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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!Want more Lupe adventures? Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index. Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.