Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 135 – Peak 6820 & Crooks Tower (6-27-15)

Lupe started Expedition No. 135 on USFS Road No. 259.2A about 0.25 mile W of Nahant Road.  Nahant Road leaves the W side of paved County Road No. 17 about 5 miles N of Rochford in the west central Black Hills of South Dakota.  Both Nahant Road and USFS Road No. 259.2A are marked.  No. 259.2A leaves Nahant Road about 0.5 mile S of County Road No. 17.  There is a small corral near the intersection and two barbed wire gates to go through to gain access to No. 259.2A.

After the traumatic finish to Expedition No. 134 a week earlier, Lupe had been reluctant to even take her nightly walks for a few days.  When no more lightning, thunder and hail storms made an appearance, towards the middle of the week Lupe regained her confidence and enthusiasm for the outdoors.  Although the forecast was for the mid-80’s in the lower Black Hills, Saturday was supposed to be clear weather all day long.  SPHP thought Lupe might be ready for another expedition in the higher western Black Hills, where it should at least be a bit cooler out.

Early Saturday morning, Lupe expressed great enthusiasm for “hiking in the mountains”.  She was eager to go.  Soon Lupe and SPHP were in the G6 and underway.  It was a very pleasant 60°F when SPHP parked the G6 at 8:29 AM along USFS Road No. 259.2A just 0.25 mile W of Nahant Road.  Lupe and SPHP have been here before on at least a couple of prior expeditions, so it was familiar territory.   SPHP’s plan was to let Lupe enjoy a romp along Tillson Creek in Swede Gulch and then do some peakbagging with Peak 6820 and Crooks Tower (7,137 ft.) as goals.

Before too long, USFS Road No. 259.2A basically comes to a dead end where the road reaches Tillson Creek in Swede Gulch.  A remnant of the road continues on upstream, but is in poor to non-existent condition in a lot of places.  Many pine bark beetle-killed trees have fallen across the route.  The main problem this morning though, was that there was a lot of marshy, mucky wet ground.  (The Black Hills have received nearly 3 times their normal rainfall for the month of June in 2015!)  Getting around the soft areas meant frequent detours into the forest up on the sides of the valley and picking a way through the deadfall timber.

Lupe near Tillson Creek in lower Swede Gulch. Lupe traveled upstream on Expedition No. 135.
Lupe near Tillson Creek in lower Swede Gulch. Lupe traveled upstream on Expedition No. 135.

Lupe had fun in Tillson Creek and exploring around Swede Gulch, but Lupe and SPHP weren’t making great time.  It didn’t really matter.  Despite being a very busy dingo, Lupe has no deadlines to meet.  SPHP was really hoping Lupe would get as far as Crooks Tower though, before it got too late in the day.

About 2 miles from the end of the good road, Lupe reached the confluence of Tillson Creek and a good-sized tributary coming in from the W.  Shortly after passing the confluence, it became necessary to cross Tillson Creek.  While on past occasions, SPHP had always managed to cross Tillson Creek without getting wet boots, this time there was so much flow in the creek nothing could be done except to just wade right in and ford it.

Lupe cools off in Tillson Creek just below the confluence of Tillson and a major tributary coming in from the W. Although hidden by the grass, the main flow of Tillson Creek is coming in from the right side of this photo looking W.
Lupe cools off in Tillson Creek just below the confluence of Tillson and a major tributary coming in from the W. Although hidden by the grass, the main flow of Tillson Creek is coming in from the right side of this photo looking W.

The creek had to be forded several more times as Lupe progressed up Swede Gulch.  Lupe loved the fords, and frequently waded into Tillson Creek to cool off and drink even where it wasn’t necessary.  SPHP was now resigned to marching soggily along in wet boots.  SPHP splashed right on into Tillson Creek at each ford without hesitation.

Tillson Creek is smaller by the time it gets here. This photo looks NNW up Hallorans Draw. The main flow of Tillson Creek comes from a valley to the W (L side) of this photo.
Tillson Creek is smaller by the time it gets here. This photo looks NNW up Hallorans Draw. The main flow of Tillson Creek comes from a valley to the W (L side) of this photo.
With all the recent rains (8.40" so far in June), Lupe found a little temporary waterfall on the N side of Swede Gulch. It will probably be gone in a very short period of time, but was fun to see.
With all the recent rains (8.40″ so far in June), Lupe found a little temporary waterfall on the N side of Swede Gulch. It will probably be gone in a very short period of time, but was fun to see.

Eventually Lupe heard a great deal of mooing going on up ahead.  Where USFS Road No. 234 crosses Tillson Creek, there was a herd of cattle out on the road.  Beyond the road is some private land, but these cattle were outside of the fence in the Black Hills National Forest.  This is not uncommon as grazing permits are available in the national forest.  Lupe and SPHP took a little break near No. 234, while the cattle decided maybe it would be best to mosey on along, since they preferred their own company to that of dingoes.

Lupe and SPHP left Tillson Creek and headed S on No. 234, which started climbing the hillside.  After a bit, the road leveled out and then curved SW.  A high point became visible ahead.  SPHP stopped to check the maps and give Lupe a little water and Taste of the Wild.  Lupe rested in the shade of a spruce tree and snapped at flies.

The topo map SPHP had printed out from Peakbagger.com showed that Peak 6820 was about 1 mile due W of Lupe’s location.  A draw heading WNW would be the least steep approach.  Lupe could curve back to the SW for the last little bit of the climb.  Lupe and SPHP backtracked just a little bit to go through a gate up into the draw.  There was a faint remnant of a road heading up the draw.  Lupe and SPHP followed it.  SPHP repeatedly lost the remnant road and then found what looked like what might be it again.

Lupe started seeing these striking flowers scattered in open areas in the woods on the E slopes of Peak 6820.
Lupe started seeing these striking flowers scattered in open areas in the woods on the E slopes of Peak 6820.

The plan worked.  Lupe and SPHP had been to Peak 6820 once before, back on Expedition No. 99 on 10-08-14.  Arriving on flat terrain that seemed to be the top of the mountain, SPHP recognized a particular mud puddle toward the W end of the summit area.  Lupe happily went over to lay down in it and have a drink of mineral water.  A cool, wet, muddy dingo is a happy dingo!

Lupe enjoys her mud puddle on top of Peak 6820.
Lupe enjoys her mud puddle on top of Peak 6820.

Although a high point, Peak 6820 is all forested and there aren’t really any decent views, since they are blocked by all the trees.  The top of the mountain is very flat.  There is a fairly large summit area rather than any discernable peak or highest point.  Lupe and SPHP explored around for just a few minutes before SPHP was satisfied there really wasn’t much more to be done up here.  Then it was time to continue on to Crooks Tower where the views would be better.

Lupe on the summit of Peak 6820. The summit area is pretty large and flat. There is no discernable definite highest point. The views look pretty similar in every direction due to the forest.
Lupe on the summit of Peak 6820. The summit area is pretty large and flat. There is no discernable definite highest point. The views look pretty similar in every direction due to the forest.

Lupe and SPHP went back to the mud puddle and then down an old road heading SW from the W end of the summit area of Peak 6820.  The first time Lupe had climbed Peak 6820, she had come up this road.  SPHP remembered it as being pretty choked with deadfall timber along most of its length near the top.  Things really hadn’t changed.  It still was.  Lupe and SPHP were off the road more than on it.

SPHP was hoping to find again a strange little area in the saddle between Peak 6820 and a ridge to the SW.  Lupe had found it on Expedition No. 99.  There was a big water tank and a tall deteriorating wooden tower, plus a nearby opening in the forest completely fenced in and covered by metal sheeting just 6″ off the ground.  SPHP thought the metal sheeting might serve as a safety cover for a large open mine shaft, but wasn’t sure.  In any case, Lupe didn’t find it again this time.  SPHP wasn’t sure it was worth spending extra time looking for it either.  If the metal sheeting did cover a mine shaft, it might just be best for Lupe to stay away from it.

The strange wooden tower and water tank Lupe found on Expedition No. 99 on 10-8-14. Lupe did not find it again on Expedition No. 135.
The strange wooden tower and water tank Lupe found on Expedition No. 99 on 10-8-14. Lupe did not find it again on Expedition No. 135.
This photo from Expedition No. 99 shows the sheet metal cover on the ground Lupe found SW of Peak 6820 on 10-8-14.
This photo from Expedition No. 99 shows the sheet metal cover on the ground Lupe found SW of Peak 6820 on 10-8-14.

Lupe and SPHP crossed the saddle area and climbed a ridge SW of Peak 6820.  Lupe headed W along the ridge and came to a high spot.  Lupe’s immediate goal was to get to South Rapid Creek Road (USFS Road No. 231).  The terrain seemed to push Lupe and SPHP farther N than SPHP really wanted to go despite crossing a couple of ridges.  SPHP didn’t want to go too far S either.  The topo map showed some pretty steep terrain and even small cliffs to the S.  With no views and no roads or paths to follow, it was hard to know just where Lupe would come out.

Lupe stands near a collection of the pretty orange flowers. This was the biggest group of them Lupe found all in one spot.
Lupe stands near a collection of the pretty orange flowers. This was the biggest group of them Lupe found all in one spot.

It took quite a while, but Lupe eventually emerged from the forest just E of the intersection of USFS Road No. 231 and Besant Park Road (No. 206).  Lupe had been here quite a few times before.  From the intersection, Lupe and SPHP headed S near the edge of the forest W of No. 231.  The grass was so tall in the big meadow, Lupe had a hard time seeing over it.  She bounded along to see where she was going.  The meadow eventually narrowed.  Lupe and SPHP walked on No. 231 for the last part of the distance to USFS Road No. 631.1.

The start of No. 631.1 was the low elevation point on Lupe’s journey from Peak 6280 to Crooks Tower.  From here on, the rest of the way was up, although mostly at a moderate pace.  Lupe went W up No. 631.1 until reaching No. 631.1B.  She followed No. 631.1B NW up a side gully, but after gaining some elevation left the road to travel W through the forest.  Loggers had stacked a big pile of tree trunks up near the top of the ridge.  Once there, Lupe followed the logging trail heading generally WSW.  The logging trail was pretty flat and easy, but gained a little elevation as it went along.

Perhaps a mile or less N of Crooks Tower is a flat ridge that extends out to the WNW.  At the end of the ridge from some small cliffs is a very nice overlook with good views off to the NW.  Lupe has been to this viewpoint on several occasions before.  As SPHP expected, the logging trail passed just to the SE of this ridge and Lupe was able to trot on over to the WNW for another look.

Lupe at the end of the overlook located about a mile N of Crooks Tower. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe at the end of the overlook located about a mile N of Crooks Tower. Photo looks NNW.

Lupe and SPHP took a break in the shade of a small tree at the end of the ridge.  Lupe had a bit more Taste of the Wild.  Both Lupe and SPHP enjoyed the views.  Miles off to the NW was a high ridge which might be Cement Ridge.  Far off to the N a sharper peak stuck up above the rest of the Black Hills.  This might be Crow Peak W of Spearfish.  SPHP wasn’t certain in either case.

Lupe went back to the logging road and followed it S a short distance farther.  The logging road started turning to the W and losing elevation.  Lupe left it before it lost any elevation and continued S through the forest.  At times there were remnants of roads to follow, and at other times there weren’t.  Crooks Tower could sometimes be seen ahead at openings in the forest.  It was now only a couple hundred feet higher than where Lupe was.  Lupe came to a road, which was probably USFS Road No. 189.4F.  She crossed it continuing S.

As Lupe got closer to Crooks Tower, the terrain became steeper.  Lupe and SPHP worked their way on up the forested slope.  Upon gaining the top of the ridgeline, Lupe followed the ridge SE still gaining elevation.  When SPHP saw some 15 foot tall limestone outcroppings ahead, SPHP thought Lupe was practically at the summit.  Lupe skirted around the W side of the outcroppings and found an easy way to the top.  Nothing was familiar to SPHP.  This wasn’t the true summit of Crooks Tower.

The question was, since this wasn’t it, where was it?  It couldn’t be too far away, but there were no views through the forest.  Lupe was either too far E or too far W.  SPHP decided to head SW hoping to find USFS Road No. 189.4A, which passes just S of the summit of Crooks Tower.  (You can practically drive to the summit of Crooks Tower, if you want to.  USFS Road No. 189.4A comes in from the W.)  Within just a minute or two, SPHP knew where Lupe was.  She was just NE of Crooks Tower.

A platform of limestone about 20 feet high forms the summit of Crooks Tower.  A path leads to the top from the W side.  Lupe headed around the S side of the summit passing a couple with two young children picnicking in the shade of a spruce tree below the summit.  In just a few minutes Lupe was at the top of Crooks Tower.  She had completed both her peakbagging goals of the day!

Lupe on Crooks Tower. Photo looks SE toward Harney Peak in the distance.
Lupe on Crooks Tower. Photo looks SE toward Harney Peak barely seen as a faint blue line in the distance above Lupe’s head.

A forested ridge nearly as high as Crooks Tower itself lies not far away to the E.  (Lupe had initially climbed up to the N end of this ridge.)  The ridge blocks any views farther to the E.  Similarly, to the W the forest blocks any views in that direction where the land is nearly as high as Crooks Tower.  There are nice views to the N, though, and even better views to the S.  Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) can be seen in the distance to the SE.

Crooks Tower (7,137 ft.) is the highest point in Lawrence County, SD, and the 4th highest ranked peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota on Peakbagger.com.  [Green Mountain (7,164) feet is actually the 4th highest point, but unranked since it lacks the required 280 feet of prominence.  Lupe had been to Green Mountain twice just a week ago on Expedition No. 134.]

Lupe on Crooks Tower. This photo looks NW.
Lupe on Crooks Tower. This photo looks NW.

Lupe and SPHP stayed up on Crooks Tower for a little while.  SPHP ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Lupe helped out with the sandwich and had some Taste of the Wild, too.  The young couple left with their children in tow heading W on USFS Road No. 189.4A.  Soon SPHP heard their vehicle start up and move away.  Lupe and SPHP had Crooks Tower to themselves.  The sun was still high in the sky.  While there were still some hours of daylight left, SPHP knew most of the day had already shot on by.  It was a long way back to the G6.  Lupe couldn’t stay up on Crooks Tower too long.

Lupe on the tippy top of Crooks Tower 6-27-15
Lupe on the tippy-top of Crooks Tower 6-27-15

SPHP thought it was unwise to try to head back to the G6 the same way Lupe had come to Crooks Tower.  It was going to get dark long before Lupe could be back.  SPHP did not like the idea of trying to go back down Swede Gulch through all the mud and deadfall timber in the dark.  Instead, Lupe would go down Trebor Draw to South Rapid Creek Road.  Lupe could follow South Rapid Creek Road SE past the turn for Black Fox Campground, and then miles more to the E until reaching USFS Road No. 259.  No. 259 would take Lupe N through Telegraph Gulch a few miles to Nahant and the G6.

At first, it all went fine.  Lupe left Crooks Tower following No. 189.4A around the S end of the ridge to the E.  E of the ridge, it headed N for longer than SPHP had remembered, but finally did turn SE winding steeply down the mountain to No. 631.2.  A short jog to the S on No. 631.2 brought Lupe to a virtually abandoned USFS road (signed as an administrative road only) at Trebor Draw.  Lupe and SPHP headed NE down into Trebor Draw.

Trebor Draw was in the shade of the mountain.  The grass was thick, tall and green.  Lupe could not see over it, so it was like a complete jungle to her.  The administrative road went on for some distance, then faded to a single track before disappearing altogether.  The valley narrowed and led into a thick forest to the E.  Lupe had been here once before, but that time SPHP had not taken her through the forest, instead leading her up over the high ridge to the N.

South Rapid Creek Road was to the E.  This time Lupe had to continue on down Trebor Draw through the dense forest.  At least it couldn’t be much more than 0.5 mile further to the road.  The going was very slow.  A lot of deadfall timber had fallen down into the narrow valley.  It was bad, but Lupe and SPHP have dealt with worse.  Lupe steadily made progress down Trebor Gulch.  A very narrow cow trail appeared.  (What cows would have been doing in this mess, SPHP had no clue, but the trail was there with an occasional cow pie to prove it.)  Lupe was able to run along the cow trail.

SPHP saw the danger just before tragedy struck.  An old barbed wire fence had fallen over the trail.  Five strands of barbed wire lay in wait for Lupe who raced right into them.  SPHP called out to Lupe and heard her hit the fence.  A moment later SPHP saw Lupe standing on the trail.  The barbed wire had cut a big bloody gash across the whole front of her left front leg.  Her fur was hanging open to reveal the bare flesh beneath the skin.  SPHP was horrified.

Lupe on South Rapid Creek Road (USFS No. 231) with a nasty gash from a fallen barbed wire fence in nearby Trebor Gulch. The heroic dingo partly walked and was partly carried by SPHP to Black Fox campground to find help.
Lupe on South Rapid Creek Road (USFS No. 231) with a nasty gash from a fallen barbed wire fence in nearby Trebor Gulch. The heroic dingo partly walked and was partly carried by SPHP to Black Fox campground to find help.

Fortunately, the barbed wire had only just nicked the muscle beneath the fur.  At first Lupe didn’t even seem to realize anything really bad had happened.  She could still walk, even run.  It wasn’t bleeding much, but it looked ghastly and had to hurt.  Quickly SPHP dug through the whole backpack.  Matches, plastic bags, flashlight, extra batteries, gloves, hat, sunscreen, gloves, toilet paper and a plastic raincoat were all there.  But not the little first aid kit.  Major mistake!  It had been a long time since SPHP had even thought about checking on the first aid kit.  No telling now how long it had not been in the pack.  Probably removed and forgotten during a cleaning months ago.  The kit wouldn’t have had much to treat such a large wound in any case.

Lupe needed to get to a veterinarian and soon.  SPHP picked her up and started to carry her.  It was hard on the uneven ground with obstacles.  SPHP carried her part of the time and she walked part of the time.  Fortunately, within 10 minutes or so, Lupe reached South Rapid Creek Road.  As much as possible, SPHP carried Lupe, but she walked as much as she was carried and probably more.  She occasionally seemed to realize something was wrong with her bloody leg and would pause to lick it.  SPHP stopped her from doing that.  She must not have felt too horrible.  She still sometimes wanted to run off into the forest, or up a hillside off the road to bark at a squirrel.  SPHP didn’t permit that either.

Black Fox Campground was about 2 miles from where Lupe reached South Rapid Creek Road.  It really didn’t take too long to get there, but it seemed endless to SPHP.  Fortunately there were people camping at Black Fox.  SPHP asked for help for Lupe.  Four people with two dogs (Achilles and Lily – naturally SPHP has forgotten the kind people’s names) had a first aid kit.  Lupe got a generous dose of antibacterial gel.  Then her leg was wrapped with a gauze bandage and taped up.  Another kind man named Jim, who lives in the Wonderland Homes subdivision near Black Hawk and Piedmont, SD gave Lupe and SPHP a ride in his Ford pickup truck all the way back to the G6.

Lupe liked Jim’s Ford pickup.  She didn’t want to get out.  Maybe she was just afraid SPHP was going to make her walk some more.  SPHP thanked Jim for the ride, gathered Lupe up and got her in the G6 as fast as possible.  It was 8:30 PM.  Without Jim’s help it would have been well after midnight before Lupe could have gotten back to the G6, even if she had been totally well.

Somewhere around 10:00 PM, SPHP brought Lupe into the Animal Clinic of Rapid City, also known as the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital.  The Emergency Veterinarian Hospital has a veterinarian on duty 24/7.  Even though it was late on a Saturday night, lead emergency veterinarian Dr. Erin Brown was on duty.  Soon Lupe was being anesthetized in preparation for stitches.  Dr. Brown stitched Lupe’s leg up and put a drain in to help prevent serious infection.  An hour after disappearing into the operating room, Lupe walked back to SPHP.  There were tears in her eyes, but she was smiling.

Lupe's wounded front leg the morning after lead emergency veterinarian Dr. Erin Brown stitched it up. The plastic is a drain to help prevent a serious infection.
Lupe’s wounded front leg the morning after lead emergency veterinarian Dr. Erin Brown stitched it up. The plastic is a drain to help prevent a serious infection. 6-28-15
Wounded dingo the morning after when it still really hurt. Thank you Dr. Erin Brown for your skillful and timely help late on a Saturday night!
Wounded dingo the morning after when it still really hurt. Thank you Dr. Erin Brown for your skillful and timely help late on a Saturday night!  6-28-15
Heroic dingo Lupe struggles to survive! Somehow Dr. Brown forgot to mention treats and vanilla ice cream as a pain killer and antibiotic delivery system, but SPHP took care of it. Lupe was certain treats had to be part of any decent "treat"ment plan.
Heroic dingo Lupe struggles to survive! Somehow Dr. Brown forgot to mention treats and vanilla ice cream as a pain killer and antibiotic delivery system, but SPHP took care of it. Lupe was certain treats had to be part of any decent “treat”ment plan.  6-28-15

Many thanks to Jim and the other good people who helped Lupe at Black Fox campground, and especially to veterinarian Dr. Erin Brown.  Lupe is going to be OK!  She is on pain medication and antibiotics, but less than 48 hours after seeing Dr. Brown, she is back to running around and barking at the garbage truck, recycling truck and Lupe’s long-suffering mailman.

There will be no more new Black Hills, SD Expeditions until Lupe is fully healed up (and a new much beefed up first aid kit is in SPHP’s pack).  While Lupe recuperates, The (Mostly) True Adventures of Lupe will continue in July with new posts on some of her previously unpublished prior adventures in the Canadian Rockies, Beartooth Mountains and Bighorn Mountains.

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

Rawson Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada (7-19-14)

The trailhead for the hike to Rawson Lake is at the far SE corner of Upper Kananaskis Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada.  There is a large paved parking area next to the trailhead and a picnic ground there next to the Upper Kananaskis Lake.  Elevation gain to reach Rawson Lake is approximately 918 feet or 279 meters.

After a very long and wonderful day hike from Upper Kananaskis Lake to the Turbine Campground along the Maude-Lawson Trail the previous day, Lupe and SPHP got off to a very slow start this morning.  The wind was gusting across Upper Kananaskis Lake creating whitecaps, and it was much cooler than the previous day.  There were occasional rain showers.  The air was clear of the smoky haze that had been present the day before.  It was Saturday and throngs of people were arriving despite the wet weather.

Lupe and SPHP had a very late breakfast.  SPHP repacked and rearranged the gear in the G6.  The wind and rains continued.  Lots of people in rain gear came and went.  SPHP was kind of spent after the long trek to Turbine Campground and felt lethargic.  Lupe was fine with a lazy day too.  Lupe and SPHP dozed in the G6 for hours.  It was late afternoon by the time SPHP woke up again.  The parking lot had been full earlier, but was now emptying out fast.  The rain had stopped, although it was still quite breezy by Upper Kananaskis Lake.

Finally SPHP was ready for action again.  There was plenty of time for Lupe to take the trail to Rawson Lake!  Lupe and SPHP started heading W on the circuit trail around Upper Kananaskis Lake from the SE corner of the lake.  Two days before, when Lupe had first arrived at Upper Kananaskis Lake, Lupe and SPHP had gone as far as the waterfall on Sarrail Creek on this same trail. This time Lupe and SPHP carefully crossed the wet three log “bridge” across the creek and went onward.

Soon after crossing Sarrail Creek, Lupe reached the junction with the Rawson Lake trail, which was 1.4 km from the parking lot.  The trail along Upper Kananaskis Lake had been very easy with little elevation change.  The 2.7 km Rawson Lake trail, however, climbed steadily nearly all the way to Rawson Lake.  Until Lupe was halfway up the Rawson Lake trail, there was a steady stream of hikers coming back down from Rawson Lake.  After halfway though, Lupe met no one.

One group of hikers told SPHP that there had been over 100 people up at Rawson Lake when they’d first arrived there.  Many people had been fishing.  Nearly all of them reported catching cutthroat trout.  It was all catch and release, and the fish were pretty small.  The most interesting report was from three guys who said they had seen two grizzly bears at Rawson Lake. One of the grizzlies got within 20 feet of them before passing on by. One of the guys said it was the first time he had ever released the safety latch on his bear spray.

Lupe on the log at Rawson Lake.
Lupe on the log at Rawson Lake.

When Lupe arrived at Rawson Lake no one was there.  SPHP couldn’t help but smile at the thought of all the people who had come earlier in the day when the weather was worse and had to contend with crowds.  SPHP sat on a log by the shore of Rawson Lake.  Lupe rested next to the log and sometimes got up on the log with SPHP.  Lupe and SPHP watched fish jumping in the lake and listened to birds singing.  No grizzly bears were in sight.  The lake was calm, protected from the wind by Mount Sarrail (10,413 ft.).  SPHP shared a Cliff bar with Lupe.

Lupe next to the log at Rawson Lake. She looks sleepy here, but she was just relaxed. On the way back the were-puppy suddenly attacked SPHP twice!
Lupe next to the log at Rawson Lake. She looks sleepy here, but she was just relaxed. On the way back a very energetic were-puppy suddenly attacked SPHP twice!
Rawson Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada. The mountain is Mount Sarrail.
Rawson Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada 7-19-14. The mountain is Mount Sarrail.

After 30+ peaceful minutes of unbroken solitude at tranquil Rawson Lake, Lupe and SPHP left and headed back down the trail.  The were-puppy attacked SPHP a couple of times not far from Rawson Lake, and nearly knocked SPHP down once.  Lupe was having a great time!  Lupe and SPHP saw no one until nearly back to the parking lot.  Upon reaching the parking lot, SPHP ditched the backpack in the G6 and got a drink.  Then Lupe and SPHP went back to a bench along the trail not far from the parking lot which had a view of Upper Kananaskis Lake.

Another day ended with a gray sunset at Upper Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. 7-19-14
Another day ended with a gray sunset at Upper Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. 7-19-14

Together Lupe and SPHP sat on the bench, listened to the waves on the shore, and watched the sun disappear behind the clouds and mountains.  A cool breeze was blowing from off the lake.  SPHP wrote and drank the drink.  The hoped for colorful sunset never materialized.  Instead everything just faded to gray.  SPHP stayed there talking to and petting an appreciative Lupe until the growing darkness indicated it was time to head back to the G6.

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. 134 – Copper, Odakota, Green & Hat Mountains Plus the Dragon Caves (6-20-15)

It’s getting to that time of year when Lupe’s expeditions into the Black Hills usually stop for the summer.  The weather just gets too warm for a long day’s march in the hills to be much fun.  Usually the mud puddles have dried up by now, and the little seasonal creeks and streams are starting to dry up too.  SPHP has a hard time carrying enough water to satisfy a hot, thirsty American dingo.

So far this June though, temperatures have been pretty mild.  Rainfall has been way above normal, so there are still lots of mud puddles.  All the creeks and streams are looking good.  With a still reasonably tolerable high temperature forecast in the lower hills just in the low 80’s, this day was still going to be pretty nice in the higher hills.  Lupe could continue her peakbagging along the E edge of the limestone plateau country of the western hills.

SPHP parked the G6 at 7:49 AM along USFS Road No. 301.1A just off No. 301 at the exact same spot as on Expedition No. 132 two weeks earlier.  It was a beautiful 59°F, with completely clear blue skies and a light N breeze.  Since they were so close, Expedition No. 134 was going to start the same way as Expedition No. 132, with ascents of Copper and then Odakota Mountains.

Lupe on the SE cliffs of Copper Mountain. Harney Peak is the highest point in the distance. Medicine Mountain is at the right edge. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe on the SE cliffs of Copper Mountain. Harney Peak is the highest point in the distance. Medicine Mountain is at the right edge. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe on the flat top of Copper Mountain.
Lupe on the flat top of Copper Mountain.
The first of many water holes, mud puddles and streams made use of by Lupe. This one is on the W side of Copper Mountain.
The first of many water holes, mud puddles and streams made use of by Lupe. This one is on the W side of Copper Mountain.
Green Mountain is the high point on the right. Photo looks NNW from USFS Road No. 301.
Green Mountain is the high point on the right. Photo looks NNW from USFS Road No. 301.

The views were great from the SE end of Copper Mountain (6,920 ft.).  Lupe and SPHP stopped here for a little while for SPHP to goop up with sunscreen (the first of 3 goopings on this sunny day) while appreciating the bright morning views.  The stop at the summit of Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) was shorter, just long enough for a photo of Lupe at the summit cairn.  Lupe and SPHP weren’t going to trek all the way to the SE edge of the mountain through all that deadfall timber again like Lupe did on Expedition No. 132.  Instead, Lupe left Odakota Mountain to head for Green Mountain (7,164 ft.).

Odakota Mountain summit cairn.
Odakota Mountain summit cairn.

Lupe headed W from Odakota Mountain crossing USFS Road No. 693 at its high point and continuing on following the ridge line, which had a series of small rock escarpments along it.  There was a fair amount of deadfall timber around, but not so much as to seriously impede progress.  More annoying was the barbed wire fence which followed along fairly close to the ridge line, too.  No matter which side of the fence Lupe and SPHP got on, it seemed like the terrain soon changed to make the other side of the fence more desirable again.

Lupe and SPHP reached USFS Road No. 301 again just E of No. 301.1R, which goes N up Windmill Draw.  Windmill Draw is a pretty shallow broad valley with open meadows in the middle.  Pines and a few aspens line the sides of the draw.  No. 301.1R stuck to the W side of the draw near the pines.  Beetle-killed deadfall blocked the way fairly frequently, but it was easy to just drop down a bit into the valley to get around it where it was bad.  Pines still standing provided some shade, which was welcome with the sun so high in the sky.

At the upper end of Windmill Draw, No. 301.1R meets up with No. 691.1B (both unmarked here).   Lupe and SPHP took No. 691.1B NE to Green Mountain.  The best views here were from the cliffs at the SE end of the mountain.  There were splendid views of everything from the NE around to the SE and S.  Lupe and SPHP took a break on the cliffs.  Lupe was ready for some Taste of the Wild.  SPHP had the usual apple and split a little granola bar with Lupe.

Looking SE towards Copper Mountain (near center) from Green Mountain.
Looking SE towards Copper Mountain (lower rounded hill near center) from Green Mountain.

Lupe on Green Mountain 6-20-15

Gillette Prairie from Green Mountain. Photo looks E.
Gillette Prairie from Green Mountain. Photo looks E.
Lupe on Green Mountain 6-20-15. Photo looks E.
Lupe on Green Mountain 6-20-15. Photo looks E.

Lupe’s next peakbagging goal of the day was Hat Mountain (6,779 ft.) over 3 miles to the NW.  Although Hat Mountain is near the limestone plateau country, it is a little different from Copper, Odakota and Green Mountains in that it sits out a little distance from the limestone plateau instead of being along the E edge of the long escarpment.  Lupe and SPHP left Green Mountain exploring to the N of No. 691.1B until the terrain forced a turn to the W to stay on the high ground.  Although SPHP was hoping for views of Hat Mountain, there were none from here that were any good.  There were too many trees.

There was also a substantial amount of deadfall timber to contend with.  Somewhere not too far W of the junction of USFS Roads No. 301.1R and No. 691.1B at the upper N end of Windmill Draw, Lupe and SPHP retreated S to get back on No. 691.1B heading W.  The road was open and the deadfall timber in the forest was just too much to deal with.  Lupe had a long way to go yet on this expedition, and it just took too much time.  When No. 691.1B reached No. 691, Lupe turned N on No. 691.

No. 691 isn’t a major gravel road, but it was in good condition and wide enough so that it didn’t get much shade.  Even though No. 691 lost elevation as Lupe headed N on it, the trek was so sunny and warm that SPHP was soon sweating.  Lupe and SPHP took occasional shade breaks (and a goop break) along the way in the forest just off the road.  SPHP was glad to leave No. 691 to turn W on No. 691.1E (marked as ATV trail No. 6004) just before reaching Heely Creek S of Hat Mountain.  No. 691.1E was a lesser road and much shadier.

Lupe takes a rest break on her way to Hat Mountain.
Pretty girl Lupe takes a rest break on her way to Hat Mountain.  What a lovely dingo!

From No. 691.1E, Hat Mountain, now just a mile to the N, was soon visible through the trees.  SPHP hoped for an easy way down the short, but steep bank through the trees into the meadow near Heely Creek, but finally gave up and just plunged N into the forest full of deadfall to get down to the valley.  Shortly after getting there, it was apparent that no more than a couple hundred yards farther W on No. 691.1E would have brought Lupe and SPHP to an easy side road right on down to a little ford across Heely Creek.  Exploring is like that.

Hat Mountain dead ahead! Lupe in the Heely Creek valley. Photo looks N.
Hat Mountain dead ahead! Lupe in the Heely Creek valley. Photo looks N.

There was a lot of marshy ground along Heely Creek and the easiest crossing point was at the little ford on the side road, so Lupe and SPHP crossed the creek there.  Once across the creek, it was an easy matter to make the trek up Hat Mountain from the S.  Unlike the other mountains Lupe had already climbed earlier in the day, Hat Mountain is not thickly forested and there was no deadfall timber to contend with.

Looking W at the Heely Creek valley S of Hat Mountain.
Looking W at the Heely Creek valley S of Hat Mountain.

The top of Hat Mountain is a flat limestone escarpment.  Without any trees up there, the views were excellent in every direction.  Consequently, Lupe and SPHP dallied up on Hat Mountain quite a while.  Lupe took a generous helping of Taste of the Wild.  The last little granola bar was shared and the last apple disappeared.  There were some beautiful clouds around and some big birds came swooping by for a little while.  The only thing Lupe didn’t like was that the top was so rocky.  It wasn’t terribly comfortable laying down to rest while viewing the scenic display.

Getting there! Lupe nears the summit of Hat Mountain from the S.
Getting there! Lupe nears the summit of Hat Mountain from the S.
The view N from Hat Mountain towards South Castle Rock, Nipple Butte and Flag Mountain where Lupe had been on Expedition No. 133.
The view N from Hat Mountain towards South Castle Rock, Nipple Butte and Flag Mountain (all near the center on the horizon) where Lupe had been on Expedition No. 133.
Deerfield Lake from Hat Mountain. Photo looks N.
Deerfield Lake from Hat Mountain. Photo looks N.
The flat summit of Hat Mountain.
The flat summit of Hat Mountain.
A big bird soars over Hat Mountain.
A big bird soars over Hat Mountain.
Looking S from Hat Mountain towards Green Mountain (large ridge at right) and Copper Mountain (lower ridge just left of Green Mountain).
Looking S from Hat Mountain towards Green Mountain (large ridge at right) and Copper Mountain (lower shaded ridge just left of and beyond Green Mountain).
Another look S from Hat Mountain. Green Mountain at very right edge. Copper Mountain beyond it and now in sunlight. Harney Peak toward left side of photo.
Another look S from Hat Mountain. Green Mountain at very right edge. Copper Mountain beyond it and now in sunlight. Harney Peak toward left side of photo.
Looking SW from Hat Mountain towards the limestone plateau country where the Dragon Caves are hidden.
Looking SW from Hat Mountain towards the limestone plateau country where the Dragon Caves are hidden.
Deerfield Lake from Hat Mountain. Photo looks N.
Deerfield Lake from Hat Mountain. Photo looks N.  Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) is the highest point toward the left on the horizon.  Reynolds Prairie is the open ground beyond and to the left of Deerfield Lake.  Only a small portion of the lake is visible from Hat Mountain.

A 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms had been in the forecast for between 1-4 PM.  There were enough clouds around by now so that rain did look like it might develop.  SPHP thought maybe it was time for Lupe to head for the Dragon Caves.  There was probably time to get there before any serious rain developed.  So Lupe left Hat Mountain heading SW.  She rounded the S end of a low ridge down near Heely Creek and then followed the creek to USFS Road No. 291 (Ditch Creek Road).

A look back at Hat Mountain from the SW before Lupe rounded the low ridge near Heely Creek.
A look back at Hat Mountain from the SW before Lupe rounded the low ridge near Heely Creek.

Lupe turned S on No. 291, which is a pretty major gravel road.  It is a beautiful drive, but was way busier than SPHP likes for hiking.  Groups of ATV’s roared up and down the road, along with cars and pickup trucks.  Nothing really all that major, but Lupe and SPHP usually go many hours and often the entire day without seeing anyone on Lupe’s expeditions.  Now it was minutes, and not all that many, between traffic events.  Fortunately, it was only 2/3 mile from Heely Creek to the bridge across Ditch Creek that leads to the Dragon Caves.

Lupe refreshed after a dip in Heely Creek.
Lupe refreshed after a dip in Heely Creek.

Lupe crossed the bridge over Ditch Creek and instead of following USFS Road No. 385 to the right, continued straight ahead on an ATV trail up a small hill.  A right turn at an open area leads directly to the Dragon Caves.  The Dragon Caves have three large openings (they have to be large to accommodate dragons) facing S.  Farther back into the caves all three entrances connect.  Imagine a capital letter “E” with the long connecting side running E/W and the three shorter lines pointing S, and you have a good idea of the floor plan and orientation of the Dragon Caves entrances.

Lupe reaches the Dragon Caves. Two of the entrances are seen here. The third is around a little corner to the right.
Lupe reaches the Dragon Caves. Two of the entrances are seen here. The third is around a corner to the right.
Uh, SPHP, you did bring the flashlight didn't you? Ever consider using it? Maybe you should now.
Uh, SPHP, you did bring the flashlight didn’t you? Ever consider using it? Maybe you should now.

It was cool inside the Dragon Caves.  And dark.  SPHP got the flashlight with weak batteries out.  The dim light showed the dusty floor well enough to continue in to the area where the entrances are connected.  There is more to the Dragon Caves than just the “E”.  Big side passages and some smaller ones go back into the dark recesses.  Lupe went dragon hunting.  Fortunately for Smaug and any other dragons, they must have had some warning that a Carolina Dog was coming for them.  They had already departed.

I've got this exit covered SPHP, see if you can find any dragons over there.
I’ve got this exit covered SPHP, see if you can find any dragons over there.
Lupe dragon hunting in the Dragon Caves.
Lupe dragon hunting in the Dragon Caves.
Possessed dingo prepares to face dragons in the Dragon Caves.
Possessed dingo prepares to face dragons in the Dragon Caves.
American Dingo heroine Lupe arrives at the Dragon Caves too late! The dragons have already fled with all their treasure hoards and damsels in distress.
American Dingo heroine Lupe arrives at the Dragon Caves too late! The dragons have already fled with all their treasure hoards and damsels in distress.

Unfortunately for Lupe and SPHP, the dragons had evidently had time to pack up their treasure hoards and damsels in distress and depart with the entire bounty.  The only thing left other than dust was a beer can, dropped no doubt by some poor tourist during a dragon encounter with an unhappy ending.  Tourists just don’t know enough to bring a Carolina Dog with them for protection.  It’s not their fault really, they are from somewhere else and unfamiliar with the situation.  SPHP picked up the beer can as the only souvenir of Lupe’s dragon hunting this time around.

Lupe emerged from the Dragon Caves to find that it was sprinkling outside.  Now and then weak pathetic thunder could be heard.  If this was the scattered thunderstorm in the forecast, there was nothing to worry about.  Lupe went back to USFS Road No. 291 and turned S again.  About 1.5 miles farther on Lupe passed Ditch Creek campground, which seemed to be a source of the traffic in the area.  Despite its dreadful name, Ditch Creek campground is one of the nicest and most scenic campgrounds in the Black Hills.  Many of the campsites are right on Ditch Creek, a small clear cold stream that always has decent flow.  Plenty of people were around, but the campground wasn’t yet full.

Approaching Ditch Creek campground from the N.
Approaching Ditch Creek campground from the N.

Lupe wasn’t going to camp.  She pressed on to the S on No. 291.  An ATV trail map back at Ditch Creek campground had shown SPHP that Lupe should watch for ATV trail No. 6008 less than 0.75 mile S of the campground.  It supposedly wound its way E back to USFS Road No. 691.

Pretty soon Lupe reached No. 6008 and made the turn to the E.  No. 6008 was a lovely little road that climbed steadily, but not too steeply.  By the time Lupe turned on to No. 6008, the sun was low on the horizon.  As she climbed on No. 6008, though, the sun just didn’t set.  It always seemed like it was going to, but Lupe kept getting high enough up to keep it in view.

A look back N along USFS Road No. 291 (Ditch Creek Road) shortly before Lupe left it to head E on ATV trail No. 6008.
A look back N along USFS Road No. 291 (Ditch Creek Road) shortly before Lupe left it to head E on ATV trail No. 6008.

No. 6008 went on and on, climbing higher and higher.  Lupe saw a nice herd of 10 elk (the “giant deers”, as Lupe knows them!) disappear into the forest.  There started to be various intersecting ATV trails, all with different numbers.  Where No. 6008 went to, SPHP couldn’t say.  After a while Lupe seemed to be on No. 6010 and still later on No. 6011.  Lupe was on No. 6011 when the road finally reached the high point of the ridge between No. 291 to the W and No. 691 to the E.  Unfortunately, No. 6011 turned S and didn’t look like it was going to complete the trip to No. 691, which couldn’t have been much farther E at this point.

By now the sun was down, but it was still plenty light out to leave No. 6011 in search of No. 691.  Lupe and SPHP headed E and then SE through the forest.  Sure enough, before long Lupe reached No. 691.  SPHP recognized the spot, too.  Lupe was just 100 yards N of where No. 691.1B leaves No. 691 to head for Green Mountain.  SPHP decided it would be fun for Lupe to go tag the summit of Green Mountain again.  It would be nearly dark by the time Lupe got there, but so what?  It was a beautiful evening.

The 2nd ascent of Green Mountain was Lupe’s final peakbagging accomplishment of the day.  The light was fading fast, but Lupe and SPHP were both ready for a rest.  Copper Mountain was visible a couple miles to the SE.  The G6 was a short distance beyond Copper Mountain.  However, with darkness coming on, Lupe and SPHP would have to stick to the roads.  That meant the G6 was still 6 miles away.  After a 10 or 15 minute rest break at the cliffs on Green Mountain, it was time to move on ready or not.

Lupe ascended Green Mountain for a 2nd time this date, reaching it as dusk was coming on.
Lupe ascended Green Mountain for a 2nd time this date, reaching it as dusk was coming on.
Lupe on Green Mountain at nightfall. Still 6 miles by road back to the G6!
Lupe on Green Mountain at nightfall. Still 6 miles by road back to the G6!

The flashlight had to come out as the crescent moon wasn’t going to provide much light.  It was going to set within 2 or 3 hours and was obscured by clouds part of the time anyway.  Lupe and SPHP retraced No. 691.1B going SW to No. 301.1R at the N end of Windmill Draw.  SPHP started S through Windmill Draw on No. 301.1R and somehow got on a dirt track heading down through the meadow in the middle of Windmill Draw.  This was actually better than being on No. 301.1R, since there wasn’t any deadfall timber to contend with.

By the time Lupe reached the main gravel road, No. 301, there was lightning.  There was a little cloud-to-cloud lightning in the thin clouds nearby, but in the distance there was intense lightning in several different directions.  Lupe and SPHP took a rest break, but it didn’t last long.  SPHP heard thunder, still faint, but coming from off to the NW, the likely source of approaching weather.  It was time for Lupe to hurry on.

Lupe and SPHP took several more short rest breaks.  It had been a very long day.  The lightning display grew brighter and more dazzling, though it was still far enough away so only distant thunder could be heard and even that only now and then.  The situation changed after Lupe passed the turnoff for No. 693 to Odakota Mountain and Long Draw, which Lupe did not take.  There started to be clear bolts of cloud-to-ground lightning.  Thunder rumbled ominously.

Lupe wanted SPHP to stop and hide.  She was scared of the lightning.  SPHP wouldn’t let her stop and urged her to find the G6.  Lupe was almost to Copper Mountain and the G6 wasn’t far beyond it.  On the final stretch of road beyond Copper Mountain, the lightning bolts directly to the ground started striking alarmingly close.  The lightning was nearly continuous.  Thunder exploded, echoing in the forest.  When Lupe finally saw the G6, the terrified dingo bolted away from SPHP and ran for it.  When SPHP caught up, she leaped into the G6 as soon as the door was open.

Through all of this, not a drop of rain had fallen.  Within a minute of reaching the G6 though, it began.  First one large drop, then another, then a few more, then a hailstone.  Oddly enough, the terrified dingo regained enormous courage, bolstered by the comforting familiarity and armor of the G6.  Lupe now wanted to stick her head out the window to sniff the air and see what was going on as SPHP drove the gravel roads towards the pavement at Deerfield Road.

The whole head out the window and sniffing bit didn’t last more than a few minutes.  Rain and hail grew stronger.  The wind blew.  Lightning and thunder raged.  The dingo decided to take full advantage of the G6 armor, brought her head back inside the vehicle and curled up on the seat.  On the way home there were two significant weather events.

The first was something Lupe and SPHP had never been in before.  About 5 miles NW of Hill City, SD was a “hailburst” – like a cloudburst, except with hail instead of just rain.  In seconds the road went from having a few hailstones on it to being completely white.  In fact, everything was white.

SPHP had to completely stop the G6 several times right on the highway.  Even with high beams on and windshield wipers on the fastest setting, nothing but a wall of white hailstones streaking down could be seen beyond the hood of the G6.  SPHP could not see any portion of the road or anything else around the G6.  Fortunately, there was no traffic and the hail was not large enough to cause major damage.

The 2nd event occurred later on after a lull in the storm, a cloudburst with just rain and no hail.  Although intense, it seemed like a piece of cake next to the hailburst.

Lupe had reached the G6 at 11:40 PM (53°F), 15 hours and 51 minutes after setting out on Expedition No. 134.  At nearly 16 hours, Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 134 had been the 2nd longest expedition Lupe has ever been on.  It was certainly a memorable one.  Lupe didn’t reach home until after 1 AM.  A very tired and dirty dingo gobbled up some Alpo and then went straight to bed.  Outside the open window, the rain, wind, lightning and thunder continued in the night.

American Dingo heroine Lupe arrives at the Dragon Caves too late!  The dragons have already fled with all their treasure hoards and damsels in distress.

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

Upper Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada (7-17-14)

On the third day of Lupe’s 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies & Beartooths, she woke up in Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.  SPHP was disappointed to see that it was still smoky out.  Although the area was gorgeous, the heat and bugs hadn’t been much fun on the previous day’s hike to Bertha Lake either.  Lupe and SPHP had breakfast at a picnic table near Upper Waterton Lake.  After breakfast there was a stroll along the beach admiring the lake.  The lake was fabulous, but it looked like another hot, smoky day was on its way.

SPHP was in the mood to head farther N.  Heat, bugs, smoke and lots of people around wasn’t really what Lupe & SPHP were after.  So after the stroll along the beach, Lupe bid farewell to Upper Waterton Lake.  Back in the G6, Lupe and SPHP headed N on Hwy 6 to Pincher Creek.  After a short jog to the W on Hwy 3, there was a beautiful drive N on Hwy 22 to Longview.  From Longview, SPHP drove SW on Hwy 542 to Hwy 40.  There were lots of cows in this area and Lupe was delighted to have the opportunity to conduct a dingo-satisfying barking frenzy.

SPHP turned N on Hwy 40, a wonderful drive through big mountains.  SPHP had forgotten to get water before leaving Waterton Park and stopped at several places along Hwy 40, but none of them had water.  Hwy 40 climbed up and over a pass into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  With no clear destination in mind, SPHP decided to check out the Kananaskis Lakes area.  Maybe there would be water?  Soon Lupe was at Upper Kananaskis Lake.  There were lots of people around here too, but not so many as at Waterton Lakes.  SPHP was impressed enough to want to do a bit of exploring.

Upper Kananaskis Lake
Upper Kananaskis Lake

Lupe’s first exploration at Upper Kananaskis Lake was along a trail above the S shore heading W from the SE corner of the lake.  Although the day had been bright and sunny earlier (it hit 84 °F according to the G6), Lupe and SPHP didn’t get very far along the trail before encountering intermittent rain and thunder.  Lots of people suddenly appeared on the trail heading back towards the parking lot.  Lupe got as far as a waterfall where the bridge across Sarrail Creek was out, if there had ever been one.  Three large, wet and slippery looking logs at varying levels served as the only bridge across the stream.

Lupe stopped at this waterfall near the S shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake. The stream comes down from Rawson Lake, which Lupe visited 2 days later.
Lupe stopped at this waterfall near the S shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake. The stream comes down from Rawson Lake, which Lupe visited 2 days later.

Other people were having no difficulty negotiating the logs across the stream, but SPHP decided against having Lupe try it.  The weather was deteriorating and everyone else was heading back to the parking lot.  Lupe and SPHP retreated to the parking lot, too.  Lupe took a nap in the G6 while SPHP wrote.  It rained on and off.  It even hailed a bit, but the hail was small and didn’t last long.  Eventually the rain stopped, and it became sunny and breezy out, although there were still quite a few clouds around.

The rain had temporarily cleared the smoky haze out of the air, and the evening was shaping up to be cool and pleasant.  Lupe had snoozed enough and was ready for another exploration.  The trail she had been on earlier was part of a trail that circumnavigates Upper Kananaskis Lake.  This time Lupe and SPHP took the trail in the opposite direction, heading NW along the NE shore.  To get to this portion of the trail, Lupe had to cross a dam.  (Although Upper Kananaskis Lake is a natural lake, the level has been raised by the construction of two dams.)  She picked up the trail on the other side of the dam and continued along the NE shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake.

Looking back to the SE from the trail on the NE shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada
Looking back to the SE from the trail on the NE shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada
Evening at Upper Kananaskis Lake from near the collapsed section of trail.
Evening at Upper Kananaskis Lake from near the collapsed section of trail.  Photo is looking WNW.

There were lots of great viewpoints along the trail, which was typically elevated 10 – 40 feet above the lake.  After crossing the 1st dam, Lupe met no one at all on the entire trail, which was puzzling to SPHP until Lupe neared the 2nd dam.  Lupe had already traversed about 4.0 km of the 4.2 km between the dams, when suddenly she could go no further.  On a steep slope 40 feet above the lake, a 30 foot section had caved in.  The area was taped off and marked as closed.  There was no way to continue, so Lupe and SPHP turned around and again got to enjoy a private stroll back to the first dam.

Sunlight breaks through the clouds to shine on Upper Kananaskis Lake.
Sunlight breaks through the clouds to shine on Upper Kananaskis Lake.

SPHP liked Upper Kananaskis Lake so much that Lupe got to spend several more days in the area.  She went on two fabulous daylong expeditions while in the area.  One was on the Maude-Lawson Lakes trail to the Turbine Campground where she saw three grizzly bears.  The other was to Three Isle Lake and South Kananaskis Pass where she crossed into British Columbia from Alberta.  Oh, and yes, there was drinking water available in campgrounds near Upper Kananaskis Lake – there was even a shower house!

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.

Waterton Lakes and Bertha Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada (7-16-14)

Lupe entered Canada via Hwy 17 on the afternoon of July 16, 2014, the 2nd day of her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies & Beartooths.  She was already in Waterton Lakes National Park, and the first order of business was to go see the lake itself.  Lupe soon arrived in the small community and tourist town of Waterton Park, which is located on the NW shore at the N end of Upper Waterton Lake.  SPHP found a place to park near the S end of town near the lake.

Lupe on the rocky beach at Upper Waterton Lake, Canada
Lupe on the rocky beach at Upper Waterton Lake, Canada

It was a hot day.  According to the G6 it was 90 °F.  Not exactly the weather Lupe and SPHP had been anticipating in Canada, but certainly a good day to check out the beach.  The beach was rocky, with rounded rocks of various sizes.  A breeze was blowing and there was some moderate wave action.  Lupe was hot and was eager to wade in the lake to cool off.  Lupe doesn’t like to swim, but she loves to wade and lay down in the water.  She was clearly glad to have the opportunity to get wet and cool down.

Upper Waterton Lake was quite beautiful.  The deeper water was a brilliant and very appealing blue color, while the shallower water near the shore took on the gray color of the rocks on the bottom of the lake.  Unfortunately, the scene was not quite as beautiful as it normally would have been due to considerable smoke in the air.  The smoke was from wildfires somewhere, but SPHP never really found out where the fires were.  The smoke was thick enough to detract from the view.

There are actually three Waterton Lakes.  Lupe and SPHP had driven by Lower Waterton Lake on the way to Waterton Park.  The lower lake is good-sized at a couple of km long, but is the smallest of the three lakes.  Upper Waterton Lake is the largest and goes all the way S into Glacier National Park in the United States.  Middle Waterton Lake is 4 km long and actually at the same level as Upper Waterton Lake, since the two lakes are connected by a narrow straight called the Bosporus.  However, Middle Waterton Lake lies outside the long canyon flanked by dramatic peaks Upper Waterton Lake lies within.

Lupe at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada
Lupe at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

After Lupe had cooled off in the lake, SPHP thought it might be fun to go take a look at the lake from the grounds of the Prince of Wales Hotel up on a hill at the very N end of Upper Waterton Lakes.  This involved a drive back through the town of Waterton Park, but it wasn’t far and didn’t take long despite all the tourist traffic.  The views from the grounds of the Prince of Wales Hotel were quite grand, but still just as smoky.  Quite a few people were around, and Lupe made a few new acquaintances.

Looking S towards Upper Waterton Lake from the grounds of the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Looking S towards Upper Waterton Lake from the grounds of the Prince of Wales Hotel.  The community of Waterton Park can be seen on the flat ground at the right side of the photo.
Lupe and the Prince of Wales.
Lupe and the Prince of Wales 7-16-14
The Bosporus strait connecting Middle Waterton Lake (L) and Upper Waterton Lake (R).
The Bosporus strait connecting Middle Waterton Lake (L) and Upper Waterton Lake (R).  The mountain is Vimy Peak (7,805 ft.).

After the jaunt up to the Prince of Wales Hotel, Lupe and SPHP returned to the shore of Upper Waterton Lake near the S end of Waterton Park.  Lupe and SPHP wandered SW along the shore of the lake and came to a trail that heads S along the W shore of Upper Waterton Lakes.  A map near the start of the trail showed another trail about 1.5 km S to Bertha Lake.  Bertha Lake was located up a steep side canyon to the W.  The whole trip to Bertha Lake was about 5 km long and involved an elevation gain of 475 meters or over 1,500 feet.  SPHP thought that a trip to Bertha Lake looked like an interesting thing to do.  Lupe was happy to be on a trail again.

For the first 1.5 km heading S, the trail climbed gradually.  Upper Waterton Lake was always in view extending away to the S sandwiched in between jagged mountains to the E & W.  There were bushes 2 or 3 feet high on both sides of the trail, so most of the time Lupe probably didn’t have much of a view.  Even though it was getting to be late in the afternoon, it was still very warm out.

There were lots of hikers heading back towards Waterton Park.  There were even more mosquitoes and flies feasting upon them, Lupe & SPHP.  The bugs weren’t too bad though along this first stretch, as it was easy to just keep moving and avoid most of the swarm.  SPHP chatted briefly with some of the returning hikers.  Quite a few had been up to Bertha Lake and all declared the trek to be worthwhile.

Shortly before reaching the side trail to Bertha Lake, there was a very short spur trail to a little point.  At the point was a bench situated looking S to have beautiful view of Upper Waterton Lake.  Lupe and SPHP paused here for maybe 10 minutes to relish the scene.  There was a bit of a breeze up on the point to help ward off the bugs.  It was a great view.  SPHP wished there wasn’t so much smoke around, but there was nothing to be done about it.

There were two waterfalls on Bertha Creek on the way to Bertha Lake.  The first one was reached 1.4 km from the main trail along Upper Waterton Lake.  The trail to this point was gaining elevation faster than along Upper Waterton Lake, but still at a generally modest pace.  The trail crossed to the S of Bertha Creek just below the lower Bertha Creek falls.  Once past the falls, the trail began a long relentless ascent up the forested S side of the side canyon Bertha Lake is in.

The switchbacks lasted nearly the entire 2.8 km from the lower falls to Bertha Lake.  They seemed endless.  It was still hot.  SPHP was sweating.  The heat drained away energy.  Even Lupe plodded along dispiritedly behind SPHP.  It was a tough grind.  SPHP felt out of shape.  At each stop for a breather, though, flies and mosquitoes descended instantly and drove SPHP and Lupe onward.  The trail never got close to the upper falls on Bertha Creek, and didn’t start to level out until nearly at Bertha Lake.

Bertha Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
Bertha Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

Bertha Lake was very pretty in the early evening light.  There was a campground on the NW shore.  Lupe and SPHP crossed Bertha Creek again to get over to the campground.  SPHP was surprised to find the campground was completely abandoned.  Peakbagger.com shows a trail completely around Bertha Lake.  Lupe and SPHP continued SW on the trail leaving the campground behind.  SPHP intended to circumnavigate the lake, but about 2/3 of the way to the SW end of Bertha Lake the trail was blocked by thick deadfall timber.

It was too late to consider forcing a way through the deadfall.  Lupe and SPHP turned back.  The way back down the trail to Upper Waterton Lake was much more fun than the climb up had been.  With gravity now a friend, it was easy to keep going and outpace most of the flies and mosquitoes that were still around.  With the sun low enough so Lupe and SPHP were in the shadow of the mountain, it had cooled off a bit by now, too.  Lupe trotted along looking lively again.  There were spectacular views of the N side of the canyon, and eventually out to the E towards Upper Waterton Lake.  SPHP hadn’t noticed them much on the struggle up.

Lupe and SPHP had only seen one person on the way up to Bertha Lake after passing the lower falls, and saw no one at all on the way back down until below the lower falls again.  There were still some people on the main trail back to Waterton Park, even a few just starting out.  This far N, it was later than SPHP had realized.  Although it was still light out, it was 9:30 PM by the time Lupe reached the G6.  Time for a bit of dinner and then a good snooze!

Upper Waterton Lake from the Prince of Wales Hotel. Looks like a great place to own a boat!
Upper Waterton Lake from the Prince of Wales Hotel. Looks like a great place to own a boat!  Short guided tours of the lake can be booked in Waterton Park aboard cruise boats.

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. 133 – South Castle Rock, Castle Rock, Nipple Butte, Flag Mountain & Peak 6962 (6-13-15)

Lupe continued her peakbagging along the E edge of the limestone plateau country in the western Black Hills on Expedition No. 133, but somewhat farther N than on Expedition No. 132.  It was 9:57 AM and 69°F under mostly clear skies when SPHP parked the G6 at the first pullout along Castle Creek beyond the intersection of Deerfield and South Rochford roads.  Lupe immediately crossed the road and started heading NE up through forests and meadows toward the S end of South Castle Rock.

Lupe at the start of the day near Castle Creek.
Lupe at the start of the day near Castle Creek.

South Castle Rock (6,840 ft.) was Lupe’s first peakbagging goal of the day and the one that would require the most elevation gain since Lupe started from down by Castle Creek.  The other four peakbagging points were all at similar elevations along the E edge of the limestone plateau country.  Some elevation had to be lost between each of the peaks, but not nearly as much as Lupe would gain just getting to South Castle Rock.

Lupe approaches South Castle Rock from the SSW.
Lupe approaches South Castle Rock from the SSW.

Lupe had done essentially this same peakbagging trek once before on Expedition No. 90 on 5-24-14, so SPHP knew pretty much what to expect.  The best views from South Castle Rock are not at the summit, but from the limestone cliffs at the SE end of the mountain.  Lupe stopped here first for some photos.  There were beautiful views of the E edge of the limestone plateau country to the S and Reynolds Prairie to the E.  Parts of Deerfield Lake were visible too.  Heading N through the forest, Lupe also got her picture taken on the highest boulder at a false summit a short distance S of the true summit.

Lupe at the cliffs at the S end of South Castle Rock. Green Mountain is the highest ridge in the distance above her head. The lower ridge just to the left is Copper Mountain where Lupe was on Expedition No. 132.
Lupe at the cliffs at the S end of South Castle Rock. Green Mountain (7,164 ft.) is the highest ridge in the distance above her head. The lower ridge just to the left is Copper Mountain (6,920 ft.) where Lupe was on Expedition No. 132.  A small section of Deerfield Lake is visible.
Another view of Lupe at the cliffs at the S end of South Castle Rock.
Another view of Lupe at the cliffs at the S end of South Castle Rock.  She hasn’t moved from where she was in the previous photo.
Lupe still near the S end of South Castle Rock. This photo looks N towards the ridge that is Castle Rock.
Lupe still near the S end of South Castle Rock. This photo looks N towards the ridge that is Castle Rock.
This photo shows some of the S end of Reynolds Prairie and a bit more of Deerfield Lake.
This photo shows some of the S end of Reynolds Prairie and a bit more of Deerfield Lake.
Lupe at the false summit S of the true summit of South Castle Rock.
Lupe at the false summit S of the true summit of South Castle Rock.

The true summit of South Castle Rock is on top of a large section of limestone sitting mostly 10-20 feet above the surrounding area.  The best way up and down is from the SW.  The whole area is forested, including the summit.  Due to the trees, there really aren’t any great views from the summit of South Castle Rock. SPHP did take one photo of Lupe on the summit with nearby Castle Rock in the background.  Castle Rock (6,783 ft.) and South Castle Rock are all basically part of the same mountain.  South Castle Rock is actually the highest point on the mountain.  Lupe lost a little elevation on the way to Castle Rock.

Here Lupe is actually on the flat true summit area of South Castle Rock. Photo looks N at Castle Rock.
Lupe on the true summit of South Castle Rock. Photo looks N at Castle Rock.

The summit of Castle Rock is with 100 feet of the E end of the ridge.  The summit is forested, but there are some good views near the edges of the ridge.  Lupe posed for a few photos, including one looking N towards her next two objectives, Nipple Butte (6,800 ft.) and Flag Mountain.  After the photo session, Lupe headed back W along the Castle Rock ridge.  When she got to the main N/S ridge line coming from South Castle Rock, she turned N onto a ridge SPHP dubbed “Skinny Ridge”.

Lupe at the E end of Castle Rock less than 100' E of the actual summit. Photo looks E towards Reynolds Prairie.
Lupe at the E end of Castle Rock less than 100′ E of the actual summit. Photo looks SSE towards Reynolds Prairie and Deerfield Lake.
South Castle Rock from the N rim of Castle Rock. The true summit of South Castle Rock is toward the right of this photo. Better views are attainable, however, from the cliffs toward the left edge.
South Castle Rock from the S rim of Castle Rock. The true summit of South Castle Rock is seen at the right of this photo. Better views are attainable, however, from the cliffs toward the very left edge.
Nipple Butte and Flag Mountain beyond are Lupe's next peakbagging goals. Photo looks N from the N rim of Castle Rock.
Nipple Butte (left center) and Flag Mountain (center) beyond are Lupe’s next peakbagging goals. Photo looks N from the N rim of Castle Rock.  The road is USFS Road No. 189.

Skinny Ridge heads N from the main portion of Castle Rock.  It is not all that skinny until it reaches its N end, but is skinnier than the main E/W ridge of Castle Rock.  Skinny Ridge is actually broad and flat.  There will be some really great views of the huge valley to the W of Castle Rock from Skinny Ridge someday when the dead pine trees along the ridge finally fall over.  On Lupe’s prior adventure here on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 90, SPHP had learned that following Skinny Ridge to the N eventually leads to a dead end with cliffs on all sides.  The easiest way around Skinny Ridge is to descend to the E near the start (S end) of the ridge.

Lupe on Skinny Ridge which projects N from Castle Rock. Nipple Butte is seen in front of Flag Mountain.
Lupe on Skinny Ridge which projects N from Castle Rock. Nipple Butte is seen in front of Flag Mountain.

So Lupe headed N on the way to Nipple Butte below and to the E of Skinny Ridge.  Lupe started encountering some large yellow flowers in this area that were attracting bumblebees.  There was a fair amount of deadfall timber in this area, but it wasn’t too bad.  When Lupe got past the N end of Skinny Ridge, she went on up to the saddle between Castle Rock and Nipple Butte.  She gained some elevation approaching Nipple Butte from the S.  The easiest route to the summit, however, is on the WNW slope.  Lupe swung around to the W side of the mountain before making the final ascent.

Lupe among the pretty yellow flowers N of Castle Mountain.
Lupe among the pretty yellow flowers N of Castle Mountain and Skinny Ridge.
Don't sniff too closely - those flowers are full of bumblebees!
Don’t sniff too closely – those flowers are full of bumblebees!

A short steep scramble is required to get up to the summit of Nipple Butte.  No equipment at all is required to reach the top.  The platform at the top of Nipple Butte is not very large.  There was a small area Lupe and SPHP could walk around on, but cliffs were never more than a few feet away.  The cliffs aren’t all that tall, but they are still cliffs.  One limestone boulder at the very top with orange lichens growing on it is presumably the nipple of Nipple Butte.  There aren’t any trees up on top of Nipple Butte, so there were great views in every direction.

Lupe on the W side approach to the top of Nipple Butte.
Lupe on the W side approach to the top of Nipple Butte.
Lupe stands on the nipple at Nipple Butte.
Lupe stands on the nipple at Nipple Butte.
N end of Reynolds Prairie from Nipple Butte.
N end of Reynolds Prairie from Nipple Butte.
Happy Carolina Dog on Nipple Butte. Photo looks SW.
Happy Carolina Dog on Nipple Butte. Photo looks SW.
Looking S at Castle Rock from Nipple Butte.
Looking S at Castle Rock from Nipple Butte.
Looking N at Flag Mountain from Nipple Butte.
Looking N at Flag Mountain from Nipple Butte.  Flag Mountain was Lupe’s 4th and next peakbagging objective of the day.
Another look N at Flag Mountain from Nipple Butte.
Another look N at Flag Mountain from Nipple Butte.  The road is USFS Road No. 189.
Lupe and the nipple on Nipple Butte.
Lupe and the nipple on Nipple Butte.
"OK SPHP, so how do I get down, without having to trust you not to be a total klutz and dropping me over the cliff?" Lupe actually made it down just fine after some hesitation. She took a route down by the bushes in the center of the photo.
“OK SPHP, so how do I get down, without having to trust you not to be a total klutz and dropping me over the cliff?” Lupe actually made it down just fine after some hesitation. She took a route down by the bushes in the center of the photo.

Lupe and SPHP stayed on Nipple Butte for a while to enjoy the scenes.  Lupe had some Taste of the Wild and SPHP had an apple.  When it was time to leave, Lupe was a bit concerned about how to get down.  SPHP had lifted her up a 6 foot wall of rock so she could get up on top, but Lupe wouldn’t let SPHP help her down.  Lupe finally took an alternate route down through some bushes that worked just fine.  After a trek down the NW slope of Nipple Butte, Lupe came to a little side road leading to USFS Road No. 189.  There was a great mud puddle along the side road and Lupe made use of it.

Lupe exits the mud puddle NW of Nipple Butte after a big drink of mineral water and a mud bath.
Lupe exits the mud puddle NW of Nipple Butte after a big drink of mineral water and a mud bath.

From the mud puddle, Lupe followed the side road to USFS Road No. 189, which she simply crossed heading N.  Lupe climbed up the ridge continuing N through the forest towards Flag Mountain (6,937 ft.).  When she drew near the access road, she turned more to the NNE to stay in the forest.  (One can drive to the summit of Flag Mountain via an access road off USFS Road No. 189.)  Very near the top, Lupe got on the access road for the final stretch.

Flag Mountain features great views to the N, E and S, plus the remains of the foundation of an old lookout tower.  From Flag Mountain, Lupe could get her first glimpse of Peak 6962 and Whitetail Peak to the N.  Peak 6962 was Lupe’s 5th and final peakbagging goal of the day.  White Tail Peak (6,962 ft.) is also along the E edge of the limestone plateau country, but it was just too far away to be included in Expedition No. 133’s day hike.

Lupe on the ruins of the lookout tower at Flag Mountain. Photo looks N towards Peak 6962 (left ridge) and Whitetail Peak (center ridge).
Lupe on the ruins of the lookout tower at Flag Mountain. Photo looks N towards Peak 6962 (left ridge) and White Tail Peak (center ridge).  Peak 6962 was Lupe’s 5th and final peakbagging goal for Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 133.  The road seen below is USFS Road No. 599.
Nipple Butte & Castle Rock from Flag Mountain. Photo looks S.
Nipple Butte & Castle Rock from Flag Mountain. Photo looks S.
Lupe is almost camouflaged to blend in with the ruins of the Flag Mountain lookout tower foundation. She is on the wall just above the backpack.
Lupe is almost camouflaged to blend in with the ruins of the Flag Mountain lookout tower foundation. She is on the wall just above the backpack.
Whitetail Peak from Flag Mountain. Whitetail Peak will be a future peakbagging goal for Lupe. She has already been there twice before, but it has been over 2 years since she was last there.
White Tail Peak from Flag Mountain. White Tail Peak will be a future peakbagging goal for Lupe. She has already been there twice before, but it has been over 2 years since she was last there.
Instead of going down to the Flag Mountain access road (yes you can just drive here!), Lupe left headed W along this rocky ridge.
Instead of going down to the Flag Mountain access road (yes, you can just drive here!), Lupe left headed W along this rocky ridge.

From Flag Mountain, Lupe headed W along the ridges.  She crossed the access road to Flag Mountain, but did not follow it.  Lupe and SPHP just went through the forest trying to stay on the high ground, while circling around the W end of the canyon between Flag Mountain and Peak 6962.  This involved some up and down as various high and low points along the way were reached.  Lupe did follow a very short section of USFS Road No. 189 just before heading N and then NE along the ridge to Peak 6962.

SPHP has no idea what kind of plant this is. It was full of bumblebees and looked like it was flourishing.
SPHP has no idea what kind of plant this is. It was full of bumblebees and looked like it was flourishing.  Lupe came across it W of Flag Mountain.

SPHP considers Peak 6962 the most annoying peakbagging mountain in the Black Hills.  It really shouldn’t be annoying at all.  It is up at the edge of the limestone plateau high country that SPHP finds so appealing.  The terrain undulates a bit, but there really isn’t much elevation gain or loss along the ridge extending out to the SW from the summit.  This ridge is only a little over a mile long from USFS Road No. 189.  There ought to be great views from Peak 6962 looking E and N towards Whitetail Peak.  What should be a pleasant easy stroll through the forest along a high ridge with some views to a summit with great views isn’t that way at all.

The main culprit is the mountain pine beetle, which has decimated the forest in the area of Peak 6962.  SPHP remembered that Lupe’s last trek to Peak 6962 back on Expedition No. 90 on 5-24-14 featured an annoying amount of deadfall timber.  Over a year’s time gone by had only made matters worse, as more dead trees have fallen.  It was a very slow march along the ridge on the way to Peak 6962 through all the deadfall timber.  Lupe could sometimes use the fallen tree trunks as highways, but the prevailing NW winds had pushed most of the trees over at a 90° angle to the direction Lupe and SPHP needed to go.

Just to make things more aggravating, for the first half of the way along the ridge, there is an utterly useless barbed wire fence that has been broken down in countless places as trees fell on it.  SPHP constantly worried that Lupe might get cut by the barbed wire.  The best route forward seemed to zigzag repeatedly across the fence line.  Despite the number of trees that have fallen, there are still enough dead and living trees still standing to block the views both on the way to Peak 6962 and at the summit.  Perhaps there are views at the cliffs at the very S end of the mountain back towards Flag Mountain, but SPHP didn’t consider it worth the struggle to get there.

Nipple Butte from W of Flag Mountain.
Nipple Butte from W of Flag Mountain.

On Expedition No. 90, Lupe had come to an area along the ridge SW of Peak 6920 where there had been a large number of crocus flowers blooming.  They were in such gloriously beautiful condition, SPHP had named the area “Perfect Crocus Ridge”.  Sadly, there were no crocuses at all on this journey, although there were a few nice dark purple flowers here and there.  What was flourishing among all the deadfall timber were low-lying scratchy juniper bushes.

Lupe and SPHP finally reached the summit of Peak 6962.  The area was so flat, it was hard to tell where the exact summit might be.  It all looked pretty much the same.  Lupe and SPHP stopped here for a bit of a break after the battle with the deadfall timber, barbed wire fence and scratchy juniper bushes.  Lupe had some more Taste of the Wild.  SPHP ate the 2nd and final apple.  SPHP was certain the forest looked worse now than in May 2014.

Wow, this view was worth more than a mile scrambling over and around deadfall timber, barbed wire and scratchy juniper bushes! Lupe at the summit of Peak 6962. Successful completion of her 5th peakbagging goal of the day!
Wow, this view was worth more than a mile scrambling over and around deadfall timber, barbed wire and scratchy juniper bushes! Lupe at the summit of Peak 6962. Successful completion of her 5th peakbagging goal of the day!

After the break, even though more than a year ago Lupe and SPHP had explored some distance to the N along the E edge of Peak 6962 and found no decent viewpoints towards White Tail Peak, SPHP decided to try it again.  The results were the same.  There were a few places along the E edge of Peak 6962 with partial views to the E, but no views at towards White Tail Peak.  On the way back to USFS Road No. 189, SPHP tried leading Lupe a bit to the N of the SW ridge to avoid the worst of the deadfall timber.  This helped some and also helped avoid the broken barbed wire fence.  It didn’t seem to take quite as long getting back to USFS Road No. 189 as the journey to Peak 6962.

Flag Mountain (L) from the high ridges SW of Peak 6962.
Flag Mountain (L) from the high ridges SW of Peak 6962.

Once back to USFS Road No. 189, Lupe and SPHP started following it back towards Flag Mountain.  The almost totally clear skies of the morning had given way to overcast conditions as the day wore on.  It began to rain.  It rained hard enough for Lupe and SPHP to take cover under a big pine tree.  It didn’t last long.  After 5 minutes the rain was almost over and Lupe continued on.  At a bend in the road, Lupe and SPHP left No. 189 to follow a high ridge to the SW and then S.  There was a fence along this area too, but there was little deadfall timber and the fence was in good condition.

Soon the ridge ended and Lupe and SPHP went down through the forest to reach USFS Road No. 239.  For a short distance No. 239 climbed and reached a high spot with a very nice view to the S.  From then on it lost elevation slowly and steadily.  Both Lupe and SPHP liked the secluded valley that No. 239 descended into.  There were lots of deer and some squirrels and chipmunks around.  Birds were singing and a hawk kept flying around screeching.  Everything was lush and green.

The view S from the high point along USFS Road No. 239.
The view S from the high point along USFS Road No. 239.

No. 239 went almost straight S for 2 miles and then curved to the E.  The road, which had been very good, deteriorated after reaching a wide, flat turn around spot.  The road did go on, however, and Lupe and SPHP continued to follow it.  The road  became a wide grassy trail and started heading NNE.  It looked like it might climb up a valley just W of Castle Rock. The road lost elevation though, so Lupe kept on.  Before long, the road became a mud hole at a spring.  Here Lupe and SPHP left the remnant of No. 239 to head E down to the floor of the valley.

At the bottom a small creek was flowing, which was probably Horsethief Creek.  There was a rock wall on the E side of the creek.  There was also a green grassy remnant of a road which followed the creek S again.  This road was marked by orange diamond-shaped signs on trees or posts.  In many places, the road was so close to the creek that it was rather boggy.  There wasn’t the least sign for a considerable distance that any vehicles ever actually use this grassy road.  Lupe and SPHP followed the creek and the orange diamond grassy road the rest of the way back to the road where the G6 was parked.  The G6 was in view as soon as the gravel road was reached.

Lupe along Horsethief Creek.
Lupe along Horsethief Creek.
This part of the grassy orange diamond road was filled with wild irises.
This part of the grassy orange diamond road was filled with wild irises.
Sunset back at the G6 near Castle Creek 6-13-15.
Sunset back at the G6 near Castle Creek 6-13-15.

It was 8:22 PM and 60°F when Lupe reached the G6.  She hopped right in.  This time it was SPHP’s turn to linger outside.  There was some promise of a nice sunset developing up Castle Creek valley to the NW.  It was a gorgeous evening.  SPHP took a photo looking NW up Castle Creek valley.  The sunset hadn’t quite peaked yet.  SPHP drove to a high point not far away just off South Rochford Road, but the sunset couldn’t be seen from there.  So it was back to the original pullout along Castle Creek one more time for a final photo.  Then it was time to head home.   A happy dingo hung its head out the window sniffing the breeze for miles.

Lupe's Black Hills, SD Expedition of 6-13-15 draws to a close.
Lupe’s Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 133 draws to a close.

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

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 132 – Copper, Odakota & Bear Mountains (6-7-15)

SPHP postponed Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 132 by one day due to the threat of rain.  A big storm did hit Hill City and flooded the highway.  The next day was a gorgeous early summer day.  Lupe was eager to go.  The highway was no longer flooded, although the creeks and streams were still running high and out of their banks.  At 8:27 AM, SPHP parked the G6 just off USFS Road No. 301.1A about 100 yards from its junction with USFS Road No. 301.  It was 57 °F with a slight N breeze and a few clouds around.

Lupe still near the G6 at the start of the day. Photo looks SSE towards Medicine Mountain.
Lupe still near the G6 at the start of the day. Photo looks SSE towards Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.)

Lupe’s peakbagging goals for this Expedition included Copper, Odakota, Bear and Green Mountains.  All four of these mountains are in the west central Black Hills along the E edge of the high ground of the Limestone Plateau country.  Approaches from the W involve very little elevation gain, but to the E there are cliffs or steep slopes.

Copper Mountain (6,920 ft.) was only about 0.5 mile to the W of where the G6 was parked, so Lupe headed there first.  Lupe circled around to the SW side of Copper Mountain before climbing up on the W ridge.  Once up on the W ridge, it was a gentle climb through a young forest to the summit.  Soon Lupe was posing for photos on the cliffs just S of the summit, and drinking out of water holes in the rocks.  Next stop would be Odakota Mountain, now in view 1.25 miles to the SW.

Lupe on Copper Mountain. Odakota Mountain is the high ridge seen above Lupe's head in the background.
Lupe on Copper Mountain. Odakota Mountain is the high ridge seen above Lupe’s head in the background to the SW.
Another of Lupe's peakbagging goals of the day, Bear Mountain, is the high ridge in the distance. Photo taken looking due S from Copper Mountain.
Another of Lupe’s peakbagging goals of the day, Bear Mountain, is the high ridge in the distance. Photo taken looking due S from Copper Mountain.
The view N from Copper Mountain towards the S portion of Gillette Prairie.
The view NE from Copper Mountain towards the S portion of Gillette Prairie.
Medicine Mountain from Copper Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Medicine Mountain from Copper Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Harney Peak, highest mountain in the Black Hills, is the highest point in the distance. Photo is looking ESE from Copper Mountain.
Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) , highest mountain in the Black Hills, is the highest point in the distance. Photo is looking ESE from Copper Mountain.

Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) is the 2nd highest mountain in the Black Hills according to Peakbagger.com.  Lupe had been up there once before on Expedition No. 87 on 5-10-14.  Lupe headed W off Copper Mountain, with only modest elevation loss.  She found the first of many big mud puddles to cool off in on the W side of Copper Mountain.  Lupe and SPHP reached USFS Road No. 301 again and followed it W only as far as the intersection with No. 299, which heads down Bobcat Gulch to the Boy Scout camp.

At the intersection, Lupe and SPHP left the road and started W up the draw to the S of USFS Road No. 301.  SPHP remembered that Odakota Mountain was full of deadfall timber the last time Lupe had been there.  Pine bark beetles were wreaking havoc with the forest.  Despite all the fallen trees, there were still enough dead or dying trees still standing to obstruct the views at the summit.  As Lupe and SPHP climbed Odakota Mountain from the NE, it became apparent the situation hadn’t changed at all in a year’s time.  There was still lots of deadfall timber to contend with.

Instead of going directly up to the summit, Lupe and SPHP climbed to a high point on the ridge E of the summit.  From there, Lupe and SPHP headed away from the summit towards the SE to see if there was any place where there were any decent views.  It was slow going with all the deadfall to work around.  At the very S end of the E edge of the mountain were a couple of rock ledges with open views to the S and E.  This area is less than 100′ lower than the summit and features the only clear views from Odakota Mountain at this time.

Lupe up on the E edge of Odakota Mountain. Photo looks back to the NE at Copper Mountain where she had just come from.
Lupe up on the E edge of Odakota Mountain. Photo looks back to the NE at Copper Mountain where she had just come from.  The rock ledges she had been standing on there are visible on the right.
Lupe at the SE end of Odakota Mountain. Photo looks ESE towards Medicine Mountain in the foreground and Harney Peak in the distance.
Lupe at the SE end of Odakota Mountain. Photo looks ESE towards Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.) in the foreground and Harney Peak in the distance.
Lupe at the SE edge of Odakota Mountain. Bear Mountain is the high ridge in the distance to the S.
Lupe at the SE edge of Odakota Mountain. Bear Mountain is the high ridge in the distance to the S.
Lupe still at the SE edge of Odakota Mountain. Photo looks SE towards Peak 6680 seen as the first hill in the foreground directly above Lupe's head.
Lupe still at the SE edge of Odakota Mountain. Photo looks SE towards Peak 6680 seen as the first hill in the foreground directly above Lupe.  The pond at the Boy Scout camp is visible to the right.
Bear Mountain to the S from the SE end of Odakota Mountain 6-7-15.
Bear Mountain to the S from the SE end of Odakota Mountain 6-7-15.

From the viewpoints, Lupe and SPHP worked their way back to the NW to the true summit of Odakota Mountain.  At the summit, SPHP was surprised to find a 2.5 foot high cairn made of limestone.  It hadn’t been there the first time Lupe had climbed Odakota Mountain on Expedition No. 87.  Lupe headed W off Odakota Mountain in the direction of Long Draw.  She could have gone a couple of miles NNW to Green Mountain (7,164 ft.) at this point, but SPHP was more interested in exploring Long Draw first.

Lupe at the summit cairn on Odakota Mountain the morning of 6-7-15. Photo looks N.
Lupe at the summit cairn on Odakota Mountain the morning of 6-7-15. Photo looks N.

USFS Road No. 693 comes within 0.25 mile NW of Odakota Mountain and goes SW for 3 miles or so to Spring Creek where it turns W.  Lupe and SPHP headed SW down Long Draw sometimes on the road, but often off of it just traipsing through the fields.  The bottom of the draw was mostly meadows with scattered aspens and pines.  Lupe romped her way through Long Draw sniffing this way and that.  She returned to No. 693 now and then in search of mud puddles to get a drink from and cool off in.  SPHP is pretty sure Lupe gets plenty of minerals in her diet from all the murky mud puddle water she drinks.

Upper end of Long Draw not far from Odakota Mountain 6-7-15.
Upper end of Long Draw not far from Odakota Mountain 6-7-15.

Close to Spring Creek, USFS Road No. 693 turned and headed W up the canyon following Spring Creek upstream.  Instead of heading W, Lupe and SPHP left the road here and headed down to cross Spring Creek.  Even with all the recent wet weather, Spring Creek was only a few feet wide this close to its source.  The water was amazingly clear and cold.  Lupe cooled off in the stream and had a better drink than the mud puddles offered.  A short distance downstream, Lupe came to the intersection of Long Draw and Grand Vista Draw.

Lower portion of Long Draw before reaching Spring Creek.
Lower portion of Long Draw before reaching Spring Creek.
Lupe getting close to Spring Creek in Long Draw. The creek is at the edge of the trees on the right side of the photo.
Lupe getting close to Spring Creek in Long Draw. The creek is at the edge of the trees on the right side of the photo.  Grand Vista Draw goes up around the right side of the hill in this photo.
Lupe cools off in the clear cold waters of Spring Creek in Long Draw.
Lupe cools off in the clear cold waters of Spring Creek in Long Draw.

USFS Road No. 291.3A headed up Grand Vista Draw.  Lupe followed it S up Grand Vista Draw as it gradually turned SE.  Spring Creek had continued on down the canyon to the E and there was no water other than scattered mud puddles in Grand Vista Draw.  A spur off No. 291.3A headed E to the scenic overlook at the edge of the limestone plateau about a mile WSW of the Boy Scout camp.  The overlook is a block of limestone about 20′ below the rim of the high country.  There is a trail leading down to it.  At this scenic overlook, Lupe and SPHP rested for a bit.  Lupe was kind of hungry by now and ate some Taste of the Wild.

Wild Irises were abundant in Grand Vista Draw.
Wild Irises were abundant in Grand Vista Draw.
This block of limestone at the E edge of the limestone plateau country is the Boy Scout camp overlook.
This block of limestone at the E edge of the limestone plateau country is the Boy Scout camp overlook.
Lupe on the Boy Scout camp overlook. Photo looks back to the N towards Odakota Mountain at the left and Copper Mountain, the lower ridge just beyond and to the right where Lupe had just come from.
Lupe on the Boy Scout camp overlook. Photo looks back to the N towards Odakota Mountain at the left and Copper Mountain, the lower ridge just beyond and to the right where Lupe had just come from.  Peak 6680 is the kind of striped hill at the right side of the photo.
Harney Peak is the highest point in the distance. View from Boy Scout camp overlook looking E.
Harney Peak is the highest point in the distance. View from Boy Scout camp overlook looking E.
Now looking S from the Boy Scout camp overlook towards the E end of Bear Mountain, Lupe's next peakbagging goal.
Now looking SSE from the Boy Scout camp overlook towards the E end of Bear Mountain, Lupe’s next peakbagging goal.

Lupe’s next Peakbagging goal was Bear Mountain (7,166 ft.), the 3rd highest mountain in the Black Hills.  Bear Mountain is about 4 miles S of Odakota Mountain, but Lupe’s route through Long and Grand Vista Draws had taken her over 1.5 mile W before working back to the E.  Bear Mountain was still 2 miles SSE from the Boy Scout camp overlook.  There was no road.  From the overlook, Lupe and SPHP just went S along the rim of the high country until almost to the ranger tower on Bear Mountain.

Instead of going directly to the ranger station, SPHP led Lupe E along the Bear Mountain ridge.  From the Boy Scout camp overlook, it had appeared the highest point on Bear Mountain was at the E end of the mountain.  This wasn’t strictly true.  The highest point really is where the ranger tower is located.  Still, it was worth a bit of exploring to see what the views might be like from the E end of Bear Mountain.  The best view proved to be towards the N back toward Odakota and Copper Mountains where Lupe had just come from.

Lupe arrives at the E end of Bear Mountain. The best view from here is shown. It looks N back at Odakota and Copper Mountains. Lupe has already climbed them once this day and would return to climb each of them again before the day was out.
Lupe arrives at the E end of Bear Mountain. The best view from here is shown. It looks N back at Odakota (highest ridge) and Copper Mountains. Lupe has already climbed them once this day and would return to climb each of them again before the day was out.

After exploring the E end of the mountain, Lupe went back W to the summit at the ranger tower.  Lupe and SPHP climbed up the tower.  Three steps from the top, Lupe decided it was a bit scary and started turning around to go back down, but SPHP urged her onward.  A ranger was on duty and Lupe got to go inside the ranger’s station at the top of the tower.  She laid on the floor listening to the radio chatter while SPHP talked to the ranger.

Lupe approaches the ranger tower on Bear Mountain.
Lupe approaches the ranger tower on Bear Mountain.
Lupe climbed the Bear Mountain ranger tower and spent a while relaxing up there while SPHP chatted with the ranger.
Lupe climbed the Bear Mountain ranger tower and spent a while relaxing up there while SPHP chatted with the ranger.  On a very clear day (not today!) Laramie Peak in Wyoming can be seen from Bear Mountain.

The ranger had been working this job at various towers in the Black Hills region for 13 years.  He described the Bear Mountain tower as the Cadillac of ranger facilities in the Black Hills.  The station at the top of the tower was roomier than at any of the other towers.  The ranger said he had seen two tornados from ranger towers in his 13 years on the job.

The 360° view from Bear Mountain at the top of the tower was really great!  SPHP had been told once before that Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) in Wyoming can be seen from Bear Mountain when conditions are clear.  The ranger confirmed this, but said it wasn’t that clear very often.

Harney Peak as seen from Bear Mountain. Photo looks E.
Harney Peak as seen from Bear Mountain. Photo looks E.
Lupe S of the ranger tower on Bear Mountain.
Lupe S of the ranger tower on Bear Mountain.
Looking E on Bear Mountain from S of the ranger tower. The end of the Bear Mountain E ridge is one more hill E beyond the high spot pictured.
Looking E on Bear Mountain from S of the ranger tower. The end of the Bear Mountain E ridge is one more hill E beyond the high spot pictured.

The most immediately useful of the interesting things SPHP learned up in the Bear Mountain lookout tower was that it was 3:30 PM.  It was time for Lupe to head back N!  Lupe and SPHP bid adieu to the ranger and headed down off the ranger tower.  Lupe went W on USFS Road No. 293.  (No. 293 goes right to the top of Bear Mountain, approaching it from the SSW.  Bear Mountain is easily accessibly by car.)  At the first hill to the W was a big tower.  There Lupe and SPHP left the road and went along a forested ridge descending towards the NW.

The forested ridge ended in a meadow where there were some pretty aspen trees with light green new leaves shining in the sunlight.  Beyond the meadow was USFS Road No. 291.3A, the same road that Lupe had followed up Grand Vista Draw earlier before taking a spur E to the Boy Scout camp overlook.  SPHP intended to follow No. 291.3A back to Grand Vista Draw, but at a little pass shortly before getting there, took a side road labeled No. 2 North with an orange marker.

Lupe nears USFS Road No. 291.3A NW of Bear Mountain.
Lupe nears USFS Road No. 291.3A just beyond the aspens NW of Bear Mountain.

The side road went W then N and then turned back to the S.  SPHP didn’t want to go S.  Lupe needed to go N, so SPHP abandoned No. 2 North in favor of a trek through the forest continuing N towards Grand Vista Draw.  It all worked out just fine and soon Lupe reached No. 291.3A again in Grand Vista Draw as anticipated.  Lupe now started retracing the path she had followed earlier in the day.  Lupe and SPHP halted upon reaching Spring Creek just S of USFS Road No. 693 in Long Draw.

Lupe returns to Spring Creek near the junction of Grand Vista Draw and Long Draw.
Lupe returns to Spring Creek near the junction of Grand Vista Draw and Long Draw.

Lupe got a big, cold clear drink from Spring Creek and finished her Taste of the Wild.  SPHP studied maps.  SPHP had intended to take USFS Road No. 693 W to No. 291 and then head N to the Four Corners Well.  From there the plan had been to go on to Green Mountain (7,164 ft.) via a short stint to the E on No. 301 and then taking USFS Road No. 691 NNE to Green Mountain.  However, it was too late in the day to do all that.  As usual, SPHP had bit off more than could be chewed.  The fastest route to Green Mountain was going back up Long Draw.

So Lupe headed back up Long Draw on No. 693.  SPHP saw a couple of elk along the way.  Lupe barked at chipmunks and squirrels, and didn’t even notice the elk.  As Lupe and SPHP neared the high point on No. 693, SPHP decided Lupe may as well go and hit the summit of Odakota Mountain again since it was only 0.25 mile away to the E.  Lupe found the cairn at the high point again and had her second picture of the day taken there.

Lupe's 2nd summit of Odakota Mountain on 6-7-15. Photo looks S.
Lupe’s 2nd summit of Odakota Mountain on 6-7-15. Photo looks S.

Lupe and SPHP left Odakota Mountain and headed back to USFS Road No. 693.  Although there was still probably time to reach Green Mountain before it got dark, a large cloud was now hanging around in that direction.  It had already been a long day.  SPHP didn’t really think the cloud was going to cause any problems, but used it as an excuse to shorten the trip back to the G6.  SPHP decided Lupe would just go back and have another look at the world from the top of Copper Mountain.  Green Mountain would just have to wait for another day.

Lupe didn’t care.  She was just as happy going to Copper Mountain again.  Lupe and SPHP followed No. 693 back to No. 301.  At the high point on No. 301 near Copper Mountain, Lupe and SPHP left the road and started the modest climb up Copper Mountain along the W ridge.  Earlier in the day, SPHP had wondered if there were good lookout points along the N side of the W ridge, but hadn’t gone over there.  Now Lupe and SPHP headed over to the N side of the ridge.

Pine bark beetles need to kill more trees for there to be much of a view to the N.  Glimpses of Gillette Prairie were frequently available as Lupe and SPHP followed the N edge of the ridge heading E towards the summit of Copper Mountain, but there just weren’t any unobstructed views anywhere.  It wasn’t until Lupe was very close to the E edge of Copper Mountain that there were views off to the N.  Even then they were only partial views.

Lupe also climbed Copper Mountain a 2nd time on 6-7-15. This photo looks NE towards the S portion of Gillette Prairie from Copper Mountain.
Lupe also climbed Copper Mountain a 2nd time on 6-7-15. This photo looks NNE towards the S portion of Gillette Prairie from Copper Mountain.

Lupe tagged the summit of Copper Mountain for the 2nd time this day.  The sun was still up, but getting low.  The big cloud to the WNW over by Green Mountain was still hanging around.  Most of the rest of the sky had only scattered clouds.  The views to the E and S from the SE edge of Copper Mountain were still the best.  Sometimes slanting sunlight broke through the clouds to the WNW and illuminated the scene.  Lupe and SPHP stayed for a while on Copper Mountain, taking a break from the long day’s trek and enjoying the moment.

Then it was time to go.  Lupe and SPHP left Copper Mountain heading W, but soon turned SW and then S to reach USFS Road No. 301 more quickly.  SPHP then followed the road the rest of the way back to No. 301.1A and the G6.  Lupe wasn’t quite done though.  While SPHP walked the road, Lupe dashed in and out of the forest still sniffing madly and exploring.  It was 8:10 PM and 58°F out when Lupe and SPHP reached the G6 again.  The sun was still up for a bit longer and shining on some of the mountain tops.  Lupe laid down by the G6.  She didn’t want to hop in.  Nearly 12 hours on the go wasn’t enough!

For a few minutes SPHP let Lupe rest on the ground.  Then SPHP lifted the reluctant Carolina dog into the G6.  Lupe wasn’t tired.  She didn’t curl up on the passenger side seat like she often does after a long expedition.  Instead she stood up with her paws on the dash still looking for adventure.  SPHP lowered the windows so she could ride with her head out the window of the G6.  She loved the wind rushing past her face.  She barked at cows and horses as she flew on by.

Lupe on Copper Mountain towards the end of the day.
Lupe on Copper Mountain towards the end of the day.

At a couple of points along County Road No. 309 before reaching the highway there were quite a few cows and their calves right on the road.  Greeted by a hysterical dingo, they looked quite puzzled at what all the excitement was about. Finally they got the idea that the crazy dingo was trying to be big and scary and the cows all moseyed off the road.  Lupe continued to stand up and bark at every opportunity all the way along Deerfield Road to Hill City.  With no cows or horses in sight in Hill City, she was finally content to curl up on the seat and pant for a while.  It had been another great day to be an American dingo in the Black Hills of South Dakota!

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

Warren Peaks, WY (7-15-14) & Porphyry Peak, MT (7-16-14)

SPHP came to at 6:15 AM on July 15, 2014.  A very late beginning for Lupe’s 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies!  Despite the occasion, SPHP just felt lazy and spent another half an hour summoning the energy to roll out of bed.  In truth, SPHP felt somewhat unprepared.  Other than go to the Canadian Rockies, SPHP really didn’t have any specific idea what was going to happen over the next few weeks.  Unlike SPHP, Lupe was bright-eyed, expectant and ready for action!

Lupe waits in the G6 for SPHP to get a move on! Dingo vacations are supposed to get off to an early start!
Lupe getting bored waiting in the G6 for SPHP to get a move on! Dingo vacations are supposed to get off to an early start!

The house and yard were in as good shape as they were going to be, and the G6 was half packed the previous evening.  At 8:00 AM, Lupe got her heartworm medicine.  At 9:40 AM the G6 was finally rolling out of the driveway.  It was hazy out and a rather cool day for mid-July.  Lupe and SPHP headed W on I-90.  All day it felt like weather was building up farther to the W where Lupe was going.

Now we're talking! Lupe arrives at the lookout tower on Warren Peaks.
Now we’re talking! Lupe arrives at the lookout tower on Warren Peaks.

Lupe’s first stop was a little side trip up to Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.) in the Bear Lodge mountains in NE Wyoming.  Warren Peaks became Lupe’s first peakbagging success of her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies & Beartooths.  It didn’t seem like much of an achievement, since a road goes all the way up to the lookout tower and SPHP just drove the G6 up there.  Still, the view was pretty, and just being up there further lifted SPHP’s rising enthusiasm for the glorious days ahead that were now just beginning.

Lupe's first peakbagging success of her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies and Beartooths was Warren Peaks in NE, Wyoming.
Lupe’s first peakbagging success of her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies and Beartooths was Warren Peaks in NE, Wyoming.
View to the SSW of Warren Peaks in the Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming.
View to the SSW of Warren Peaks in the Bear Lodge Mountains of NE Wyoming.

It had only been 62°F at Warren Peaks at 11:35 AM, but it was 81°F by the time Lupe reached the Powder River two hours later.  Things cooled off again just E of the Bighorn Mountains where Lupe encountered the first rain shower of the day.  The rain was harder and steadier in Montana.  At Billings, MT, SPHP was glad to leave I-90 and all its road construction.  Lupe headed N on Hwy 3 to Lavina and turned W on Hwy 12 following the Musselshell River.

W of Harlowton, Hwy 12 goes up into the Little Belt Mountains.  Neither Lupe nor SPHP had ever been to the Little Belts before.  Lupe saw lots of pretty country on this day’s drive, but other than the glorious Bighorn Mountains which Lupe didn’t enter, the Little Belt Mountains were the best.  The Little Belts were gently rolling and forested with meadows in the valleys.  They were quite beautiful and sparsely populated.  Lupe and SPHP turned N on Hwy 89 just N of White Sulphur Springs, and went as far as a big parking pullout up at King’s Hill Pass (7,393 ft. elevation).

By the time Lupe reached King’s Hill Pass, the sun was close to setting.  SPHP parked the G6.  For 45 minutes Lupe got to romp around in the wet woods while SPHP explored a bit too.  It felt good to be out of the G6 and moving, but with all the clouds around, darkness started coming on fast.  Soon after retiring to the G6 for the night, rain and fog rolled in.

By morning on July 16th, the skies were clear.  The first order of business was for Lupe to climb Porphyry Peak (8,192 ft.), which was a couple of miles W of Hwy 89 at King’s Hill Pass according to the map.  Lupe and SPHP started up a road that skirted the S side of the King’s Hill Campground.  Lupe dashed around in and out of the wet forest, very pleased with the way this day was starting out.  Soon she was a very soggy doggie, but it didn’t bother her in the least.

Soggy doggie Lupe up on Porphyry Peak on the morning of 7-16-14
Soggy doggie Lupe up on Porphyry Peak on the morning of 7-16-14.  Porphyry Peak was Lupe’s 2nd peakbagging success of this American dingo vacation.

The road wound around all the way up to the summit of Porphyry Peak where there was a lookout tower plus a couple of ski lifts and a few other facilities connected with the Showdown Montana Ski area.  A sign at the bottom of the lookout tower said to shout for permission to climb the tower.  SPHP shouted, but there was no answer.  The tower went unclimbed by Lupe and SPHP.  The views were pretty nice even without climbing the lookout tower.  After wandering around the top of the mountain by the ski lifts where the views were best, Lupe and SPHP headed back down to the G6.

The ranger tower on Porphyry Peak, MT
The ranger tower on Porphyry Peak, MT
Lupe on Porphyry Peak where the Showdown Montana ski area is located.
Lupe on Porphyry Peak where the Showdown Montana ski area is located.

From King’s Hill Pass, Hwy 89 lost elevation for many miles.  It was a pretty drive, and SPHP was convinced the Little Belt Mountains are the most scenic route through this part of Montana.  Near the bottom of the range was a picnic area close to a little creek.  SPHP stopped there long enough for Lupe to sniff around a bit and get a drink.  Then it was back in the G6 and onward to Great Falls, MT.

The Little Belt Mountains in Montana looking NNE from Porphyry Peak.
The Little Belt Mountains in Montana looking NNE from Porphyry Peak.
The wet, green forest on Porphyry Peak.
The wet, green forest on Porphyry Peak.

W of Great Falls, the air was no longer clear and clean.  The mountains farther W were in a haze, which eventually proved to be smoke.  SPHP stayed on Hwy 89 all the way through Choteau and Browning to St. Mary just E of Glacier National Park.  It was all new territory to both Lupe and SPHP.  Lupe happily barked at cows and horses along the way.  In Choteau was a pretty neat statue of a dinosaur.  Later on, SPHP regretted not stopping there to get a picture of Lupe next to the dinosaur.

A soggy Lupe in the G6 ready to leave Porphyry Peak, MT for more dingo adventures in Canada.
A soggy Lupe in the G6 ready to leave King’s Hill Pass, MT for more dingo adventures in Canada.

From St. Mary, SPHP took Hwy 2 N to Hwy 12, which led Lupe to the Canadian border.  At the drive up window, there was no one else in line to get into Canada.  SPHP presented a U.S. passport and the Canadian border agent asked a bunch of standard questions.

SPHP must have been somehow suspicious, or perhaps it was just a dull, boring day on the border.  SPHP was asked to park the G6 and go inside the main building while Lupe waited in the car.  There SPHP presented the exact same passport, different Canadian border patrol personnel asked the exact same questions, and SPHP gave the exact same answers.  Somehow this cleared up all difficulties or misunderstandings, whatever they may have been, and Lupe was free to proceed into beautiful Canada!  Her 2nd Canadian Rockies adventure was now truly underway!

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.

Kabekona Lake, MN (June 13-25, 2014)

On Friday the 13th of June, 2014, Lupe knew something big was in the works.  SPHP got up while it was still dark and started packing the G6.  SPHP built up the passenger side front seat so Lupe could ride in comfort up even with the dash on a pile of luggage, pillows and blankets, the now traditional trip arrangement.  Shortly before 6:00 AM everything was ready to go.  It was a cool morning, only 53 degrees, under mostly clear blue skies.  It was going to be a great day!  Lupe was bright-eyed and enthusiastic at the prospect of adventure.

Lupe takes a quick break out of the G6 near Bear Butte.
Lupe takes a quick break out of the G6 near Bear Butte (4,422 ft.).
Bear Butte Lake 6-13-14
Bear Butte Lake 6-13-14

Lupe had a long day’s ride across the prairies of South and North Dakota to the north woods in Minnesota.  Lupe had a blast though, barking relentlessly at every cow, horse, haystack and suspicious-looking bush or outbuilding along the way.  SPHP is always amazed that Lupe never tires of this game, but she doesn’t.  Every now and then SPHP had to stop the G6 to give her some water though, because her barker gets dry.

Shortly before sunset, Lupe arrived at the cabin on the S shore of Kabekona Lake.  Lupe was very interested in the smells and sounds of the north woods, but the mosquitoes were out, of course, so Lupe was promptly ushered inside the cabin.  The cabin is now owned by Lupe’s great uncle John and great aunt Joyce (whom she had never met before), although it has been in the family since the 1940’s.

The Kabekona Lake cabin which served as Lupe's luxury resort.
The Kabekona Lake cabin which served as Lupe’s luxury resort.
The original cabin was very rustic (no plumbing, just a two-seater outhouse), but the cabin looks mighty spiffy now after two modern additions.
Lupe meets great aunt Joyce on the stairway to the loft Lupe adored.
Lupe meets great aunt Joyce on the stairway to the loft Lupe adored.

John & Joyce invited Lupe and SPHP to stay in the beautiful loft overlooking the living room, and Lupe was very much taken with it.  She thought it was super cool and made herself right at home up there, first on King III’s dog bed, and then on the futon she and SPHP were going to snooze on.  Lupe spent the evening getting settled in and getting to know John and Joyce.  Lupe also met Laddie, their nice old kitty.  Laddie was not very pleased to meet Lupe, but Lupe is a friend to all cats.  It wasn’t long until Laddie was pretty much adjusted to Lupe being around.

Lupe looking a bit guilty on King III's bed in the loft.
Lupe looking a bit guilty on King III’s bed in the loft.
Ahhh! A dingo could get used to roughing it cabin loft style! Lupe in the lap of luxury in the loft she loved at the Kabekona Lake cabin.
Ahhh! A dingo could get used to roughing it cabin loft style! Lupe in the lap of luxury in the loft she loved at the Kabekona Lake cabin.

Saturday the 14th was a cloudy cool day with some light rain.  After some difficulty, John started a fire in the new fireplace with some rather wet birch wood.  Despite the light rain, Lupe and SPHP walked out to the road and down to the dock on the lake a few times during the day.  SPHP looked for perch or leeches in the water, but saw none.  There was a crayfish though.  Lupe had great fun sniffing around in the north woods.  There were lots of ferns growing and everything was very green.  John said Kabekona Lake was the highest he had ever seen it.  Many people’s docks were under water.  A recent storm had ripped some of the docks loose.

Lupe's new and somewhat reluctant new friend, Laddie.
Lupe’s new and somewhat reluctant new friend, Laddie.

Lupe got to meet her uncle Mark from California, who arrived in the afternoon as anticipated.  While it rained outside, Lupe made herself comfortable on the couch while Mark and SPHP played Rook, the only card game allowed by long tradition at the Kabekona Lake cabin.  Sunday the 15th was another even rainier day.  Mark and SPHP started another fire in the fireplace, because it was still quite cool out.  Much of the early afternoon was spent with John, Joyce, Mark & SPHP playing Rook in front of the fire.

Later in the afternoon, when the rain had finally subsided somewhat, John suggested taking the boat out on the lake.  Lupe joined Mark, John and SPHP in the boat, for only her 2nd boat ride ever.  Lupe got another 4 or 5 boat rides on Kabekona Lake before her trip was over.  She was a very good dingo on the boat, but seemed to not know what to do with herself sometimes. Sometimes she stayed down in the bottom of the boat, but mostly she liked to be sitting on the boat seat at least partially on SPHP’s lap where she could see.

John either trying to persuade Lupe to get in the boat, or using her as support to get out himself.
John either trying to persuade Lupe to get in the boat, or using her as support to get out himself.
Lupe with uncle Mark on her 2nd boat ride ever.
Lupe with uncle Mark on her 2nd boat ride ever.  This whole business of putting out to sea was a bit alarming!

John ran the mighty 6.5 HP motor and steered across Kabekona to the NE part of the lake where the channel to Bucket Lake is.  The water was very high and it looked like it might be easy to go to Bucket, but there were clouds coming from the WSW that looked like they might start raining again, so John thought better of a trip to Bucket and stayed on Kabekona.  Before long there was lightning off to the WSW, a clear sign it was time to turn around and get off the lake.  When the weather was most threatening, John put in temporarily at a dock at Preacher’s Point.  The surprised dock owner soon showed up for a chat, but had no real objections.

Sunset on Kabekona Lake from the cabin's dock.
Sunset on Kabekona Lake from the cabin’s dock.

Sadly, on Monday morning the 16th, Mark already had to leave to head back to Minneapolis to catch his flight to California.  This was a sunnier day.  Lupe and SPHP saw some Canadian geese on one of the day’s trips down to the dock to see the lake.  Lupe and SPHP spent this and the next day helping John with a few small chores or just loafing around.  Starting on the 17th, there were boat rides with John and sometimes Joyce in the evenings until a little after sunset.  This was a wonderful, relaxing way to end each day.

Canadian Geese family on Kabekona Lake.
Canadian Geese families cruising by on Kabekona Lake.

Lupe loved loft living and the cabin in general.  Every morning when SPHP woke up, Lupe was already wide awake in her loft listening to the strange sounds of the birds and animals of the north woods.  The loft windows were always cranked partly open, and Lupe really enjoyed looking out from her high perch sniffing, watching and listening to what was going on.  When Lupe went out to “sniff the air” in the mornings she took off like a shot into the woods.  SPHP would usually hear her barking at some annoyed squirrel before long.

When not inclined to rest up in the loft, Lupe relaxed on the comfy couch downstairs.
When not inclined to rest up in the loft, Lupe relaxed on the comfy couch downstairs.

There were a couple of side trips during Lupe’s time in Minnesota.  John took Lupe and SPHP to The Gullies in the Paul Bunyan State Forest.  SPHP claims to have seen a small black bear run across the road there.  Lupe also got to visit the house in Alexandria, MN where SPHP’s grandparents once lived.  She spent the night there on the 18th and 19th.  The evening of the 19th was stormy with tornado warnings in the area.

Lupe at the house in Alexandria, MN.
Lupe at the house in Alexandria, MN.

On the 20th, Lupe returned to the cabin at Kabekona Lake.  The next day, John & Joyce bought fishing licenses.  Lupe, John, Joyce and SPHP took a boat ride across Kabekona Lake.  There was a huge white cumulus cloud over the E part of the lake.  The water in Kabekona was still very high.  John had no trouble taking the boat down the channel to Bucket and Little Bucket Lakes, where John and Joyce fished.  A bald eagle was flew across the channel and perched high up on a huge White Pine on the N shore of Little Bucket.  (Earlier in the week while at the cabin’s dock, Lupe and SPHP had seen a bald eagle swoop down just 30 or 40 feet away and scoop up a fish from Kabekona Lake – very cool!)

Cumulus cloud just E of Kabekona Lake.
SPHP liked this lovely cumulus cloud just E of Kabekona Lake.

SPHP always brings fish good luck.  John and Joyce caught an assortment of weeds, but no fish.  On the way back, Joyce saw a big turtle on the bank of the channel between Bucket and Kabekona.  SPHP saw a large snapping turtle swimming down in the clear stream.  Lupe was very excited by the voyage both down and back up the channel.  She was somewhat alarmed when the stream passed under the highway bridge, which was a bit like a tunnel.  She liked it, but was a bit scared at the same time.

John, Joyce & Lupe on one of the Bucket Lakes connected to Kabekona by the channel (a stream flowing down to the Buckets).
John, Joyce & Lupe on one of the Bucket Lakes connected to Kabekona by the channel (a stream flowing down to the Buckets).

Lupe sniffed around in the forest whenever she could the next couple of days.  SPHP was kept busy picking ticks off her.  There were beautiful boat rides each evening on Kabekona.  Once, Lupe and SPHP got to hear a song at sunset sung every evening on the lake by several women in kayaks who are friends.

John and Joyce had been telling SPHP that there was a walking group that walks along the road S of Kabekona Lake each morning.  On the morning of the 23rd, Lupe’s last morning at Kabekona, Lupe, John, Joyce & SPHP joined the walking group.  It was just a short stroll, but there were 4 other dogs for Lupe to sniff with.  She had a good time trotting along the road as part of this big pack of friendly dogs and people.

Sunset from the boat on Kabekona Lake was a wonderful way to end each day.
Sunset on Kabekona Lake.  Lupe got to enjoy several long lingering sunsets from the boat, but this one was photographed from the dock.
Lupe's last sunset from the boat on Kabekona Lake.
Lupe’s last sunset from the boat on Kabekona Lake.

Around 3 PM on the 23rd, Lupe thanked her great uncle John and great aunt Joyce for the lovely time at the cabin.  It was time to head back to the Black Hills.  The trip was broken up by a stop at great uncle Andy’s and great aunt Connie’s home in Bismarck, ND.  Lupe spent the 24th at Andy & Connie’s.

Lupe and SPHP found a big still undeveloped field near Andy & Connie’s home where there proved to be jackrabbits and pheasants to chase.  Lupe jumped sideways practically out of her fur in shock and alarm the first time a pheasant flew up unexpectedly right next to her.  Lupe and SPHP also walked Andy & Connie’s yellow lab, King III.  King III was 13 years old though and has a hard time getting around, so it was a disappointingly brief and slow walk for Lupe.

Great aunt Connie and King III welcomed Lupe to Bismarck, ND.
Great aunt Connie and King III welcomed Lupe to Bismarck, ND.

Lupe and SPHP headed W on I-90 again on the 25th.  By the time Lupe was in Dickinson, it was raining hard.  Instead of turning S at Dickinson, SPHP continued W and didn’t turn S until reaching Hwy 85.

SPHP had seen on the highway map that the highest point in North Dakota, White Butte (3,506 ft.), was just E of the highway S of the little town of Amidon, which claims to be the nation’s smallest county seat.  SPHP was hoping to climb White Butte with Lupe for her peakbagging, and was encouraged when the rain stopped.  Unfortunately, SPHP should have done some research beforehand.  The area is all private ranch land.  Despite making several inquiries, SPHP was not able to locate the landowner.  After wasting more than an hour, SPHP gave up on White Butte for this trip.  Lupe did see White Butte, but that’s not the same as climbing it!

In NW South Dakota was some very pretty and desolate looking territory in the Cave Hills area with some interesting high points and ridges, especially to the W of the highway.  As Lupe got closer to her beloved Black Hills, there was a huge thundercloud off to the W too.  The rain and lightning started before Lupe reached Newell, SD.  A few miles S of Newell was an absolute cloudburst, with ferocious wind and lightning.  When the hail started in, SPHP turned the G6 around and retreated back to Newell.  There Lupe waited out the storm in the G6 parked beneath the canopy at the Conoco Station.  Lots of other people were taking refuge there too.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200
Lupe and the G6 at the Kabekona cabin, June 2014

The storm passed and Lupe moved on.  When she got home, she ran next door to Dog Heaven to claim her treat and feel the love.  Lupe’s 2014 Kabekona Lake adventure was over.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 131 – Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls) & Little Devil’s Tower (5-30-15)

May, 2015 has been a wonderful month for the Black Hills of South Dakota.  After a very dry start to the year, May brought snow and rain in abundance.  Now everything is greening up, looking beautiful and the lakes and streams are full of water.  Lupe, however, has been rather bored much of May.  The wet weather prevented her from getting out like she is used to.  This day, however, promised to be clear, bright and perfect for a long day in the hills.

SPHP chose Harney Peak (7,242 ft.), the highest mountain in the Black Hills as Lupe’s primary goal for the day, with a side trip to Little Devil’s Tower (6,960 ft.) afterwards.  SPHP made this choice for three reasons: (1) it’s always fun to climb the highest mountain around, (2) the 360° views from Harney are hard to beat in the Black Hills, and (3) time may be running out to climb Harney Peak again before the name gets changed to Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls).  Lupe cares not one whit about the name of the mountain, she was just excited to be going out on an adventure again.

SPHP parked the G6 at the Willow Creek trailhead (accessed from Hwy 244 about 5 miles NW of Mt. Rushmore near the Palmer Gulch KOA) at 8:51 AM.  At 47 °F, it was still a bit cool out, but the skies were almost completely cloudless and a brilliant blue.  It would warm up fast.  The trail up to Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls) from the Willow Creek trailhead is longer than the most popular route, which starts at Sylvan Lake, but Lupe would encounter far fewer people and there are some great lookout points along the way.

Lupe near Willow Creek Trail No. 8 approaching Elkhorn Mountain.
Lupe near Willow Creek Trail No. 8 approaching Elkhorn Mountain.

Lupe took the portion of Trail No. 8 that is closest to Hwy 244 to Trail No. 9.  She followed Trail No. 9 past Elkhorn Mountain and then all the way up to the summit of Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls).  She only saw 3 people and 1 dog (by the name of “Doc”) the entire way until reaching the short spur on Trail No. 9 that goes up to the to the top of Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls).

Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls) from near Trail No. 9 which ultimately leads to the summit.
Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls) from near Trail No. 9 which ultimately leads to the summit.
As Trail No. 9 rises to about the level of Elkhorn Mountain, there are lots of lookout points like this one along the way. This photo looks S.
As Trail No. 9 rises to about the level of Elkhorn Mountain, there are lots of lookout points like this one along the way. This photo looks S.

[Note:  SPHP sincerely hopes that (Making of Owls) gets dropped from the official name if Hinhan Kaga is adopted.  Nothing says this name was created by a board of bureaucrats as much as an official 5 word name in two different languages including a pair of parenthesis!  Tired of typing all that already.  Better to let the meaning of Hinhan Kaga go unknown to those who don’t have any interest in googling it, than to adopt such an unwieldy name.  SPHP is setting an example and dropping (Making of Owls) here and now.]

Peakbagger fans, that's Peak 6735 in the distance.
Peakbagger fans, that’s Peak 6735 in the distance.
Looking SE now. The square block of rock on the left in the distance is the back side of Mt. Rushmore.
Looking SE now. The square block of rock on the left in the distance is the back side of Mt. Rushmore (5,725 ft.) .  (Not the rock at the very left, but the larger one beyond and a bit to the right.)
Now looking W. Gap Lode Peak is shown in the right half of this shot. The closer, higher stuff is part of the N slope of Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
Now looking W.  Gap Lode Peak (6,560 ft.) is shown in the center of the right half of this shot. The closer, higher stuff on the left is part of the N slope of Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
Lupe in the flat rocks area. These photos are all from the portion of the Harney Peak Trail No. 9 that is NE of Harney Peak. This is a longer approach to the summit than taking this same Trail No. 9 from the W at Sylvan Lake, which is the shorter and most popular route.
Lupe in the flat rocks area. These photos are all from the portion of the Harney Peak Trail No. 9 that is NE of Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga. This is a longer approach to the summit than taking this same Trail No. 9 from the W at Sylvan Lake, which is the shorter and most popular route.
Lupe still in the flat rocks area. This photo is looking WSW towards Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
Lupe still in the flat rocks area. This photo is looking WSW towards Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
Peak 6735 from a bit higher now.
Peak 6735 from a bit higher now.  Lupe enjoyed drinking out of the water holes in the granite.
Gaining elevation, Lupe is now getting close to the No. 9 spur trail to the summit. Looking ESE from here. The back side of Mt. Rushmore is visible again.
Gaining elevation, Lupe is now getting close to the No. 9 spur trail to the summit. Looking ESE from here. The back side of Mt. Rushmore is visible again at center right.  Gotta like that look of dingo dogged determination to get up to the top!

However, hordes of people and dogs were coming up the portion of Trail No. 9 that comes up from Sylvan Lake.  The last spur of Trail No. 9 to the top of Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga was just plain crowded.  Everyone was in good spirits, though, and having a good time.  After Lupe reached the lookout tower, Lupe and SPHP went down over to the far end of the massive granite W shoulder of the mountain.

Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga lookout tower at the summit. Lupe has already been there by now. Lupe's 5th successful climb of the mountain!
Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga lookout tower at the summit. Lupe has already been there by now. Lupe’s 5th successful climb of the mountain!
The little reservoir on Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
The little reservoir on Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
A happy Carolina dog or American Dingo on Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
A happy Carolina dog or American Dingo on Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
Looking S towards Cathedral Spires (L) and Little Devil's Tower (R) from Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.
Looking S towards Cathedral Spires (L) and Little Devil’s Tower (R) which all look like part of the same ridge in this shot from Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.  Little Devil’s Tower is where Lupe was headed next passing close by the Cathedral Spires on the way.

There, Lupe had some Taste of the Wild and water.  She tried laying down to rest, but the granite wasn’t very comfy – in fact, not comfy at all.  She wanted to chase chipmunks, but SPHP wouldn’t allow that with cliffs all around.  Lupe posed for a few pictures and watched chipmunks.  The views were magnificent, and SPHP stayed admiring them for some time.  SPHP chatted with 3 geology students and took pictures of the 3 of them together when asked.  Then, with Little Devil’s Tower still on the itinerary, it was time to move on.

Heading back down Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga on Trail No. 9 heading towards Sylvan Lake is this view of Peak 6735 to the S.
Soon after starting back down Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga on Trail No. 9 towards Sylvan Lake is this view of Peak 6735 to the S.  Crazy SPHP wanted to climb Peak 6735 this day too, but there wasn’t time.  Lupe and SPHP have been there once before though.  There is no trail, but there are a million beetle-killed pine trees to climb over, under, around or through to get there.  Very time consuming!
Approaching the Cathedral Spires. SPHP forgets if this is part of Trail No. 3 or No. 4.
Approaching the Cathedral Spires (6,840 ft.). SPHP forgets if this is part of Trail No. 3 or No. 4.
American Dingo Lupe spotted near Cathedral Spires! Little Devil's Tower is o the right.
American Dingo Lupe spotted near Cathedral Spires! Little Devil’s Tower is the big rock farthest to the right still a little way off.
Lupe above Trail No. 4 near its junction with the Cathedral Spires Trail.
Lupe above Trail No. 4 near its junction with the Cathedral Spires Trail.

From Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga, Lupe and SPHP went back down the spur trail to the rest of Trail No. 9 and started following it towards Sylvan Lake.  Before long Lupe reached the junction with Trail No. 3 and took it.  Trail No. 3 led to Trail No. 4 and then to the Little Devil’s Tower trail.  Lupe saw only a few people on Trails No. 3 & 4.  It was a different story on the Little Devil’s Tower trail.  Even a two year old girl was clambering up Little Devil’s Tower.  At the summit, Lupe and SPHP were never alone for more than a minute or two, but at least there weren’t so many people as up at Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.

Lupe's 3rd successful summit of Little Devil's Tower. This photo looks N back at Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga, where she had just come from.
Lupe’s 3rd successful summit of Little Devil’s Tower. This photo looks N back at Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga, where she had just come from.
Cathedral Spires from Little Devil's Tower. The last bit of climb up Little Devil's Tower is a rock scramble that isn't too hard. A two year old girl was making her way up the mountain with help over the tough spots.
Cathedral Spires from Little Devil’s Tower. The last bit of climb up Little Devil’s Tower is a rock scramble that isn’t too hard. A two year old girl was making her way up the mountain with help over the tough spots.
The beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota as seen looking NW from Little Devil's Tower.
The beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota as seen looking NW from Little Devil’s Tower.
One mighty fine looking Loopster up on Little Devil's Tower.
Pretty girl Loopster up on Little Devil’s Tower.

The views from Little Devil’s Tower are almost as grand as those from Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga.  Lupe posed for some more photos.  She finished off the rest of the Taste of the Wild.  She wanted to chase chipmunks again, but the summit area is considerably smaller than up at Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga, and cliffs were close at hand in almost all directions.  Lupe again had to settle for chipmunk watching while SPHP gazed out at the Black Hills.

When it was time to go, Lupe retraced the trail taken to Little Devil’s Tower as far back as Trail No. 9.  There Lupe and SPHP took Trail No. 9 heading down towards Sylvan Lake.  Lupe followed Trail No. 9 only as far as the intersection with the Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 spur trail for horses.  Lupe and SPHP had never been on this spur trail for horses before.  No one else was on it.  The path looked seldom used by people or horses.  It wound through some very scenic large granite formations and offered up pretty nice views of Little Devil’s Tower in places.  Most of the way it was close to the upper reaches of Palmer Creek, too.  With all the recent rains, Palmer Creek had good flow in it.  Lupe could have a drink whenever she wanted.

On her way back now to the G6. Lupe on Trail No. 9 not far from the junction with the Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 horse spur.
On her way back now to the G6. Lupe on Trail No. 9 not far from the junction with the Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 horse spur.  The big rock is Little Devil’s Tower.
Little Devil's Tower is at the left. This view was taken from the Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 horse spur.
Little Devil’s Tower is at the left. This view was taken from the Lost Cabin Trail No. 2 horse spur.
Lupe in Palmer Creek.
Lupe wading in Palmer Creek.

The spur trail went about a mile before reaching the main Lost Cabin Trail No. 2. Lupe followed the main Trail No. 2 for miles back to a junction with Trail No. 8 a short distance from the Willow Creek trailhead.  The sun was already behind the hills by the time Lupe reached the G6 again.  It was 8:09 PM and 58 °F.  Lupe had been gone for over 11 hours.  She had made a huge loop around Harney Peak or Hinhan Kaga, plus taken side trips up to the summit of it and Little Devil’s Tower.  Although SPHP was feeling the effects of the outing, Lupe was still full of energy.  She stood up with her nose out the window of the G6 sniffing the air most of the way home.

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