Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 124 – Mt. Rushmore & Gap Lode Peak (3-28-15)

Lupe has been on Peakbagger.com since May, 2014 when SPHP first discovered that site.  Peakbagger.com has maps and many great features for tracking ascents of mountains, hills, state and county high points, etc.  One of the first things Lupe and SPHP started doing once Lupe had her free Peakbagger.com account set up, was to start climbing all of the peaks shown on Peakbagger’s list of Black Hills 6500-foot peaks.  Although Lupe and SPHP had already climbed a number of the peaks on this list, it was fun to work towards completing it.

Peakbagger’s list of Black Hills 6500-foot peaks has 24 ranked peaks with at least 280 feet of prominence, plus another 20 unranked peaks lacking the minimum prominence required to be ranked.  On November 6, 2014, Lupe and SPHP climbed Peak 6733, which completed all of the peaks on the list that SPHP thought Lupe would be able to climb.  A few Black Hills peaks are beyond Lupe’s ability, since they would require rock climbing equipment (or wings), or climbing them is prohibited for one reason or another.

After November 6, 2014 there were only 4 peaks remaining of the 44 peaks total on the Peakbagger.com Black Hills 6500-foot peak list that Lupe had never climbed.  Only 1 of them was a ranked peak, which was Peak 6920, a huge granite outcropping between Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) and Little Devil’s Tower (6,960 ft.) which looks from afar like it has sheer cliffs for sides.

The other 3 unranked peaks were the Cathedral Spires (6,840 ft.) (rock-climbing equipment clearly required), Thunderhead Mountain (6,567 ft.) (the privately owned mountain where the Crazy Horse Memorial carving has been underway for decades – climbing it is prohibited without special permission from the owners), and Gap Lode Peak (SPHP was never certain from afar which granite outcropping might be the summit of Gap Lode Peak (6,560 ft.) , but judged it likely that rock climbing equipment would be necessary).

SPHP had been thinking recently that Lupe really ought to go get her picture taken at the most famous mountain in South Dakota and the Black Hills, which she has been past many times.  That mountain is also well known both nationally and internationally – Mt. Rushmore.  SPHP knew that dogs would likely be prohibited in most of the areas near Mt. Rushmore, so there wouldn’t be much for Lupe to do there once a couple of photos were obtained.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 124 would need another objective in addition to Mt. Rushmore.  Since Gap Lode Peak is a relatively short drive from Mt. Rushmore, SPHP decided that Lupe may as well go and take a close look at Gap Lode Peak to see if there was any way she could climb it.  If she could, Lupe could claim an ascent of one more peak on Peakbagger’s list of Black Hills 6500-foot peaks!

Lupe and George Washington.
Lupe and George Washington.

The first stop on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 124 was at the little parking lot along Hwy 244 just 0.25 mile past the entrance to Mt. Rushmore (5,725 ft.).  There was only one other vehicle at this parking lot when Lupe and SPHP arrived.  This parking lot has the great advantage of being free, unlike the parking garage in front of Mt. Rushmore.  Another advantage is a very nice view of George Washington’s profile between a gap in the steep granite rock outcroppings near Mt. Rushmore.

Lupe as far as they would let her in at Mount Rushmore.
Lupe as far as they would let her in at Mount Rushmore.

Lupe and SPHP walked along Hwy 244 back up to the entrance to Mt. Rushmore.  Just past the grand entrance was a no dogs sign.  A park ranger promptly came over to make certain SPHP had seen the sign.  Lupe could go no further, but the ranger at least allowed SPHP to take a few photos of Lupe with Mt. Rushmore in the distance.  That pretty much concluded Lupe’s limited exploration of Mt. Rushmore, although she did get quite a bit of attention from some of the tourists who wanted to pet her.  She was a bit nervous about it at first, but sat obligingly still while making some new friends.

Lupe across Hwy 244 from Mt. Rushmore.
Lupe across Hwy 244 from Mt. Rushmore.

On the way back to the G6, Lupe and SPHP climbed up on some rocks across Hwy 244 where there was another view of Mt. Rushmore from another angle.  A couple of pictures here and Lupe’s little photo op trip to Mt. Rushmore was complete.  Once back at the G6, Lupe and SPHP headed out on the 10-15 minute drive to the Palmer Creek trailhead.  The sky was totally clear and it was an incredibly warm (for March) 70 °F out at 11:10 AM when Lupe and SPHP started the trek to Gap Lode Peak.

Palmer Creek is so small you don't see it in the grass from this angle. St. Elmo Peak visible in the distance up the valley.
Palmer Creek is so small you don’t see it in the grass from this angle. St. Elmo Peak visible in the distance up the valley.

A short spur trail from the Palmer Creek trailhead took Lupe to Lost Cabin Trail No. 2, part of the fairly extensive trail system in the Black Elk Wilderness area.  Harney Peak, the highest mountain in the Black Hills and South Dakota is in the Black Elk Wilderness area, which lies between Mount Rushmore National Monument to the NE and a small section of Custer State Park to the SW.  Lupe took Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 climbing all the way up to a high saddle area.  There were increasingly nice views as Lupe gained elevation.

Lupe at the first good viewpoint near Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 on the way up. St. Elmo Peak in the distance (center left).
Lupe at the first good viewpoint near Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 on the way up. St. Elmo Peak (6,458 ft.)to the W in the distance (center left).
Lupe still in the area of the first good viewpoint along Lost Cabin Trail No. 2. This photo looks ENE towards Elkhorn Mountain.
Lupe still in the area of the first good viewpoint along Lost Cabin Trail No. 2. This photo looks ENE towards Elkhorn Mountain.

At the saddle, SPHP stopped to consult the topo maps printed out from Peakbagger.com.  They showed that Gap Lode Peak was less than 0.5 mile to the SW from this saddle area.  Even though it was only 0.5 mile away at most, SPHP knew it was going to take quite a while for Lupe to get to Gap Lode Peak.  Pine bark beetles have caused extremely heavy damage in this portion of the Black Hills.  Lupe would need a lot of patience while SPHP slowly worked through a jungle of deadfall timber as soon as the trail was left behind.

Lupe's and Gap Lode Peak. This photo shows the E high point and very likely the true summit of Gap Lode Peak.
Lupe and Gap Lode Peak. This photo shows the E high point and very likely the true summit of Gap Lode Peak, but could Lupe really get to the top?  Photo looks SW.

The first task was to find Gap Lode Peak.  SPHP left the trail and began working through all the deadfall up a reasonably gentle slope to the W.  Reaching some granite outcroppings, SPHP was encouraged to see a higher hill of granite in the right direction and about the right distance away to be Gap Lode Peak.  Clearly it was not anything Lupe could climb from the E or the S.  However, a long slope led up toward the big granite rocks at the top from the N or NW.  Perhaps Lupe could climb Gap Lode Peak from that direction?

A rather steep ravine was between Lupe and the N or NW slope leading up to Gap Lode Peak.  Lupe would have to lose a fair amount of elevation to get over there.  It was abundantly apparent there was going to be nothing but endless deadfall timber the whole way too.  SPHP dithered.  Was it worth struggling through this mess only to very likely be confronted just short of the goal by a summit too rugged for Lupe to reach it?  There were other nice peak objectives reachable by trail in the area.

Lupe passed just below this unlikely looking rock down at the bottom of the ravine on the way to Gap Lode Peak.
Lupe passed just below this unlikely looking rock down at the bottom of the ravine on the way to Gap Lode Peak.

For 5 or 10 minutes SPHP headed slowly towards Gap Lode Peak half convinced it was really smarter to just turn around.  What could be seen of Gap Lode Peak looked like Lupe could eventually get close to the top of it from the N or NW, but she probably couldn’t get to the summit.  Once SPHP started losing elevation down into the ravine, however, the decision was made.  Lupe was going to climb Gap Lode Peak or at least know for sure why she couldn’t.

Typical of the deadfall timber Lupe and SPHP had to work through all the way from Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 to Gap Lode Peak.
Typical of the deadfall timber Lupe and SPHP had to work through all the way from Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 to Gap Lode Peak.

It took a very long time for the amount of distance covered for SPHP to get through all the deadfall timber down to the bottom of the ravine, and then back up on the N or NW slope that headed up to Gap Lode Peak.  Even Lupe was having to work to get through the maze of dead trees, although she was much better and faster at it than SPHP.  Still she was having to go over, under or around a lot of stuff.  The going got a little bit easier though, since the ground was more level, as Lupe approached the summit.

Lupe getting close to the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. Is that rock wall climbable?
Lupe getting close to the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. Can Lupe climb that rock wall?

It turned out that the N or NW slope led Lupe to a place where there were two possible candidates for the true summit of Gap Lode Peak.  The first one SPHP had seen was now to the ESE, and the other newly discovered possibility was to the SW.  The first one still seemed likely to be the highest, so Lupe headed in that direction first.  It looked from a distance like a granite wall with no way for Lupe to climb it.  However, as Lupe got closer, SPHP started seeing that there were some clefts in the rock that might make it possible to get up there safely.

Lupe shortly before climbing the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. The W high point is visible beyond her.
Lupe shortly before climbing the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. The W high point is visible beyond her.

Upon reaching the two clefts just a couple of feet apart, SPHP abandoned the backpack.  It turned out that the climb up wasn’t bad at all.  Before long Lupe was up on top of Gap Lode Peak!  SPHP was very pleased and Lupe looked pretty happy about it too.  There were some really nice views towards Harney Peak and Little Devils Tower.  Far to the S, even Northeast Cicero Peak (6,240 ft.) was in view.  There was a huge amount of Black Hills territory in view off to the N towards Custer (6,804 ft.) and Terry (7,064 ft.) Peaks.

Lupe on the top of the E and likely true summit Gap Lode Peak 3-28-15
Lupe on the top of the E and likely true summit Gap Lode Peak.  Harney Peak, the highest mountain in South Dakota, is on the left.
Lupe on the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. Photo shows the view to the N.
Lupe on the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. Photo shows the view to the N.
Harney Peak from the E and likely true summit of Gap Lode Peak.
Harney Peak from the E and likely true summit of Gap Lode Peak.  Photo looks E.
Lupe still at the top of the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. Photo looks SE.
Lupe still at the top of the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. Photo looks SE.  Lupe is looking W and probably thinking: “There’s that W high point on Gap Lode Peak.  I bet that crazy SPHP is going to make me go over there next.  When’s lunch anyway?”
Lupe just a few feet away from the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. Sylvan Hill in the background. W high point of Gap Lode Peak not too far away on the right.
Lupe just a few feet away from the E summit of Gap Lode Peak. Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) is the ridge in the background. W high point of Gap Lode Peak not too far away on the right edge of the photo.

Looking to the W, the other high point which might be the true summit of Gap Lode Peak could be seen.  It looked just about even with where Lupe was already.  SPHP still thought the high stuff to the W didn’t look quite as high, but the difference couldn’t be much.  Perhaps it was even a bit higher?  It was hard to tell for certain.  Naturally, SPHP decided it had taken so long to work through the deadfall timber to get to Gap Lode Peak, Lupe might just as well go and explore the W high point too.  After all, Lupe was already very close to it.  So after climbing down from the E high point, Lupe headed W.

Lupe reaches the W high point on Gap Lode Peak. The E high point and likely true summit is in the background. Photo looks E.
Lupe reaches the W high point on Gap Lode Peak. The E high point which SPHP believes is the true summit (though not by much) is in the background.
Lupe perched way up on some of the very highest rocks of the W high point of Gap Lode Peak. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe perched way up on some of the very highest rocks of the W high point of Gap Lode Peak. Photo looks SE.

Lupe climbed up on some of the highest rocks at the W high point.  After seeing both high points from one another, SPHP concluded they were so very near the same elevation, it was impossible to say for certain which was the absolute highest, but it still seemed that the E high point Lupe had visited first was the true summit of Gap Lode Peak.  Regardless, Lupe had succeeded in reaching both!  She could claim a successful summit.

Lupe explores Gap Lode Peak. St. Elmo Peak is the pointy hill in the center of the photo just left of Lupe's ear.
Lupe explores Gap Lode Peak. St. Elmo Peak is the pointy hill in the center of the photo just left of Lupe’s ear.

There was more to do near the W high point.  The area had nice granite outcroppings with pretty green kinnikinnick growing in many places between the rocks.  The granite also extended some distance off to the W and SW without losing much elevation.  Lupe went and explored some of this area, which was fun to climb around in.  There was still deadfall timber to deal with, but not as much of it as in other areas.  There were even better views to the W from some of the rock outcroppings than Lupe had seen from either of the two high points of Gap Lode Peak.

Lupe and another view to the W from Gap Lode Peak.
Lupe and another view to the W from Gap Lode Peak.

As the afternoon started wearing on, what had been a breezy day up until now started to get pretty windy.  SPHP knew that high winds were in the forecast for this evening.  It was time to get going.  There were still plenty of dead trees standing which might fall over in a high wind situation.  So after a good time exploring Gap Lode Peak, Lupe started the return trip to the G6.  She retraced the same short, but time consuming trek back to the saddle area to get back to Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 that she had made to reach Gap Lode Peak.  Once on the trail again, it became an easy hike back down to the Palmer Creek trailhead.

Harney Peak from the Palmer Creek trailhead.
Harney Peak from the Palmer Creek trailhead.

Lupe arrived back at the G6 at 5:48 PM.  It was 71 °F – just amazing for late March.  The skies were still totally clear, but way down here there really wasn’t even much of a breeze.  It seemed premature to be heading home before dark, but Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 124 had been a success.  Lupe made a few new friends and had her picture taken at Mt. Rushmore.  She had even found and climbed Gap Lode Peak.  SPHP now wonders if she shouldn’t go take a closer look at Peak 6920…

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Iceline Trail High Point, Yoho National Park, Canada (7-26-14)

The Iceline Trail above tree line high up on the south side of Yoho Valley in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada features tremendous views of glaciers, 260 meter high (850 feet) Takakkaw Falls from across Yoho Valley, and a splendid assortment of impressive peaks of the rugged Canadian Rockies.  Lupe and SPHP both strongly recommend this wonderful medium to long day hike.  Be prepared for plenty of company on pleasant days.  The Iceline Trail is deservedly very popular.

On this day’s hike Lupe and SPHP started from the Takakkaw Falls parking lot off Yoho Valley Road.  The Yoho Valley Road is accessed from Trans-Canada Hwy 1 a few miles NE of the little community of Field along the Kicking Horse River.  Yoho Valley Road is paved, but has a couple of exceptionally sharp hairpin curves.  Taking long vehicles (motorhomes, trailers) up this road is inadvisable.

A mist hung in the air when Lupe arrived at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot around 8:30 AM.  Temps were already comfortably into the 40’s F.  Lupe headed N on the Yoho Valley Trail and was soon out of the mist.  Away from the mist of the falls, the sun was shining in a brilliant blue sky between puffy white clouds and quickly warmed things up.

The Yoho Valley Trail starts in the forest, comes out into a bit of open rocky ground, and then disappears into the forest again as it heads up the Yoho River valley.  Although the trail parallels the river, it is far enough W of it so that the river is seldom visible.

Lupe near Laughing Falls on the Little Yoho River.
Lupe near Laughing Falls on the Little Yoho River.

Lupe stopped by Laughing Falls for a couple of photos.  Not far beyond Laughing Falls she took the Little Yoho Valley Trail heading W in the direction of the Stanley Mitchell hut.  This trail climbed through the forest much more steeply with numerous switchbacks.  Lupe passed the Marpole Lake Trail and before too long again came upon the gorgeous icy blue Little Yoho River.  A short hike in the forest above and along the river brought Lupe to the Celeste Lake Trail, which crossed the Little Yoho River via a good bridge.

Lupe takes a look at Celeste Lake in Yoho National Park, Canada.
Lupe takes a look at Celeste Lake in Yoho National Park, Canada.

Across the river, the Celeste Lake Trail headed SW towards Celeste Lake.  The Celeste Lake Trail continued climbing, but without many switchbacks.  Celeste Lake proved to be a pretty emerald green color and a larger lake than it first appeared.  It had two parts to it hidden from each other by a peninsula jutting out into the lake.  The trail passed just E of Celeste Lake and offered some nice views of it.  Once past Celeste Lake, the trail turned to the SW again and continued climbing.

Along the Celeste Lake Trail above Celeste Lake.
Along the Celeste Lake Trail above Celeste Lake.

Eventually the Celeste Lake trail turned NW as it started to get near tree line.  Soon it took another turn to the SW where the trail left the forest and came out into a fairly level area of green meadows full of wildflowers.  Thin forests rimmed the meadows.  Just beyond and above them to the W were huge piles of loose tan rocks below the solid rock and glacier-covered slopes of The Vice President (10,095 ft.).

The trail headed down a bit into the meadow, turned NW again, and working its way to the W edge of the meadow reached the base of the loose rock piles.  From there the trail headed SSW steadily climbing the rock piles.  Before long it turned W and reached the intersection with the Iceline Trail.

Down along the Yoho Valley Trail there had been some hikers, but along the Little Yoho Valley and Celeste Lake Trails there had been very few.  There were hordes of people along the Iceline Trail though.  Among the throng Lupe met a 74 year old man from San Diego whom she had seen twice before in the past day or two.  He was quite friendly and had suggested the Sherbrooke Lake trail the previous day, which Lupe had taken.

This man had left San Diego in April or May and was traveling (apparently alone) in his RV and hiking trails all over the western USA and Canada.  He said he wouldn’t head back to San Diego until November.  (Now that is a mighty fine way to spend half a year!)  SPHP dawdled along the trail chatting with this interesting gentleman, but never had the presence of mind to get any contact information from him.  While Lupe waited for the conversation to end, at least other doggies came along the Iceline Trail for Lupe to sniff with.

Lupe on the rock pile which is the high point along the Iceline Trail. Mt. McArthur (center left) and Isolation Peak (center right) are separated by a huge snow/ice field.
Lupe on the rock pile which is the high point along the Iceline Trail. Mt. McArthur (9,911 ft.) (center left) and Isolated Peak (9,262 ft.) (center right) are separated by a huge snow/ice field.  The Little Yoho River valley is also in view.

The high point along the Iceline Trail was not far to the N from the intersection with the Celeste Lake Trail.  A relatively short walk took Lupe over there.  A spur of the Iceline Trail climbs up on a tall pile of loose rock a short distance to the E of the main trail.  This tall rock pile was Lupe’s goal for the day and she was soon there.  A few people were up there when she arrived and more kept coming and going.  Lupe rested, had some Taste of the Wild, plenty of water, and relaxed while snapping at a few annoying flies.

View to the S from the Iceline Trail towards the mountains in the O'Hara Lake and Lake Louise region.
View to the S from the Iceline Trail towards the mountains in the Lake O’Hara and Lake Louise region.
Mt. Balfour (center)looms above Trolltinder Mountain (lower left).
Mt. Balfour (10,774 ft.) (center) looms above Trolltinder Mountain (9,554 ft.) (sharp peak below and to the left).

The views from the high point were splendid in every direction.  Immediately to the W were The Vice President and The President (10,246 ft.) although their summits were out of line of sight.  To the N across Little Yoho Valley were Mt. McArthur, Isolated Peak, and Whaleback Mountain (8,586 ft.).  To the E across Yoho Valley were Mount Balfour, Trolltinder Mountain, Lilliput Mountain (9,449 ft.), Mount Daly (10,039 ft.) and Mount Niles (9,751 ft.).

Parts of the Emerald Glacier, Yoho Glacier and Daly Glacier were in view plus many other snow and ice fields clinging to the mountains.  To the S down the Yoho River valley and across the Kicking Horse River Valley were the high snow-capped peaks W of Lake Louise and Lake O’Hara.

Mt. Daly, Nigel Peak and Takakkaw Falls from the Iceline Trail, Yoho National Park, Canada
Mt. Daly (left center), Mt. Niles (right center) and Takakkaw Falls from the Iceline Trail, Yoho National Park, Canada.  The Daly Glacier (far left), part of the Waputik Icefield, feeds Takakkaw Falls.

Lupe stayed at the high point enjoying the views for at least an hour, while others came and went.  Sometime between 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM, it was time to head back down.

On the way back, Lupe took the most direct route back to Takakkaw Falls, which was to follow the Iceline Trail past the Celeste Lake Trail and Ridgeline Trail (which goes to Yoho Lake).  Instead, she just headed straight on down a steep trail with many switchbacks that leads to the Whiskey Jack Creek area, and the hostel near Yoho Valley Road.  Lupe was back to the Takakkaw Falls parking lot before 6:00 PM.  Another day well spent in the Canadian Rockies!

Takakkaw Falls and the Yoho River, Yoho National Park, Canada
Takakkaw Falls and the Yoho River, Yoho National Park, Canada

In July, 2013, Lupe had previously reached the Iceline Trail high point via another route, approaching from Emerald Lake and Yoho Lake.  Click here to see Lupe’s post on that adventure!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2014 Canadian Rockies & Beartooths Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 123: White Rocks, Mt. Roosevelt & Crow Peak (3-21-15)

Lupe was destined to have a bit of a different excursion this beautiful, sunny and unseasonably warm Saturday in March.  SPHP had decided she should go do a bit of peakbagging in the northern Black Hills and hit 3 different peaks she’d never climbed before.  The 3 peaks were scattered far enough apart so Lupe would have to get a ride in the G6 to get from peak to peak.  That alone was unusual enough, since Lupe doesn’t normally return to the G6 until the end of the day.  However, all three peaks were also in areas where Lupe would likely see people and other dogs, too.  Usually Lupe and SPHP are in remote enough areas so they rarely see anyone else once they leave the G6.

The first peak Lupe went to was White Rocks (5,250 ft.).  Lupe was pretty surprised to jump out of the G6 at 10:11 AM and find herself at a little park in the town of Deadwood, SD.  Lupe started off trotting past several blocks of houses following Cemetery Road steeply up to the Mt. Moriah Cemetery.  There were several tourists around since a number of local celebrities are buried at the Mt. Moriah Cemetery, including “Wild Bill” Hickok, Preacher Smith, Calamity Jane, Seth Bullock and Potato Creek Johnny.

SPHP checked, but, of course, dogs aren’t allowed in the cemetery.  This saved the $1.00 admission fee, but also meant Lupe had to go back down Cemetery Road just a little bit and then turn and climb straight up a long steep forested slope to get up to White Rocks.  Shortly before reaching the summit, she did reach a dirt road, which she followed to get to the summit area.  The summit area consisted of a number of limestone outcroppings.  The highest one had a solar panel on it.

Lupe near the summit of White Rocks
Lupe near the summit of White Rocks

At first, SPHP was a bit concerned that it wasn’t even possible to get safely up to the actual summit.  Fortunately, there was one reasonably safe route up, provided one made good careful use of the available handholds and didn’t rush things.  Lupe had no problem leaping up the rocks to the top, and then peering over to see what was keeping SPHP.  Soon SPHP joined Lupe at the summit.

Lupe on the summit of White Rocks. Bear Butte visible out E on the horizon.
Lupe on the summit of White Rocks. Bear Butte visible out E on the horizon.
Looking down on Deadwood from White Rocks. Snowy Deer Mountain (center left) and Terry Peak (center right) in the distance.
Looking down on Deadwood from White Rocks. Snowy Deer Mountain (center left) and Terry Peak (center right) in the distance.

There was a nice view of the W end of Deadwood.  A little farther off in the general direction of Deer Mountain, some of the buildings of the old Homestake gold mine could be seen.  Still snowy Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) and Deer Mountain (6,652 ft.), both downhill ski resorts, were farther W.  The nearby hills to the E and S were all barren, having burned in the 10,771 acre intense Grizzly Gulch fire back in June, 2002.  Bear Butte (4,422 ft.) was visible to the E out on the plains.

Grizzly Gulch burn area looking S from White Rocks.
Looking S from White Rocks towards Grizzly Gulch fire burn area.
A view to the E of the Grizzly Gulch burn area from White Rocks.
A view to the E of the Grizzly Gulch burn area from White Rocks.

Once done at the summit, Lupe sniffed and explored around the other rock outcroppings for a little bit before heading S along a ridge that soon led her to the burn area.  There Lupe and SPHP followed some jeep trails to lose elevation hoping to get back down to street level in town without having to go down a steep slope.  This was partially successful, but the jeep trail eventually ended at a big power line.  From there the rest of the way down was a steep open slope.  Lupe wound up at the dead end of a short street where there was a little creek flowing out of a big pipe.

Lupe explores more of the White Rocks area near the summit.
Lupe explores more of the White Rocks area near the summit.

Lupe had to walk a few blocks in town to get back to the G6 at the little park.  The temperature hadn’t changed, it was still 60 degrees out, but by now it was 12:07 PM.  Her first peakbagging task of the day, to climb White Rocks, was now out of the way.  The next goal was to climb Mt. Roosevelt.  Lupe got to enjoy the luxury of a ride in the G6 with the windows partially rolled down so she could sniff the air while heading for Mt. Roosevelt (5,680 ft.).

The little red car was high-centered in the snow and abandoned on the road to Mt. Roosevelt. Lupe & SPHP proceeded on paw and foot from here.
This little red car was high-centered in the snow and abandoned on the road to Mt. Roosevelt. Lupe & SPHP proceeded on paw and foot from here.

Mt. Roosevelt is just a couple miles NNW of Deadwood and 2.5 miles W of Hwy 85 via Mt. Roosevelt Road.  About 2 miles from Hwy 85 a little red car was high-centered and abandoned on the road.  It was stuck in the only big patch of snow along the whole road.  SPHP just parked the G6 at a small turn off just before the red car instead of attempting to drive through the snow.  Later on it was clear that at least high clearance vehicles weren’t having any trouble getting through.

Lupe checks out the view to the S over the embankment near Mt. Roosevelt Road. Pillar Peak (center) and Bear Den Mountain (right) just visible on the horizon.
Lupe checks out the view to the S over the embankment near Mt. Roosevelt Road. Pillar Peak (center) and Bear Den Mountain (right) just visible on the horizon.

Lupe left the G6 at 12:27 PM (59 °F) to start the trek to Mt. Roosevelt.  Before starting up the road past the little red car, though, Lupe went up a short barren embankment to the S which gave her a view back in the general direction of Deadwood.  While not much of Deadwood was seen, Lupe did catch a glimpse of Pillar Peak (5,469 ft.) and Bear Den Mountain (5,642 ft.) where she had been a week ago on Expedition No. 122.  She then went back to the road and trotted on past the little red car on her way to Mt. Roosevelt.

Lupe on the trail to the summit of Mt. Roosevelt. Terry Peak in the distance.
Lupe on the trail to the summit of Mt. Roosevelt. Snowy Terry Peak (center) and Deer Mountain (left) in the distance.
The Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt.
The Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt.

Near the summit of Mt. Roosevelt is a picnic ground.  From there the rest of the way to the top is via a maintained foot trail.  At the top of Mt. Roosevelt is a 31 foot tall stone tower, known as The Friendship Tower.  It was built in 1919 through the efforts of Seth Bullock to commemorate the life and death of his personal friend Theodore Roosevelt.  Lupe climbed the narrow steep winding stairway to get up to the top of The Friendship Tower.

The Friendship Tower information plaque

The Friendship Tower information plaque

Lupe up at the top of The Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt.
Lupe up at the top of The Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt.
The view N from the top of The Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt.
The view N from the top of The Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt.
Lupe at the top of the stairs to The Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt.
Lupe at the top of the stairs to The Friendship Tower on Mt. Roosevelt.

By 1:39 PM (still 59 °F), Lupe was back at the G6.  Only one of her 3 peakbagging goals for the day remained – Crow Peak (5,787 ft.), located about 5 miles WSW of Spearfish, SD.  Lupe was in for a longer ride to get to Crow Peak.  SPHP even stopped briefly in Spearfish to pick up a Subway sandwich to bring along.

Crow Peak as seen from I-90 near Spearfish, SD.
Crow Peak as seen from I-90 near Spearfish, SD.

There is a good maintained trail up to the summit of Crow Peak from a trailhead located along Higgins Gulch Road (USFS Road No. 214).  (To find Higgins Gulch Road turn W on Hillsview Road at the Burger King on N. Main Street in Spearfish.  Follow it all the way W to the hills.  Higgins Gulch Road is on the left where Hillsview starts to turn N.)  At the trailhead, there isn’t any sign visible from the road.  There is just a big flat open parking area.  The trailhead sign is 50 feet in along the trail hidden in the trees.

SPHP was surprised to find the Crow Peak trailhead parking lot virtually full.  Lupe was destined to meet quite a few people and dogs on the Crow Peak trail.  The 3.5 mile trail was pretty much a steady moderately paced climb all the way with only a few short downhill stretches.  The last 1.5 miles past the spur trail to Beaver Ridge were the steepest with lots of long switchbacks.  There were some very nice views to the WNW towards Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.) in the Bear Lodge Mountains N of Sundance, WY on the higher switchbacks.

Lupe reaches the summit of Crow Peak. Terry Peak (center) in the distance.
Lupe reaches the summit of Crow Peak. Terry Peak (center) in the distance.

At the summit of Crow Peak was a wooden sign showing the elevation of 5,760 feet.  There were great views of the city of Spearfish and far out onto the prairie to the N and E.  Bear Butte could be seen, but looked far away.  To the S, Terry Peak dominated.  Forest blocked the view to the W.  Lupe and SPHP spent quite a long time up at the summit.  People came and went.  Even a few little kids made it.  Lupe shared the Subway sandwich with SPHP.  The sandwich was a sloppy, tasty mess.  (Note to Self: Don’t have them put any dressings or sauces on a sandwich you intend to pack up a mountain.)  Lupe even got in a little nap while SPHP wasted some time contemplating the world below.

Lupe on Crow Peak 3-21-15. Bear Butte far away on the horizon (center right).
Lupe on Crow Peak 3-21-15. Bear Butte far away on the horizon (center).  Spearfish, SD is at the base of the forested hills on the left.

On the way down, SPHP decided to take a look at Beaver Ridge, but did not wait until coming to the spur trail to go looking for it.  Lupe wound up on a high narrow ridge with some tall thin limestone walls along the spine of it.  This was not Beaver Ridge, which SPHP later realized was farther SW.  The high ridge ended and Lupe had to head steeply back down into a valley.  There Lupe and SPHP headed S and soon came to the main trail right where the intersection with the 0.5 mile Beaver Ridge spur trail was.

However, by now SPHP had lost so much time wandering around on the high ridge that wasn’t Beaver Ridge, it was probably best not to wander too far away from the main trail.  It was going to get dark.  SPHP decided not to go to Beaver Ridge.  The trail heading in that direction looked pretty faint.  Instead SPHP picked up some trash around the trail junction, while Lupe sniffed around in the forest.  Even without going to Beaver Ridge, it was getting pretty dark by the time Lupe arrived back at the G6 at 7:49 PM  (47 °F).

It had been an odd, but successful, Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 123.  Lupe achieved all 3 peakbagging goals, had several rides and rests in the G6, and had seen lots of people and sniffed with lots of other dogs.  Barely visible in the growing darkness, she went wading down in the little creek across Higgins Gulch Road from the trailhead parking lot.  There she got a big drink of cold water.  A couple minutes later she hopped into the G6 for the ride home.

Lupe wishes you happy adventuring from Crow Peak!
Lupe wishes you happy adventuring from Crow Peak, SD!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

 

Wilcox Pass Trail, Jasper National Park, Canada (7-29-14)

An easy side hike SW from the high point on the Wilcox Pass Trail is the edge of a ridge featuring the most splendid panoramic snow-covered mountain and glacier view Lupe and SPHP have ever seen anywhere.  Mt. Athabasca, Mt. Andromeda, the Athabasca Glacier, Snow Dome, and Mt. Kitchener are on display in all their frozen glory.  Although basically the same scene can be seen from down along the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93, the view is even better from 1,400 feet above and well worth the effort.

The Wilcox Pass trailhead is located just E of Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 along the gravel road that leads to the Wilcox Creek campground. The turnoff is just a mile or two N of the Banff and Jasper National Parks boundary at Sunwapta Pass, and just a couple miles S of the Icefields Centre across from the Athabasca Glacier.

The spectacular view of Mt. Athabasca, Mt. Andromeda and the Athabasca Glacier from Wilcox Pass
The spectacular view of Mt. Athabasca (11,453 ft.), Mt. Andromeda (11,286 ft.) and the Athabasca Glacier from Wilcox Pass.

Lupe arrived at the Wilcox Pass trailhead on 7-29-14 less than 10 minutes after having just completed a wonderful short day hike to Parker Ridge to see the Saskatchewan Glacier.  It was 12:06 PM, 72 degrees F, with totally clear skies and a dead calm when Lupe set out up the Wilcox Pass trail.

The trail starts out climbing steadily at a pretty good clip through a conifer forest.  This is deservedly a very popular hike and there were lots of people hiking the trail.  For the first third or more of the roughly 4 km to the top of Wilcox Pass, the trail is climbing through the forest with only glimpses of the spectacular scenery nearby.

Lupe and the view toward Snow Dome & Mt. Kitchener. 7-29-14
Lupe and the view toward Snow Dome (11,483 ft.) & Mt. Kitchener (11,417 ft.) (R). 7-29-14

The first really good look at the fantastic scene to the SW comes at a rock ledge just a few feet off the trail shortly before the trail emerges from the forest.  From the ledge you get a clear view of Mt. Athabasca, Mt. Andromeda, the Athabasca Glacier, Snow Dome and Mt. Kitchener.

Lupe only stopped here for a few minutes before continuing on.  From this 1st viewpoint, the trail climbs at a slower pace and soon emerges from the forest.  Scattered clumps of trees are still around, but the area is mostly open so most of the time the view to the SW is unobstructed.

The Athabasca Glacier flows down from the 325 square kilometer Columbia Icefield,
The Athabasca Glacier flows down from the 325 square kilometer Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in the Rocky Mountains of North America.

After almost completely leveling out, the trail, which has been heading NW, takes a jog more to the N for a rather steep stretch of climbing until it gets completely above tree line. Gradually the rate of ascent decreases as the trail turns back more to the NW once again.  Shortly before reaching the high point on Wilcox Pass, Lupe came to a nice creek where she cooled off and got a drink.

The Wilcox Pass area in Jasper National Park, Canada.
The Wilcox Pass area in Jasper National Park, Canada. Mt. Athabasca (L) and Mt. Andromeda (R).

From the high point on Wilcox Pass, the trail continues NW over a broad, open, gently sloping area between Mount Wilcox (9,462 ft.) to the SW and a large rocky ridge to the NE extending out from Nigel Peak (10,535 ft.).  If followed beyond the pass, the trail eventually leads down to the Tangle Creek area.

This view of the Wilcox Pass area looks NW in the direction of Tangle Creek.
This view of the Wilcox Pass area looks NW in the direction of Tangle Creek.

However, the spectacular panoramic view Lupe had come to see, was not in the direction of Tangle Creek.  Instead, Lupe turned SW at Wilcox Pass and followed an unmaintained trail which climbed a little bit before reaching the edge of a ridge 1,400 feet above the Icefields Centre.  Here Lupe stopped to rest and survey the breathtaking scene.

Lupe and SPHP spent a long time gazing out at Mt. Athabasca, Mt. Andromeda, the Athabasca Glacier, Snow Dome, and Mt. Kitchener.  The Icefields Centre, the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93, and the parking lot for the hike to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier were all in view, too.  Special buses designed for glacier tours were crawling slowly like little black caterpillars up towards and onto the Athabasca Glacier.  A portion of the huge Columbia Icefield from which the Athabasca Glacier descends loomed above the glacier.

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Mt. Athabasca, Mt. Andromeda & the Athabasca Glacier. 7-29-14

Lupe and SPHP spent quite a bit of time at this glorious viewpoint.  Lupe had some water, some Taste of the Wild and posed for photos.  She soon spotted a strange creature she had never seen before coming towards her from the southern end of the Wilcox Peak area to the NNW.  It was a large mountain goat!  Lupe watched intently, but silently, as the mountain goat strolled very calmly on by heading SE.  The mountain goat seemed completely unfazed by Lupe’s presence and eventually disappeared over a little ridge.

This large mountain goat approached from Mt. Wilcox. Lupe watched in amazement, but did not even bark. 7-29-14
The large mountain goat approaching from Mt. Wilcox. Lupe watched in amazement, but did not even bark. 7-29-14

When it was finally time to leave this most glorious viewpoint, Lupe headed a little way up towards Wilcox Peak to see if a view of the huge Sunwapta River valley heading NW and the mountains beyond it could be easily reached.  Reaching the spine of the ridge coming down from Wilcox Peak, Lupe saw that only a partial view was possible in that direction without a considerable further climb.  Instead of doing that, Lupe headed ESE back down towards the country to the NW of the Wilcox Pass high point.

Lupe near Wilcox Pass. Athabasca Glacier and Snow Dome beyond her.
Lupe near Wilcox Pass. Athabasca Glacier and Snow Dome beyond her.

A new goal was in SPHP’s mind, and that was to go see Wilcox Lake, which is tucked in a cirque to the NW of Nigel Peak.  Lupe crossed over to the NE side of the Wilcox Pass area.  To get to Wilcox Lake, it was necessary to climb over a large ridge extending NW from Nigel Peak.

SPHP studied the ridge as Lupe approached it, looking for the best route up and over, without having to do too much climbing.  Selecting a likely route that appeared to have some sort of trail leading up it, Lupe and SPHP were soon climbing up the ridge, which seemed quite a bit higher than it had looked like from afar.

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Lupe, Mt. Athabasca (L) and Mt. Andromeda (R) from near Wilcox Pass.

The main problem though, was that the ridge consisted of extremely sharp rocks.  SPHP began to worry that Lupe would cut up the pads on her paws on the jumble of extremely sharp rocks.  Lupe did get to the spine of the ridge, but the view on the other side to the SE in the direction of Nigel Peak was discouraging.  Wilcox Lake was nowhere in sight.  A beautiful, but very barren rocky terrain lay in the direction where Wilcox Lake had to be.

If the rocks hadn’t been so sharp, Lupe would have pressed on to Wilcox Lake.  However SPHP didn’t want her paws to get cut up and gave up on the idea of reaching the lake.  SPHP now made an error in judgment.  (Not exactly the first time!)  Instead of just going back down the steep scree slope Lupe had just climbed, SPHP led her NW down a more gradual slope that looked like it would be an easier route down.  Unfortunately, the sharp rocks continued in that direction too, and it proved to be quite a long hike NW before an easy way down off the ridge presented itself.

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Lupe, Snow Dome & Mt. Kitchener from near Wilcox Pass. 7-29-14

Once back down on the heather, it was an easy matter to hike back to Wilcox Pass.  Lupe drank from streams, and cooled off in shallow ponds on the way.  Amazingly, the pads on her paws looked just fine after all those sharp rocks, and she showed no signs of discomfort.  Quite the contrary, Lupe was full of energy and rambunctious.

It was now getting later in the day and most people had already left the Wilcox Pass area, although the sun was still well up in the sky.  A few puffy white clouds were drifting by in a sea of blue.  On this beautiful and amazingly warm early evening, Lupe started heading back across the open heather.  She passed well to the E of the high point on the Wilcox Pass trail, but eventually worked her way back to the trail for the hike back down.

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It was 6:58 PM and still 75 degrees F when Lupe reached the trailhead again.  Lupe had been gone almost 7 hours, but had spent several extra hours enjoying the most glorious viewpoint and on her unsuccessful exploration up to the ridge in the direction of Wilcox Lake.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2014 Canadian Rockies & Beartooths Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 122: Bear Den Mountain, Anchor Hill, Dome Mountain & Pillar Peak (3-14-15)

After a week of above average temperatures and with a near record high in the 70’s forecast for this Saturday, it was definitely time for Lupe to head out for another Black Hills expedition.  SPHP decided Lupe would go back to the Pillar Peak area (see Expedition No. 120) where there were three more mountains listed on Peakbagger.com that Lupe could climb:  Bear Den Mountain, Anchor Hill and Dome Mountain.

SPHP parked the G6 at the big Camp 5 Trailhead parking lot located just S of Hwy 14A between Sturgis and Deadwood, SD at 9:19 AM.  It was already 47 degrees F out under sunny skies.  Lupe started out heading S along USFS Road No. 306.1.  Within a few minutes she reached the dry creek bed of Boulder Creek and just beyond it came to an intersection with USFS Road No. 172.1.  Lupe took No. 172.1 which headed WSW for about half a mile before turning S.

No. 172.1 gained elevation steadily, but at an easy pace.  The road was damp from recently melted snow.  Only at a few shaded curves in the road was there any snow or ice still on it.  The road wound along the lower E slopes of a high hill for over a mile before entering Lost Gulch.  Lupe could have followed No. 172.1 up Lost Gulch, which would have brought her to the general vicinity of all three of her peakbagging goals.

However, up to this point, No. 172.1 had not been too interesting.  It was not a major gravel road, but was in good enough shape so that SPHP could have driven the G6 up it without much of a problem.  Lupe and SPHP both prefer a more remote and secluded feel than No. 172.1 was exuding.  Stopping briefly to check the maps, SPHP found that an intersection with USFS Road No. 567.1F wasn’t too far ahead.  It might be more of a challenge.

Lupe at the start of USFS Road No. 567.1. Before long this road faded away to the point where it was essentially non-existent.
Lupe at the start of USFS Road No. 567.1. Before long this road faded away to the point where it was essentially non-existent.

Lupe passed an intersection with No. 172.1F, which did look interesting, but another look at the maps showed it ultimately curved around to the NE – the wrong direction.  Lupe stayed on No. 172.1 and about 0.25 mile later reached No. 567.1F.  No. 567.1F was covered with snow and long branches of bushes were reaching out over the road.  There were no tracks in the snow.  It looked like No. 567.1F was likely impassable to vehicles, which made it a great choice for Lupe and SPHP.

Lupe clearly enjoyed No. 567.1F.  While on No. 172.1, she had just trotted along at SPHP’s heels most of the time.  On No. 567.1F, however, she started branching out and exploring the forest in every direction, while SPHP struggled along through the increasingly numerous obstacles on the long abandoned road.  No. 567.1 headed generally SW up a fairly big side gulch off to the S of Lost Gulch.  The road gradually deteriorated as it went up the gulch.  Parts of it were completely wiped out at the bottom of the gulch due to erosion.

Deadfall timber, growing trees and bushes, rocks and snow eventually made it impractical to try to stay on the faint remains of No. 567.1F any longer.  So Lupe and SPHP started climbing up the steep slopes of the NW side of the gulch.  After a while the terrain leveled out quite a bit and became more open.  There was a high point visible off to the SE, but SPHP checked the maps and it looked like the summit of Bear Den Mountain (5,642 ft.), Lupe’s first peakbagging goal of the day, should be off to the SW.

Lupe resumed climbing and looking for the summit of Bear Den Mountain.  From Pillar Peak on Expedition No. 120 on 2-20-14, SPHP had seen that there were a number of roads on the upper slopes of Bear Den Mountain.  Lupe started running into and crossing them.  SPHP’s old USFS map showed that the summit of Bear Den Mountain was surrounded by private property, but Lupe came to no development other than the roads, not even any fences or signs.

Past the first high point, Lupe is now on the ridge leading to the summit of Bear Den Mountain. Custer Peak is visible in the distance.
Past the first high point, Lupe is now on the ridge leading to the summit of Bear Den Mountain. Custer Peak is visible in the distance.

Lupe did come to a high spot, also reached by a jeep trail, which at first SPHP thought might be the summit of Bear Den Mountain.  A look around soon convinced SPHP that there was likely still higher terrain some distance to the W.  Exploring in that direction, Lupe did clearly gain some elevation and arrived at the summit of Bear Den Mountain.

Lupe nearing the summit of Bear Den Mountain from the E. A forest fire burned the area some years ago.
Lupe nearing the summit of Bear Den Mountain from the E.  A forest fire burned the area some years ago.

 

Lupe at or near the summit of Bear Den Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Lupe on top of Bear Den Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Lupe on Bear Den Mountain. Pillar Peak at far left is less than 2 miles to the N.
Lupe on Bear Den Mountain. Pillar Peak (5,469 ft.) at far left is less than 2 miles to the N.
Lupe on Bear Den Mountain. Photo looks W at hill SPHP mistook for Anchor Hill. Terry Peak visible as distant snowy highest point (left of center).
Lupe on Bear Den Mountain. Photo looks W at hill SPHP mistook for Anchor Hill. Terry Peak visible as distant snowy highest point (left of center).  It was this photo and topo maps available on Peakbagger.com that convinced SPHP two days later that the forested hill in the background, which Lupe did climb next, was actually about 0.5 mile NNE of and higher than Anchor Hill.

Having reached the summit of Bear Den Mountain, after a short Taste of the Wild and water break, it was time for Lupe to head for her next peakbagging goal – Anchor Hill (5,720 ft.).  Lupe headed SSW down a long ridge extending out from Bear Den Mountain.  She then turned WNW and followed a mile long saddle between Lost Gulch to the N and Butcher Gulch to the S.

Lupe heading down the SSW ridge from Bear Den Mountain. Photo looks W. Custer Peak and what SPHP believes to be the old Gilt Edge Gold Mine in view.
Lupe heading down the SSW ridge from Bear Den Mountain. Photo looks SW. Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) and what SPHP believes to be the old Gilt Edge Gold Mine are in view.
Bear Den Mountain from the WSW along the ridge between Lost & Butcher Gulches. Bear Butte visible out on the prairie.
Bear Den Mountain from the WSW along the ridge between Lost & Butcher Gulches. Bear Butte (4,422 ft.) visible out on the prairie.
Lupe cools off in the snow on the way to Anchor Hill.
Lupe cools off in the snow on the way to Anchor Hill.

Lupe did climb the high forested hill that SPHP had seen from Bear Den Mountain and had assumed was Anchor Hill.  Only two days later did SPHP realize that the hill Lupe climbed was not really Anchor Hill, but a slightly higher hill about 0.5 mile to the NNE of the real Anchor Hill.  On three expeditions, No. 119, No. 120 and now No. 122, silly little Anchor Hill has eluded Lupe and SPHP.

Lupe reached this pile of loose rocks at the summit of the fake Anchor Hill.
Lupe reached this pile of loose rocks at the summit of the fake Anchor Hill.
Break time for Lupe on the fake Anchor Hill. Notice the brown pipe sticking up near a tree toward the right side of the photo.
Break time for Lupe on the fake Anchor Hill. Notice the brown pipe sticking up near a tree toward the right side of the photo.

After a rest break on the fake Anchor Hill, Lupe headed NE for Dome Mountain.  Coming down the NE slopes of the ridge connected to fake Anchor Hill, the snow was 2 to 3 feet deep.  Lupe crossed the saddle ridge between fake Anchor Hill and the ridge Dome Mountain is on.  It was a real mess for a long stretch due to deadfall timber as a result of a fire years ago.

Lupe looks NNE towards Dome Mountain. Pillar Peak pokes up above the trees in the distance.
Lupe looks NNE towards Dome Mountain. Pillar Peak pokes up above the trees in the distance.
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Oh, delightful! The last stretch of the saddle ridge leading NE towards the E end of the Dome Mountain ridge. Actually the hike across it wasn’t too bad as the dead trees were fairly small.

Once Lupe was across the saddle ridge and into the living forest, it was much easier going as she headed W towards the rocky point that is the summit of Dome Mountain.

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Looking W at Dome Mountain while still on the saddle ridge.  This ridge separates Lost Gulch to the E from the big gulch that sweeps around the S and W sides of Dome Mountain.
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Looking SW at the rocky summit of Dome Mountain. Fake Anchor Hill in the background.

Up on Dome Mountain (5,512 ft.), there was a fairly stiff breeze out of the NW.  The blue skies of the early morning had long ago clouded up with an indefinite overcast haziness.  The highest rock outcropping which is the summit of Dome Mountain was easily climbed.  Lupe finished the rest of her Taste of the Wild up on the summit, although she didn’t care much for the wind.

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Looking W towards Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) from Dome Mountain summit.
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Looking NE towards Pillar Peak from summit of Dome Mountain. Lupe is ready to get off the windy summit and hoping SPHP hurries up with the photo session.

Having climbed Dome Mountain, SPHP was under the delusion that Lupe had achieved all three of her peakbagging goals for Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 122.  (Not realizing that Lupe had climbed a false Anchor Hill.)  It was time to start heading back to the G6, but SPHP also thought Lupe might have time to climb Pillar Peak (5,469 ft.) once again, which was not too out of the way.  The key to being able to do so was to follow along the saddle ridge between Dome Mountain and Pillar Peak.

Lupe left the Dome Mountain summit area heading E through the living forest.  When she got near the edge with Lost Gulch, she turned N trying to stay on the high ground.  This was successful for a while, but the high ground she was following eventually dropped off.  She had to go a considerable distance down into a ravine and climb back up to the N again to get back up on the saddle.  SPHP was starting to get weary and almost decided against climbing up again in favor of just heading down into Lost Gulch.  This would have meant giving up on Pillar Peak.

Fortunately, SPHP managed to summon the energy to climb back up on the ridge.  Lupe continued on to Pillar Peak.  The wind out of the NW was even stronger and gustier than it had been on Dome Mountain as Lupe climbed up the final stretch.  The gusting wind and late hour made the stay up on Pillar Peak a short one.  SPHP took a few photos and Lupe was on her way again.

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Getting very close to Pillar Peak while approaching from the SW.
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Lupe reaches the summit of Pillar Peak not long before sunset.  The snowy ski runs on Terry Peak to the W visible in the distance (left).

Lupe left the summit of Pillar Peak and headed toward a slightly lower forested high point on Pillar Peak a short hike to the E.  Just before reaching it, she headed SE down a steep slope.  Like much of the day’s journey, it was slow going for SPHP picking a way down through all the deadfall timber, rocks and bushes.  After losing 500 feet of elevation, Lupe found a road.  It headed up in both directions.  Lupe followed it S.  It eventually went over a saddle.  On the other side of the saddle was another road, which may have been No. 172.1H.

Lupe followed this road for a while hoping to lose elevation, but it stayed high up on the slopes of the mountain it was going around.  It eventually just ended.  About 150 feet lower another road could be seen.  Lupe headed down to it.  This road did the same thing, heading around the mountain while maintaining elevation.  It also dead ended.  Again another road could be seen farther below, this time near the valley floor.  SPHP by now had to pick a way down the slope very carefully, for the sun had set a while ago and with the cloud cover, even twilight was fading fast.

The lowest road continued on down Lost Gulch.  Even here it was a bit tricky going in the dark.  The road was covered with snow and ice for a long way.  Finally Lupe reached the intersection with USFS Road No. 567.1 again.  SPHP recognized it and was now certain Lupe was on USFS Road No. 172.1, which she could follow essentially the rest of the way back to the G6.

It was quite dark by now.  SPHP was feeling pretty played out.  Even though it was downhill almost all the rest of the way, SPHP had to stop on one of the short uphill stretches for a rest.  Lupe was still bright and alert.  However, once back at the G6, she hopped right in as soon as SPHP was ready for her.  It was 8:59 PM and still an amazing 61 degrees out.  Lupe curled up and went to sleep almost instantly.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 122 was a success, but it wasn’t a complete success.  SPHP didn’t realize it yet, but Anchor Hill had once again eluded Lupe.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

How to Choose the Perfect Puppy

The following techniques which I used to select and acquire Lupe, my perfect puppy, are admittedly unorthodox and may not be for everyone.  Nevertheless, I find it difficult to argue with proven success.  I wish only the best to anyone intent upon finding their own perfect puppy, and share my methods with the hope they may prove both enlightening and helpful.  However, I leave it to you to judge the suitability of these methods in your own situation.  – SPHP

Actually, it was remarkably easy for me to choose Lupe, my perfect puppy and best friend now for over 4 years.  I used a simple 3-Step program:

(1) Get married.

(2) Subscribe to cable TV.

(3) Wait a very long time.*   (*as in years)

All 3 steps were essential to my success.  For, you see, I had no intention of ever getting a puppy.  I had never had a dog in my whole life.  I had always been a cat person.  The thought of getting a dog never entered my mind.

Our family has always had cats.  Cats are beautiful and generally undemanding creatures, if you regularly feed them the one and only food in the whole world they ultimately decide they are willing to accept.  It’s soothing when they purr.  Their fur is soft and fun to stroke, until they get tired of it and decide to slash you.  Cats can be amusing and fun to play with, but seldom play for long, leaving you free to move on to other activities.  Cats are not as needy as dogs.  Their air of quiet superiority and independence is an admirable trait, if you want a companion who doesn’t demand too much of you.  I still love cats.

My nephew Ryan cites a joke he once read demonstrating the differences between dogs and cats.  It reads like maybe it’s from an old Far Side cartoon.  The joke consists of samples from the diary of a dog and the diary of a cat:

Dog’s diary:

Day 1 – Today we went to the park.  I barked at squirrels!  My favorite thing!

Day 2 – Today we played ball.  I ran away with the ball!  My favorite thing!

Day 3 – Today we went for a ride in the car.  I hung my head out the window in the wind!  My favorite thing!

Day 4 – Today we went hunting.  I chased pheasants!  My favorite thing!

Cat’s diary:

Day 1437 of Captivity – Last night I hunted down a field mouse, ripped open its belly and ate its head.  I left the bloody entrails in the hall to show them what I am capable of.  Tomorrow I plan to weave between their legs at the top of the stairs…..

So anyway, after completing Steps 1 & 2 above, eventually (see Step 3) my spouse took to watching shows on cable TV that seldom interested me, but which we still sometimes watched together.  On occasion these shows provided me with a certain degree of amusement, although of a form different from that intended by the producers.  I found cable TV to be a source of insight into our constantly evolving culture.  Cable TV was showing me how much the world is changing.

History used to be about the rise and fall of nations, wars and economics, great leaders and social movements, exploration and scientific discoveries.  Or at least I thought it was.  However, we had the History Channel, which made it clear that history now has virtually nothing to do with any of these things.  Instead, history is about Ice Road Truckers – diehard rednecks who attempt to disprove global warming theories by driving heavily laden semi-trucks across (hopefully) still frozen remote rivers in the Yukon or Alaska, or better yet, some part of the Arctic Ocean.

On the History Channel, you could also learn about “Ancient Aliens” – highly advanced space travelers who have visited earth over thousands of years to help ancient peoples build all kinds of mysterious and once (perhaps still?) powerful structures, but nothing so practical as a McDonald’s hamburger stand.  Presumably only a massive ongoing US government cover-up spanning decades has been able to conceal the astonishing truth about these visitors from space and the global extent of their activities.

Of course, the History Channel just scratched the surface of the possibilities for unusual and unique programming destined to dominate the cable waves.  There were shows about “Bridezillas” (flee for your life young man!); shows where people weep and wail because they need to clean their house and might have to get rid of a fraction of the mountain of belongings they literally walked on every day because it was all “put away” in gigantic heaps strewn over all the furniture and floors throughout their entire home; still more shows featured night vision gear and all manner of scientific instruments you can use to detect ghosts which, as it turns out, are virtually everywhere.  And so it goes, channel after channel, as though the National Enquirer has achieved full control of the entire cable TV industry.

One of the cable TV shows my spouse started watching was about dogs and “dog whisperers”.  Typical of this channel were stories about rich neurotic women living in Manhattan skyscrapers, who had little to do in life other than spoil their cutesy little lap dogs.  They did things like throw birthday parties in their luxury apartments for “Fifi” where they would invite 15 or 20 other women and their yapping little dogs over to wear costumes, eat cake and lap up champagne.

When the whole birthday party fiasco was over, the hostess would tearfully hire a highly paid “dog whisperer” to learn why Fifi snapped viciously at her doggie guests, went wee-wee on the cake, bit the high-powered attorney’s wife’s ankles causing her to curse and bleed profusely, and in general did not seem to enjoy herself as anticipated.  Naturally the “dog whisperer” was always ready with all kinds of helpful advice on dog psychology, training and discipline certain to restore doggie control, happiness and tranquility until the next episode.

(I was always interested in seeing the sequel to these shows where the woman’s Wall Street investment banker husband arrived home from work only to be horrified to learn what had just happened.  I wanted to see how he managed to get himself out of this fix regarding the high-powered attorney’s wife’s bloody ankles, but apparently the channel carrying the “Attorney Whisperer” is a premium channel I never subscribed to.  It’s a pity, for you never know when, due to some sudden unexpected tragedy resulting in personal liability, you might really need an attorney whisperer.)

The upshot of all this was that one day in early January 2011, seemingly out of the blue (but not actually, as my 3-Step program had been long at work), my spouse asked me what I thought about getting a puppy.

My reaction was instant, and I quickly made the following extraordinarily valid objections:

  1. We did not need, and I did not want a puppy.
  2. A puppy would have to be house-broken, and would poop and pee on everything until it was.
  3. A puppy would chew up everything not out of reach.
  4. Our old cat would be scared to death.  It would be cruel to subject a very old cat to such treatment.
  5. We did not have a fenced yard to keep the puppy in where it could run and play.
  6. Dogs are typically larger, eat a lot more than cats, and would cost more to sustain.  There would be the usual vet bills.  We didn’t need these unnecessary expenses.
  7. Dogs are much more active and social animals than cats.  They need attention and get bored easily.  Someone would have to at least walk the dog every day.  I certainly didn’t want to do it.
  8. Once the cat was gone, which couldn’t be too far off in the future, we would have one less thing to worry about whenever we wanted to travel.  We would be pet free.
  9. The puppy would bark and annoy all our good neighbors.

After this fine, exceptionally persuasive speech, there was no more discussion.  Not a peep.  It was settled.  No puppy for us.  Until 6:30 AM on February 11, 2011 when heading out the door on the way to work, my spouse said, “I’m picking up the puppy tonight!”

Easy 3-Step plan complete!

This dingo tale continues with the post: My Perfect Puppy – The Arrival of Lupe

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Parker Ridge Trail, Banff National Park, Canada (7-29-14)

This is SPHP’s favorite short day hike in the Canadian Rockies!  If you only have a couple of hours to spend while in the area (simply tragic!), this is the hike to take.  The Parker Ridge trailhead is located 2.5 miles S of the Banff and Jasper National Parks boundary at Sunwapta Pass.  The trailhead is at a small parking lot immediately adjacent to the southbound side of the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.

Lupe set off from the trailhead at 9:43 AM on this clear, calm day.  The temperature was already a very pleasant 63 degrees F.  The 2.7 km trail to the top of Parker Ridge starts out just below tree line.  It immediately starts to switchback up the ridge through a scattered forest of small conifers.  The trail climbs steadily the entire way at a pretty easy pace, rising above tree line about halfway up.  Total elevation gain is about 250 meters (820 feet).

 

Lupe on Parker Ridge, Banff NP, Canada, on 7-29-14. This photo looks E down the canyon and away from the Saskatchewan Glacier.
Lupe on Parker Ridge, Banff NP, Canada, on 7-29-14. This photo looks E down the canyon and away from the Saskatchewan Glacier.

Once the trail reaches the crest of Parker Ridge, it continues a short distance to a series of viewpoints along the steep edge of the huge valley to the S.  While the scenery is gorgeous in all directions, the main attraction is the spectacular view of the Saskatchewan Glacier flowing down into this valley from the Columbia Icefield.  Continuing along the trail just a short distance heading E, away from the glacier, actually gets you to the best views of the glacier due to the curvature of the valley and topography of Parker Ridge.

Although the views are gorgeous in all directions, the main attraction on Parker Ridge is the view of the Saskatchewan Glacier.
Although the views are gorgeous in all directions, the main attraction on Parker Ridge is the fabulous view of the Saskatchewan Glacier.

Lupe, of course, was very cooperative in posing for a few photos with the Saskatchewan glacier.  She stayed up on Parker Ridge quite a while enjoying the fabulous scenery and keeping a sharp eye out for marmots.  Although there had been only a few vehicles at the trailhead when Lupe started out, before long people started arriving in droves.  When Lupe got back to the trailhead just before noon, the parking lot along the Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 was nearly full.

P1050358
Lupe on Parker Ridge, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada on 7-29-14

Lupe’s first trip up to Parker Ridge was on 7-27-13.  Click on the red Parker Ridge link to view the post on her first exciting adventure there!

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 121 – Custer Mountain, Kruger Peak, Daisy Peak & Northeast Cicero Peak (3-7-15)

After nearly two weeks of weather too cold for a pleasant outdoor experience, Lupe was really, really ready for another Black Hills Expedition.  She had been thoroughly bored for days on end.  Saturday, March 7th arrived with a forecast high in the low 50’s after a couple of pretty nice days which helped to melt some of the snow around.  SPHP was ready to get back into action, too.

Lupe’s main peakbagging goal for the day was to climb Custer Mountain (6,089 ft.), located roughly 3 miles ESE of the town of Custer in the southern Black Hills.  (The Black Hills also feature a Custer Peak, which is considerably higher and better known.  Custer Peak is in the north central Black Hills.)  At 9:01 AM, SPHP parked the G6 near the intersection of USFS Roads No. 342 & 341, just 0.75 mile N of Custer Mountain.  Conditions were sunny, calm and 41 degrees F.

Lupe started out heading W on No. 341.  She hadn’t gone too far before it was  time to leave the road and start climbing the mountain to the S.  The climb was moderately steep heading through a Ponderosa pine forest typical of the Black Hills.  Due to the northern exposure there was a small amount of snow, not even half an inch, still on the ground.

SPHP could see through the forest that there were two high points above that might be the summit of Custer Mountain.  Lupe climbed up to the W high point first, but once there, it didn’t take much exploration to establish that the true summit of Custer Mountain was to the E.  After a brief break, Lupe headed past some nice rock outcroppings down into a little saddle that led to the final climb up the rather steep NW slope of Custer Mountain.

Pine bark beetles had killed large numbers of trees.  Although there was still a standing forest of living trees, there was a lot of deadfall timber to contend with on the ground too.  The climb up to the summit of Custer Mountain was consequently quite slow.  The summit itself was a bit surprising.  Having seen Custer Mountain from the S back on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 109 on 12-13-14, SPHP had expected a fairly large flat summit area, but instead there was a narrow rocky spine running N/S at the highest point.

Lupe on the highest rock on Custer Mountain.
Lupe on the highest rock on Custer Mountain.

The rocky spine was easily climbed and Lupe posed for a couple of photos up there.  There weren’t any distant views from the actual summit due to the surrounding forest.  After a brief time at the top, Lupe climbed down off the rocky spine and headed SE down into a small saddle which led to another close-by high spot.  This second high spot was much more level and had some open ground affording some fairly decent views to the SE.

Lupe reaches a high spot SE of the summit of Custer Mountain.
Lupe reaches a high spot SE of the summit of Custer Mountain.

Lupe had already accomplished her main peakbagging goal for the day, which was to climb Custer Mountain.  It was still very early in the day, so SPHP paused to consider what the plan might be from here.  Originally SPHP had supposed Lupe would next head over to Mt. Coolidge (6,023 ft.), about 2 miles to the ESE.  However, the view to the S was more interesting.  In that direction were three of the peaks Lupe had climbed back on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 109.  Kruger and Daisy Peaks were 1.5 to 2 miles away.  Northeast Cicero Peak was 4 miles away.

Between the trees are Kruger Peak (on left) and Daisy Peak (on right), as seen from Custer Mountain.
Between the trees are Kruger Peak (on left) and Daisy Peak (on right), as seen from Custer Mountain.

SPHP decided Lupe would skip Mt. Coolidge in favor of Kruger, Daisy and NE Cicero Peaks.  It would be a considerably longer day, but a more challenging and interesting day too.  The decision made, Lupe headed SW down off Custer Mountain.  After losing nearly all the elevation gained climbing Custer Mountain, she emerged into a valley, where loggers had greatly thinned the forest.  She followed a logging road down the valley to USFS Road No. 343.

A 0.25 mile hike along No. 343 brought Lupe to an intersection with USFS Road No. 337.  Lupe turned S on USFS Road No. 337.  Eventually Lupe left No. 337 to hike through the forest, and then through a field to the base of Kruger Peak (5,838 ft.).  She climbed Kruger Peak from the NW.  (The photo featured at the start of this post is of Lupe on the upper slopes of Kruger Peak with a view back to the NW towards Custer Mountain.)

There is a fairly flat area up on the top of Kruger Peak with a couple of rocky high points at the E and W ends.  Lupe visited both high points since neither was noticeably higher than the other.  SPHP and Lupe paused for a little while to enjoy the Kruger Peak views, and take a water and Taste of the Wild break.

Daisy Peak from Kruger Peak.
Daisy Peak from Kruger Peak.

After Kruger Peak, Lupe headed for Daisy Peak (5,948 ft.).  She lost about 100 feet of elevation heading down the saddle at the SW end of Kruger Peak.  From there she climbed up the N slope of Daisy Peak to arrive on top of the ridge extending NW from the summit.  SPHP had Lupe go to the end of the ridge for a few photos back towards Custer Mountain.  A five minute stroll SE along the narrow ridge then brought Lupe to the broader, grassy, rounded summit of Daisy Peak.

Custer Mountain (on left) and Harney Peak (center) from end of NW ridge on Daisy Peak.
Custer Mountain (on left) and Harney Peak (center) from end of NW ridge on Daisy Peak.

At the summit of Daisy Peak there was a bit of a breeze out of the SW.  The sky was also starting to cloud up a bit more, although it was still mostly clear.  Lupe and SPHP spent some time enjoying the views, which were unobstructed in most directions except the NW.  Lupe obliged SPHP by posing for an assortment of photos.  Then it was time to move on towards NE Cicero Peak, still 2 miles to the S.

Lupe and the dead tree at the summit of Daisy Peak.
Lupe and the dead tree at the summit of Daisy Peak.
Mt. Coolidge from Daisy Peak.
Mt. Coolidge from Daisy Peak.
Kruger Peak is the nearby low ridge. From Daisy Peak it doesn't look too impressive.
Kruger Peak is the nearby lower ridge. From Daisy Peak it doesn’t look too impressive.
Northeast Cicero Peak is the highest point towards the left of this photo taken from Daisy Peak.
Northeast Cicero Peak is the highest point towards the left center of this photo taken from Daisy Peak.

Lupe headed S down off Daisy Peak following along or just W of the ridge line.  At the saddle between Daisy Peak and a smaller hill to the S, Lupe turned SW and proceeded to work her way S around the smaller hill.  She reached a faint road which she followed up to the SE.  The road faded into just a single track trail which reached a broad level saddle area in the forest.  The trail then linked up with USFS Road No. 337.1A (unmarked) just S of the smaller hill.

Lupe followed No. 337.1A heading E and gradually losing elevation as the saddle area was left behind.  Before long Lupe reached the intersection with No. 337.1B (marked).  No. 337.1B headed S up a long valley towards a high ridge about 0.5 mile N of NE Cicero Peak.  SPHP was impressed with the scenery in this valley back on Black Hills Expedition No. 109 when Lupe had come down the valley from the S, and enjoyed the trip up the valley from the N as well.

Looking S up USFS Road No. 337.1B from near the intersection with 337.1A.
Looking S up USFS Road No. 337.1B from near the intersection with 337.1A.

Part way up the valley, No. 337.1B is overgrown with young pine trees.  It soon dissolves into a single track trail.  Lupe and SPHP headed up the trail towards the closest prominent rocky point along the high ridge to the S.  Lupe left the trail to turn a bit to the E and climbed up to the top of the high ridge just E of the prominent rocky point.  At the rocky point, SPHP took another photo or two looking back towards Daisy and Kruger Peaks.

Lupe on the high rocky point N of NE Cicero Peak. Photo looks N towards Daisy Peak (bare hill on the right) and Custer Mountain (forested hill near center In front of distant Harney Peak).
Lupe on the high rocky point N of NE Cicero Peak. Photo looks N towards Daisy Peak (bare hill on the right) and Custer Mountain (forested hill near center in front of distant Harney Peak).

From the high ridge, Northeast Cicero Peak (6,240 ft.) was back in view again.  This ridge sweeps around to the SE and then turns SW to head up to the summit of NE Cicero Peak.  The whole ridge has only a few living trees on it, so the views are great.  There are rock outcroppings scattered along the ridge, some deadfall timber, and plenty of rocks hidden in the grass.  Lupe followed this ridge all the way around to gain the summit of Northeast Cicero Peak.

Looking SE along the high ridge from near the rocky point. NE Cicero Peak is on the right.
Looking SE along the high ridge from near the rocky point. NE Cicero Peak is on the right.
Northeast Cicero Peak. Lupe climbed it via the ridge sweeping up from the NE (at the left of this photo).
Northeast Cicero Peak. Lupe climbed it via the ridge sweeping up from the NE (at the left of this photo).
A look at the view to the SE at territory to the E of NE Cicero Peak.
A look towards the SE (still along the high ridge) at territory to the E of NE Cicero Peak.

The summit of Northeast Cicero Peak is broad, flat and grassy.  There is a single big rock at the NE end which is the highest point and true summit.  Perhaps 30 feet to the W is a low flat row of exposed rocks running N/S which is nearly as high.  At this row of rocks, Lupe was ready for a rest.  She had water and ate the rest of her Taste of the Wild.  It was getting cloudier.  A cool breeze out of the SW was getting stronger.  Perhaps 1.5 hours or a bit more remained before sunset.

Lupe sitting on the highest rock on Northeast Cicero Peak.
Lupe sitting and squinting on the highest rock on Northeast Cicero Peak.
Lupe stands on the low row of rocks on NE Cicero Peak. The prairie E of the Black Hills is in sunlight.
Lupe stands on the low row of rocks on NE Cicero Peak. The prairie E of the Black Hills is in sunlight.

Lupe posed for more photos on NE Cicero Peak.  She then left the summit area heading SW.  At the end of the ridge to the SW was an exposed grassy area with the best views to the S of Cicero Peak.  SPHP took a couple more photos here, before heading NW down into the forest.  The going was a bit slippery since there was still some snow in this part of the forest.  Lupe headed down towards a ridge forming a saddle between NE Cicero Peak and the next hill to the W.

Cicero Peak (at right) from Northeast Cicero Peak.
Cicero Peak (6,166 ft.) (the highest point at center right) from Northeast Cicero Peak.

Lupe headed N down over the ridge and entered a big valley heading W.  She lost lots of elevation as she went NW towards the valley floor.  Eventually she picked up a jeep trail or USFS road which was much more level.  The road headed N for a while and then turned NW starting to lose elevation again.  It came to an open field where there was another road that ended in a big flat turn-around area at its E extremity.

Lupe left the road she was on to head N past the turn-around circle.  A single track path disappeared into a forested valley.  Lupe followed that path which continued gradually losing elevation.  After 0.25 mile at most, the path reached a larger valley.  USFS Road No. 337 was along the W side of this valley.  Lupe followed No. 337 or paths paralleling it in the nearby fields and forests all the way back to USFS Road No. 343.

By the time Lupe reached USFS Road No.343, it was dark out.  Lupe turned E on No. 343.  She followed it and then USFS Road No. 342 the rest of the way back to the G6.  The stars were blazing in the night sky by the time Lupe reached the G6 at 7:32 PM.  It was now 35 degrees out.

After a mere 10.5 hours, Lupe still wasn’t ready to get in the G6.  SPHP backed it out and turned the G6 around while Lupe sniffed the air for a few more minutes.  As mysterious and exciting as the night air and sounds were, Lupe finally decided she was ready.  She hopped into the G6 and curled up for a fitful snooze during the ride home.

Daisy Peak in the last weak rays of sunlight before sunset.
Daisy Peak in the last weak rays of sunlight before sunset.

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Lake Louise & The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail (7-24-14)

The hike from Chateau Lake Louise up to the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail beneath Mt. Victoria (11,375 ft.) is one of the most popular and beautiful classic day hikes in the Canadian Rockies.  Expect plenty of company on any nice day, and a hard time getting a parking place during the middle of the day.  Access is from Lake Louise Village along the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.  The hike starts at the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail in front of Chateau Lake Louise at the E end of the lake.

Lupe arrived early for this marvelous hike, which she had done once before back in 2013, but rainy overcast conditions delayed a start until mid-morning, by which time the rain had stopped and the skies were clearing at Chateau Lake Louise.  Mt. Victoria was still lost in the clouds.  Before Lupe even got started, a friendly Chinese lady saw her near the boathouse where they rent out canoes.  She was instantly entranced with Lupe, and Lupe politely posed for several pictures near the lake.

Lupe at Lake Louise. Mt. Victoria is in the clouds at the far end of the lake.
Lupe at Lake Louise. Mt. Victoria is in the clouds at the far end of the lake.

Lupe took the most direct route to the Plain of Six Glaciers, which starts with the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail.  From Chateau Lake Louise at the E end of the lake, the trail goes right along the N shore of Lake Louise.  It is an easy 2.0 km stroll gaining no elevation all the way to the W end of the lake.  Beyond the lake is the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail, which continues W upstream along the N side of the valley floor.  It goes through a small section where shallow glacial meltwaters were running over the trail, and then starts rising up the N side of the valley. As the trail continues W, it begins to climb faster and eventually incorporates some switchbacks.

Lupe and her new friend Bill from China not far from the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house. (Not pictured)
Lupe and her new friend Bill from China not far from the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house. (Not pictured)

At 5.5 km from Chateau Lake Louise, Lupe reached a little plaza with benches near the Plain of the Six Glaciers Tea House.  On the last stretch of trail prior to reaching the plaza, the son of the friendly Chinese lady had caught up with Lupe and showed an interest in her, too.  At the little plaza, he started feeding chipmunks and squirrels crumbs.  This activity was of great interest to Lupe, and she could barely contain her excitement.  Soon the friendly Chinese lady and her husband showed up and there were several more photos taken of Lupe with her new Chinese friends.

Lupe with new Chinese friends Peiling and Bill. Next time Lupe is in China, she will be staying with them!
Lupe with new Chinese friends Peiling and her son Bill. Next time Lupe is in China, she will be staying with them!

Since Lupe is not interested in tea, she continued on the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail beyond the tea house.  This portion of the trail soon leaves the forest as it approaches Mt. Victoria at the W end of the valley.  The trail becomes rocky and eventually gets up on the (former) lateral moraine of the glacier coming down the Deathtrap between Mt. Lefroy (11, 293 ft.) and Mt. Victoria.  The end of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail is about 1.5 km from the tea house (7.0 km from Chateau Lake Louise) on steep rocky slopes above the end of the lateral moraine and just below Mt. Victoria.

Lupe near the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. The Deathtrap is visible between Mt. Lefroy on the left and Mt. Victoria on the right. 7-24-14
Lupe near the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. The Deathtrap is visible between Mt. Lefroy on the left and Mt. Victoria on the right. 7-24-14

When Lupe reached the end of the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail, no one else was there, although a few people were either coming up or had just started on their way back down.  Intermittent show showers and gusts of wind made it seem like late fall or early winter instead of late July.  The sky was completely overcast.  A thin fog hung in the cool air.  Although Lupe could see the top of Mt. Lefroy and the upper reaches of Mt. Victoria, Abbot Hut at the top of the Deathtrap was not visible.  Lake Louise and Chateau Lake Louise looked very small and far away back down the huge valley to the E.

Lupe at the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. Lake Louise is visible far down the valley to the E.
Lupe at the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. Lake Louise is visible far down the valley to the E.

After some photos and a bit to eat at the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail, the weather was deteriorating.  It was time to head back to Lake Louise.  Soon after getting down off the lateral moraine, SPHP heard someone calling out.  It was the friendly Chinese lady wanting a few more pictures with Lupe!  Lupe and SPHP wound up hiking all the way back down to Chateau Lake Louise with the friendly Chinese family.

Although language was a significant barrier, the Chinese understood and could speak enough English so a good time was had by all.  Leo was the husband’s name, Peiling the wife’s name, and Bill the son’s name.  Peiling even taught SPHP to say “Ni Hao Ma”.  (Pleased to meet you!)

Lupe’s new friends are from the city of Foshan in Guangdong province of China, which SPHP later learned is not too far NW of Hong Kong.  They invited Lupe to come and visit them!  We shall see.  You never know.  Lupe is an adventurous dingo!

Click here to see Lupe’s post on her July 21, 2013 adventures on The Plain of Six Glaciers trail at Lake Louise!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2014 Canadian Rockies & Beartooths Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.