to the S that SPHP was too chicken to let Lupe explore.

Once on top of the small ridge, Bow Glacier Falls is in clear view ahead.  The trail drops partway back down the other side of the ridge and then steadily climbs through a mostly barren rocky area.  This area is roughly the same size as the area between Bow Lake and the small ridge.  The climb steepens as the trail nears the falls, but it’s pretty easy.  It never gets all that steep.  The trail ultimately disappears among the rocks near the base of the falls.

Lupe reaches Bow Glacier Falls.
Lupe reaches Bow Glacier Falls.

Lupe at Bow Glacier Falls, Banff NP 7-25-13Lupe and SPHP climbed up very close to the falls, had a snack and photo session, and then climbed even higher until almost in the falls itself.  Lupe and SPHP lingered there for a while enjoying the sound of the water and the amazing world on display.

SPHP took this photo looking NE from Bow Glacier Falls. It wasn't until writing this post on 8-2-15, that SPHP realized this is a photo of Cirque Mountain, which Lupe climbed on 7-27-14 during her 2014 Dingo Vacation.
SPHP took this photo on 7-25-13 looking NE from Bow Glacier Falls. It wasn’t until writing this post on 8-2-15, that SPHP realized this is a photo of Cirque Peak (9,820 ft.) which Lupe climbed on 7-27-14 during her 2014 Dingo Vacation.  (She went up the long slope at the right.)  Click this red link to view the post on Lupe’s ascent of Cirque Peak which includes a view of Bow Lake, Bow Glacier Falls and the huge Wapta Icefield from the summit!

There was almost no one left on the trail by the time Lupe made her return trip to Bow Lake and Num-Ti-Jah lodge.  Lupe and SPHP drove a short distance to the SE along the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 to a picnic ground located on the E side of Bow Lake.  Here Lupe and SPHP spent the rest of the evening having a very pleasant time looking at the mountains and watching the sun sparkle on Bow Lake as it slowly sank behind the glorious Canadian Rockies.

Early evening at Bow Lake from the Bow Glacier Trail.
Early evening at Bow Lake from the Bow Glacier Trail.  The picnic ground is located among the trees across the lake along the shore seen on the left side of this photo.  Photo looks SE.
Crowfoot Glacier above Bow Lake.
Crowfoot Glacier above Bow Lake.

Bow Lake, Banff NP 7-25-13

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