The Takakkaw Falls parking lot is at the end of Yoho Valley Road about 14 km from Trans-Canada Hwy 1. Yoho Valley Road is accessed from Trans-Canada Hwy 1 a few miles NE of the little community of Field along the Kicking Horse River. Yoho Valley Road is paved, but has a couple of exceptionally sharp hairpin curves. Taking long vehicles (motorhomes, trailers) up this road is inadvisable.
The morning after Lupe’s big day going from Emerald Lake all the way up to the high point of the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park, SPHP didn’t have any concrete plans for the day. SPHP thought maybe Lupe could go check out the Lake O’Hara area. Neither Lupe nor SPHP had ever been there before, and Lake O’Hara has a fabulous reputation. There were plenty of trails to explore in the area, too.
After breakfast at a picnic area along the Bow Parkway, Lupe and SPHP headed back into British Columbia on Trans-Canada Hwy No. 1. When Lupe and SPHP left Hwy 1 and got on the road to Lake O’Hara, it ended almost immediately at a couple of large parking lots filled with cars. A sign said access to was restricted to a shuttle bus ride (none in sight and bound to be expensive) or walking 13+ km (all uphill) to where the shuttle bus drop off point was. Lupe may have had it in her, but after the previous long day, SPHP did not want to hike uphill that far just to get to a starting point.
Instead, Lupe and SPHP went to Takakkaw Falls. On the previous day, Lupe and SPHP had spectacular distant views of the falls from the Highline and Iceline trails.
This time, Lupe was going to get up close and view the mighty Takakkaw Falls from below. It was a short walk from the parking lot to a very nice footbridge over the Yoho River. An easy trail led to the base of the falls.
According to Wikipedia, the highest point of Takakkaw Falls is 302 meters or 991 feet above its base, although there is really only 260 meters or 850 feet of true free-fall. Now matter how one looks at it, Takakkaw Falls is an impressive waterfall, especially on a hot summer day when the Daly Glacier (an arm of the Waputik Icefield) that feeds it is melting fast.
Lupe and SPHP took the trail up to just below the base of the falls. The cool mist felt great. The G6 had said it was 79 degrees F already back at the parking lot. The clear sunny day was going to be a scorcher by Canadian Rockies standards.
Refreshed by the cool mist, SPHP temporarily felt inspired to take Lupe up the Yoho River valley. Perhaps Lupe could go up to the Yoho Glacier or climb back up to the fabulous Iceline Trail again by another route? There were plenty of trails to explore, but they involved a lot of elevation gain.
Although Lupe and SPHP started up the Yoho River valley, it was not to be. Away from the cooling spray of Takakkaw Falls, SPHP soon started to wilt under the hot sun. Lupe had the energy and enthusiasm to go on, but despite the glorious scenery SPHP did not. SPHP’s sore feet and hot perspiring body clamored for an easier day. Maybe it was time to move on and go see something different; something that wasn’t going to involve so much up.
So Lupe and SPHP turned around shortly after starting on the trail up the Yoho River valley. Returning to the G6, SPHP drove drove back to Lake Louise Village. There SPHP gassed up the G6 to full before heading N on the Icefields Parkway, Hwy 93. Lupe and SPHP enjoyed a pleasant air conditioned drive up to Bow Lake. SPHP knew there was a beautiful trail with only modest elevation gain from the lake to Bow Glacier Falls.
A trail without a lot of elevation gain to another cool waterfall sounded like just the ticket. SPHP did have the energy to do that. Which is why Lupe’s next post will be about her successful journey to see Bow Glacier Falls.
Lupe and SPHP returned to Takakkaw Falls a year and a day later on 7-26-14. Lupe did get to go up the Yoho River valley and then climb up past Lake Celeste to reach the high point of the fabulous Iceline Trail again. Click here to see the post on her return to the Iceline Trail high point.
Lupe entered British Columbia for the first time on the morning of 7-24-13, Day 15 of her 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths/Canadian Rockies. Two or three km S of the small community of Field, SPHP turned right (W) off Trans-Canada Hwy 1 on Emerald Lake Road. A little over a km off Hwy 1, Lupe and SPHP stopped to view the Natural Bridge over the Kicking Horse River.
The Kicking Horse River had a powerful flood of glacial-silt laden water pouring under the Natural Bridge. It was an impressive scene, but far too dangerous for Dingoes to stay and play. Lupe and SPHP drove on the rest of the way to Emerald Lake, about 8 km from Hwy 1, arriving at the SW shore of the beautiful deep green lake around 8:30 AM.
SPHP’s original intention was for Lupe to take the 5.2 km trail around Emerald Lake. Just NE of the parking lot was a bridge for vehicles over a narrow arm of Emerald Lake. The bridge led to Emerald Lake Lodge. Lupe and SPHP crossed the bridge, went past the lodge and all of its cabins or condos, and picked up the trail around the lake. The trail led around the big SE bay of the lake and then turned N following the E shore. SPHP purposely chose to go around Emerald Lake counterclockwise in order to stay in the shade of the mountains as long as possible.
The forest and undergrowth along the trail was thick and lush. The trail was often a little distance from the lake shore, so all the vegetation frequently hid the lake from view. It was still early enough so Lupe met only a few people on the trail along the E shore of Emerald Lake.
At the N end of the lake, the terrain changed. The trail crossed a stream and left the dense forest behind. On the other side of the stream, the entire area along the N shore was rocky and nearly flat. There were only scattered trees and bushes. The entire area NNE of Emerald Lake was a giant alluvial fan of dirt and rocks deposited by braided streams originating from unseen glaciers in the mountains to the N or NW.
Lupe was near the NW end of Emerald Lake and about 2/3 of the way around it when she came to a side trail heading NNE to Yoho Pass and Yoho Lake. From Yoho Lake, SPHP knew Lupe could go on to Takakkaw Falls. It was tempting. After some hesitation and actually heading a short distance on past the trail to Yoho Pass, SPHP turned around. Lupe was going to go back and take the trail to Yoho Lake!
Lupe met a few people on the trail to Yoho Lake, but not too many. At first, the trail went through scrub forest over a maze of glacier melt streams running down the alluvial fan from NW to SE. The trail itself headed NNE toward a steep headwall. When Lupe reached the end of the alluvial fan, the real climb up to Yoho Pass began. Once the trail started up, it climbed steeply and relentlessly. Lupe passed close by a big waterfall that had been visible from a distance, and discovered an even more dramatic waterfall above it plunging down from a great height.
The climb up to Yoho Pass seemed long, hot and steep. Biting flies plagued Lupe and SPHP. Lupe was happy when very high up she came to some very small streams crossing the trail to drink from. SPHP was happy when the trail reached the forest and there was finally some shade. Eventually the trail started leveling out as it got closer to Yoho Pass.
Yoho Pass was beautiful. There weren’t any views due to the thick, shady forest, but there were lots of wildflowers around. From the pass, the trail descended gently for 0.7 km to Yoho Lake. Lots of people were at Yoho Lake. There is a campground at the lake, and a park ranger was busy giving a large group a guided nature tour.
Lupe and SPHP avoided all the people by following a trail SE a little way along the shore of Yoho Lake away from the campground. Lupe and SPHP sat down by the shore to enjoy the view and take a break and enjoy a snack. Biting flies were annoying, but at least there weren’t any mosquitoes.
The flies were a major distraction. SPHP was trying to deal with them when suddenly there was a huge splash. SPHP turned to see that 4 ducks – 2 adults and 2 young ones – were swimming by. Lupe had charged into the lake, leash and all, after them! SPHP was amazed. Normally Lupe won’t enter water where she can’t touch bottom. She also normally comes when called, but Lupe had duck dinner in mind. SPHP was alarmed. This was going to be hard to explain to the park ranger, if Lupe didn’t get out of Yoho Lake quickly.
The ducks had no problem dealing with the situation. They didn’t even bother to swim away. Instead the whole duck family swam back and forth as a group flotilla leading the eager, but slow-swimming Carolina Dog on a merry chase. The ducks acted more like they were expecting to be fed than become dinner themselves. They wanted to see what SPHP had in the way of snacks. SPHP convinced Lupe to get out of the lake before hypothermia set in. Lupe seemed disappointed that duck wasn’t on the menu, but greatly refreshed from her brisk swim in Yoho Lake.
There were a couple of other problems at Yoho Lake. Although SPHP had led Lupe here thinking it would be fun to go on to Takakkaw Falls, that meant losing a ton of elevation heading down into Yoho Valley. The more SPHP thought about it, the less SPHP wanted to lose that hard won elevation gained coming up to Yoho Pass, especially since it would all have to be regained again in just a few hours on the return trip. Furthermore, virtually all of the people arriving at Yoho Lake seemed to be coming up from the trail leading down to Yoho Valley and Takakkaw Falls. Large groups were coming from that direction.
SPHP’s aversions to crowds and losing elevation made SPHP consider whether or not Lupe should just head back to Emerald Lake, or go on to Takkakaw Falls. Fortunately, a 3rd option presented itself. A much less used trail, the Highline Trail heads N from Yoho Lake to the Iceline Trail high up on the W slopes of Yoho Valley. The Highline Trail actually gains elevation on the way to the Iceline Trail, which appealed to SPHP. Better yet, SPHP had read good things about the Iceline Trail. Maybe Takakkaw Falls could be seen across Yoho Valley from the Highline or Iceline trails?
So Lupe took the Highline Trail heading N. It was a great decision. At first the Highline Trail climbed steeply, switchbacking around in the forest, but then it leveled out and continued N high up on the ridge forming the W side of Yoho Valley. Lupe and SPHP heard it first – the distant roar of water plunging off a mountain. Soon a splendid view of Takakkaw Falls appeared.
Lupe and SPHP met no one at all on the Highline Trail. Before reaching the Iceline Trail, the Highline Trail broke out of the forest into the open. The views were amazing. When Lupe got to the Iceline Trail, the views got even better! The Iceline Trail resumed climbing and took Lupe way up above tree line into a stunning world of rock, water, ice, towering peaks and sky. Lupe started meeting small groups of people again as soon as she hit the Iceline Trail. It was immediately apparent why they were all here.
After a while, the Iceline Trail climbed more slowly. It went over a series of ridges, each one moderately higher than the last. Streams rushed down each little valley from the small glaciers a short distance above Lupe and SPHP. Finally Lupe came to the highest ridge. She had a view to the NW of Mt. McArthur, Isolated Peak and Whaleback Mountain(8,586 ft.) beyond the deep green valley of the Little Yoho River.
From this highest ridge, a spur from the Iceline Trail led a short distance up onto a barren rocky hill, the highest point along the Iceline Trail. Lupe and SPHP took the spur trail and reached the summit. Glaciers could be seen in every direction – the scene was splendid at every point of the compass. A couple of hikers and their dog joined Lupe and SPHP for a little while at the Iceline Trail high point, but left again. Lupe and SPHP lingered up there somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour.
By now it was starting to get late in the day. It was a long way back to Emerald Lake. Lupe and SPHP had to start back. It was a spectacular, beautiful hike all the way back to the G6. The weather was perfect, the trail was nearly all downhill, and Lupe was having a blast exploring and sniffing. Before leaving the high glacier streams, SPHP filled the water bottles with glacier water. SPHP drank a bunch of it untreated and never had any ill effects from it.
Once Lupe got back to the Highline Trail, the only people she met all the way back to Emerald Lake were a few near Yoho Lake. Lupe completed her circumnavigation of Emerald Lake by taking the trail along the W shore back to the G6. The sun was still shining on the tops of the highest peaks when Lupe and SPHP arrived at 9:38 PM. Lupe’s 5.2 km trek around Emerald Lake had turned into a 13 hour day. And what a glorious day it was!
Lupe and SPHP returned to the high point of the Iceline Trail a year and two days later on 7-26-14 using a different route starting from down at Takakkaw Falls. Click here to see that post.
“No scene has ever given me an equal impression of inspiring solitude and rugged grandeur. I stood on a great stone of the moraine where, from a slight elevation, a magnificent view of the lake lay before me, and while studying the details of this unknown and unvisited spot, spent the happiest half-hour of my life.” – Walter Wilcox, 1905, six years after “discovering” Moraine Lake with Ross Peacock.
The morning of July 23, 2013 was totally overcast, almost foggy at Lake Louise Village. SPHP had decided to return for more exploration of the Moraine Lake area with Lupe, but the day didn’t look very promising. Moraine Lake was only 14 km away from the turn off the road to Lake Louise. Half-way there, Lupe and SPHP drove out of the gloom and into brilliant sunshine.
The inspiring solitude Walter Wilcox experienced at Moraine Lake in 1905 is long gone. Now crowds swarm over the rock pile at the E end of Moraine Lake just across the outlet stream. On summer days the large parking lot fills quickly with cars, and they then line the road for long distances. Buses bring more people. It was still early when Lupe and SPHP arrived. Early enough so there were still plenty of places to park in the parking lot, although they were going fast.
Lupe and SPHP took the very short Rock Loop trail leading up to the top of the “rock pile” from which Walter Wilcox had viewed the lake. Hordes of tourists were already there. Although the inspiring solitude is history, the rugged grandeur remains. The striking colorful beauty of the waters of Moraine Lake beyond which lay towering peaks of the Valley of Ten Peaks didn’t even look real. The whole scene looked like a fake impossibly beautiful postcard – but it was all real.
After visiting the Rock Pile, Lupe and SPHP took the 1.1 km Moraine Lake Lakeshore Trail. The Lakeshore Trail goes along the forested shore on the right side of the photos above to the far end of the lake.
On the previous day, Lupe and SPHP had gone up to see Eiffel Lake and the upper end of the Valley of Ten Peaks. However, Lupe and SPHP had not yet been on the 3 km long Consolation Lakes trail which starts just below the Rock Pile at Moraine Lake.
Due to recent grizzly bear activity in the area there was a requirement that people hiking all these trails stay in groups of at least 4 or face a $5,000 fine. Lupe and SPHP waited at the start of the Consolation Lakes trail for a likely group to join. Although far fewer people were interested in seeing Consolation Lakes than Moraine Lake, it didn’t take long before SPHP and Lupe were on the way as part of a large group of kids led by a couple of adults.
The trek to Consolation Lakes was through a forest virtually all the way, so there weren’t really any big views. The trail was broad and easy to follow. It gained elevation at a slow to moderate pace. Approaching Lower Consolation Lake, the forest gave way to a broad flat valley of meadows through which a stream flowed. The meadows ended at a large boulder field which had to be traversed to get to the shore of the lake. Lupe and SPHP went boulder-hopping and wound up sitting on a boulder at the water’s edge relaxing.
Lupe and SPHP stayed there at the edge of Lower Consolation Lake for quite a long while. There were plenty of people around, but not nearly so many as back at Moraine Lake. Upper Consolation Lake, which is slightly smaller, was just out of sight beyond Lower Consolation Lake. Every 15 or 20 minutes or so the rumbling roar of a large snowfall could be heard from a valley to the right beyond Lower Consolation Lake. That valley was also out of sight, but seemed to be in front of and to the W (right) of Bident and Quadra Mountains.
Unfortunately, the trail did not extend past the boulder field at the N end of Lower Consolation Lake. SPHP thought it would be great fun for Lupe to explore over to Upper Consolation Lake, from which the source of the rumblings could probably be seen. (According to maps, likely snow falling off glaciers on Mt. Fay.) No one else seemed to be interested in heading over there, however. With the minimum 4 in a group rule in effect due to grizzly bears, Lupe and SPHP could not go over there alone.
The return to Moraine Lake was uneventful. After eating dinner at a picnic ground along the Bow Parkway and spending a little time at Lake Louise Village, Lupe and SPHP went to Lake Louise. SPHP sat on a bench with Lupe and wrote postcards. A low-flying helicopter flew directly overhead and got Lupe all excited. The helicopter hovered for a little while over the far end of the lake.
After Lupe’s trek up the Paradise Valley trail to see Lake Annette and the Giant Steps in Paradise Valley, there was still time left in the day for more Canadian Rockies exploring. Nema and Danielle, who had joined Lupe for the Paradise Valley trip, were interested in taking the trail from Moraine Lake up to Larch Valley and perhaps even on to Sentinel Pass. They were willing to let Lupe and SPHP join them.
After a 12 km drive over to Moraine Lake, where it was just late enough in the day so a few parking spots were opening up again, Lupe met up with Nema and Danielle again. Danielle unexpectedly announced that she wasn’t feeling energetic enough for another trail, but after a few minutes, Nema convinced her to come along. Soon Lupe, Nema, Danielle & SPHP were heading up the trail.
The trail to Eiffel Lake starts at Moraine Lake. For about 3 km it is the same trail that also heads up to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass, beyond which is Paradise Valley where Lupe had been earlier in the day. The trail climbs fairly steeply through a forest the entire way up to where it splits. Although it had been overcast and occasionally sprinkling rain earlier in the day in Paradise Valley, by now it was fairly sunny out. It started feeling rather warm going uphill. Lupe and SPHP were glad the trail was in the shady forest.
Due to the forest, other than a few occasional glimpses, there really weren’t any views on this first stretch of trail. The trail was very busy. By now most people were going down, but there were still some heading up too. Lupe became a pied piper. Part way up, Lupe met Peter and Verna. Peter and Verna live on an island in eastern Canada. They were returning from a trip to see their daughter who lives in northern British Columbia. Peter and Verna joined Lupe’s hiking party. Chatting with Peter and Verna helped the last long section of switchbacks go by a little faster.
There was a bench at the place where the trails divided. The trail to the left went to Eiffel Lake and beyond to Wenkchemna Pass. The trail to the right went on to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. Most people head for Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. Although Nema and Danielle also originally intended to go to Larch Valley, that trail still had considerable elevation gain ahead, whereas the trail to Eiffel Lake from here would be nearly level. Nema and Daniel decided to skip Larch Valley and head for Eiffel Lake. There would be great views of the famous Valley of Ten Peaks, the lower end of which is occupied by Moraine Lake, along the way.
A young ranger woman was stationed at the trail intersection. She was lecturing everyone about staying in groups of 4 as required due to recent grizzly activity in the general area. She was pleasant enough about it, although it seemed a bit silly as there were lots of people hiking this trail. SPHP doubted there were any grizzlies around when there was such a crowd.
Still, the law allows for a penalty of $5,000 for non-compliance. The penalty seemed pretty ridiculously high, considering it could be enforced whether there was any grizzly or not. On the other hand, the ranger was armed with a rifle, too, so it was possible the penalty could be much higher yet. SPHP asked the ranger how many hikers she had shot with the rifle for non-compliance so far. She replied “none” in good humor. SPHP decided not to press the issue so that answer would remain the same.
While the which way should we go discussion and ranger chat was taking place, Lupe was busy making friends with a couple who sounded like they were from Germany. They had their two daughters with them and were resting on the bench. By the time a decision had been made to head for Eiffel Lake, Lupe had added the German family to her hiking party, too. Now Lupe had nine hikers with her including SPHP. This was very unusual, but fine with SPHP since it meant there was little chance of being eaten by grizzlies or shot by the government.
Lupe’s whole group took the trail to the left heading for Eiffel Lake. Danielle led the way. She must have recovered her lost energy. She was slender and lightly built, but had great stamina and moved quickly. The rest of the party had trouble keeping up with her. Eventually Peter and Verna gave up trying and turned back.
From where the trails divided, the Eiffel Lake trail was wonderful. The trail was quite high up on the lower slopes of Eiffel Peak(10,095 ft.) and nearly level. Not too far from the bench where the trails divided, there started to be openings in the forest with tremendous views of the Valley of Ten Peaks.
The trail eventually crossed one big snowbank shortly before Eiffel Lake came into view. By now the German family had been left behind, too, although they were still on their way. Lupe’s hiking group was back down to just Danielle, Nema and SPHP.
The scenery was magnificent everywhere one looked. The Eiffel Lake trail doesn’t actually go down to Eiffel Lake. Instead it stays 30 to 40 meters above the lake and skirts it a little way off to the N. Ultimately the trail heads W all the way up to Wenkchemna Pass. Lupe and SPHP would have loved to go on to Wenkchemna Pass, but Nema and Danielle were done. It was clouding up again and threatening to rain anyway.
Reluctantly, Lupe and SPHP turned around and started following Nema and Danielle back. Danielle outpaced everyone and disappeared from view. Nema and SPHP chatted while Lupe kept a sharp eye and two ears out for squirrels. Near the end of the return trip it did start to rain. Around 6:00 PM, Lupe was back at Moraine Lake. Nema and SPHP spotted Danielle ahead in the parking lot. She was already on her way to their vehicle. She waved and shouted back at Lupe and SPHP that it had been nice to meet us. Lupe and SPHP said goodbye to Nema.
Nema and Danielle were going to go up to Jasper the next day. They had reservations to spend several days hiking the Skyline Trail near Maligne Lake. After that they planned on working their way S along the Icefields Parkway, so there was some slim chance that Lupe and SPHP might meet up with them somewhere again as Lupe and SPHP worked their way N, but Lupe never saw them again.
On the morning of 7-22-13, the 13th day of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation, Lupe and SPHP explored the trail up Paradise Valley in Banff National Park to Lake Annette and the Giant Steps. The Paradise Valley trailhead is 2.5 km south along the road to Moraine Lake from the road to Lake Louise from Lake Louise Village. At the trailhead, Lupe and SPHP met and were joined by a couple from Maryland who both work for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They were Nema (mechanical engineer) and Danielle (international relations). Nema and Danielle both had the same objectives in mind.
The first part of the trip the trail climbed through a forest with no views. However, fairly early on, there was a moose wandering through the forest, which was pretty cool. Eventually the trail started coming to stream crossings over Paradise Creek. Fortunately there were good wooden bridges. At the Paradise Creek crossings, the views opened up somewhat. Unfortunately, the day was overcast, with sprinkles of rain now and then. The views weren’t what they might have been under better conditions.
Lupe reached Lake Annette 6.7 km from the Paradise Creek trailhead. Lake Annette was a very pretty turquoise blue-green color. It is nestled at the base of Mt. Temple(11,614 ft.), the highest mountain in the Lake Louise vicinity.
Mosquitoes at Lake Annette encouraged Lupe and everyone else to keep moving right along. The trail went back into the forest for a while, but eventually leveled out and came to an open area of loose rocks. It was really a shame the sky wasn’t clear, because from here there would have been some great views of Paradise Valley and Mt. Hungabee(11,450 ft.) at the head of the valley with remnants of the Horseshoe glacier at its base.
The trail went back into the forest and soon reached a junction 2.6 km beyond Lake Annette. One way the trail went 2.4 km up to Sentinel Pass. On the other side of Sentinel Pass it continued on to Moraine Lake and the Valley of Tens Peaks. (SPHP suddenly realized that it would have been a lot more fun if one of the vehicles had been left at Moraine Lake, so Lupe and her new friends could have continued on over Sentinel Pass after visiting the Giant Steps. Everyone agreed this would have been the thing to do.)
Lupe and the rest of the group took the other branch of the trail that led 1.5 km down into Paradise Valley to the Giant Steps. There was a campground near the Giant Steps, but it was closed due to frequent grizzly bear activity.
SPHP was disappointed that there wasn’t any trail continuing upstream from the Giant Steps towards Mt. Hungabee and the remnants of the Horseshoe glacier.
Since SPHP hadn’t realized at the beginning that it would have been better to have one of the vehicles at parked at Moraine Lake so a trip over Sentinel Pass would have made sense, once Lupe was done at the Giant Steps her entire party had to retrace the whole 10+ km route back past Lake Annette all the way to the Paradise Creek trailhead. The return trip was uneventful, except that Nema saw a black bear. Lupe, Danielle and SPHP never saw it, although SPHP did briefly hear something crashing through the forest.
Lupe arrived in Canada for the very first time on the morning of July 20, 2013. By afternoon she was in Banff in the beautiful Canadian Rockies. Lupe and SPHP toured Banff the rest of the day and all morning on the 21st, but by afternoon it was time to leave the crowds behind. Lupe and SPHP left Banff heading W in the G6 on Trans-Canada Hwy No. 1.
SPHP intended to take Lupe to Sunshine Meadows, which isn’t far from Banff. From Sunshine Meadows, Lupe and SPHP could take the trail up over Healy Pass to explore the Egypt Lake area. SPHP left Hwy 1 intending to head up to Sunshine Meadows, but almost immediately found out that the road was closed for construction. Heavy rains in June, 2013 had flooded and damaged the road.
Lupe and SPHP wound up driving on to Lake Louise, arriving a bit after 3:00 PM. It was a bad time to arrive. All the parking lots were full and cars were parked alongside the road for a great distance. Lupe is a lucky dingo though, and SPHP soon found a parking place in the upper parking lot near the lake.
Lake Louise was gorgeous and busy. Most of the crowds were at the NE end of the lake near the Chateau Lake Louise and the boathouse where they rent out canoes. There was still time for Lupe and SPHP to make the round trip hike up to the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail beyond Lake Louise and back. Lupe and SPHP set off on the Lakeshore trail. The Lakeshore trail goes a little over 2 km right along the NW shore of Lake Louise heading SW with little or no elevation gain.
Lupe continued beyond Lake Louise on the Plain of Six Glaciers trail, which soon starts climbing as it continues up the valley towards Mt. Victoria. A few km on the Plain of Six Glaciers trail brought Lupe to the Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse. Lupe just isn’t that big on tea or coffee, although she probably would have gone for some cookies or chocolate cake if SPHP had mentioned that the teahouse had those delicacies as well.
From the Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse, it was another 1.3 km to the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail at the base of Mt. Victoria. Lupe and SPHP continued on to the very end of the trail.
SPHP never did figure out what six glaciers the trail was named after. The only really big glacier in view was the Victoria Glacier coming down through The Death Trap. Presumably some of the glaciers have melted away over the years. Lupe and SPHP still had a great time going up to the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail. The trail is in very good condition and even relatively small children can manage it.
Although the trail had been very crowded when Lupe and SPHP had left Chateau Lake Louise earlier in the afternoon, Lupe and SPHP were the very last to leave from the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail. The trail was now deserted.
On the way back to Lake Louise, not long after passing the teahouse, Lupe and SPHP saw a wolverine ahead on the trail. At first the wolverine seemed rather curious and stared at Lupe. Lupe stared back intently at the wolverine. After pondering Lupe for a few moments, the wolverine concluded it had better not tangle with an American Dingo. It ran away out of sight down the trail. The wolverine had a rather peculiar gait, a kind of loping along.
It turned out the wolverine had not left the trail. Instead, it had stopped to see if Lupe was still coming. Lupe and SPHP caught up with the wolverine several more times before the wolverine decided to quit the trail and go into the brush. That was the last Lupe saw of the wolverine. Lupe was rather fortunate to see a wild wolverine at all. Wolverines are quite rare.
The wolverine wasn’t the only wildlife Lupe saw. Once back at Lake Louise, when Lupe was almost to the parking lot, she saw a porcupine. Despite wolverines’ reputation for ferocity, it turns out porcupines are much braver than wolverines. The porcupine was not the least bit afraid of American Dingoes. The porcupine took its sweet time sauntering across the trail before Lupe could pass.Lupe and SPHP returned to Lake Louise a year later on July 24, 2014 to make the hike up to the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail again. Click here for photos and commentary from that trip!
After Lupe’s success at reaching a viewpoint over Sky Pilot Lake in the Beartooth Mountains of southern Montana and subsequent somewhat exciting retreat during a thunderstorm on 7-17-13, SPHP thought it was about time for Lupe to move on to the next part of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation. It was time for Lupe to see a new country – beautiful Canada! So the plan on 7-18-13 was to get everything organized, packed up, and head out for Canada.
It didn’t happen. Mick from the motorhome parked near Lupe’s “tiny house” (tent) came over in the morning. He was very friendly and chatty. He had lots of interesting and amusing tales from his wild partying days years ago in the music industry in England. As the day wore on, Mick offered free beer. The first beer pretty much put an end to any ambitions SPHP had for the day. After the 15.5 hour adventure to Sky Pilot Lake the previous day, both Lupe and SPHP were perfectly content to spend the entire day lounging around at the beautiful campsite on the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River hanging out with Mick.
While Mick clearly missed the good old days back in England, he was pretty high on America, too. He told about how his wife had put $17,000 into some tech stock after the stock market crash in late 2008 or early 2009. Mick had been a bit nervous about it, but that stock was now worth over $400,000. After that, he no longer questions his wife’s investment decisions. She is free to invest as she pleases. Mick was quite a character and regaled SPHP with one tale after another like this. After a few beers, it all became somewhat fuzzy, but very amusing nonetheless.
The next morning found Lupe and SPHP still camped at the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River. Both Lupe and SPHP felt way more energetic after the very relaxing prior day spent with Mick. After a couple of hours spent cleaning, writing and packing up; it was time to bid a fond farewell to Pilot and Index Peaks and the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River. Mick was up and bid Lupe and SPHP bon voyage. Lupe and SPHP then hopped in the G6 and headed out over spectacular Beartooth Pass.
The rest of 7-19-13 was spent on a very pleasant drive heading N across central Montana. Lupe had loads of chances to bark enthusiastically at cows, horses and haystacks along the way. After various stops along the way, evening came. Lupe and SPHP spent the night in the G6 at a rest stop along I-15 N of Dutton, Montana.
At 8:00 AM on 7-20-13, Lupe entered Canada for the first time. SPHP had all the proper documentation along for Lupe to enter Canada, but the border agent didn’t even ask for any of it. At Lethbridge, Lupe and SPHP went for a walk in a park along the Oldman River. Then it was back into the G6 and on to the fabulous Canadian Rockies!
Lupe reached Banff a little after mid-afternoon. Banff is a very busy tourist town on the Bow River in the Canadian Rockies. Normally SPHP doesn’t like busy places, but Banff is an exception – Banff is great! The scenery is gorgeous and there are lots of things to see and do in Banff, although many are not for American Dingoes. SPHP was thrilled to be back in Banff again. Lupe was here for the very first time. It was time for a walk!
Lupe and SPHP found the cemetery near the Bow River where Bill Peyto is buried. Naturally, Lupe couldn’t go in, so she continued on to cross a nice, new (since SPHP was last there) footbridge across the Bow River. There were lots of people around and plenty of other doggies to sniff with. Lupe followed a trail downstream along the Bow River until coming to a place where she had to turn back, because dingoes weren’t allowed any further.
Lupe and SPHP took various walks along the Bow River and in downtown Banff. Lupe was rather bewildered and overwhelmed at first by the throngs of tourists, but soon learned to enjoy crossing the street as part of the crowd whenever the light changed. She also discovered there were plenty of opportunities for brief encounters with all kinds of other dogs. On the grounds of the Whyte Museum of the Rockies, Lupe saw one of Bill Peyto’s original rustic cabins.
In the evening, SPHP ate at a café with some outdoor tables. Lupe very much enjoyed sharing SPHP’s buffalo burger and milkshake. Lupe and SPHP then went for another walk up and down both sides of Banff Avenue (main street). This was Lupe’s first ever Pretty Puppy Parade, which has become a tradition every evening Lupe is in Banff ever since. By now Lupe was getting used to the crowds and even seemed to be enjoying herself. She stared curiously and hopefully into open shop doors, sniffed with other doggies, and allowed friendly tourists to pet her.
The next day, Lupe and SPHP woke up as the sky was just starting to get light. Lupe found $10 Canadian on the sidewalk near the Bow River. Lupe and SPHP drove down to Bow River Falls. While Lupe was there, a raft full of people was launching a short distance down the river from the falls. Someone dressed in Scottish garb was playing bagpipes from a hill they floated past shortly after launch.
Lupe and SPHP went up to the famous Banff Springs Hotel for a look around. The Banff Springs Hotel was first opened in 1888, and is one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. It is built in Scottish Baronial style and is often referred to as a castle. Although Dingoes can stay at the Banff Springs Hotel, Lupe didn’t get to stay there. SPHP’s spouse, unlike Mick’s spouse, has never invested $17,000 and turned it into $400,000, although SPHP would have been eternally grateful.
SPHP started thinking that maybe Lupe could ride the Sulphur Mountain gondola. Sulphur Mountain has a wonderful commanding view of Banff and the Bow River Valley. The gondola ride to the top is a very popular attraction. SPHP drove over there, but it was a madhouse. The giant parking lot was full and busloads of more people were arriving all the time. When SPHP found out it was $35.00 per ticket to ride the gondola, SPHP didn’t even bother to ask if Lupe could go. SPHP seemed to be the only cheapskate in Canada, though. People were lined up in droves to pay it.
Instead, SPHP took Lupe to see the flower gardens at the Parks Administration Building located just S of the Bow River from downtown at the end of Banff Avenue. Lupe had a dull time of it, since signs there said dingoes weren’t allowed on the grounds. SPHP snapped a few photos and then it was already time for lunch. After lunch, Lupe and SPHP took another stroll downtown.
Although it was great to be in Banff, SPHP was ready to be done with crowds. There were many more things for people to do in Banff, but not that many for American Dingoes and Carolina Dogs. SPHP was satisfied that Lupe had had a chance to experience Banff. It had been 4 days now since the big adventure to Sky Pilot Lake in the Beartooths. It was time to get out of town and go explore some mountain trails! Lupe was ready for some action! So, early on the afternoon of 7-21-13, Lupe and SPHP left beautiful Banff heading W in the G6 on Trans-Canada Hwy No. 1 looking for adventure.
For pet emergencies in the Black Hills of South Dakota region, Lupe recommends the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital at the Animal Clinic of Rapid City. The Emergency Veterinarian Hospital has a veterinarian and an assistant on duty 24/7, even on weekends and holidays. Pets in Rapid City and the Black Hills region are fortunate to have such professionally qualified and caring help available at any time. Lupe thanks lead emergency veterinarian Dr. Erin Brown for helping her late on the Saturday night of 6-27-15 following a bad injury that needed immediate attention!
About Dr. Erin Brown – Lead Emergency Veterinarian
Dr. Brown grew up all over South Dakota, but has always considered the Black Hills home. She received both her undergraduate and veterinary degrees from Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!) Her interests include emergency medicine, internal medicine and toxicology. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and spending time with her family. Her dog, cat, and rat also like to keep her busy!
After climbing Peak 6820 and Crooks Tower(7,137 ft.) on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 135 on 6-27-15, Lupe was seriously injured in Trebor Draw. The entire front of her left front leg was sliced wide open when she ran straight into a 5-strand barbed wire fence that had fallen over across her path. Fortunately, the barbed wire had only nicked the muscle beneath the skin. The jagged wound with Lupe’s fur hanging loose and the muscle exposed looked terrible, but Lupe could still walk, even run.
Still, the wound was horrifying to look at and extremely worrisome. SPHP carried Lupe as much as possible, but it was a couple miles to Black Fox Campground where there were people who could help her. Lupe got at least half of the way there under her own power. At Black Fox, kind people helped with some emergency first aid. A man named Jim gave Lupe and SPHP a ride in his pickup truck to the G6, which was still many miles away.
Lupe needed to see a veterinarian right away. SPHP called the offices of both of the veterinarians who have seen Lupe before. It was late on a Saturday evening and their offices were closed, but a recording gave SPHP the phone number for the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital at the Animal Clinic of Rapid City. SPHP called the number and was very happy when someone answered the phone. Yes, they were open. Lead emergency veterinarian Dr. Erin Brown was on duty. SPHP could bring Lupe in right away!
It was close to 10:00 PM by the time Lupe and SPHP arrived at the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital to see the puppy doctor. SPHP had to fill out a few forms. An assistant explained that Dr. Brown was with another emergency patient, but said Dr. Brown would soon be available. The assistant looked at Lupe and recorded some routine information.
It wasn’t long before Dr. Brown came into the examination room to see Lupe. She was very kind and sympathetic to the wounded dingo. Lupe seemed to trust her. (Even before meeting Dr. Brown, SPHP had assured Lupe that the puppy doctor loves all puppies and would help her get better.) Dr. Brown examined Lupe. Of course, she was going to need a bunch of stitches.
Dr. Brown left the examination room for a few minutes. She returned with a written medical treatment plan for SPHP to authorize. All the treatment options were itemized, complete with exact pricing. Dr. Brown calmly and clearly explained all the treatment options, what the risks were, etc. She answered all of SPHP’s questions. Within just a few minutes, SPHP had decided and authorized Lupe’s treatment.
Soon Lupe was being anesthetized in preparation for stitches. An hour after disappearing into the operating room, Lupe was conscious and back with SPHP again. The huge gaping wound on Lupe’s left front leg was now all carefully stitched up. She looked like FrankenPuppy. A plastic drain tube to help prevent serious infection stuck out of both sides of her leg. Dr. Brown said she had to trim some of the edges of the wound where the tissue had already died. (At least 3 hours elapsed from the time Lupe was injured before she got to the hospital.)
Lupe was going to be, OK, though. Dr. Brown explained to SPHP what to do. She said Lupe should wear a protective cone to prevent her from licking the wound. In 3-5 days, one of Lupe’s regular vets should remove the drain. The stitches could come out in a couple of weeks. Lupe got painkillers and antibiotics. Lupe and SPHP thanked Dr. Brown and went home. It was around midnight.
American Dingoes are good at having adventures and lots of fun. They are not quite as good at following doctor’s orders. SPHP still had an old plastic cone for Lupe’s head to keep her from licking the wound. Lupe despised it. SPHP relented and just kept a very close eye on her. Lupe was much happier and really pretty good about not licking the wound. “No licking!” was the order of the day every time she did think about it. Lupe liked her painkiller medicine, but refused the antibiotic. Being July, it was really hot out though. Lupe had no objections to the antibiotic as long as vanilla ice cream was used as a delivery system.
Lupe went in to see her regular vet on July 1st to get the drain out. The vet said one stitch had come loose. The vet reprimanded SPHP for letting Lupe get away without having the protective cone on. The drain came out just fine. There was no sign of infection. After visiting the vet, Lupe had to wear the cone, like-it-or-not.
NOT! was the dingo’s answer. She kept running into things and getting her neck twisted. She pawed at the cone trying to get it off. She laid on the floor staring into space looking totally bored and forlorn. She didn’t want to eat. Every time her spirit brightened, she ran into something else and got her head snapped around. Depression set in again.
The old cone wasn’t up to this abuse. It was made of a kind of brittle clear plastic. By the morning of July 3rd, two chunks of the old cone had cracked and broken off. Some of the remaining plastic came to a big sharp point. It looked vaguely dangerous to be wearing that thing, but the sharp end was at least pointed away from Lupe.
That evening, on the way to her grandma’s house, Lupe tried to stick her head out the partially open window of the G6. The cone snapped in half. It was useless. Lupe was thrilled. At grandma’s house she ran around playing squeaker ball. Late in the evening, on the way home again, SPHP saw that Lupe’s wound had partially opened up again. Several stitches had broken loose, not from licking, but from racing around with joy at the demise of the evil cone.
So late at night on July 3rd, SPHP took Lupe back to the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital again. SPHP bought another, bigger and better protective cone for her. Dr. Brown wasn’t on duty, but another vet was. SPHP didn’t even meet this vet, but Lupe got her wound stapled back together. Done in minutes, at no charge! The new, improved protective cone went right on. And that was the last of the problems.
Lupe didn’t like the new improved protective head cone any better than the last one. It was better built, though, and could stand up to dingo abuse. It took a while, but eventually Lupe resigned herself to it. Her wound started healing fast. Her stitches and staples came out on July 14th. The hated cone came off a day later. The Carolina Dog was free once more! Even so, for the rest of the month SPHP tried to just keep her quiet to let the healing process really take hold.
July, 2015 was a pretty frustrating and dull month for Lupe. About the only real outing she got to go on was Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 136 on Xochitl’s birthday. Even then, Lupe did not get to go on any long trek. She just waded in the creek at Cascade Falls. On a really hot day, she did enjoy it. The rest of the month was spent doing some pretty dull stuff or just laying around waiting to get better.
Thanks to Dr. Erin Brown at the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital, Lupe IS better – much, much better. So much better, that Lupe went to see Dr. Brown again yesterday evening. This time she just went to show Dr. Brown that she is all healed up, and to thank Dr. Brown for being there at Lupe’s time of great need – so late on a Saturday night!
Now that Lupe well again, she is destined for lots more dingo adventures in August, 2015! Within just a day or two, she is setting off on her action-packed great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation! In September, she will return with tales from the American West. In the meantime, she has new posts scheduled to keep coming all through August about her adventures on her 2013 Dingo Vacation to the Beartooths and Canadian Rockies.
On 7-16-13, the day after Lupe’s long day spent looking for Fossil Lake (and actually reaching Fizzle Lake instead) in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, Lupe and SPHP spent an easy day in camp on the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River. There weren’t nearly so many “bad bugs” (mosquitoes) at camp, so SPHP started feeling more positive about staying in the Beartooths another couple of days.
SPHP still had it in mind that Lupe ought to at least try to reach Sky Pilot Lake before leaving the Beartooths. Getting there would be a very long day hike. In the morning, SPHP spent some time looking at maps to consider possible alternate routes. In the afternoon, a guy named Mick drove up in his motor home and camped by the river near Lupe’s camp. Mick was originally from England, but had married an American. Now he and his wife live in Boulder, CO.
Mick was very friendly and quite a character. He had a start in the music industry in England, but spent most of his career as a welder in the USA. He had been many places and had lots of stories to tell. Although Mick was traveling alone, he does own a dog. Mick was very kind to Lupe, even giving her treats intended for his dog.
SPHP spent hours visiting with Mick. In the evening, Mick invited SPHP and Lupe in for a tour of his motor home. Lupe got to spend the whole evening in there “roughing it” in the lap of luxury. Mick knows lots of famous people from the music industry. He said he has had a tremendously fun life. He told some pretty wild tales about the music industry, places he had been, and people he knew. His nickname in the music industry was “puker” – not terribly charming, but related to the wild partying lifestyle he shared for a while with the rich and famous.
On 7-17-13, Lupe and SPHP woke up pretty early, refreshed from the easy prior day in camp spent visiting with Mick. Lupe and SPHP were ready to go find Sky Pilot Lake! SPHP intended to start the trek Beartooth Lake campground, so Lupe and SPHP went there first. However, SPHP wasn’t able to find a source of water there. Since the familiar Island Lake campground and trailhead were only a few miles farther E on Beartooth Hwy No. 212, SPHP quickly gave up on a start from Beartooth Lake. At the Island Lake campground, SPHP got water and Lupe was ready to go.
Lupe left the Island Lake trailhead at around 8:15 AM. Even though Lupe had taken the trail from Island Lake twice before (once with Lanis in August, 2012 as far as Beauty and Becker Lakes, and a 2nd time just 3 days earlier on 7-14-13 as far as Two Bits Lake), Lupe and SPHP were perfectly happy to take this trail again. It really is the easiest and most direct route to Sky Pilot Lake from Beartooth Hwy No. 212. Better yet, the entire trail goes through simply gorgeous alpine territory.
At first, Lupe and SPHP made very good time. Lupe and SPHP passed Island Lake, Night Lake, Flake Lake, Mutt & Jeff Lakes, Becker Lake and were all the way to Albino Lake by 11:15 AM. Soon Lupe and SPHP reached Jasper Lake. From Jasper Lake on, the going became much slower. Lupe left the trail at the S end of Jasper Lake, and the ground became progressively rougher with more and more boulder fields. The weather had been cool and overcast, which was great for hiking, but began to clear and became sunny as Lupe and SPHP worked around the E side of Jasper Lake.
From Jasper Lake, Lupe headed NNW up a rocky ridge towards Two Bits Lake. On the other side of the ridge was a series of little lakes and ponds scattered among the rocks and grassy areas. Once up on the ridge, instead of heading N for Two Bits Lake again (which Lupe had reached just 3 days earlier), this time Lupe stayed farther W. She wound her way around to cross the stream which comes from Two Bits Lake just downstream of Triskele Lake.
Lupe and SPHP were happy. Lupe was now exploring new country. It was all wonderful! Lupe and SPHP climbed NNW up the big ridge beyond Triskele Lake. Lupe kept coming to one false top after another. It was very rough country, but not a dangerous climb.
When Lupe finally reached the top of the ridge, there was a grand view from the SE to the SW all the way around to the NW. There were many high mountains in view. Relatively close by and most dramatic was Lonesome Mountain(11,399 ft.) back to the S. Nearby and for the first time, Lupe and SPHP could now see Donelson and Maryott Lakes below to the WNW.
Once up on the ridge, SPHP had expected it to be relatively easy to find High Pass where Lupe needed to go to get to Sky Pilot Lake, but even with the topo map it was hard to figure out exactly which way to go. Lupe and SPHP kept climbing along the ridgeline heading N and scrambling around the boulder fields trying to figure out which way was the easiest way to High Pass. The boulder fields really slowed progress down. SPHP could now see what looked like a line of storms developing to the W, and some big clouds that looked a bit threatening to the N of the high ridge hiding Sky Pilot Lake.
After much consulting of the maps and gazing at the terrain to the N, SPHP could see 3 possible ways that might lead to High Pass. The closest one was the westernmost. SPHP thought Lupe was too far W for it to be the right one, but although steep, it looked relatively easy to climb.
Since it was taking so long to traverse the endless boulder fields, SPHP didn’t want to go to the E to check out the other possibilities. SPHP decided Lupe would just climb this closest big ridge, which was directly N of the ridge Lupe was on. It took a while to get up there, but Lupe and SPHP finally got to the top.
At the top was a huge view in almost every direction. For the first time Lupe and SPHP could see farther N. SPHP had been right. Lupe’s climb up to this N ridge was W of the best access to High Pass. A few hundred feet below, Lupe and SPHP could see High Pass and High Pass Lake. Some dramatic towering jagged mountains including Sky Pilot Mountain(12,047 ft.) were in view beyond High Pass Lake.
By now the storm clouds to the W & N looked closer. SPHP realized there wasn’t a lot of time to dawdle. High Pass is 10,800+ feet and Lupe had climbed several hundred feet higher than that. Lupe was probably somewhere around 11,120+ feet. Lupe and SPHP worked on down the other side of the ridge into High Pass. Despite the need to hurry, it was slow going. Once down in the pass, the going was much easier. Lupe and SPHP headed N past High Pass Lake up to a small ridge. SPHP hoped to see Sky Pilot Lake from this ridge, but was disappointed when it was not visible from there.
There was one more ridge to the N, a bit lower, but which was hiding some land in a big cirque. SPHP thought Sky Pilot Lake might be just beyond that ridge. SPHP certainly hoped it would be. SPHP could see that there was a gigantic canyon ahead heading off to the NE. Lupe shouldn’t go very far down into the gigantic canyon to find Sky Pilot Lake, given the developing weather conditions. This last ridge was as far as SPHP was willing to go. So Lupe went down to the lower ridge. The first thing that Lupe saw was the upper end of the big cirque beyond the ridge.
The topo map showed a glacier in the big cirque. Although there was a considerable amount of snow, it really didn’t look like much. It certainly didn’t look like there was a glacier any more. More disappointingly, Sky Pilot Lake was not visible. Lupe and SPHP headed a bit further to the NNE up to the end of the ridge. There, nearby, but hundreds of feet below Lupe, was Sky Pilot Lake! Lupe had succeeded in finding it!
Sky Pilot Lake was a very beautiful lake! It shimmered with a gorgeous blue-green color when the sun shone on it. SPHP wished it hadn’t taken so long to get here, because it would have been great to go down to the shore of the lake and see it from there. However, it was getting late and the weather looked increasingly ominous. It clouded up, but then blue sky came out again. Lupe and SPHP sat high up near the end of the little ridge looking at the great view of Sky Pilot Lake. Lupe rested and had some Taste of the Wild and water.
Lupe and SPHP had been there maybe 20 minutes or more when Lupe started hearing thunder in the distance. Reluctantly, SPHP decided Lupe had better get going. After a last glance at Sky Pilot Lake, as fast as SPHP could manage, Lupe and SPHP scrambled back over to High Pass and High Pass Lake. Soon it completely clouded up and started to sprinkle. SPHP had raingear in the backpack, but did not stop to put it on.
Lupe got over High Pass and had just barely started down the S side of the pass when the storm hit with driving rain. Soon there was hail, too. The hail was only pea-sized, but still stung a bit. SPHP saw an especially big rock nearby with a little bit of an overhang. Lupe and SPHP headed for it. Arriving at the big rock, SPHP got Lupe under the overhang and out of the hail. There was room for SPHP’s head under there too, but that was it. At least the backpack provided some protection, too. Still, it was a good thing the hail didn’t get any bigger, or SPHP would have been pounded. Lupe and SPHP hid there under the overhang for a few minutes while it hailed and SPHP got drenched.
The hail let up pretty soon. Lupe and SPHP got going again. It was still raining, but not as hard. More concerning, lightning was now not too far away, and there was frequent thunder. The lightning was really the scariest thing. Lupe needed to lose elevation as fast as possible. Lupe and SPHP were way too high up and easy targets. As far as SPHP could see to the W (and SPHP could see a long way from here!), there were more storm clouds.
Lupe and SPHP scrambled onward. Sometimes it rained harder again, but mostly it was relatively light. Thankfully, it didn’t hail again. From the sound of the thunder, lightning was close, but still a little ways away. Lupe and SPHP made it all the way down through the biggest boulder fields and crossed the stream below Triskele Lake again. Lupe and SPHP were utterly alone. The scenery seemed even more beautiful, dramatic and wild in the storm. Once past the stream, Lupe and SPHP headed up and over the ridge to the S and down to Jasper Lake.
Lupe and SPHP were heading around the E side of Jasper Lake when the storm hit hard again. It poured rain and hailed again, but the hail was so tiny it didn’t do anything. This time though, the lightning was now close. It flashed all around and thunder roared, echoing in the mountains. Lupe and SPHP crouched down beside a big boulder not far from the shore of Jasper Lake. There Lupe waited for the storm to pass. It was an amazing view. The surface of Jasper Lake danced with raindrops while lightning struck Lonesome Mountain on the other side of the lake.
After 10 or 15 minutes, the rain let up quite a bit. The lightning and thunder moved away to the E. Lupe and SPHP got going again. Lupe and SPHP got up over the ridge S of Jasper Lake and started heading for Albino Lake. Although occasionally thunder and lightning threatened again, it was never as bad as at Jasper Lake and never again caused Lupe to seek cover. It rained, but not hard. Eventually the rain diminished to become just a light sprinkle. At times it quit entirely. The clouds broke up and the half moon was out.
Lupe had fun exploring. There no more mishaps the rest of the way to the G6. It got so dark, SPHP had to start using the flashlight before Lupe was even back to Mutt & Jeff Lakes. For hours, Lupe continued to see lightning in the darkness far to the SE. SPHP was tired, but still felt amazingly good. Lupe seemed to feel the same way. Lupe made it back to the G6 back at the Island Lake trailhead at 11:42 PM. It was 50°F.
By 12:30 PM, Lupe and SPHP were back at camp at the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. It looked like it had really rained hard there. SPHP was tempted to sleep in the G6, but Lupe wanted to go in her “tiny house” (tent). So SPHP got rid of the water in the tiny house and put things in order. Sometime around 1:00 AM, Lupe and SPHP sacked out in the tiny house.
At nearly 15.5 hours, this was Lupe and SPHP’s longest day hike in the Beartooths on her 2013 Dingo Vacation, and the most spectacular. It had also been the most dangerous, when Lupe and SPHP got caught in the storm up in High Pass at around 10,800 feet elevation. Sometime it would be fun to explore the high country around Donelson and Maryott Lakes. SPHP was very happy Lupe did get to see Sky Pilot Lake, which was very pretty and remote. The peaks nearby and the gigantic canyon to the NE below Sky Pilot Lake were most impressive too.
A year later, Lupe returned to the Beartooth Mountains as part of her 2014 Dingo Vacation. On 8-3-14 she climbed Lonesome Mountain, which she had passed by this day on the way to Sky Pilot Lake. Click this red Lonesome Mountain link to see that post.
This long day hike to Russell, Ouzel, Skull and Fizzle Lakes starts at the Clark’s Fork trailhead about 3 to 4 miles E of Cooke City, in southern Montana along Beartooth Highway No. 212. The short gravel access road to the trailhead is on the N side of the highway, just slightly SE of the entrance to the Chief Joseph campground on the S side of the highway. Very close to the trailhead, the trail crosses the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River above a waterfall (there is a short side trail to a viewing platform).
The Clark’s Fork trailhead is at 8,000 feet elevation. Lupe took the trail on to Russell Lake (8,372 feet), Ouzel Lake (9,400+ feet), Skull Lake (9,660 feet), and Fizzle Lake (9,818 feet). She saw other lakes along the way too, although she never did make it to Fossil Lake, her main objective, due to SPHP’s map reading error.
After a long day the previous day going to Frozen Lake, Lake Promise, Heart Lake and several other alpine lakes in the Beartooths, SPHP thought that Lupe should just try a relatively easy short trek on July 15, 2013. Lupe and SPHP could then spend a pleasant restful late afternoon and evening back at their favorite campsite on the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River.
In August of 2012, Lupe and SPHP had gone to Kersey Lake with Lanis on Lupe’s first ever big summer Dingo Vacation. The trail to Kersey Lake almost immediately crosses the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River, but is otherwise a pretty ordinary stroll through the forest the rest of the way to Kersey Lake. Today though, SPHP thought Lupe might go further. Rock Island, Fox, Widewater and Big Moose Lakes were all possible destinations.
So on the morning of 7-15-13, Lupe and SPHP set out from the Clark’s Fork Trailhead. Lupe crossed the Clark Fork’s of the Yellowstone River and followed the trail to Kersey Lake. The S side of Kersey Lake is set in a dense forest. Although the trail passes fairly close to the lake, there weren’t many good views of it from the trail. Soon Lupe and SPHP were beyond Kersey Lake.
Well before reaching the turn-off for the trails to the other lakes SPHP had in mind as destinations, Lupe and SPHP met up with a young couple heading in the opposite direction. They were going towards Kersey Lake. SPHP asked them where they were headed. They replied that they had just spent 4 days coming over from East Rosebud, which seems to be a very popular backpacking start or end point. They were headed for the Clark’s Fork trailhead, so their trip was nearly done.
SPHP asked them what part of the trip they had liked the best. They said the top of the world around Windy Lake and Fossil Lake. Around Windy Lake the sky had been beautiful with rainbows in addition to the great alpine views.
SPHP is a total sucker for the high country. Lupe loves it too. After the young couple went on, SPHP took a quick check of the map. (SPHP didn’t even have a topo map of this area – just a map of the general area for tourists Lanis picked up in August, 2012 at the visitor center in Cooke City.)
The map showed Fossil Lake and a trail going to it. Furthermore, Fossil Lake was on the edge of being close enough to where Lupe and SPHP might just be able to make it there and back as a very long day hike. All thoughts of a short day and restful evening in camp evaporated. Fossil Lake was Lupe’s new destination!
SPHP had seen from a high point S of Kersey Lake a large canyon off to the NE heading N into the high country. This had to be the route to Fossil Lake. SPHP knew it would be uphill all the way, but thought it was worth a try. When Lupe came to the junction of the trails to Big Moose Lake and Russell Creek, Lupe and SPHP chose Russell Creek.
Lupe was passing through a nice forest. There were mosquitoes, but they weren’t bad. It was a pretty easy stroll for a while, since the trail wasn’t climbing very fast. Lupe passed another trail to Fox Lake, but stayed on the Russell Creek trail. It was definitely heading for the big canyon. A little while after passing the Fox Lake trail, Lupe reached Russell Creek.
From then on the trail started climbing more and more steeply as Lupe followed Russell Creek up the big canyon. In places there were switchbacks. Eventually Lupe reached a bridge downstream from a nice waterfall. There were some big smooth rocks there. Lupe and SPHP took a break. There didn’t seem to be any mosquitoes at all here. Just above the waterfall was a lake (unnamed, but shown on the visitor guide map). SPHP learned weeks later, this was Russell Lake. It was very beautiful. Russell Lake is set deep in the canyon with high thinly forested rock walls around most of it.
Somewhere along the E side of Russell Lake there was supposed to be another trail leading E to Mariane Lake. SPHP was watching for it, but never saw it. Lupe wasn’t going there anyway.
N of Russell Lake the trail climbed very steeply with many switchbacks. Lupe came to some beautiful meadows, marshes and ponds set deep in the canyon. Russell Creek, or some fork of it, ran through it all too. After climbing lots of switchbacks, Lupe reached Ouzel Lake – another pretty, but smaller lake shown on the map. From here the trail turned W. Lupe and SPHP started encountering more alpine terrain, and unfortunately lots more mosquitoes. Lupe soon came to a place with a very nice view of the creek flowing down gently from the W in a narrow part of the canyon.
There was no bridge across the creek here, so Lupe and SPHP had to ford it. SPHP made the mistake of taking socks and boots off to ford the creek barefooted. That greatly slowed SPHP’s progress across the slippery stones on the creek bottom. The mosquitoes were delighted. SPHP was eaten alive while making the creek crossing. Lupe was also being plagued by the “bad bugs” waiting for SPHP to hurry up and get across.
The trail went W following the S shore of the creek. Soon Lupe was at another lake. This lake was larger than Ouzel Lake, but not shown on the visitor guide map, which had at least shown Ouzel Lake as a little blue do. As it turns out, this lake is unnamed even on the Peakbagger.com topo map. The trail continued W above the S shore of the unnamed lake.
Once past the unnamed lake, the trail turned N. Before long Skull Lake came into view (also not shown on the visitor guide map). Skull Lake was larger than Ouzel Lake, but smaller than the unnamed lake. Lupe followed the trail N along the W shore of Skull Lake.
N of Skull Lake, Lupe was getting very high. SPHP knew she had to be getting very close to Fossil Lake. Lupe and SPHP were following the trail on the W side of the creek, and came to another place where the creek had to be forded. SPHP now made the mistake of not just fording it and staying on the trail. (The visitor guide map did show the trail crossing the creek not long before reaching Fossil Lake, but by now SPHP had lost a great deal of faith in the map since it failed to show so many landmarks.) Instead, Lupe and SPHP left the main trail and continued upstream on a spur trail heading NNW still on the W side of the creek.
Lupe climbed a fairly long way, maybe 1/2 mile from Skull Lake, without coming to any better spot to cross the creek. However, Lupe did come to a gorgeous lake, larger than any of the others, with views of high snow-capped peaks off to the NNW. Fossil Lake was shown on the visitor guide map as a large and very interestingly irregular-shaped lake. Maybe this was Fossil Lake? It didn’t seem to be in quite the right spot, but only a portion of the lake could be seen.
Lupe and SPHP climbed up near the top of a ridge along the SW part of the lake. Lupe actually got up on top of the ridge, but SPHP was blocked by a nearly vertical 20 foot high snow bank. Lupe had no problem going right on up. She stood on top of the snow bank peering down at SPHP. SPHP made it partway up the snow bank. The view was splendid. SPHP didn’t realize it then, but Lupe and SPHP were looking at Fizzle Lake – not Fossil Lake.
It was starting to get late in the day. SPHP was pretty tired from the long climb, although Lupe seemed quite happy. At least there weren’t any more of the “bad bugs” to plague her up on her snow bank. The terrain around Fizzle Lake was rugged enough to discourage SPHP from any further exploration around the lake. It was time to head back. This was supposed to have been an easy day, after all!
On the way back down towards Skull Lake, SPHP could see the main trail on the hillside on the other (E) side of the creek. Having pondered the visitor guide map some more, SPHP now realized that Lupe had not reached Fossil Lake. It had to be just over the ridge on the other side of the creek. Thirty more minutes and Lupe could be there. If it had been earlier in the day and the mosquitoes weren’t so bad, Lupe and SPHP would have forded the creek and gone to see Fossil Lake. As it was, Fossil Lake was going to be left to a future American Dingo adventure.
The mosquitoes were horrible almost everywhere on the way back, even where they hadn’t been on the way up. Lupe and SPHP hurried along. At the outlet of the unnamed lake W of Ouzel Lake, there were lots of little 3″ to 5″ trout leaping out of the stream to eat mosquitoes flying above the waters. Lupe and SPHP paused momentarily on the trail to cheer the little trout on! A few minutes later, SPHP was plunging right on through the creek at the ford a bit farther downstream. The boots got soaked, but Lupe and SPHP did not have to serve as the local blood bank.
Along the E side of Russell Lake, Lupe encountered 7 or 8 backpackers coming up the trail. A young woman leading them was startled by Lupe. The backpackers were on their way to East Rosebud. They intended to camp at Russell Lake, which was a very good choice. It is a beautiful spot, and by some miracle there still weren’t any mosquitoes here.
Below Russell Lake, Lupe and SPHP stopped to rest on the big smooth stones near the bridge across the creek where there is a view of the waterfall. Lupe hadn’t eaten anything all day. She eagerly wolfed down part of a trail mix bar, and all of the Taste of the Wild SPHP had brought for her.
Lupe had a fun time sniffing an exploring along the trail the rest of the way back. SPHP was pretty miserable due to mosquitoes which were very annoying all the way. Deet was helping, but the mosquitoes still whined all around SPHP’s face looking for vulnerable spots. It was enough to start SPHP thinking it was about time for Lupe to leave the Beartooths and head for the Canadian Rockies.
When Lupe got back to the G6, it was 47°F and 9:38 PM. Just another short, easy 11-hour day on the trail in the beautiful Beartooth Mountains!