Early on the gorgeous summer morning of July 10, 2013, Lupe and SPHP set out on their 2nd Annual Great Dingo Vacation. Unlike 2012, this time they were alone. Once on the road, SPHP could hardly remember ever feeling so free. Although SPHP had told everyone that Lupe was headed for the Beartooths and Canadian Rockies, the truth was that Lupe and SPHP could have gone anywhere and done anything in the next 3 or 4 weeks and no one would have been the wiser.
SPHP turned off the cell phone shortly after leaving town. It and the radio would not be turned on again until dingo vacation was over. SPHP had the windows on the G6 partly down so Lupe could sniff the wonderful cool morning air. Lupe was riding shotgun and kept a close eye out for cows to bark at. It was plenty noisy in the G6 with the frantic dingo sounding off every 30 seconds. There were big beautiful clouds over the Black Hills, but the clouds were smaller by the time Lupe was crossing into Wyoming on I-90.
The plan for the first day was to head to the glorious Bighorn Mountains in N central Wyoming. There was plenty of time to get there. In 2012, when Lanis had been along, SPHP had wanted to see some new territory and had Lanis turn N on Hwy 14/16 at Gillette, WY to go see Spotted Horse. There had proven to be just one little store there, but there was a spotted horse! SPHP thought it would be fun for Lupe to go see it again this year.
Lupe and SPHP took the northern route into the Bighorns on Hwy 14A through Ranchester and Dayton up to Burgess Junction. Near Burgess Junction, SPHP turned N on a gravel road for a couple of miles. The road led to the North Tongue River and SPHP parked the G6 near it. A huge gorgeous field of wildflowers stretched unbroken upstream. Young Lupe, only 2.5 years old, had arrived at the Elysian Fields of Puppy Happiness!
Lupe & SPHP roamed upstream. Lupe sometimes got into the crystal clear North Tongue River to cool off and drink. Colorful butterflies flitted through the air, dragonflies zoomed around, and bees buzzed among the infinity of blossoms. Lupe raced, bounded and sniffed her way through the Elysian Fields of Puppy Happiness.
SPHP wandered up onto a nearby small ridge and followed it to a forested hill. Lupe and SPHP climbed up onto the rocks from where there was a view of the surrounding open fields, forests and mountains. Black and brown cows grazed near the river below. The scene was typical of the beauty of the Bighorns. It was great to be alive and free!
The afternoon wore on. Sadly Lupe’s time in the Elysian Fields of Puppy Happiness drew to an end. SPHP headed the G6 W on Hwy 14A from Burgess Junction. Just E of Bald Mountain near the W end of the Bighorns, SPHP turned the G6 onto a side road. The only clouds were far on the western horizon. Very fortunately, the weather was going to be clear this evening.
Despite not really being very well equipped for it, SPHP managed to lug 2 sleeping bags, and a pillow or two up to the summit of Bald Mountain(10,042 ft.). From there, Lupe and SPHP continued on along the gently rounded ridge to the slightly lower SW part of the mountain.
There Lupe & SPHP spent the evening with a sweeping view from the E around to the S and W. Lupe and SPHP searched the mountain. SPHP almost despaired of finding them, and then suddenly stumbled upon the names. Very happily, SPHP fixed them.
After the sun went down, SPHP persuaded Lupe to lay down in a sleeping bag for a little while. That wouldn’t last. The stars came out and the universe was on display. Far below and away on the prairies to the S and W, gradually the distant lights of little Wyoming towns started to shine too. A sliver of a moon was about to set in the W.
There was no tent. Lupe was going to spend the night under the stars. Her amazement and excitement eventually proved uncontainable. She slept well for a few hours and then SPHP awoke to suddenly realize she was gone. Lupe hadn’t gone far though, SPHP soon heard the tinkle of the little tag on her collar as she ran around beneath the stars. Lupe could not be persuaded to lay down again. SPHP tried to sleep.
For hours, SPHP dozed fitfully, while listening every few minutes for the tinkle of the little tag on Lupe’s collar. Lupe raced back and forth in the darkness sniffing at top speed the open ground on top of Bald Mountain. She returned to check in with SPHP every 10 or 15 minutes.
Lupe and SPHP were at nearly 10,000 feet. The Milky Way blazed spectacularly above as the rest of the universe sped away as it has been doing for billions of years. The silence and solitude of being totally alone on a high mountain were primal and magnificent. Sometime in the wee hours of the night, Lupe was finally willing to lay down on her sleeping bag and SPHP passed out.
A chilly breeze was blowing in the morning. The fuzzy white heads at the tops of the stems on some kind of plant that covered the area were waving in the breeze, somewhat like dandelions whose seeds didn’t fly away. The effect was beautiful. SPHP looked for the place of names again and found it. SPHP added Lupe’s name to the collection. Then Lupe and SPHP returned to the summit of Bald Mountain, an easy stroll up a gentle rise to the east.
After a pause at the top of Bald Mountain to absorb the glory of the scene spreading out in every direction, Lupe & SPHP headed down to the G6, a tiny red dot below.
Lupe’s uncle Joe and cousin Dusty were in town for Memorial Day weekend. Joe had hoped to climb Harney Peak(7,242 ft.), but the weather was not cooperating. With gloomily overcast skies this morning, it wasn’t at all sure there was going to be any kind of a successful outing this day. An 80% chance of rain was in the forecast, but it wasn’t raining yet as Lupe and SPHP drove out to Lupe’s grandma’s house to pick up Joe & Dusty. The plan was to head out not too far into the hills and hope the rain would hold off for at least a few hours.
Joe parked the G6 at the Samelius trailhead of the Centennial Trail just off Hwy 16. Surprisingly, the almost foggy conditions had broken up on the way. There were even sizeable patches of blue sky around. Perhaps there was an inversion going on, which sometimes happens in the hills. Typically the inversions happen in the winter though – May would be quite an unusual time for one. In any case, things were looking up.
Since Joe and Dusty had already hiked N on the Centennial Trail No. 89 with Lupe as far as Mount Warner(5,889 ft.) on a previous trip to the Black Hills, today SPHP suggested heading S towards the Big Pine trailhead. Horsethief Lake was just a short distance off the trail beyond Big Pine and might be a good goal for the day, provided the weather continued to be cooperative. Fog still swirled around the summits of nearby Samelius(5,856 ft.) and Hardesty Peaks(5,562 ft.) as Lupe, Dusty, Joe & SPHP headed S on the Centennial Trail from the Samelius trailhead.
Lupe and Dusty ran ahead resuming their role as scouts, just as they had the day before on Expedition No. 129. The first part of the trail paralleled Hwy 16 heading W for a little way before turning S to go through a narrow little tunnel for foot traffic under Hwy 16. Lupe hadn’t been here since Expedition No. 9 way back on 3-4-12. Back then Lupe had only been 14 months old and the long, dark, narrow tunnel had been just too scary for her. SPHP had carried her through it in both directions.
Lupe had forgotten all about those long ago fears now. She and Dusty both trotted through the tunnel with complete confidence. Beyond the tunnel, the Centennial Trail headed up a partially wooded hillside and joined a gravel road for a short distance. Soon the Centennial Trail left the gravel road again and went through an area of small hills covered with a woods sparse enough so a fair amount of grass was growing between the trees. Both Lupe and Dusty had a great time running around exploring the area.
At first, the Centennial Trail was close enough to Hwy 16 to hear the traffic on it. Sometimes the highway was even in view. After about 0.5 mile though, the trail reached a creek which is a small tributary of Battle Creek and headed away from the highway down into a wooded narrow valley with steep rocky walls. The trail didn’t follow the creek for too long before leaving it to head more to the W while heading up a small side valley.
The trail came to a wide gentle little pass where there were some rock outcroppings on both sides of the trail. While still in the area of the pass, the 1880 train could be heard in the distance ahead. The trail headed into a grassy field. Small trees were growing in the field and will eventually turn this field into forest again. Just ahead, some of the big granite outcroppings near the start of the Black Elk Wilderness came into view.
Nearing a home along the old Keystone to Hill City road, Lupe and Dusty heard some marmots whistle an alarm over by the rocks to the N. They ran over to investigate, but were soon back, the marmots having taken cover. The Centennial Trail skirted to the SE of the private property with its heard, but not seen, ferocious little defending doggie. The trail crossed Battle Creek, the 1880 train tracks, and the old Keystone to Hill City road (paved) in rapid succession. Unfortunately, the 1880 train had already gone by, so Lupe missed seeing it, although it could still be heard now far away towards Keystone.
Once S of the old Keystone to Hill City road, the trail began the only relatively steep part of this day’s traverse. It was just around 0.33 mile to the Big Pine trailhead along Hwy 244, and the trail started leveling out even before reaching it. A few people were around at the Big Pine trailhead. Hwy 244 had a fair amount of traffic on it. Big Pine is only a few miles NW of Mount Rushmore(5,725 ft.), and Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the tourist season in the Black Hills.
From Big Pine, it wasn’t far to Horsethief Lake. No more than 0.25 mile. SPHP wasn’t even sure Horsethief Lake had any water in it, since the last time Lupe had been by it on the highway, SPHP had been surprised to see it had been completely drained. (Perhaps to be dredged out?) After crossing Hwy 244, Joe & SPHP stayed on the Centennial Trail a short distance before leaving it and heading down a little gulch towards the lake.
There is quite a nice campground at Horsethief Lake. Soon Joe, Dusty, Lupe and SPHP emerged from the forest on the paved campground road. There were a few people camping, but the big majority of the sites were open. The wet, cool weather had discouraged camping, which is not unusual for Memorial Day weekend in the Black Hills. Joe, Dusty, Lupe and SPHP headed towards the lake.
Horsethief Lake did have water in it, but wasn’t as pretty as it normally is. Normally the lake is nice and blue, but it was all brown this day – probably partially from dirt and silt in runoff from recent rains, but mostly from not having had a chance to settle out from having been completely drained and refilled not long ago. Close to the lake, Joe & SPHP selected a picnic table to use for 10 minutes for a little energy bar break. Lupe wasn’t hungry yet, but Dusty was very happy to partake of as much Taste of the Wild as SPHP allowed her.
Horsethief Lake isn’t very big, perhaps in the 5 – 10 acre range. However, it is in a scenic little spot near Hwy 244 just a few miles from Mt. Rushmore. The campground is really nice and has some campsites quite close to the water. There are big granite outcroppings around and two good trails nearby leading into the Black Elk Wilderness. Centennial Trail No. 89 doesn’t come down to the lake or the campground, but is just up a hill to the N of the campground. Lupe recommends Horsethief Trail No. 14 which heads into the Black Elk Wilderness from a trailhead near the SW corner of Horsethief Lake.
After the snack, Joe, Dusty, Lupe and SPHP headed across the curved footbridge to the road on the W side of Horsethief Lake. The road led to the Horsethief Trail No. 14 trailhead. About 0.75 mile in from the trailhead, Horsethief Trail No. 14 would link up with Centennial Trail No. 89. It was possible to make an almost complete loop around well to the W of Horsethief Lake and come back just N of it on the Centennial Trail. However, clouds had kept coming and going the entire time so far. With possible heavy rain in the forecast, it was decided to return to the G6 at the Samelius trailhead on the Centennial Trail without making the loop.
At a little under 4 hours round trip, Expedition No. 130 was one of Lupe’s shorter Black Hills expeditions. Like Expedition No. 129 the day before though, it was shared with her uncle Joe & cousin Dusty, which added to the fun.
Note: This proved to be Lupe’s last outing in the Black Hills this Memorial Day weekend. The next day was a combination of rain and fog all day. Lupe never saw the sun. Joe and Dusty didn’t get to climb Harney Peak this trip before heading home for Arvada, CO on Memorial Day.
Lupe’s uncle Joe and cousin Dusty from Arvada, CO arrived in town late Thursday evening prior to Memorial Day weekend. Naturally, Joe, Dusty, Lupe & SPHP wanted to start the weekend off right with an outing the very next day. A 70% chance of rain was in the forecast, so rather than go up into the higher Black Hills, Joe suggested a hike he is fond of which he refers to as “The Ponderosa”. The Ponderosa hike starts at the Alkali Creek trailhead on the Centennial TrailNo. 89 just a few miles SE of Sturgis, SD, and goes N from there up a pine-covered ridge and back down again onto a more open ridge. This area is on the very NE edge of the Black Hills.
However, upon reaching the Alkali Creek trailhead, Joe changed his mind and suggested doing a part of the Centennial Trail a bit farther to the N. After driving a couple of miles farther N, the G6 was abandoned at the Fort Meade National Cemetery. Lupe and Dusty served as advanced scouts along the Centennial Trail heading N from there. Joe and Dusty had never been on this part of the Centennial Trail, although Lupe and SPHP had. From the cemetery, it was a 0.5 mile heading N generally downhill through pine and scrub oak forest to the FortMeade trailhead. Lupe and Dusty sniffed around what remained of the foundations from some old buildings along the way, and generally had a good time roaming around.
Just N of the Fort Meade trailhead, the Centennial Trail crosses Hwy 34 less than a mile E of Sturgis. From there the trail heads N into the trees along Bear Butte Creek, across a wooden bridge, and then heads up onto a barren exposed ridge. Once up on the ridge, the Centennial Trail turns and heads ENE in the direction of Bear Butte(4,422 ft.), which is in clear view a few miles away.
Up on the ridge there was a S breeze blowing. It was unseasonably cool out, somewhere in the 50’s although it was near mid-day. The sky was all overcast, and the clouds were especially dark back to the W towards the Black Hills. The ponderosa pines growing on the hills made them look quite dark in contrast to the lighter green of the prairie. It really was very pleasant out in the cool breeze, shaded by the clouds. N of the ridge was open ranch land dotted by little stock ponds. It has been wet recently, so the stock ponds were full.
The Centennial Trail eventually leaves the ridge to go down into a lower area between the ridge and Bear Butte Lake. Joe, Dusty, Lupe and SPHP went partway down the ridge before stopping at some low rocks sticking up out of the prairie. Joe and SPHP used the rocks for stools during a short rest break to admire the scene. Joe and SPHP ate energy bars. Lupe and Dusty had water and Taste of the Wild. Dusty doesn’t normally get Taste of the Wild and was pretty enthusiastic about it. Dusty was prepared to devour the entire supply on the spot, but SPHP rationed it out.
When the rest break was over, Joe was ready to head back. Everyone had just as good a time on the return trip to the S as before. Lupe and Dusty investigated everything along the way again, and at one point both dogs ran far off down the ridge before racing back to arrive breathless and panting hard. Despite the forecast, the rain held off. For Lupe and SPHP, it had been a pretty short trip, barely enough to qualify as one of Lupe’s expeditions, but it was a pleasant time spent with good company.
Lupe was thrilled with this expedition. After spending most of the first few weeks of May indoors due to inclement weather and waiting many days for SPHP to finish up on some work that had a deadline, Lupe finally got to spend some time sniffing, exploring, running and roaming around again.
The fun wasn’t done yet either. Lupe got to spend the evening with her Uncle Joe, Aunt Andrea, Grandma Kitty, Cousin Dusty and SPHP at her grandma’s house at the edge of the big canyon. Hamburgers and chocolate ice cream were on the menu. A very satisfied dingo spent the late evening snoozing on the plush carpet at Grandma’s house while the rain finally started outside.
It was 41°F and still totally overcast when Lupe and SPHP woke up in the G6. It had rained a little during the night, but by now the pavement was mostly dry. SPHP drove over to a picnic area near the N end of the Bow Parkway. No one else was around yet. While SPHP made a bit of breakfast, Lupe sniffed around. There wasn’t too much for her to do since the squirrels weren’t even up yet.
On the drive over to the picnic ground, SPHP had seen new snow high up on the mountains. Not so much to the E & S, but a fair amount to the N. The gray skies, mountaintops lost in the clouds, and new snow made the mountains look beautiful, but also remote and vaguely threatening.
After breakfast, Lupe and SPHP drove over to Lake Louise Village so SPHP could mail a postcard. While there, SPHP chanced to meet a 74 year old man from San Diego, CA. He was friendly and talkative. He was on a six month tour of the Canadian Rockies and the American West in a little motor home all by himself.
That sounded pretty awesome! SPHP enjoyed chatting with him. The man mentioned the hike to Sherbrooke Lake as a pretty nice one, and not too long. It sounded like a good idea to SPHP on a cool, drippy, overcast day when the mountains were hidden in the clouds anyway.
Lupe and SPHP had actually planned to go to Sherbrooke Lake while in the Canadian Rockies back in 2013, but SPHP had not found the trailhead. This time, with the help of a tip from the guy from San Diego, it wasn’t a problem.
From Lake Louise, Lupe and SPHP headed N and then W on the Trans-Canada Hwy No. 1 past the turn off for the Icefields Parkway Hwy No. 93. After entering Yoho National Park, SPHP slowed down when Wapta Lake came into view on the S side of the highway. On the N side of the highway across from the lake is the Great Divide Lodge. SPHP turned into the big parking lot for the Great Divide Lodge. It turned out the trailhead wasn’t there, but SPHP knew it had to be close by.
Getting back on Trans-Canada Hwy No. 1 and continuing W just 0.25 mile from the Great Divide Lodge, SPHP saw another turnoff on the N side of the highway. There was no sign, but this was the correct turn for the Sherbrooke Lake trailhead. The road went N up a little hill, and then curved E to end at the trailhead parking lot, which wasn’t far from the highway at all. There were no other vehicles at the misty trailhead. Low gray clouds were dripping light rain sporadically when Lupe set out on the trail to Sherbrooke Lake.
The trail goes through the forest the entire 3.1 km to Sherbrooke Lake. Nearly all of the 165 m elevation gain occurs on the first part of the trail before it reaches a junction at 1.4 km with a trail to the lookout on Paget Peak(8,465 ft.). Ordinarily, SPHP would have been tempted to check out Paget Peak, but it seemed pointless to climb up into the fog. The last part of the trek to Sherbrooke Lake was a pleasant stroll through the dripping forest with little elevation change. Lupe was pretty damp, but in good spirits when she reached Sherbrooke Lake along its SE shore.
Under the overcast skies, Sherbrooke Lake was a light gray-green color. The air was calm, and the lake was smooth with hardly a ripple on its surface. The trail continued another 1.4 km along the E shore of the lake to the far N end.
Everything was sopping wet, as Lupe and SPHP headed N along the lakeshore trail. Little streams crossed the trail on their way down into the lake. Small birds were perched up in the trees near the water’s edge. Lupe barked enthusiastically at them. There were even a few squirrels around. Her barking echoed through the valley, but no one else was around to care.
At the far NE corner of Sherbrooke Lake, the trail went into some terrain covered with tall bushes as it started around the N shore. Here there were larger creeks flowing down into the lake. The trail started to fade quickly as it went into the wet bushes. There were rounded stones on the ground and muddy places. SPHP got the impression that this whole area Lupe was approaching was a big wash where a larger braided stream was depositing rocks and mud, slowly filling in the N end of the lake.
It was starting to rain more steadily. The trail was fading away as it headed into the tall wet bushes. The larger streams Lupe now encountered were difficult to cross without getting wet. It was becoming clear that continuing on meant both Lupe and SPHP would get totally soaked. Without adequate rain gear, it was time to turn around. Lupe was just as happy barking at birds on the way back S along the E shore of the lake, as she had been going N.
Lupe and SPHP had seen no one at all on the entire trip to Sherbrooke Lake, but on the way back a couple from Edmonton appeared at the junction with the trail to the Paget Peak lookout. They were very nice and SPHP chatted with them for a while.
The Edmonton couple were on their way to the N end of Sherbrooke Lake where Lupe had just been, except they were going to continue on beyond the lake. They said that the trail does not end at the N end of Sherbrooke Lake. Not too far N of the lake is a headwall. The trail climbs up and over the headwall to some fantastically beautiful territory (Niles Meadows) and goes on toward Niles Peak. Definitely worth checking out sometime, but sissy SPHP wanted to do it in better weather.
The Edmonton couple was justifiably excited about a trip to the Himalayas they were going to take in the relatively near future. They planned on spending time at a 14,000 foot elevation base camp near Mt. Everest, although they had no plans to climb Everest. The airfare there was the big expense. They could hire a Sherpa for $10 per day to haul all of their gear, cook, make camp, etc. SPHP made a mental note to cross Sherpa off the list of possible career opportunities.
Of more immediate interest to SPHP was another trek in the Canadian Rockies that they recommended. Across the Icefields Parkway Hwy No. 93 from the Crowfoot Glacier near Bow Lake is the Helen Lake trailhead. From Helen Lake it is possible to climb up to the top of Cirque Peak where there are fabulous views of the Wapta Icefield, Bow Lake and Bow Glacier Falls. Two days later Lupe and SPHP actually climbed Cirque Peak. The experience was everything the couple from Edmonton promised it would be and more!
Just before 1:00 PM, a very soggy Lupe was back at the trailhead. Lupe hopped right into the G6 and began licking herself dry. She’d had a great time on the trail to Sherbrooke Lake. It really had been an enjoyable outing and had only taken a few hours. Sometime in the future Lupe and SPHP hope to return to see Niles Meadows.
Lupe’s 2014 visit to Sherbrooke Lake was over. It rained for a while. Lupe and SPHP took a nap. By the time SPHP woke up, the rain had tapered off. Lupe and SPHP returned to Lake Louise Village. There was still time left in the day to do something else. Lupe and SPHP headed for Moraine Lake for a walk along the lakeshore trail.
From the big rock pile at the outlet end of Moraine Lake, SPHP was amazed how blue the lake was despite the still cloudy skies.
After dinner, Lupe and SPHP went to Lake Louise to take a wonderful evening stroll to the end of the lake.
The views at Lake Louise looked even a bit more spectacular this evening with the bit of fresh snow from last night still lingering on the peaks.
A spring snowstorm hit the Black Hills, SD on May 9-10, 2015 putting Lupe’s planned Expedition No. 129 on hold. The G6 wasn’t going anywhere in this weather. Lupe’s options were down to romping around in the snow in the back yard, attacking the snow shovel when SPHP went out to shovel the walk out front, or snoozing and warming herself by the fire in the fireplace. She did some of each.
So instead of a trip report on Lupe’s postponed Expedition No. 129, it is time for a book review! SPHP’s spouse bought and gave the paperback book “Ain’t it Hell, Bill Peyto’s Mountain Journal” to SPHP while on vacation in the Canadian Rockies in July, 2003. The edition SPHP has is the 3rd printing, 2001 (ISBN 0-9699732-0-9) and says it is available from EJH Literary Enterprises in Banff, Canada. The book was originally copyrighted in 1995 by author E. J. Hart.
Ain’t it Hell is largely based on a journal Bill Peyto kept only sporadically from 1895 to 1921. Hart gathered additional information from many sources; “not enough for that biography, but plenty for a work of historical fiction using the known facts as a basis around which to structure the story. Ain’t it Hell is Bill’s story, as closely as I can recreate it over 50 years after his death.”
Ebenezer William Peyto was born in England on February 14, 1869. In early 1887 he left England, and by late March or April of that year was working for the Canadian Pacific Railroad near Kicking Horse Pass in the Canadian Rockies. From then on “Wild Bill” Peyto spent most of his rough and varied life in the Canadian Rockies.
He soon knew as much or more about the mountains as almost anyone else around. Bill Peyto’s usual base of operations was Banff, and he became Banff’s most legendary mountain man. Bill Peyto was a hunter and trapper, prospector, guide and outfitter. Eventually he became one of the early wardens for the national park service. After marrying his first wife, Emily, Bill built a small cabin for her in town along the Bow River. He continued to spend a lot of time, though, at his other hideouts in the mountains, most notably one near a copper mining claim in an area he called the “Bookrest”.
Prior to the 1890’s, many of the peaks of the Canadian Rockies had never been climbed. Tourists and alpinists were just starting to arrive on the scene in significant numbers. Bill Peyto’s initial fame grew mostly out of his work as a guide and outfitter for climbers like Walter Wilcox, Dr. J. Norman Collie, Edward Whymper, and Reverend James Outramwho either were or would become famous mountaineers. Many years later, as a park warden, Bill Peyto helped find and rescue Mrs. Stone alive from a ledge on the slopes of Mt. Eon eight days after her husband, Dr. Winthrop Stone, fell to his death.
Twice Bill Peyto left Banff and the Canadian Rockies to go to war on behalf of the British Empire. In 1900, he was wounded fighting the Boers in South Africa. Despite being 46 years old, in 1915 he enlisted again. By 1916 he wound up as a machine gunner fighting the Germans in Europe during WWI. Bill tried to enlist a third time in Calgary following the outbreak of WWII, but was turned down at over 70 years old.
Ain’t it Hell is full of stories from Bill Peyto’s life. Once he brought a live lynx into a bar in Banff. After his first wife passed away, a photo of Bill that won an award at the Toronto Fair eventually brought him a second wife. He slept outside in minus 30 degree weather to keep from getting soft. Ain’t it Hell is also full of references to famous mountains, lakes, and rivers in the Canadian Rockies and to his experiences dealing with climbers, explorers, other guides, prospectors, businessmen, and politicians of the age.
Bill’s life was not easy. The mountains were wild and spectacularly beautiful, but there were also very real dangers and almost none of the amenities providing the comforts of life we take for granted now. He was a tough guy and frequently tough to get along with, living in a time and place where self-reliance was necessary to survive.
Bill Peyto died of cancer on March 24, 1943 at the age of 74. He is buried in Banff Cemetery next his first wife, Emily. Bill Peyto’s cabin and a small log storage building he used to own have been moved from their original locations along the Bow River to the grounds of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff. Bill Peyto is also commemorated by a restaurant named Wild Bill’s Legendary Saloon in Banff. Near Lake Louise, is Bill Peyto’s Café at the International Hostel and Alpine Center.
However, it seems likely the tributes that would have pleased Bill Peyto most are farther N. Along Icefields Parkway No. 93, on the way from Lake Louise to Jasper, is Bow Pass a few kilometers N of Bow Lake. Just to the W of Bow Pass is Peyto Lake, fed by the melt waters of the Peyto Glacier coming down from the Wapta Icefield below Peyto Peak.
At 224 pages including the introduction and epilogue, Ain’t it Hell is a pretty easy, quick and fun read. SPHP has read Ain’t it Hell several times over the years, and each time gets more out of it. On her summer vacations in 2013 and 2014, Lupe went to see quite a few of the lakes, rivers, mountains and passes mentioned in the book. Having been there with Lupe, it is even more fun to read about the events that once took place in the beautiful and dramatic locations mentioned in Ain’t it Hell.
Is Ain’t it Hell a book you might enjoy? Your reaction to the following May 15, 1910 entry from Bill Peyto’s mountain journal featured on the back cover of Ain’t it Hell is probably a good indication:
“I headed downslope to where the cubs were feeding and came up at them, hoping to scare them into one or another of my mining shafts for protection. It worked perfectly, as they ran for the nearest dark hole, and I went in with my ropes on the ready to see if I could catch one. I could hear the little fellows squealing in the dark and I paused a moment to let my eyes adjust. Just then I heard a tremendous roar and knew the sow was coming on the run looking for her wayward offspring. It didn’t take her a moment to pick up the scent and she headed straight for the mouth of the shaft bent on destruction. I knew the jig was up for sure if I lost my head and so very deliberately drew the Colt from my belt and waited for her to find us out …”
Late in the afternoon on Thursday, 4-30-15, SPHP’s spouse called and asked if Lupe and SPHP would come to Casper, WY for the weekend. SPHP said sure! Shortly before noon the next day, Lupe and SPHP were in the G6 and pulling out of the driveway. Lupe knew something big was up, because SPHP had piled up luggage, pillows and blankets on Lupe’s passenger side watch-dingo seat so she was nearly level with the dashboard, something that only happens before Dingo Vacations.
Lupe’s route took her through Custer, SD over to Newcastle, WY, then on to Wright, Edgerton and Midwest before reaching Casper shortly after 4 PM. It was a nice drive through wide open high plains country. Lupe had a great time barking frantically at cows, horses, sheep, an occasional pronghorn antelope, and suspicious looking bushes and buildings. When there was nothing to bark at, she stuck her nose out the partially open window to sniff the breeze.
SPHP’s spouse wasn’t at the apartment yet when Lupe arrived. That didn’t stop the dingo fun, though. Lupe soon discovered a small field out behind a row of garages where there were rabbits to chase. This was great sport, although the rabbits very soon made themselves scarce. All weekend long, every time SPHP left the apartment or G6, Lupe made a habit of running over to the little field to check on the bunny situation. She was seldom disappointed.
Lupe and SPHP went to gas up the G6, and by the time they got back to the apartment, SPHP’s spouse had arrived. Lupe got to see the apartment for the first time. She was very surprised to see two cats, Cloud and Shoko, but not as surprised as they were to see Lupe! Cloud was an old buddy of Lupe’s she hadn’t seen for almost two years. Cloud soon seemed to remember that Lupe was a friend of cats and no threat. Shoko, however, kept a wary eye on Lupe for the first day or so.
On Saturday morning, May 2nd, Lupe got to do a little sight-seeing in the Casper area. She went to see Bridal Veil Falls on Garden Creek at the base of Casper Mountain. The falls were easily accessed via a short path. Lupe enjoyed sniffing around and wading in the creek. It wasn’t a very long outing, though.
In the afternoon, Lupe and SPHP went on a four hour peakbagging quest in search of the summit of Casper Mountain(8,200 ft.). SPHP was not familiar with the area. Despite having a topo map printed out from Peakbagger.com, SPHP had some trouble finding the summit. Roads on the map only somewhat agreed with what was actually there.
The biggest problem was that SPHP had been expecting Lupe would be free to roam on National Forest land, but the whole area seemed to be private property with a wide variety of homes, cabins and RV’s scattered through the forest. Private property, no trespassing, keep out and similar signs abounded. Lupe and SPHP stuck to the roads as much as possible, but in some places even the roads seemed to be off limits.
Another problem was that the Peakbagger.com topo map showed that the summit of Casper Mountain was just NE of a radio tower. Easy enough, but what it didn’t show was that there are multiple towers on Casper Mountain. At first SPHP thought Lupe had reached the summit of Casper Mountain after finding the first big tower. However, the road continued S and it didn’t look like it was losing much elevation. SPHP decided to check it out.
Lupe was soon gaining elevation again and came upon another big tower. The road turned SE there and clearly went uphill even from the second tower. So Lupe and SPHP continued SE on the road to another high point in the forest. It seemed like this might be the high point of Casper Mountain, but there wasn’t any tower close at hand to the SW, so SPHP was suspicious.
The road continued on to the S, but was starting to lose elevation. Lupe and SPHP followed it anyway. It soon turned E where it looked like Lupe was nearing the S end of Casper Mountain. A big ridge could now be seen several miles off to the SE. Lupe and SPHP left the road to trek off to the SW to see what was in that direction. Lupe soon came to a little clearing full of sagebrush where there was a narrow break in the surrounding forest that gave a view of some beautiful territory and distant mountains off to the S.
After checking out the view, SPHP turned around and suddenly saw a third tower off to the NW. It wasn’t nearly so large as the other two towers, but it was still sizeable and not very far away. Lupe and SPHP headed for it, and were soon there. The whole area around the tower was fairly level, but the highest ground did seem to be just a little way off to the NE. The tower was near the SW end of Casper Mountain, which was right according to the map.
This did indeed seem to be the true summit of Casper Mountain. Lupe had made it! It was kind of an anti-climax though; there were no views from the summit of Casper Mountain. The summit area was nearly level ground in the middle of the forest, with a not-so-impressive tower close by off to the SW.
After getting back to the G6, Lupe and SPHP went over to another high hill just NE of Bear Trap Meadow County Park. From there it was easy to see that Lupe had been to the right spot. The towers Lupe had visited were all in view. The third and smaller tower, was seen poking above the trees at the highest part of Casper Mountain. SPHP also saw that there were even more towers on Casper Mountain than the ones Lupe had found. Overall, SPHP was just happy that Lupe could claim a successful ascent of Casper Mountain on Peakbagger.com.
On Sunday, May 3rd, Lupe got to go down to Morad Park in Casper. Morad Park is an off-leash dog park right next to the North Platte River. It is a pretty popular spot. There were plenty of dogs and people around, but the park was easily big enough to give everyone space. The park is on level ground, but has a mixture of vegetation. In most places there are bushes and trees next to the river. Away from the river is more open land including some swampy stuff, little streams, and scattered trees and bushes. A nearly 8 mile long bike path that follows the river goes through the park. Lupe had such a good time sniffing around Morad Park in the morning, that she got to come back again for a 2nd visit later in the afternoon.
The weekend in Casper flew by and soon it was Monday morning, May 4th. Lupe was up at 5:00 AM. She made one of her last rabbit run checks shortly before moonset of the full flower moon. SPHP’s spouse had to go to work. SPHP packed up the G6 again. An hour before leaving town at 7 AM, fog and drizzle rolled in. This was much to SPHP’s disappointment, since the plan had been for Lupe to climb Laramie Peak(10,272 ft.) as a side trip on the way home.
However, just 10 or 15 minutes E of Casper on I25, Lupe and SPHP drove out of the fog. There were still quite a few clouds around, but there were patches of blue sky too. SPHP decided it was worth taking a chance on Laramie Peak. At Douglas, Lupe left I25 and SPHP drove S towards Esterbrook. Ultimately, it was a long drive to Laramie Peak over gravel roads that weren’t great, but there weren’t any really bad spots either. The scenery in the Laramie Range was beautiful and had a rather wild and remote look to it.
The G6 made it as far as a junction with USFS Road No. 671 about 4 miles from Friend Park Campground. Within a 0.25 mile of starting up No. 671, the way ahead was blocked by a huge snow drift. SPHP had to back the G6 back down to the intersection.
SPHP paused to consider the situation. It was 42°F out with a chill S wind blowing a big fog bank up and over Laramie Peak from that direction. The top of Laramie Peak was nearly always in the fog. When it wasn’t, snow was visible on the upper slopes. With snow blocking No. 671, it was a 4 mile trek to Friend Campground where the hiking trail up Laramie Peak started. The climb would involve about 2,500 feet of elevation gain from where the G6 would have to be abandoned. There was a 50% chance of rain in the forecast, which would likely be snow near the summit.
SPHP had to tell Lupe she wasn’t going to get to climb Laramie Peak. SPHP just wasn’t prepared for these conditions, which probably wouldn’t have been any fun for Lupe anyway. A glorious view of fog wouldn’t have been too exciting for SPHP either.
Just because Laramie Peak wasn’t in the cards, it didn’t mean Lupe couldn’t still find a fun place to explore. Down at this elevation, at about 7,800 feet, conditions were perfectly fine. SPHP started the G6 and headed back N.
Before long there was an interesting rocky mountain off to the NW, which was very likely Buzzard Peak. Lupe didn’t get to climb Buzzard Peak either, but she did enjoy a 45 minute romp up to a rocky ridge to the SE of it where there was a splendid view of some higher peaks of the Laramie Range to the SW. Lupe and SPHP both enjoyed the break. Although the whole side trip to Laramie Peak took four hours, it was a good scouting trip. Lupe hopes to come back and climb Laramie Peak another day.
SPHP and Lupe continued to explore new or seldom visited areas on the rest of the way home. E of Lusk, WY was the little town of Van Tassell just before crossing the border into Nebraska. There were interesting rock formations at Van Tassell. According to Wikipedia, Van Tassell is the least populous town (15 according to the 2010 census) in the least populous county in the least populous state.
At Harrison, NE, Lupe and SPHP turned N onto a road that soon turned to gravel and wound around for many miles through scenic ranching territory. Lupe had a time again barking at cows (including a few longhorns) and horses all the way to Ardmore, SD. Lupe’s last stop before home was at Cascade Falls S of Hot Springs, SD. At Cascade, Lupe got in the warm water stream, had a long drink and waded around for a while.
Lupe didn’t arrive home until about 5:30 PM. She and SPHP had spent 10.5 hours to get from Casper to home, a trip that had only taken 4 hours on Friday. So what? Lupe and SPHP had a great time wandering and seeing some new territory. In the evening SPHP went to Safeway and bought some fried chicken. Lupe volunteered to help devour it. With a tummy full of chicken, suddenly Lupe was pretty tired. It had been a long day of barking at cows, horses and pronghorn antelope, plus all the running around near Buzzard Peak and other little stops along the way.
Lupe’s four day weekend trip to Casper, WY was over. She was soon snoozing soundly while SPHP read a book about the Canadian Rockies. It wasn’t long before SPHP was out like a light too.
Two days prior to this adventure Lupe had a fabulous day going from Upper Kananaskis Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to the Turbine Campground along the Maude-Lawson Lakes Trail. Although Lupe never made it as far as Maude Lake or North Kananaskis Pass, SPHP still had plans to for Lupe to make an attempt at reaching South Kananaskis Pass via Three Isle Lake. Lupe set out for South Kananaskis Pass at 7:30 AM this morning from the same North Interlakes Day Use trailhead at the NE corner of Upper Kananaskis Lake.
The wind had died down to just a little breeze overnight, and the skies were finally clear of all of the smoky haze that had been around since before Lupe got to the Rockies. By leaving so early in the morning, Lupe and SPHP seemed to have gotten the jump on everyone else. There was no activity at the trailhead and no one on the trail. Lupe again started out on the Upper Kananaskis Lake trail heading W above the N shore of the lake. At 2.1 km, she took the Three Isle Lake trail to the Forks Campground. She was having a great time sniffing around and exploring.
Lupe started seeing people after reaching the bridge over the Upper Kananaskis River. By then she was already getting close to the Forks Campground about 7.1 km from the trailhead. This time, instead of taking the Maude-Lawson Lakes trail at Forks, Lupe stayed on the Three Isle Lake trail.
Beyond Forks Campground, at first the Three Isle Lake trail continued to be nearly level. Soon that changed, however, and the trail gradually started climbing more and more steeply. Pretty soon Lupe and SPHP were starting a steep climb up a headwall blocking the way to the W. At its steepest part there was a stairway on the trail with a big chain anchored in the ground next to it for something to hang on to. Lupe didn’t need it, but SPHP was happy it was there.
After the stairway was a steep section with loose rock on the trail. A cliff was close by just below, so it was important not to slip and slide too far. Gradually the trail started leveling out again. After reaching the top of the headwall, Lupe followed the trail W down to Three Isle Lake.
Three Isle Lake is a beautiful alpine lake, although it wasn’t as pretty as it might have been when Lupe arrived since the water level was well below full. The N side of the lake was mostly forested. The S side was more barren. There were gorgeous snow-capped mountains all around. Although it had been a bright morning, it was cool and mostly cloudy at Three Isle Lake.
Lupe and SPHP went and sat on a rock above the SE shore of the lake to admire the view. Soon an interpretive guide employed by British Columbia came along and hailed SPHP. The interpretive guide said he was on the Alberta side of the border just familiarizing himself with the trails, and offered to answer any questions, etc. Lupe had none, but SPHP was interested in taking a peek at his very nice detailed map of the region.
The interpretive guide’s map confirmed that it wasn’t too far from Three Isle Lake to South Kananaskis Pass. The Three Isle Lake trail Lupe had been following continued through the forest on the N side of the lake. It gradually turned NW and headed on up to the pass, which was only a couple of km from the E end of Three Isle Lake. A much smaller lake, Beatty Lake, was another couple of km farther beyond the pass.
Once the interpretive guide had moved on, Lupe and SPHP went back to the Three Isle Lake trail. Lupe turned W making for South Kananaskis Pass. Although SPHP lost the trail briefly at Three Isle Lake Campground, Lupe soon found it again. Before long, Lupe was at South Kananaskis Pass. A sign there indicated Lupe had reached British Columbia. From the pass was a view to the NW of a wonderfully green open valley with high mountains beyond.
After 10 minutes at the pass, Lupe went on into British Columbia. SPHP intended to go all the way to Beatty Lake, but had already foolishly forgotten exactly how far away it was from the pass. SPHP hiked 1.5 km, but didn’t come to it. Lupe was more interested in marmots and offered little help. Of course, coming from the pass, Lupe was losing elevation steadily. When SPHP came over a little ridge and saw another elevation drop, but no lake ahead, SPHP decided Lupe had gone far enough.
At the turnaround point Lupe must have been pretty close to Beatty Lake. SPHP could hear a big stream ahead that probably fed or came from the lake. Nevertheless, SPHP led Lupe back up to South Kananaskis Pass. She visited Three Isle Lake again. The trek down the headwall E of Three Isle Lake was easier, but scarier, than going up it.
Below the headwall and just starting up the steep part of the trail, was a young man who was running up the trail. He turned out to be on a trail running race known as the “Death Run”. He was part of a relay team and had to run 38 km. Death Runner seemed glad to stop for a breather. He patted Lupe and chatted with SPHP. The name of the race he was running told SPHP pretty much all SPHP really needed to know about it.
At Forks Campground, Lupe met a woman from Canmore, who was there with her son, Tristan, who might have been 8 or 9 years old. She had made more rice than she needed to and was going to burn it, just to get rid of it. Instead she fed it to Lupe and SPHP.
SPHP stayed chatting with her so long that Death Runner came by after having gone to Three Isle Lake and turned around. Apparently Rice Lady had previously talked to Death Runner, and they started up a conversation again. Stuffed with rice, Lupe and SPHP left Forks Campground shortly after Death Runner jogged off again.
Lupe and SPHP got back to the G6 a bit before 9:00 PM. It was a short drive over to the picnic ground at the SE corner of Upper Kananaskis Lake to watch the sun set. The sunset lacked the bright colors Lupe and SPHP were hoping for. Instead, everything just faded to gray. Lupe and SPHP sat together listening to the peaceful sound of the waves lapping up on the shore of the beautiful lake.
Another glorious day spent together in the Canadian Rockies was done. Happily, more were on the way!
Lupe and SPHP spent several days in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta on the Canadian Rockies portion of Lupe’s 2014 Dingo Vacation. Our base of operations was centered around Upper Kananaskis Lake, a beautiful and fairly large mountain lake where there were a number of great hiking trails to explore. The most outstanding of these hikes was along the Maude-Lawson Lakes Trail, which leads to North Kananaskis Pass and on into Height of the Rockies Provincial Park in British Columbia.
This hike started at the North Interlakes Day Use trailhead located between the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada. The trailhead is close to the NE corner of Upper Kananaskis Lake. Near the junction of Hwy 40 and the S end of Route 742 (Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail) is a paved road to the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Visitor Center. The North Interlakes Day Use trailhead is at the end of this paved road well beyond the visitor center.
Lupe arrived at the North Interlakes Day Use trailhead between Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes around 9 AM on this smoky, but otherwise very fine morning. She found the trailhead parking lot already crowded with two groups of 8 – 10 teenage boys each busy preparing to hit the trail too. One group was ready and set out shortly before Lupe and SPHP. The second group was still organizing at the trailhead parking lot when Lupe and SPHP got underway.
Lupe started out on a portion of the Upper Kananaskis Lake trail, which ultimately goes all the way around the lake. This first stretch of trail was pretty easy with only moderate elevation gain. Lupe trotted W on the trail while keeping watch for any squirrels that might be about. The trail rose gradually until it was well above the lakeshore. Although Lupe was in the forest most of the time, there were a few open stretches along the trail with very nice views of Upper Kananaskis Lake.
Unfortunately, the air was quite hazy due to smoke from distant forest fires. The air had been smoky on and off for days, starting back when Lupe had reached the area E of Glacier National Park while still in the USA.
SPHP had heard various rumors of where the fires were ever since Lupe had stopped by at Waterton Lakes. Just this morning, while still at Upper Kananaskis Lake before arriving at the trailhead, Lupe and SPHP had met a couple from Yellowknife in the Yukon who had told SPHP there were over 200 wildfires now burning in northern British Columbia.
After 2.2 km, Lupe came to an intersection with the Three Isle Lake trail. The Three Isle Lake trail led Lupe away from Upper Kananaskis Lake and deeper into the forest. Now there were no views, but the forest itself was beautiful. The Three Isle Lake trail was in good condition and a very easy stroll as it was quite level. It headed NW for a little way and then turned W again.
Lupe crossed two streams while on the Three Isle Lake trail. The first one was a small stream coming down from Invincible Lake. Lupe enjoyed a good drink out of this stream. The second stream was actually a small river, the Upper Kananaskis River.
The Upper Kananaskis River was flowing fast and deep in a narrow gap where Lupe had to cross it, but fortunately there was a very good bridge. After crossing the bridge, the trail remained fairly level as it followed the river upstream. Lupe soon came to a couple of guys making a new trail around old portions of trail damaged in the June, 2013 floods. Not too far beyond them, Lupe reached the Forks Campground.
Appropriately enough, at Forks there was a choice to make. Lupe was now 7.2 km from where she had started the day. If Lupe continued W another 3.5 km on the Three Isle Lake trail, above a steep headwall she would reach another campground at Three Isle Lake. Quite a few of the hikers SPHP had chatted with along the trail were either coming from or going to Three Isle Lake. After reaching Three Isle Lake, the trail continued on another 2.8 km to South Kananaskis Pass, but no one had told SPHP they’d been that far.
The other available choice was to take the Maude-Lawson Lakes trail. This trail went N 7.7 km to the Turbine Campground beyond Lawson Lake, and then another 2.1 km W on up to Maude Lake just E of North Kananaskis Pass. Lupe expressed no great preference for either the South or North Pass. SPHP hoped to reach the more distant North Pass and set off along the Maude-Lawson Lakes trail. Lupe seemed happy enough to follow along.
After bypassing the Forks Campground, which was deserted at the time, the trail headed N along the Upper Kananaskis River upstream for a little way, but then began to climb. Once the climb began, it was relentless and pretty steep. This was where most of the elevation gain for the day occurred as the climb turned into a long series of switchbacks up the head-wall on the W side of the Upper Kananaskis River valley.
While climbing, the trail continued to work its way to the N. The E side of the canyon was visible as a massive continuous rock wall rising a couple thousand feet above the valley floor. Mt. Indefatigable(8,760 ft.), Mt. Invincible(8,793 ft.), Mt. Warspite(9,318 ft.), and Mt. Black Prince(9,642 ft.) were all along the E side of the valley, but partially obscured by the smoky haze in the air.
SPHP had to stop to rest frequently on the climb up the headwall. It was getting warm out. Fortunately Lupe came to a few very small streams along the climb where she could get a drink. On one of SPHP’s first stops, the second group of teenage boys caught up to and passed SPHP. From then on Lupe and SPHP took turns with the second group of boys passing each other at various rest stops on the headwall.
SPHP started talking to the boys and learned that this second group was from a camp near Bemidji in northern Minnesota called Camp Thunderbird. They were on a 6 week “Junior Leader” journey that had already taken them to the Badlands and Black Hills in South Dakota, the Wind River Range in Wyoming, and a trail-making service job in the mountains in Idaho. The Thunderbirds were now backpacking up to Turbine Campground.
The Thunderbirds intended to stay the night at Turbine Campground before hiking back out the next day. After that they were headed up to Jasper and Mt. Robson. All of the boys were about 15 years old. They were accompanied by a couple of leaders in their early twenties. Many knew each other from previous summers spent together at Camp Thunderbird. The trip they were on was one of several offered through Camp Thunderbird, which also has programs and trips for girls. Camp Thunderbird really sounded like an awesome place.
One of the boys fell behind near the end of the climb up the headwall. He’d had concussions from playing hockey and had developed a headache. One of the leaders was with him. SPHP gave him a Cliff bar in case his blood sugar was low. The Thunderbirds decided to take a longer break and have lunch so everyone could rest up. Lupe and SPHP passed the Thunderbirds for the final time at that point. Very shortly after that, Lupe and SPHP reached the top of the headwall and the trail finally leveled out a great deal.
Within 10 minutes, at a larger stream Lupe and SPHP caught up with the group of teenage boys who had left the trailhead back at Upper Kananaskis Lake first. They wanted to know how close the Thunderbirds were.
SPHP told them the Thunderbirds were very close, only 10 minutes behind them, but that they had just stopped for lunch. Although this first group of boys was not from Camp Thunderbird, they were also headed for Turbine Campground for the night.
Lupe and SPHP passed the first group of boys and were now ahead of both groups. It was still 2 or 3 km to Turbine Campground. Lupe and SPHP went through a couple more climbs, but nothing comparable to the headwall. Beyond the first rise was a beautiful open meadow with a small alpine lake. Glorious mountains were all around. It was rather a pity that the air was still smoky enough to detract from the fabulous views.
Beyond this meadow was another small climb through the trees and then the trail started downhill emerging from the forest near Lawson Lake, which wasn’t too far from Turbine Campground. Another km or so brought Lupe to a bridge over Maude Brooke.
On the other side of Maude Brooke was Turbine Campground. No one was around when Lupe first arrived. Lupe and SPHP laid down on an open grassy bank on the campground side of Maude Brooke to take a rest. While SPHP contemplated the grand mountains all around, Lupe tried to doze a bit in the sun. She snapped at flies bothering her, while laying right next to SPHP.
After resting about 15 minutes, Lupe suddenly woke up and stood stiffly a couple of feet in front of SPHP while sniffing the air and staring intently upstream. She didn’t move or make any noise, but just stood there sniffing excitedly for several minutes. The first group of boys now started arriving at Turbine Campground. Some of them waved at Lupe and SPHP as they crossed the bridge.
About 10 minutes later the Thunderbirds started coming. About 2/3 of the Thunderbirds had crossed the bridge when suddenly SPHP saw movement about 100′ to 125′ away in the bushes on the other side of Maude Brooke where Lupe was still staring. A moment later, SPHP had a clear view of what was there. A large grizzly bear raised its head above the bushes to look directly at Lupe and SPHP!
Some of the last few Thunderbird stragglers were just now coming into view along the trail on the same side of Maude Brooke as the grizzly was. SPHP started waving at the Thunderbirds and pointing at the bear. Lupe started growling, but did not bark.
The Thunderbird stragglers saw the grizzly and quickly made it across the bridge over Maude Brooke to Turbine Campground. The big grizzly ambled over to the trail they had just been on. As the big bear left the bushes and crossed the trail, it turned out there were three grizzly bears traveling together! The other two were already good-sized bears, not little cubs, but they were not as large as the first bear. Lupe growled more loudly and the hair on her back stood up like she’d seen, well, 3 grizzly bears – but still she did not move or bark.
The sight of three bears crossing the trail where they had just been only a minute before caused quite a commotion among the Thunderbird stragglers. Other boys started coming from the trees at Turbine Campground to see what the fuss was about. None of them arrived in time to see the grizzlies before all three disappeared into the forest in the direction of Lawson Lake. It all happened so fast, no one got a picture of the grizzlies.
Three grizzlies in the area gave SPHP some pause. The plan had been for Lupe to continue on to Maude Lake and North Kananaskis Pass, which was only a few km farther on. However, it was already 3:30 PM. Lupe and SPHP were not equipped to spend the night at Turbine Campground, and did not have the required reservations. Before the day was over, Lupe and SPHP had to return all the way to Upper Kananaskis Lake where the G6 was parked, already some 15 km away now.
Reluctantly SPHP decided Lupe would have to forego the rest of the journey to Maude Lake and North Kananaskis Pass. It just wouldn’t be smart to stay out so late knowing there would be a long hike back in the dark while there were three grizzlies wandering around nearby.
Lupe and SPHP waited 20 minutes before leaving Turbine Campground to give the grizzlies time to get farther away. Before leaving, SPHP cautioned several of the boys staying at Turbine Campground to make certain everyone stored their food safely away after dinner so the bears wouldn’t come back in the night.
Shortly before 4 PM, Lupe and SPHP cautiously set out on the way back to Upper Kananaskis Lake. Lupe and SPHP never did see the three grizzlies again. Lupe didn’t see anyone else either until she reached the Forks Campground. Although the Forks Campground had been abandoned earlier in the day, now it was packed with people.
It turned out the entire Forks Campground had been reserved for the weekend by a company from Scandia, a small town along Hwy 36 in southern Alberta. Lupe and SPHP became temporary minor celebrities at the Forks Campground due to having news about the grizzlies.
SPHP chatted with the owners of the company from Scandia. The owners said they were beekeepers and employed all these people at Forks Campground making honey. They cooked SPHP a burrito and even provided a glass of wine. They had a big black German Shepherd with them, and made up a batch of a special dog food for Lupe. Lupe politely ate some of the dog food, but preferred devouring half of SPHP’s burrito.
After concluding the tale about the three grizzlies and thanking the beekeepers for dinner, Lupe and SPHP hit the trail again. The rest of the way back to Upper Kananaskis Lake, Lupe and SPHP told the few people still on the trail to be on alert for bears. A couple of people were still on their way to Turbine Campground and clearly wouldn’t reach it before dark. They listened with considerable interest, before continuing onward.
By the time Lupe got back to the North Interlakes Day Use trailhead and the G6, it was about 8:30 PM. With the new, strong, strange scent of grizzly bear still fresh on her mind, it had been both a long and memorable day for Lupe. She was soon ready for a good snooze in the G6. Lupe lay twitching as she dreamed. SPHP wondered if the twitching dingo was fighting and bringing down grizzly bears in her dreams?