Medicine Bow Peak & the Carbon County, WY High Point (8-10-15)

On Day 2 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation, she set a new personal record by climbing Medicine Bow Peak (12,013 ft.) in Wyoming.  Medicine Bow Peak was the first mountain over 12,000 feet Lupe had ever climbed, surpassing Lonesome Mountain (11,399 ft.) in Montana.  Lupe had climbed Lonesome Mountain on 8-3-14 near the end of her Summer of 2014 Dingo Vacation.

Despite Lupe’s late night antics near Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) the previous evening, Lupe and SPHP were up at 5:30 AM on the morning of 8-10-15.  It was the start of Day 2 of Lupe’s 2015 Dingo Vacation.  Lupe was eager to get going!  Lupe and SPHP left the Friend Park area near Laramie Peak turning S on USFS Road No. 671.  A sign said it was 6 miles to Arapaho Trail Road.  SPHP had no idea where Arapaho Trail Road might go, but Lupe was going to find out!

Along the way, Lupe was so stirred up by the sights and sounds outside, SPHP stopped the G6 three separate times.  Each time, Lupe dashed out of the G6 to race around sniffing madly through the forests and meadows.  She literally bounded through the forest and tall grass.  With all these dingo delays, the six miles to Arapahoe Trail Road went by slowly.

USFS Road No. 671 wasn’t too bad a road.  The G6 had no difficulties until the road dipped rather steeply on its way down into a small valley.  The slope was rutty, rocky and eroded.  The G6 had to proceed very slowly and carefully down the hill.  SPHP was happy to have guided the G6 down without incident, but only for a moment.  Almost immediately, a huge murky mud puddle (which might actually have been part of a stream) occupied the entire road ahead.  No way the G6 was going through that!

End of the line for the G6 on USFS Road No. 671 nearly 6 miles S of Laramie Peak. Time to turn around!
End of the line for the G6 on USFS Road No. 671 nearly 6 miles S of Laramie Peak. Time to turn around!

So Lupe never made it to Arapaho Trail Road.  Where Arapaho Trail Road goes remains a mystery.  SPHP was just glad there was an easy spot to turn the G6 around.  Another slow crawl over the rocky, rutty part of USFS Road No. 671 ensued, this time heading uphill.  The G6 triumphed again.  If Lupe was disappointed at having to backtrack all the way N again on No. 671, she was certainly able to hide it.

A sad Lupe thinks about having to head all the way back N on USFS No. 671. No doubt she will be forced to get out and run around sniffing some more.
A sad Lupe thinks about having to head all the way back N on USFS Road No. 671. No doubt she will be forced to get out and run around sniffing some more.

Lupe insisted on getting out to bound around sniffing a couple of more times on the way back N.  Finally, though, the G6 reached County Road No. 710.  Instead of turning N to Esterbrook, Lupe turned S.  No. 710 wasn’t a great road, but it was good enough to drive the G6 20-30 mph most of the long way to Fetterman Road.

The scenery in this remote part of the Laramie Mountains was beautiful.  There were a few abandoned ranch homes, but no traffic and no people around for a very long way.  Little birds flew over the road, rabbits and small animals dashed across it, cows and horses munched away in the open fields between the mountains.  Lupe had a blast barking at the cows and horses.  Every now and then SPHP let her out of the G6 to explore, while SPHP admired the sights and sounds of nature.

There were a couple of nice ponds like this one as Lupe neared the edge of the Laramie Mountains.
There were a couple of nice ponds like this one as Lupe neared the edge of the Laramie Mountains.

By the time Lupe and SPHP reached Fetterman Road, the Laramie Mountains had been left behind.  Fetterman Road went across 41 miles of high barren rolling plains full of cows, horses and pronghorn antelope.  For some reason, Carolina Dogs never seem to grow hoarse or lose interest in barking at grazing animals.  Lupe worked herself up into a complete frenzy.  The din inside the G6 lasted as long as Fetterman Road did.  Outside the views were not as dramatic as in the mountains, but still pleasing to the eye.

Fetterman Road ended at Hwy 30 just a few miles N of Rock River, WY.  Hwy 30 was undergoing road construction.  The G6 had to wait for a pilot car to come along.  For a few minutes, Lupe and SPHP got out of the G6.  Lupe’s barker was dry – very dry.  She lapped up water almost as frantically as she had barked all along Fetterman Road.

From Rock River, Lupe headed SW on Hwy 13 past McFadden, reaching I-80 at Arlington.  SPHP drove W on I-80, but only as far as Exit 260.  There Lupe headed S on a very patchy, bumpy paved road that soon turned to gravel.  Elk Mountain (11,156 ft.) was now in view to the SW.

Lupe NE of 11,156 foot Elk Mountain, WY.
Lupe NE of 11,156 foot Elk Mountain, WY.

Lupe and SPHP continued on.  Dusty USFS Road No. 100 led Lupe up into the Medicine Bow Mountains past Turpin Reservoir, which was mostly hidden by the forest.  SPHP was glad to reach paved Hwy 30.  Upon reaching the West Trailhead at Lake Marie, SPHP parked the G6.  At 2:54 PM, Lupe and SPHP started for Medicine Bow Peak along the Lakes Trail.  It was 64°F.

Lupe at Lake Marie in the Medicine Bow Mountains.
Lupe at Lake Marie in the Medicine Bow Mountains.  Photo looks NW from near the outlet stream.
Lake Marie from the NE. Note the terrain at the far end of the lake. It became important later on.
Lake Marie from the NE. Note the terrain at the far end of the lake. It became important later on.

The Lakes Trail went between Lake Marie and Mirror Lake.  Then it headed NNE passing to the E of Lookout Lake, the largest lake along the route, and a series of smaller lakes and ponds.  To the W of all the lakes were the cliffs beneath the long, high ridge that extends up to Medicine Bow Peak.

Mirror Lake from the S.
Mirror Lake from the S.
Lupe SE of Lookout Lake, Medicine Bow Range, WY.
Lupe SE of Lookout Lake, Medicine Bow Range, WY.
Lupe farther N now to the E of Lookout Lake along the Lakes Trail. Medicine Bow Peak in the background.
Lupe farther N now, but still to the E of Lookout Lake along the Lakes Trail. Medicine Bow Peak in the background.

The Lakes Trail climbed at an easy to moderate pace as it headed NNE past all the lakes.  At least it should have been easy.  Maybe for Lupe it was.  She seemed to have no difficulties whatsoever.  SPHP, on the other hand, was dragging from the very start.  Perhaps it was the 10,500 foot elevation level (higher than Laramie Peak!) near the start of the trail at Lake Marie.  Perhaps it was the 2,800 feet of elevation gain climbing Laramie Peak the previous day.  Maybe it was not enough sleep.  Maybe it was the combination of all three.

Whatever it was, SPHP struggled along the trail with little energy, breathing hard, with heart pounding.  Lupe must have wondered at the reason for all the rest stops.  At least they gave her time to appreciate the gorgeous alpine scenery all around.  That’s one nice thing about the Medicine Bows – even though the area of alpine terrain isn’t all that huge, Hwy 130 climbs up high enough to start adventures already in the alpine zone.

SPHP marveled at how 2,800 feet of elevation gain at Laramie Peak hadn’t seemed that difficult.  Yet now the 1,500 feet of elevation gain necessary to reach the top of Medicine Bow Peak seemed endless and insurmountable.  In the end, SPHP simply lived up to the acronym and plodded slowly on, taking as many rest breaks as required to keep going.  Gradually, Lupe and SPHP got past Lookout Lake and approached Sugarloaf Mountain.

Lupe still near Lookout Lake.
Lupe still near Lookout Lake.
Making progress - now NE of Lookout Lake.
Making progress – now NE of Lookout Lake.
Sugarloaf Mountain. Photo looks NE.
Sugarloaf Mountain (11,300 ft.). Photo looks NE.

NW of Sugarloaf Mountain at the top of the pass between Sugarloaf Mountain and Medicine Bow Peak, the Lakes Trail met up with the trail coming from Lewis Lake to the E and the Medicine Bow Trail.  The easy part was over!  It was time to climb the steep, rocky switchbacks of the Medicine Bow Trail up the E face of Medicine Bow Peak.  Surprisingly, SPHP seemed to get a bit of a second wind.  Gradually Lupe and SPHP gained elevation and the views got even better.

Looking S as Lupe climbs Medicine Bow Peak. Lookout Lake is now the farthest one in the distance.
Looking S as Lupe climbs Medicine Bow Peak. Lookout Lake is now the farthest one in the distance.
Looking NE at Browns Peak, which came into view once Lupe reached the pass between Medicine Bow Peak and Sugarloaf Mountain.
Looking NE at Browns Peak (11,722 ft.), which came into view once Lupe reached the pass between Medicine Bow Peak and Sugarloaf Mountain.
Looking SE now at Sugarloaf Mountain.
Looking SE now at Sugarloaf Mountain.

On the Lakes Trail, there had been plenty of people and dogs.  However, Lupe and SPHP had gotten such a late start that by the time Lupe was headed up the Medicine Bow Trail, there weren’t many people left.  Most of them were headed back down.  After a little while, there were only two other people on the trail.  They were ahead of Lupe and SPHP, and still going up.  Lupe and SPHP gradually gained on them, much to SPHP’s surprise.

Close to the top of the mountain, Lupe started seeing snow.  Just before the final climb, the trail turned sharply and revealed a 100 foot long snowbank.  It wasn’t terribly wide, maybe 20 feet, but the trail went right up the length of it.  Lupe was thrilled!  She rolled around on the snow in delight.

Close to the top now. Snow starts coming into view. By now you know that biggest lake to the S is Lookout Lake.
Close to the top of Medicine Bow Peak there starts to be some snow.  By now you know that biggest lake to the S is Lookout Lake.  Lake Marie, where Lupe started this climb, is seen beyond Lookout Lake.
Lupe loved the big long snowbank the trail went over just before reaching the summit of Medicine Bow Peak.
Lupe loved the big long snowbank the trail went over just before reaching the summit of Medicine Bow Peak.

At the top of the long snowbank, Lupe and SPHP caught up with the couple who had been leading the way up Medicine Bow Peak.  They had stopped for a break.  They were from Virginia.  SPHP chatted with them for a few minutes before Lupe and SPHP continued on ahead.

Above the long snowbank was nothing but a boulder field.  It was just a scramble across the rocks to the summit, gaining at most 50 feet of elevation along the way.  Lupe is great at boulder hopping.  SPHP not so much, but SPHP still managed to make progress.  The wooden post at the summit was already in sight, when the guy from Virginia reappeared.  He had no difficulty passing SPHP and reaching the summit first.  After giving him a little time to enjoy the summit in peace, Lupe and SPHP headed over to it, too.

SPHP didn’t see the woman, and asked the guy if she was still coming.  He said she was now scared and didn’t want to go any further.  She was waiting for him back at the snowbank.

SPHP encouraged him to just give her a little encouragement.  There was hardly any elevation gain left for her to be able to claim a successful summit.  The boulder field was slow, but it was not difficult and not dangerous.  It wasn’t steep either, as long as she stayed away from the cliffs at the E face of the mountain.  In fact, what remained was far less scary than what she’d already done.  The weather was perfect – SPHP had arrived at the summit in a T-shirt.  She would be glad and proud she finished climbing Medicine Bow Peak.

The guy replied that he didn’t want to force her, but said he would ask her again if she wanted to continue.  SPHP told him to tell her that Lupe was waiting at the summit to congratulate her.  He laughed and left.  Lupe and SPHP remained at the summit enjoying the terrific views in all directions.

Lupe on the summit of Medicine Bow Peak. Photo looks NE towards Browns Peak.
Lupe on the summit of Medicine Bow Peak. Photo looks NE towards Browns Peak.
Looking S from the summit of Medicine Bow Peak.
Looking S from the summit of Medicine Bow Peak.

Looking S from Medicine Bow Peak 8-10-15

Looking N back at the summit post on Medicine Bow Peak, the first mountain over 12,000 feet Lupe had ever climbed.
Looking N back at the summit post on Medicine Bow Peak, the first mountain over 12,000 feet Lupe had ever climbed.

Although Lupe and SPHP waited, the gal from Virginia never appeared.  SPHP thought that was a shame, but it was her choice.  Still, she likely just needed some encouragement.  There was nothing an American Dingo could do about it, though.  Lupe and SPHP had arrived at the summit about 45 minutes before sunset.  It was a long way back to the G6, and Lupe still had some peakbagging left to do!

The Medicine Bow Trail continues S of Medicine Bow Peak on the W side of the long ridge that extends clear down to Lake Marie.  At the far S end of the ridge, it heads steeply down to the West Lake Marie Trailhead where the G6 was parked.  Lupe was going back this way to make a giant loop.

A short distance E of the trail, not too far SW of Medicine Bow Peak, is the Carbon County, WY high point, also known as Medicine Bow Peak – West Ridge (11,920 ft.).  It is not a peak of any sort, just a spot on the way back down the mountain where the county line intersects the ridge.  As the high point of Carbon County, it was a peakbagging goal for Lupe.

The high point of Carbon County is just beyond the next hill of boulders to the S!
The high point of Carbon County is just beyond the next hill of boulders seen here to the S!
Heading towards the Carbon County, WY high point from Medicine Bow Peak.
Heading towards the Carbon County, WY high point from Medicine Bow Peak.
Looking back towards Medicine Bow Peak from the S. The big rock cairn with a sharpened post sticking out of it was typical of the cairns along the Medicine Bow Trail. They were soon to prove very useful to Lupe & SPHP.
Looking back towards Medicine Bow Peak from the SW. The big rock cairn with a sharpened post sticking out of it was typical of the cairns along the Medicine Bow Trail. They were soon to prove very useful to Lupe & SPHP.

Lupe and SPHP headed SW from Medicine Bow Peak on the Medicine Bow Trail.  The trail went around the W side of the next slightly lower boulder hill.  Somewhere not too far down on the ridge extending down from the SW side of this hill was the Carbon County, Wyoming High Point that Lupe was looking for.  Soon after passing the hill, Lupe and SPHP left the trail to head E and climb up on the ridge.  The sun was just setting as Lupe headed for the ridge.

Lupe on her search for the Carbon County, Wyoming High Point. The highest mountain at right center is Kennaday Peak.
Lupe on her search for the Carbon County, Wyoming High Point. The highest mountain in the distance on the right is Kennaday Peak (10,810 ft.).

 

Lupe up on the ridge SW of the first boulder hill SW of Medicine Bow Peak. Lupe headed SW along the ridge (toward the camera) looking for the Carbon County HP.
Lupe up on the ridge SW of the first boulder hill SW of Medicine Bow Peak. Lupe headed down along the ridge (toward the camera) from the big flat boulder she is next to looking for the Carbon County HP.

SPHP had brought notes on what a couple of other climbers who had been to the Carbon County, Wyoming High Point had written on Peakbagger.com.  Dan Quinlan (8-18-12) had written the “only thing of note was some old fencing in the area”.  Eric Noel (8-30-10) had written “An improbable small snag must have been placed as a potential county line given that it was the only thing in an immense sea of rocks and quite close to the HP.”

And then, after Lupe headed down the ridgeline a little way, there it was!  In the fading light was Eric Noel’s “improbable small snag” right about where the Carbon County High Point ought to be.  Lupe and SPHP headed for it.  There was some wire down in the rocks at the base of the snag.  It looked like it was smooth wire, but after Lupe’s bad experience with barbed wire back in the Black Hills on 6-27-15, SPHP didn’t want Lupe to linger here or anywhere else there was wire on the ground – just in case it wasn’t all smooth.

Eric Noel's "improbable small snag" at the Carbon County HP? There was some smooth wire down among the rocks below it. SPHP believes this was, or very close to the actual Carbon County, HP. If not, Lupe had to have been at it or very close somewhere around her route.
Eric Noel’s “improbable small snag” at the Carbon County HP? There was some smooth wire down among the rocks below it.  Dan Quinlan’s “old fencing”?  SPHP believes this was it, or very close to the actual Carbon County, HP.  If not, Lupe had to have been at it or very close somewhere along her route.

About a football field away to the NW of the “improbable small snag”, one of the cairns along the Medicine Bow Trail was in view.  Lupe and SPHP headed over to it in order to reach the trail.  Looking back to the SE, the “improbable small snag” was in clear sight from the cairn.

The sun was down even before Lupe had reached the Carbon County High Point.  The light was starting to fade.  It was time to make tracks.  Lupe and SPHP followed the Medicine Bow Trail heading SW.  Although there were extensive boulder fields all along the way, the trail did a pretty good job of avoiding the worst of them.  For a little while, the trail headed W and lost a fair amount of elevation.  It eventually turned back to the S and then went up and down.

SPHP was really fatigued by now.  The up stretches weren’t really bad at all, but each one seemed difficult.  Lupe was amazing as always.  It’s always hard to tell if she is even tired.  She just keeps going.  The light faded.  Lupe and SPHP were alone in a vast sea of boulders.  The big cairns with sharpened posts sticking out of them showed the way.  They were a huge help – SPHP never lost the trail along the ridge for more than a minute.

Gradually, first the cairns, and then the sea of boulders faded from view.  They were replaced by a sea of stars above.  The flashlight came out.  It was a beautiful evening.  Far away to the W were the lights of Saratoga and Encampment.  Lupe and SPHP continued on for what seemed like a very long time.  Finally the trail turned and started heading down to the E.  This stretch seemed terrible.  It was steep and full of loose rocks.  There weren’t any real switchbacks, just a steep gash on the mountain.  Past a cairn, the dirt suddenly became smooth.

Lupe and SPHP hadn’t gone too far on the smooth ground beyond the cairn when SPHP became worried.  Suddenly, it really wasn’t clear where the trail went.  In the weak light of the tiny flashlight, the ground looked all bare and smooth like the entire area had been trampled until all the vegetation had died.  The scary part though, was that it was getting steeper.

SPHP stopped going forward.  It looked like maybe the trail went to the left towards the N, but a short investigation in that direction was not encouraging.  Beyond some bushes, the bare ground got steeper.  Shining the flashlight to the E showed nothing – just a black void.  A check back to the S revealed a thick tangle of trees, but no sign of a trail.

SPHP thought about the long line of cliffs that extended clear down past Lake Marie from Medicine Bow Peak.  If Lupe wasn’t far enough S yet, to continue E meant inevitably heading over a cliff.  SPHP decided to go back up to the last cairn.  If the trail couldn’t be found, Lupe would have to spend the night on the mountain!  Even though it was certain Lupe wasn’t very far away from the G6, only following the trail would be safe in the darkness.

Returning to the cairn, SPHP was relieved to see that the trail did veer sharply to the S.  In the darkness, SPHP had just missed the turn earlier.  Lupe headed on down the trail.  It was still surprisingly far back to the G6.  The trail went down and down through an area of long switchbacks.  When Lupe reached the G6, it was 11:30 PM and 44°F.  Lupe was too tired to even eat.  Lupe and SPHP both just passed out.  There was no repeat performance of Lupe’s late night antics near Laramie Peak the prior evening!Lupe SW of Medicine Bow Peak 8-10-15Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 138 – White Tail Peak (9-19-15)

It was already 11:13 AM on 9-19-15 by the time SPHP parked the G6 at the junction of County Road No. 231 and USFS Road No. 191.  Hot weather the previous weekend had prevented SPHP from taking Lupe on one of her Black Hills expeditions, so Lupe had been pretty bored for days.  She was most anxious to get going.  The cloudless blue sky promised another warm day, but it wasn’t supposed to get as hot as a week ago.

Lupe’s peakbagging goal for the day was to be her 3rd ascent of White Tail Peak (6,962 ft.), one of a long line of peaks along the E edge of the high limestone plateau country of the western Black Hills.  Like most of the other “peaks” along this line, White Tail Peak is a long, high forested ridge characterized by limestone cliffs near the top.

It’s easy enough to simply drive to a point just a 10-15 minute walk from the summit on USFS Road No. 190, which passes just to the N of White Tail Peak.  Even the G6 can get that far with no problem.  With an ATV or high-clearance vehicle, USFS Road No. 190.1Q, a somewhat rough and narrow road, goes right to the summit itself and beyond.

Lupe and SPHP, however, were starting down at the South Fork of Rapid Creek, more than 3 miles away to the ENE as the crow flies.  Like most of Lupe’s expeditions in the Black Hills, the idea is to explore the area and see new places, not just check off a peakbagging goal.

Looking W up the valley of the South Fork of Rapid Creek.
Looking W up the valley of the South Fork of Rapid Creek.  County Road No. 231 is seen heading towards Black Fox Campground about 4 miles away.

It was calm and 63°F out as Lupe and SPHP set out on USFS Road No. 191 heading S across the South Fork of Rapid Creek.  Lupe passed some cows munching on the grass and some old dilapidated outbuildings.  The road was shady and pleasant as it headed into the forest at the edge of the main valley.  It gradually gained elevation as it went up a smaller side valley.  A tiny stream trickled down the valley on its way to join the South Fork of Rapid Creek.

Less than 0.5 mile from County Road No. 231, Lupe came to a road that turned W to continue up the valley.  This was USFS Road No. 191.1A leading up Long Draw.  SPHP liked the looks of this road.  It went in the right direction, so Lupe followed it.

Road No. 191.1A turned W to head up Long Draw.
Road No. 191.1A turned W to head up Long Draw.

It was a week or two early for the height of fall colors.  In the Black Hills, fall colors mainly consist of groves of aspens with yellow leaves, although some types of bushes or ground cover can turn red or orange to add variety.  SPHP hoped to find some aspens that were starting to turn.  USFS Road No. 191.1A went around a corner heading SW.  Ahead was the prettiest grove of aspens Lupe encountered all day long.

Aspens near USFS Road No. 191.1A. Not really a spectacular example, but these were the best fall colors Lupe found all day.
Aspens near USFS Road No. 191.1A. Not really a spectacular example, but these were the best fall colors Lupe found all day.

Not too long after passing the aspens, there was a series of old defunct ponds.  The tiny creek that ran through them had silted them in and broken through the low earthen dams.  Luxuriant grasses, and sometimes cattails, grew in the soft mud filling the old ponds.

The tiny creek in Long Draw sparkles in the sunlight as it flows through a breach in the old earthen dam.
The tiny creek in Long Draw flows through a breach in the old earthen dam.  The small pond that used to be here is silted in.  Lush grass grows in the damp mud where the pond used to be.  There were several old pond sites like this in succession.

A bit farther up the valley, the creek disappeared.  The road grew faint, but could still be followed easily enough.  Up ahead was a high ridge with limestone cliffs up at the top.  It was in the general direction of White Tail Peak, but SPHP wasn’t certain if this was it or not.  Down in the valley, Lupe saw cows ahead.

Ahead to the W is a high ridge that is N of White Tail Peak. Lupe was more interested in the cows at the far end of the valley.
Ahead to the W is a high ridge that is N of White Tail Peak. Lupe was more interested in the cows at the far end of the valley.

The cows were not used to having company in this remote valley.  They really didn’t care for it much.  At first, they headed S into the trees.  Lupe and SPHP stayed on the road and got past most of them.  Suddenly a few of the cows in the trees decided to head W farther up the valley.  The others all got the same idea within just a minute or two.  (Cows are known for their herd mentality.)  They all started running and wound up passing Lupe and SPHP again.  They didn’t stop until they were on the road.

Without meaning to be, Lupe and SPHP were now on a cattle drive.  Every time the American Dingo drew near, the cows took off trotting farther ahead up the road.  Lupe thought it was all very interesting.  She liked being a cow Dingo.  Since the cows persisted in staying on the road, SPHP finally took Lupe off the road and into the trees.  Efforts to pass the cows by going around them through the forest failed.  The cows kept pace heading up the road.  By now the road had turned S.  It seemed to be reaching some kind of minor pass.

Before reaching the pass, Lupe came to a side road that headed NW.  It was marked as No. 125.1D.  There was a 4 foot tall boulder near the junction.  Lupe and SPHP climbed up on it and took a little break.

Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild.  SPHP gave her two pieces of chocolate chip cookie.  Lupe buried them for future use.  Lupe often does this when she isn’t really hungry yet.  She has cookies, dog treats, pieces of meat, sandwiches and similar supplies stashed at lots of different places in the Black Hills.  She is getting ready for a famine, but SPHP can only think of one time she ever returned to reclaim one of her treasures.  It wasn’t in the best of shape, but Lupe gobbled it down anyway.

During the break, one cow stood on the road staring at Lupe and SPHP through the trees.  It finally got bored and moved on.  SPHP wanted to follow No. 191.1A up to the little pass to see what was on the other side, but there were still lots of cows up there.  Lupe headed NW on the side road, No. 125.1D.  It was a nice little road through the forest.  The cows got left behind.  Things were going fine, when suddenly No. 125.1D ended.

The high ridge Lupe and SPHP had seen was still to the SW.  Lupe and SPHP continued through the forest heading W.  Lupe followed various game trails.  SPHP did too, still gradually gaining elevation.  SPHP was hoping to find USFS Road No. 190 coming down from a high pass just to the N of White Tail Peak, but Lupe didn’t come across any roads at all.  SPHP caught a glimpse of an elk crashing through the forest ahead.

Eventually, Lupe and SPHP came to a wall of rock blocking the way towards the NW.  The wall wasn’t terribly high, perhaps 30 or 40 feet.  The terrain forced Lupe and SPHP to turn more to the WSW.  The rock wall gradually diminished until Lupe and SPHP reached a pass.  There was no road.  To the NW was the big canyon where Black Fox Campground is located.

Lupe was clearly too far N.  She had to climb the steep slope to the S to get up on the high ridge.  She could then continue S towards White Tail Peak.  Lupe and SPHP climbed 200 or 300 feet up the forested slope.  It started out steep and got steeper.  SPHP hoped Lupe wouldn’t find cliffs near the top, but of course that was exactly what Lupe ran into.

At the top of the steep slope, Lupe's advance was blocked by this cliff.
At the top of the steep slope, Lupe’s advance was blocked by this cliff.  SPHP had forgotten to bring her SuperDingo cape in the pack, so she wasn’t able to just fly up to the top.

The cliff wasn’t terribly high.  SPHP hoped to find a break in the cliff wall that would let Lupe get up on top.  First Lupe tried going right (W).  Almost immediately, she found a way up.  In a flash, Lupe was at the top of the cliff staring back down at SPHP.  It was steep, but there were trees and rocks to hang onto.  Soon SPHP was up above with the intrepid Dingo.

Lupe finds the way up the cliff.
Lupe finds the way up!

Up on top of the cliff there were a number of viewpoints.  Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) could be seen to the N.  To the NE was Custer Peak (6,804 ft.).  To the NW was the canyon where Black Fox Campground is located.  Lupe was at the very N end of the high ridges to the N of White Tail Peak.  Lupe now had to head S to reach her peakbagging goal.  SPHP wasn’t sure how far Lupe S would have to go.  It was certain she would come to USFS Road No. 190 somewhere along the way.  Then SPHP would be sure exactly where she was.

Lupe at the far N end of the high ground N of White Tail Peak. Photo looks NW.
Lupe at the far N end of the high ground N of White Tail Peak. Photo looks NW.

The trek to the S was longer than SPHP expected.  Lupe stayed near the cliffs at the E side of the long ridge.  In some places there were clear 180° views to the E.  Lupe kept going up and down small hills along the way, but overall she continued to gain elevation.

A look S along the cliffs.
A look S along the cliffs.
Lupe near the cliffs. These cliffs are well N of White Tail Peak. Photo looks S.
Lupe near the cliffs. These cliffs are well N of White Tail Peak. Photo looks S.

 

Cliffs N of White Tail Peak 9-19-15SPHP was beginning to wonder if Lupe was ever going to find USFS Road No. 190.  The line of cliffs went on and on.  It was the same line of cliffs Lupe and SPHP had seen from down in the valley where the cows were.  Finally, Lupe reached an especially high hill.  It was all forested, so there wasn’t much to be seen.   Shortly after starting down the SW slope of this hill, USFS Road No. 190 came into view.  Lupe and SPHP crossed it and climbed up the next hill.  Lupe was all excited when a helicopter flew low right overhead.Helicopter near White Tail Peak 9-19-15It wasn’t far now to the true summit of White Tail Peak.  The summit is actually at a small clearing surrounded by trees.  USFS Road No. 190.1Q goes right through it.  Lupe and SPHP followed the narrow road to the summit.  Since there really wasn’t much to be seen there, Lupe and SPHP and continued on the road heading SE.  The road led through the forest to a limestone cliff where there are some views.

Nearing the viewpoint, SPHP heard voices ahead.  A couple of guys with ATV’s were already there.  Lupe and SPHP stayed hidden in the forest a little way off to let them enjoy White Tail Peak in peace.  In the meantime, Lupe had more Taste of the Wild.  SPHP ate chocolate chip cookies, an apple and some pudding.  The feast lasted long enough for the ATV guys to leave.  Soon they roared off to the NW along the road.

Lupe and SPHP went to the viewpoint.  It was a bit disappointing, because there weren’t many places with unobstructed views.  The limestone was surrounded by dead trees killed by pine bark beetles.  Where there weren’t dead trees, there were live ones.  When the dead trees eventually fall over, there will be great views.

Lupe on White Tail Peak.
Lupe on White Tail Peak.
Looking N at the line of cliffs that Lupe had come along to reach White Tail Peak.
Looking N at a small section of the line of cliffs that Lupe had come along to reach White Tail Peak.  Terry Peak is sticking up in the distance.
Looking NE towards Custer Peak from White Tail Peak.
Looking NE towards Custer Peak (highest point on horizon towards the left) from White Tail Peak.

Lupe lost interest in the views as soon as she noticed a squirrel.  She dashed off to give it a good barking at.  The tree the squirrel was taking refuge in wasn’t terribly tall, so Lupe was very enthusiastic about her prospects for barking the squirrel right out of the tree.  The squirrel refused to cooperate, however.

Dingo and Squirrel tree on White Tail Peak. If you were looking for Moose and Squirrel, that must be a different blog.
Dingo and Squirrel tree on White Tail Peak. If you were looking for Moose and Squirrel, that must be a different blog.
The ever-hopeful American Dingo.
Lupe, the ever-hopeful American Dingo.

After a while, SPHP persuaded Lupe to give the beleaguered squirrel a break.  It was time for a last photo to commemorate Lupe’s 3rd summit of White Tail Peak.

Lupe on White Tail Peak on 9-19-15. This was her 3rd time here. The first time was over 3 years ago when she was only 1.5 years old.
Lupe on White Tail Peak on 9-19-15. This was her 3rd time here. The first time was over 3 years ago when she was only 1.5 years old.

With the views enjoyed, the squirrel sufficiently annoyed, and Lupe’s peakbagging goal accomplished, it was time to head back to the G6.  Lupe and SPHP returned to USFS Road No. 190.  After a brief exploration to the NW, Lupe and SPHP headed E along No. 190 over the pass and then down into the shadow of White Tail Peak.

On the return trip, Lupe made a loop by taking USFS Roads No. 190, 190.1B, and 191.  Along No. 190, SPHP hoped to get a clear view back W towards White Tail Peak, but only glimpses came into view through the forest.  However, there was a place with a nice view to the SW toward Flag Mountain (6,937 ft.).

Looking SW from USFS Road No. 190 toward Flag Mountain (L).
Looking SW from USFS Road No. 190 toward Flag Mountain (L).

The sun had just set when Lupe saw a giant deer (elk) ahead.  It saw Lupe and SPHP too, and quickly disappeared into the forest.  A little later on, Lupe started barking at a big tree right next to the road.  SPHP figured she was taking another squirrel to task.  Instead, a huge owl flew out of the tree.  Near the G6, cows were still grazing near the dilapidated old outbuildings.

Lupe reached the G6.  It was 7:14 PM and 44°F.  The day was done.  Twilight was coming on.  For a few minutes, Lupe stayed relishing the moment.  She sniffed the cool air, decoding the secret messages borne by the slightest of breezes.P1070250Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Laramie Peak, Wyoming (8-9-15)

A post about August 9, 2015, Day 1 of Lupe’s grand Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation which took her to parts of Wyoming, Colorado and a new Lupe state – Utah!

Finally the long-delayed day for the start of Lupe’s grand Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation arrived!  The trip had been postposed by the terrible injury Lupe suffered to her left front leg on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 135 to Peak 6820 & Crooks Tower (7,137 ft.) on 6-27-15.  She had run straight into a downed 5-strand barbed wire fence in Trebor Draw and gotten all cut up.  Thankfully, lead emergency veterinarian Dr. Erin Brown at the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital in Rapid City was available late that Saturday night to stitch up the gaping wound on Lupe’s leg.

Lupe had then spent a mostly very dull July and early August encouraged to do as little as possible while her leg was healing.  Other than a trip to Cascade Falls on Xochitl’s birthday, nothing very fun had happened to the increasingly discouraged Dingo.  So Lupe was surprised and hopeful, when SPHP got up a little after 4:00 AM on the morning of 8-9-15, and started loading the G6 with the small mountain of supplies that had been sitting in the living room.

Packing the G6 seemed to take a long time.  SPHP kept remembering additional things that needed to be brought along or done before departure.  Lupe, already perched up on her stack of supplies, pillows and blankets in the G6 began to wonder if anything was really going to happen or not.

Lupe became bored in the G6 waiting for her great summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation to begin while SPHP kept thinking of more things to do before departure.
Lupe became bored in the G6 waiting for her great summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation to begin while SPHP kept thinking of more things to do before departure.

It was nearly 10:00 AM, by the time SPHP backed the G6 out of the driveway.  Although Lupe’s perch in the front passenger seat was arranged the way it normally was on Lupe’s prior vacations, at first Lupe didn’t seem to remember that this meant something great was about to happen.  It was over a year since returning from her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies and Beartooth Mountains, a very long time to Lupe.  She didn’t start getting excited until she was already on the highway and saw cows to bark at.  She sprang into action with her usual deafening enthusiasm.

The sky was overcast in the Black Hills, but Lupe and SPHP drove into sunshine leaving the hills.  At Mule Creek Junction in Wyoming, SPHP stopped long enough at the rest area to snap a quick photo of Lupe and the cloud still hanging over the Black Hills in the distance.

Lupe at Mule Creek Junction, Wyoming. A last look back towards home at the big cloud still hanging over the Black Hills, SD in the distance.
Lupe at Mule Creek Junction, Wyoming. A last look back towards home at the big cloud still hanging over the Black Hills, SD in the distance.

Lupe by-passed Lusk, WY by taking the more scenic Hwy 270 to Lance Creek and then S to Manville, WY.  A few miles before reaching Manville, Lupe and SPHP stopped for a short break at some interesting rock formations.

Lupe near the rock formations along Hwy 270 N of Manville, WY.
Lupe near the rock formations along Hwy 270 N of Manville, WY.

From Manville, Lupe went to Douglas, WY and then S on Hwy 94.  Hwy 94 turned into a gravel road well before reaching Esterbrook.  Lupe was on her way to her first peakbagging goal of her Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation – Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.), the highest mountain in the Laramie Range.

Lupe near Laramie Peak. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe near Laramie Peak. Photo looks SSE.
Laramie Peak from the NNW.
Laramie Peak from the NNW.
Lupe W of Laramie Peak, Wyoming.
Lupe WNW of Laramie Peak, Wyoming.
Lupe N of Eagle Peak, which is about 4 miles W of Laramie Peak.
Lupe N of Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.), which is about 4 miles W of Laramie Peak.

Shortly before reaching Friend Park Campground, there was a left turn that led up a hill to the Friend Park Trailhead.  Only 2 other vehicles were at the dusty trailhead when Lupe arrived.  The owners of one vehicle returned while Lupe was still at the trailhead.  They told SPHP they had gone quite a distance up the trail to Laramie Peak, but they had children with them and had to turn back before reaching the summit.  There was a $5.00 fee required to hike the trail.

It was 4:02 PM when Lupe started up the Laramie Peak Trail.  The trail goes through a pine forest nearly all the way to the summit.  The first half mile or so on the way to Friend Creek was relatively flat, and may have even lost a little elevation.  Although the area looked like it had been very dry recently, Lupe and SPHP were glad to see that Friend Creek still had pretty good flow in it.

Soon after crossing the bridge over Friend Creek, the trail started to climb steadily.  Switchbacks helped to slow the rate of ascent to some degree, but the trail was fairly steep all the rest of the way up the mountain.  Occasional very small streams crossed the trail, and at one more point the trail came near Friend Creek again.  A sign said something about a waterfall, but there weren’t any notable falls apparent from the trail.

As Lupe gained elevation, now and then there were views of a high ridge to the NW.  It wasn’t until well up on the mountain that some glimpses of a large valley to the SW came into view.  Most of the time, the forest hid the views pretty effectively.  About 3/4 of the way up, Lupe met a couple of women coming down the mountain with a little black and white dog named Decker.

Decker liked Lupe and didn’t want to leave when the women continued down the mountain after chatting briefly with SPHP.  Lupe wasn’t terribly gracious.  She didn’t want to be sniffed.  Lupe growled at Decker.  Decker wasn’t discouraged.  The women had to come back up to retrieve Decker before they could continue on down.  Decker and the two women were the only other party Lupe and SPHP encountered anywhere along the trail.

About 45 minutes before sunset, Lupe and SPHP finally reached the top of Laramie Peak.  It was disappointing to see how much human junk was there.  There were metal sheds, antennas, solar panels, wires and cables left behind from apparently abandoned communications systems.  Fortunately there didn’t appear to be any broken glass, although there were a few boards with nails sticking out of them.

A lot of human debris from old communication systems greets the eye on the approach to the summit of Laramie Peak. A disappointing find!
A lot of human debris from old communication systems greets the eye on the approach to the summit of Laramie Peak. A disappointing find!
Lupe on Laramie Peak. This photo looks S.
Lupe on Laramie Peak. This photo looks S.

Lupe on Laramie Peak 8-9-15Fortunately the summit of Laramie Peak was very rocky and the forest did not extend up onto the rocks.  The summit was pretty rugged.  There were big rounded boulders of reddish rock at the very top.  Lupe and SPHP worked around the various boulders and rock outcroppings exploring different parts of the summit area.  Since there weren’t trees at the top, there were some really great views in most directions.

Looking SE from Laramie Peak.
Looking SE from Laramie Peak.
View to the SSW from Laramie Peak.
View to the SSW.
Looking NE from Laramie Peak. A high ridge of solid rock and boulders separated the E side of the summit area from the W. Unfortunately more junk marred the otherwise terrific view.
Looking NE from Laramie Peak. A high ridge of solid rock and boulders separated the E side of the summit area from the W. Unfortunately more junk marred the otherwise terrific view.

Lupe couldn’t get up to the very tippy-top of Laramie Peak, because the last couple of boulders at the top were just way too large for her to jump up onto.  She did get very close though.  Close enough for Dingo work to claim success!  Lupe seemed very pleased to have climbed Laramie Peak, a considerable trek for the first mountain of her Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation with nearly 2,800 feet of elevation gain.

Lupe near the some of the very highest boulders on Laramie Peak. Photo looks N.
Lupe near the some of the very highest boulders on Laramie Peak. Photo looks N.
Yeah, Lupe didn't quite make it up there. Shown are the very top boulders on Laramie Peak. Photo looks E.
Yeah, Lupe didn’t quite make it up there. Shown are the very top boulders on Laramie Peak. Photo looks E.

There was one structure up on Laramie Peak that looked very interesting.  A short distance to the NW of the very summit was what appeared to be a viewing platform with a metal ladder leading up to it.  The platform would have been a great place from which to take a look around.  It would offer great views to the NW, a direction difficult to see from where Lupe and SPHP were.

Lupe started heading toward the viewing platform, but the way was full of really big boulders separated by equally big drops.  With the sun due to set soon, SPHP decided it wasn’t going to be worth the effort to get over there.  Even though the platform wasn’t very far away, there was no sense getting stranded away from the trail in the dark.  The terrain was just too rough for that!

Lupe with the high viewing platform up on Laramie Peak visible beyond her. This platform would have offered great views to the N and NW, which were not easily seen from the rest of the summit area where Lupe and SPHP were.
Lupe with the high viewing platform up on Laramie Peak visible beyond her. This platform would have offered great views to the N and NW, which were not easily seen from the rest of the summit area where Lupe and SPHP were.  Photo looks NW.

Lupe stayed up on top of Laramie Peak while the sun set.  The view struck SPHP rather strangely.  Around the mountain were still largely unspoiled scenes from the Old Wild West, conjuring up in the mind images of vast empty tracts of land where huge buffalo, deer and antelope herds roamed free.  It couldn’t have looked much different during the days of Indians, tipis, cowboys, covered wagons, cavalry and forts.  But those storied days, which still really aren’t all that long ago, will never return.  They have passed into a history no one has any living memory of now.

Contrasting with the images of the Old Wild West was the debris on the mountain.  Among it all, an abandoned American flag hung limply from an old antenna.  Now and then the sun lit the flag up, as it fluttered briefly in a breeze, only to droop again as if it were exhausted.  None of this stuff served any purpose any more.  It was a monument to the wasteful despoiling of the natural world by humanity for temporary gain.  It looked and felt like national decline and the end of the American dream.

An abandoned American flag droops among the debris at the top of Laramie Peak at sunset.
An abandoned American flag droops among the debris at the top of Laramie Peak at sunset.

The sunset was still pretty, though.  Lupe and SPHP spent the last few moments together watching the sun disappear from view.  When it was gone, it was time to start down the mountain.Sunset on Laramie Peak 8-9-15

A final look back toward the summit of Laramie Peak after Lupe and SPHP started down the trail.
A final look back toward the summit of Laramie Peak after Lupe and SPHP started down the trail.

About 1/3 of the way down, twilight had faded to the point where SPHP had to bring out the little flashlight.  It was 10:54 PM when Lupe reached the G6 again.

In the middle of the night, Lupe finally seemed to understand that her great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation had really begun.  She was all excited, and not the least bit sleepy.  She ran around sniffing like a Dingo possessed in a huge dark field surrounded by even blacker forests.  Stars blazed above her in a moonless sky.

At last, she was done.  Lupe returned to SPHP.  She fell asleep on SPHP’s lap.  The night grew chilly.  A warm Dingo felt good.Sunset from Laramie Peak 8-9-15Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 137 – Harney Peak & Little Devils Tower (9-7-15)

Harney Peak at 7,242 feet is the highest mountain in the Black Hills and the entire state of South Dakota.  Located in the Black Elk Wilderness, it is a very popular hiking destination and can be approached from half a dozen different trailheads.  One of the shortest (about 3.5 miles one way) and most popular routes is on Trail No. 9 from Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park.  Lots of people don’t realize how easy it is to add variety to the trip without significantly increasing the distance by making a loop back to Sylvan Lake via trails No. 3 & No. 4 and including an ascent of Little Devil’s Tower along the way like Lupe did on this day.

After 27 days spent on Lupe’s great summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation, Lupe and SPHP finally returned home on the afternoon of 9-4-15.  However, the fun wasn’t set to end quite yet.  It was the Friday before Labor Day weekend, which in 2015 came as late as it possibly can with Labor Day falling on September 7th.  Lupe’s uncle Joe, aunt Andrea and cousin Dusty had already arrived at her Grandma’s house the previous evening.  Aunt Mush and uncle David were due to arrive on Sunday the 6th.  So Lupe got to go with SPHP over to Grandma’s house every evening from the 4th through the 7th to hang out with Dusty and all the gang, which she really enjoyed.

The high point of Labor Day weekend, though, was Labor Day itself.  On Labor Day, uncle Joe and cousin Dusty wanted to go with Lupe and SPHP to climb Harney Peak (7,242 ft.), the always popular high point of South Dakota.  Of course, Lupe and SPHP were both more than willing to oblige.  So a little before 10:00 AM on Labor Day, SPHP parked the G6 near Sylvan Lake Lodge, and everyone piled out.

A short trek led down to the cool shady woods below Sylvan Lake dam.  From there Lupe and the gang followed the lakeside trail up around the N and then E sides of scenic Sylvan Lake.  Shortly before reaching the swimming beach (where dogs aren’t allowed), Dusty was ready for a swim.  Joe tossed a stick into the lake to give her swim a purpose.  Dusty was very pleased to have the opportunity to retrieve the stick.

Dusty takes a dip while retrieving a stick for Joe.
Dusty takes a dip in Sylvan Lake while retrieving a stick for Joe.

Once Dusty was sufficiently cooled off, Lupe’s whole troop continued on past the swimming beach to Trail No. 9.  The trail soon proved to be very busy with Labor Day hikers, the most crowded SPHP has ever seen it.  There were quite a few dogs of various descriptions enjoying the trail, too, so Lupe and Dusty had ample opportunities to stop and sniff with interesting new acquaintances.

Maybe 0.5 mile from Sylvan Lake, there are some rock ledges where Harney first comes into view.  Lupe’s little pack paused here for a short photo op.

Lupe, Joe & Dusty at the rock ledges. Photo looks N.
Lupe, Joe & Dusty at the rock ledges. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the rock ledges with Harney Peak in the background. Photo looks E.
Lupe on the rock ledges with Harney Peak in the background. Photo looks E.
Joe & Dusty with Harney Peak in the background.
Joe & Dusty with Harney Peak in the background.

Trail No. 9 goes all the way to the summit, or at least to the short spur trail that leads to the summit.  Lots of people and dogs were coming and going.  With all the activity, it didn’t seem like very long before Lupe, Dusty, Joe & SPHP were at the spiral stairway just before reaching the lookout tower at the top.

The first few times Lupe had been to Harney Peak, she was scared of the metal stairs, because she could look right through the grate down to the rocks below.  Back then, SPHP had to carry the nervous dingo over the stairs.  Lupe still doesn’t entirely trust these stairs, but with a little encouragement, she navigated them on her own.  If they bothered Dusty, she didn’t show it.

Upon reaching the lookout tower, everyone first went out to the viewing platform next to the tower.  SPHP held Lupe up above the rock wall so she could see the views.  A little later on, after SPHP put her down, she suddenly leaped up onto the rock wall so she could see all by herself.  SPHP made her get down so she couldn’t fall off.   Meanwhile, Joe went and climbed the short steep stairs (virtually a ladder) up to the top of the lookout tower.

Joe and Dusty on the viewing platform next to the Harney Peak lookout tower.
Joe and Dusty on the viewing platform next to the Harney Peak lookout tower.
This huge granite outcropping extends out to the W of Harney Peak just a little below the summit.
This huge granite outcropping extends out to the W of Harney Peak just a little below the summit.

Lupe doesn’t like the way the metal grating that forms the floor of the viewing platform feels on her paws, so she was soon done at the lookout tower.  Lupe, Dusty, Joe & SPHP headed down to the tower’s basement and out to a path leading over to the big granite outcropping to the W of the summit.  It was less busy and more peaceful over there, although a bit breezy.  It was a good place to pause for a snack while admiring the views.

Joe & Dusty up on the granite W of Harney's summit.
Joe & Dusty up on the granite W of Harney’s summit.

Lupe and Dusty were quite enthusiastic about sharing the Cliff bar SPHP brought out of the pack, and the Kind bars Joe took out of his pack.  Dusty ate some of Lupe’s Taste of the Wild too, with evident relish.  She even polished off SPHP’s apple core, although that was a step too far for Lupe.  American Dingoes can be picky at times.  Both dogs helped lighten SPHP’s pack by slurping up plenty of water to wash it all down with.

Lupe on the granite W of the Harney Peak lookout tower.
Lupe on the granite W of the Harney Peak lookout tower.
Lupe on the granite looking N from Harney Peak. This photo looks W.
Lupe on the granite looking N from Harney Peak. This photo looks W.
Lupe & Joe
Lupe & Joe
This helicopter buzzed by pretty close while giving tours. Lupe got excited. She loves barking at helicopters and airplanes.
This helicopter buzzed by pretty close while giving tours. Lupe got excited. She loves barking at helicopters and airplanes.

A trip up to Harney Peak on or near Labor Day is becoming a tradition.  On September 2, 2014 (the day after Labor Day), Joe, Dusty, Lupe & SPHP were up here, too.  In 2014, Joe had called his son Matthew from Harney Peak, since it was Matt’s birthday.  This time he called his mother, Audrey, in Wisconsin.

Yes, there is cell phone reception! Joe calls his mother, Audrey in Wisconsin, from the top of South Dakota with Labor Day greetings.
Yes, there is cell phone reception! Joe calls his mother, Audrey, in Wisconsin from the top of South Dakota with Labor Day greetings.
Joe chats with mom in Wisconsin while Dusty listens in to hear if he says anything about dog treats becoming a Labor Day tradition.
Joe chats with mom in Wisconsin while Dusty listens in to hear if he says anything about dog treats on Harney Peak becoming a Labor Day tradition.
The Cathedral Spires (L) and Little Devil's Tower (R) from Harney Peak. Photo looks S.
The Cathedral Spires (L) and Little Devil’s Tower (R) from Harney Peak. Photo looks S.

With snacking, sight-seeing and social obligations completed, it was time to head back down from Harney Peak over the spiral stairway, which Lupe again navigated successfully, back to Trail No. 9.  Quite near the bottom of the stairs were some horses that had brought people up the trail.  Lupe was a good Carolina Dog and did not bark at them, although it was tempting.  Dusty paid no attention to the horses.

The undisturbed horses Lupe didn't bark at.
The undisturbed horses Lupe didn’t bark at.

Maybe 10 minutes or so down from Harney’s summit, there is a rock ledge with a great view to the S of Peak 6735.  Lupe graciously posed for a couple of photos from here.

A rather cheerful looking American Dingo with Peak 6735 in the background. Peak 6735 lies SSE of Harney Peak.
A rather cheerful looking American Dingo with Peak 6735 in the background. Peak 6735 lies SSE of Harney Peak.

Lupe with Peak 6735 in the background 9-7-15Rather than head straight back down Trail No. 9 all the way to Sylvan Lake, Joe and Dusty were willing to explore the trails over to the Cathedral Spires (6,840 ft.) and possibly climb Little Devils Tower (6,960 ft.), which neither of them had done before.  This had the advantage of showing them some new territory while making a loop back to Sylvan Lake.  So Lupe and her troop took Trail No. 3 where it met up with Trail No. 9.

Joe and Dusty on the way to the Cathedral Spires and Little Devils Tower.
Joe and Dusty on the way to the Cathedral Spires and Little Devils Tower.
Getting closer. Now along Trail No. 4. Little Devils Tower is at the far right.
Getting closer. Now along Trail No. 4. Little Devils Tower is at the far right.

A relatively short trek on Trail No. 3 led to Trail No. 4, which passes to the N of the Cathedral Spires over to a little saddle between the Cathedral Spires and Little Devils Tower.  Trail No. 4 goes over this pass heading S where there are some close up views of the Cathedral Spires.

The Cathedral Spires from Trail No. 4 after crossing to the S of the saddle between them and Little Devils Tower.
The Cathedral Spires from Trail No. 4 after crossing to the S of the saddle between them and Little Devils Tower.  Photo looks S.
Cathedral Spires. This photo looks SE from Trail No. 4.
Cathedral Spires. This photo looks SE from Trail No. 4.

It isn’t far from the saddle to a spur trail that goes perhaps 0.25 mile to Little Devils Tower.  Most of the spur trail is an easy hike along a scenic ridge.  There is one relatively short section of annoyingly steep trail with a lot of loose rock on it, but it soon ends at a little saddle between big granite rocks.

A left turn at the saddle reveals a narrow crevasse in the granite.  This crevasse is marked by a painted blue diamond.  Blue and white diamonds mark the rest of the way up to the summit of Little Devils Tower.   This involves some scrambling up the granite, but even relatively small children can do it with a bit of help.  The rough granite provides good footing and there isn’t much exposure most of the way.  Naturally Lupe, Joe, Dusty and SPHP all made it to the top of Little Devils Tower.

Lupe looks SE from Little Devils Tower toward the Cathedral Spires.
Lupe looks SE from Little Devils Tower toward the Cathedral Spires.
Looking NNE back at Harney Peak from Little Devils Tower.
Looking NNE back at Harney Peak from Little Devils Tower.
Looking NW from Little Devils Tower toward Gap Lode Peak and St. Elmo Peak.
Looking NW from Little Devils Tower toward Gap Lode Peak (6,560 ft.) (most distant large rock outcropping at center of photo) and St. Elmo Peak (6,458 ft.) (smallish looking peak at left center beyond the dark rock hump).

Lupe starting down Little Devils Tower 9-7-15From Little Devils Tower, it was just a matter of following the spur trail back to Trail No. 4 and then continuing SW on down the valley.  Trail No. 4 led to the Little Devils Tower trailhead on Hwy 89 (Needles Highway – the Cathedral Spires are also called the Needles).  The trail continues though, another 0.5 mile or so, and leads back to the picnic ground on Sylvan Lake.  Once back at Sylvan Lake, Dusty was ready for another swim with just a little encouragement from Joe and another stick.Joe & Dusty at Sylvan Lake 9-7-15Joe & Dusty at Sylvan Lake 9-7-15

Dusty's 2nd swim of the day and another stick rescued.
Dusty’s 2nd swim of the day and another stick rescued.

While Joe and Dusty were engaged with sticks and water, Lupe and SPHP were up on the rocks taking a few pics of the lake.

Sylvan Lake. Photo looks NNW. That pretty Carolina Dog looks mighty familiar!
Sylvan Lake. Photo looks NNW. That pretty Carolina Dog looks mighty familiar!
The swimming beach at Sylvan Lake. Photo looks SE. There used to be a lot more trees and shade near the beach, but sadly pine bark beetles have killed them. Looks like there is another dead one now.
The swimming beach at Sylvan Lake. Photo looks SE. There used to be a lot more trees and shade near the beach, but sadly pine bark beetles have killed them. Looks like there is another dead one now.
This photo looks S at the large rock not far off shore from the swimming beach. Sylvan Lake is a popular place to swim in late summer. Paddleboats and perhaps kayaks can be rented here, too.
This photo looks S at the large rock not far off shore from the swimming beach. Sylvan Lake is a popular place to swim in late summer.

By about 4:30 PM, Lupe, Dusty, Joe & SPHP were all back at the G6.  It had been a great day spent together, but was now time to head back to Grandma’s house for a lasagna dinner.  Of course, Lupe had some!  Carolina Dogs like Italian food!

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 137 was Lupe’s 6th time up Harney Peak and 4th time up Little Devils Tower.  It was Joe’s 3rd time and Dusty’s 2nd time up Harney, and their 1st time up Little Devils Tower.  For SPHP, we just don’t know anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunwapta River
Sunwapta River

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

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

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

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

Osprey Lake
Osprey Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lupe looking for squirrels.
Lupe looking for squirrels.

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

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

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

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

Evening at Cirque Lake
Evening at Cirque Lake

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

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

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

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

Lupe at Cirque Lake
Lupe at Cirque Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bow Lake, Banff NP 7-25-13

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