Mount Zirkel, Colorado (8-17-15)

On the morning of 8-16-15, Day 8 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation, SPHP originally planned on climbing Bears Ears Peaks (10,577 ft.) with Lupe.  Bears Ears Peaks is only 6 or 7 miles E of Black Mountain, which Lupe had climbed the day before.  It was a good plan and SPHP should have stuck with it.  Instead, SPHP started thinking about going to Mount Zirkel (12,180 ft.).

So Lupe’s day started with a long ride in the G6, much of it on dusty, gravel roads.  Lupe headed back N to Hwy 70.  There she went E, got to tour a 3 mile dead end road near the Little Snake River, and finally left Hwy 70 for the final time to go SE on route No. 710/129.  No. 710/129 started out paved, but soon turned to gravel.  The road followed the Little Snake River.  Along the way, Lupe passed by multi-millionaire David Pratt’s impressive Three Forks Ranch.

Mountains along the way back to Hwy 70. These may be Bible Back Mountain (center) and Camel Back Mountain (R), but SPHP isn't certain about that.
Mountains along the way back to Hwy 70. These may be Bible Back Mountain (R Center) and Camel Back Mountain (Far R), but SPHP isn’t certain about that.
Lupe at the Little Snake River.
Lupe at the Little Snake River.
Looking downstream along the Little Snake River.
Looking upstream along the Little Snake River.  The Little Snake River is a tributary of the Yampa River.  Its confluence with the Yampa River is in NW Colorado not far from the E boundary of Dinosaur National Monument.
Lupe went through the Three Forks Ranch on her way to Mount Zirkel.
Lupe went by David Pratt’s fabulous Three Forks Ranch on her way to Mount Zirkel.

Lupe also got to see a rather impressive looking mountain that may be Hahn’s Peak.

Lupe and Hahn's Peak (?). Photo was taken along road No. 129 and looks S or SE.
Lupe and Hahn’s Peak (10,839 ft.) (?). Photo was taken along road No. 129 while still N of Columbine and looks S or SE.

At Columbine, SPHP was glad to reach paved roads again.  Shortly before reaching Clark, SPHP found Seed House Road No. 64, which soon becomes No. 400.  This road goes 12 miles ENE to the Slovenia Trailhead where Lupe would start for Mount Zirkel.  Seed House Road was paved for 6 miles, and then became 6 miles of dusty and very washboardy gravel.

When Lupe arrived at the Slovenia Trailhead it was packed.  Cars were parked alongside the road for quite a distance even prior to reaching the trailhead.  This was just a scouting trip anyway.  It was already too late in the day for Lupe to start for Mount Zirkel.  There was another consideration, too.  A large dark thunderstorm out of the NW had been following Lupe and SPHP for several hours.  It was now getting close to Mount Zirkel.

The rest of the 16th was spent basically just resting up for Mount Zirkel the next day.  The dark storm thundered twice, then left the area still heading SE without doing anything.  Lupe got to cool off in the Middle Fork of the Elk River.  SPHP chatted with the campground host at the Seed House campground, who was very pleasant, but knew nothing about the trail to Mount Zirkel.  Lupe filled up on Filet Mingon flavored Alpo and snoozed.

Lupe cools off in the middle fork of the Elk River.
Lupe cools off in the Middle Fork of the Elk River.

Lupe in the G6 near Mt. Zirkel 8-16-15Early the next morning, there were two big white dogs outside the G6.  Lupe went to sniff with them.  They were much bigger and outnumbered her, so after a minute she growled a low Dingo growl, just to let them know not to mess with her.  Lupe tends to be friendlier to smaller dogs.

The two white dogs had wandered through looking kind of lost the evening before.  SPHP was rather concerned about them.  They had collars, but no tags.  They seemed like older dogs and were kind of shy.  SPHP gave each of them a Cheesy Barkin’ Beggin’ Strip, half a can of Alpo, and some Taste of the Wild.  Both dogs seemed to enjoy the little feast and hopeful for even more, although they didn’t act like they were famished.

Lost or abandoned old dogs? SPHP thought maybe they were.
Lost or abandoned old dogs? SPHP thought maybe they were.
A couple of members of the canine clean plate club.
A couple of members of the canine clean plate club.

Lupe and SPHP went to the Seed House campground.  SPHP talked to the campground host again and told him about the two white dogs.  He had seen them the evening before, too.  However, he didn’t know what to do about it.  SPHP decided to wait to see if the dogs were still around after Lupe climbed Mount Zirkel to do anything further about them.

When Lupe arrived at the Slovenia trailhead, there was a poster showing a picture of a big white dog exactly like the ones Lupe and SPHP had seen.  The poster said they were Livestock Protection Dogs trained to herd sheep.  They should not be reported lost or stray, and should not be taken to town.  That settled that, except it still seemed odd to SPHP that the two dogs hadn’t been anywhere near any sheep or sheepherder.  Maybe they’d made a career change, figuring they could make a better living panhandling from dumb tourists.

In any case, at 7:55 AM (8-17-15, Day 9, 46°F, clear and calm) Lupe set off on Gold Creek Lake Trail No. 1150 for Mount Zirkel.  The trail headed E through the forest along Gold Creek, which rushed down to the W with very good flow.  Lupe soon crossed the creek on a good wooden bridge.  Later there was a place where there was no bridge, just a big log across the creek.  Lupe just trotted across, and even SPHP managed not to take a plunge.  The highlight of the trail on the way to Gold Creek Lake was a lovely waterfall.

The good wooden bridge across Gold Creek near the start of the Gold Creek Lake Trail.
The good wooden bridge across Gold Creek near the start of the Gold Creek Lake Trail.

Lupe near waterfall on Gold Creek Lake Trail near Mt. Zirkel 8-17-15After about 2.5 miles, Lupe reached Gold Creek Lake.

Lupe reaches Gold Creek Lake. Photo looks E.
Lupe reaches Gold Creek Lake. Photo looks E.

The trail continued ENE past the N shore of Gold Creek Lake.  Soon after leaving the lake, Lupe passed a junction with the Wyoming Trail No. 1101.  Shortly after that, the trail crossed Gold Creek again.  This time there wasn’t any bridge, not even a log.  Gold Creek was already quite a bit smaller than it was a couple of miles downstream.  Lupe and SPHP easily just forded it.  In the springtime or early summer, this might be a treacherous or impossible crossing.

Lupe enjoys fording Gold Creek. SPHP gets soaking wet boots and feet, and is a bit less enthused about the experience.
Lupe enjoys fording Gold Creek. SPHP gets soaking wet boots and feet, and is a bit less enthused about the experience.

After the ford, Gold Creek passed through a narrow gap in the canyon perhaps a mile from Gold Creek Lake.  The trail went through the same gap on the N side of the creek, but now well above it.  On the E side of the gap, there was a huge valley which gradually curved towards the N.  Gold Creek Lake Trail started climbing the N side of the valley.  Pretty soon it reached a junction with the Gilpin Trail No. 1161.

Beyond the junction with the Gilpin Trail, the Gold Creek Lake Trail went NE without much change in elevation for about 0.70 mile until it reached Red Dirt Pass Trail No. 1142.  At this junction, the Gold Creek Lake Trail turned SE to cross the huge valley and climb up to Ute Pass.  Lupe, however, needed to take the Red Dirt Pass Trail to reach Mt. Zirkel.

Lupe emerges from the narrow gap into this wide U-shaped valley. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe emerges from the narrow gap into this wide valley. Photo looks ESE.
Here Lupe is still on the Gold Creek Lake Trail, now NE beyond the junction with the Gilpin Trail. Flattop Mountain lies ahead. Photo looks NE.
Here Lupe is still on the Gold Creek Lake Trail, now NE beyond the junction with the Gilpin Trail. Flattop Mountain lies ahead. Photo looks NE.
The W side of Flattop Mountain from the Gold Creek Lake Trail. Photo looks NE.
The W side of Flattop Mountain from the Gold Creek Lake Trail. Photo looks NE.
Lupe at the junction of the Gold Creek Lake and Red Dirt Pass trail junction.
Lupe at the junction of the Gold Creek Lake and Red Dirt Pass trails.

The Red Dirt Pass Trail headed N for a couple of miles to reach Red Dirt Pass at the upper end of the huge valley.  The forest gradually thinned out and then disappeared along the way.  The E side of the valley was the impressive steep W side of Flattop Mountain.  During the last part of the climb to Red Dirt Pass, the trail climbed steeply up long switchbacks.  Although the air had been calm down in the forest, it was very windy when Lupe arrived up at Red Dirt Pass.

Red Dirt Pass came into view to the N up ahead as Lupe followed the Red Dirt Pass Trail.
Red Dirt Pass came into view ahead to the N as Lupe followed the Red Dirt Pass Trail.
Lupe looks N at the scene to the W of Red Dirt Trail. SPHP considered having Lupe climb up to the high point shown here as a shortcut to Mt. Zirkel, but decided to stay on the Red Dirt Pass Trail instead.
Lupe looks N at the scene to the W of Red Dirt Pass Trail. SPHP considered having Lupe climb up to the high point shown here as a shortcut to Mt. Zirkel, but decided to stay on the Red Dirt Pass Trail instead.

W of Red Dirt Pass Trail S of Mt. Zirkel 8-17-15

Lupe getting closer to Red Dirt Pass seen ahead. Photo looks N.
Lupe getting closer to Red Dirt Pass seen ahead. Photo looks N.
Red Dirt Pass. To the left of the pass is the way to Mt. Zirkel. To the right is the way to Flattop Mountain.
Red Dirt Pass. To the left of the pass is the way to Mt. Zirkel. To the right is the way to Flattop Mountain.
Looking SE from Red Dirt Pass Trail along the W side of Flattop Mountain.
Looking SE from Red Dirt Pass Trail along the W side of Flattop Mountain (12,118 ft.).
Lupe reaches Red Dirt Pass. Dang, it's windy here! Photo looks W where Lupe will have to go next on her way to Mount Zirkel.
Lupe reaches Red Dirt Pass. Dang, it’s windy here! Photo looks NW where Lupe will have to go next on her way to Mount Zirkel.
A look back to the S at the big valley Lupe came up to reach Red Dirt Pass.
A look back to the S at the big valley Lupe came up to reach Red Dirt Pass.
The other side of Red Dirt Pass. This photo looks NNE.
The other side of Red Dirt Pass. This photo looks NNE.

There is no trail from Red Dirt Pass the rest of the way to Mt. Zirkel.  Fortunately, it was easy to climb up to the NW from the pass to the high ground leading to Mt. Zirkel.  The way up wasn’t too steep.  It was a mix of boulders and heather.  Lupe was glad to leave windy Red Dirt Pass.  Above and away from the narrow pass, the wind died down to just a light breeze.

Lupe leads the way from Red Dirt Pass toward Mt. Zirkel. Photo looks NW.
Lupe leads the way from Red Dirt Pass toward Mt. Zirkel. Photo looks NW.
Hurry it up, SPHP! I can see Mt. Zirkel from here!
Hurry it up, SPHP! I can see Mt. Zirkel from here!

Once up on the high ground NW of Red Dirt Pass, Mt. Zirkel was finally in view.  A long, broad ridge of heather and boulders swept around to the W and turned N to reach the summit.  The summit itself had four separate prongs to it.  Three of them appeared to be very nearly the same height.  SPHP was glad the fourth prong was definitely lower.  It was way too rugged for Lupe and SPHP to climb.

Lupe's first view of Mt. Zirkel from the high ground above Red Dirt Pass. Photo looks NW.
Lupe’s first view of Mt. Zirkel from the high ground above Red Dirt Pass. Photo looks NW.

The way to Mt. Zirkel was obvious – just follow the big ridge and stay away from the cliffs.  Lupe loved it up here and ran around exploring with great enthusiasm and energy.  SPHP was very enthusiastic, too.  There were fantastic views all around.

The joy of snow!
The joy of snow!
Looking W at rugged Big Agnes.
Looking W at rugged Big Agnes Mountain (12,040 ft.).
A look S towards Point 12,006, the more distant high point on the right.
A look S towards Point 12,006, the more distant high point on the right.

While Lupe was approaching the summit of Mt. Zirkel, SPHP was looking at the three prong summit trying to decide which prong was highest.  From various angles, different prongs looked slightly higher than the others.  At first, SPHP thought the middle prong was the highest.  Later the left prong looked higher.  In the end, they were all of such similar height, it hardly mattered which prong Lupe climbed.

A guy from Steamboat Springs passed SPHP on the way.  SPHP watched to see which prong he climbed.  He climbed the pointy one at the far left.  He returned to report that it was an easy scramble with amazing views.  When asked, he said the other prongs looked a bit higher from the top, but not enough to make much difference.

SPHP had already learned from Lupe’s trip up Browns Peak (11,722 ft.) that whichever high point Lupe climbed, the others would inevitably look higher.  SPHP decided Lupe would climb the pointy left prong, too, and call it good.

Lupe nears the summit of Mt. Zirkel. The guy from Steamboat Springs is the dark spec on the heather a little above Lupe's tail.
Lupe nears the summit of Mt. Zirkel. The guy from Steamboat Springs is the dark spec on the heather a little above Lupe’s tail.
Getting there! Lupe on her way up the left prong of Mt. Zirkel.
Getting there! Lupe on her way up the left prong of Mt. Zirkel.

Lupe and SPHP reached the top of the left prong of Mt. Zirkel.  For Lupe, it was a new record!  Mt. Zirkel at 12,180 feet was now the highest mountain she had ever climbed, surpassing Medicine Bow Peak (12,013 ft.), which she had climbed only a week before.  The views were stunning.

Looking towards the middle prong from almost the top of the left prong.
Looking towards the middle prong of the Mt. Zirkel summit from almost the top of the left prong.
Looking S from the summit towards Gilpin Lake.
Looking S from the summit towards Gilpin Lake.
Big Agnes from Mt. Zirkel summit. Photo looks W.
Big Agnes Mountain from Mt. Zirkel summit. Photo looks W.
Lupe holed up in a safe spot in the rocks just below the very top of the left prong.
Lupe holed up in a safe spot in the rocks just below the very top of the left prong.

There wasn’t room to do anything at the pointy top of the left prong.  It wasn’t even possible to get up on top of the highest rock without exposure to some tremendous cliffs.  After a few minutes up there, Lupe and SPHP retreated down about 30 feet of elevation to where there was a place with a little cave-like area and room to move around a bit while enjoying the views.  Lupe and SPHP took a break and hung out here for a while.

Lupe looks SE back along the ridge towards Red Dirt Pass and Flattop Mountain.
Lupe looks SE back along the ridge towards Red Dirt Pass and Flattop Mountain (12,118 ft.).

SPHP had two options in mind for Lupe on the way back.  The first, and preferred option, was for Lupe to climb the other side of Red Dirt Pass to get up on Flattop Mountain.  The second option was for Lupe to go back down to the Gilpin Trail and take it to Gilpin Lake.  SPHP pondered the merits of each choice. Meanwhile, Lupe happily romped around the heather as she again traversed the broad ridge leading back to Red Dirt Pass.

Lupe after starting on her way back to Red Dirt Pass.
Starting back to Red Dirt Pass.
Another peek at Big Agnes to the W.
Another peek at Big Agnes Mountain to the W.

Lupe on Mt. Zirkel 8-17-15

Don't forget to sniff the flowers!
Don’t forget to sniff the flowers!
Big Agnes again.
Big Agnes again.
Lupe takes a last look back at Mt. Zirkel before heading down to Red Dirt Pass.
A last look back at Mt. Zirkel before heading down to Red Dirt Pass.  Lupe really had a fun time on Mt. Zirkel!

Time was getting to be a factor, but the main issue to decide whether or not Lupe would climb Flattop Mountain was how steep the other side of Red Dirt Pass looked.

Looking across Red Dirt Pass from the Mt. Zirkel side towards Flattop Mountain. Should Lupe go up there?
Looking across Red Dirt Pass from the Mt. Zirkel side towards Flattop Mountain. Should Lupe go up there, or go to Gilpin Lake?

The ridge heading up to Flattop Mountain was much narrower and somewhat steeper than the one Lupe had climbed to reach Mt. Zirkel.  It looked especially steep near the top where it was narrowest.  There was no doubt Lupe could do it, but SPHP might have a hard time.  SPHP chickened out.  Lupe would just have to tell everyone she would have climbed Flattop Mountain, if SPHP hadn’t been tagging along.

Lupe and SPHP took the Red Dirt Pass Trail back down into the huge valley.  Going down it was easier to see and appreciate the beautiful scenery along the way.

Looking S from Red Dirt Pass.
Looking S from Red Dirt Pass.

Flowers along the Red Dirt Pass Trail 8-17-15

The upper end of the U-shaped valley. High Point 12,006 is at the left end of the ridge. Photo looks W from the Red Dirt Pass Trail.
The upper end of the U-shaped valley. That’s probably High Point 12,006 at the left end of the ridge. Photo looks W from the Red Dirt Pass Trail.
The W side of Flattop Mountain. Photo looks SE.
The W side of Flattop Mountain. Photo looks SE.

Once down past the switchbacks, Lupe and SPHP wandered exploring some of the valley to the W of Red Dirt Pass Trail.  Eventually Lupe returned to the trail and followed it back to the Gold Creek Lake Trail.  When she reached the Gilpin Trail, she took it.  By taking the Gilpin Trail, Lupe would make a loop on the rest of the way back to the Slovenia Trailhead and get to see new sights.

The Gilpin Trail climbed pretty steeply up to a pass that Lupe had to go over to see Gilpin Lake.  On the way up the switchbacks on the Gilpin Trail, a strange thing happened.  SPHP heard a tree growl.  It was a rather low and threatening growl.  SPHP turned to look at Lupe.  Lupe looked up at SPHP.  The tree growled again.  It definitely wasn’t Lupe growling.

The tree was about 15 feet from the trail.  Lupe and SPHP were already a bit past it.  Slowly SPHP backed on up the trail a little farther beyond the tree.  Lupe followed.  The tree didn’t growl again.  Instead there were cracking and tearing noises.  Odd behavior for a tree, to say the least.  Yet Lupe seemed calm and SPHP could see nothing else.  Cracking, tearing and popping sounds went on for a couple of minutes.  SPHP decided the best thing to do was let it remain a mystery.  Lupe continued on up to the pass.

Once over the pass, Gilpin Lake came into view.  Gilpin Lake was considerably larger than Gold Creek Lake had been.  The surrounding scenery was even more rugged and beautiful, too.  Lupe followed the trail down to Gilpin Lake.

Lupe reaches the pass. Gilpin Lake is now visible to the N.
Lupe reaches the pass. Gilpin Lake is now visible to the N.

Lupe at Gilpin Lake, Zirkel Wilderness 8-17-15

Lupe on the Gilpin Trail.
Lupe on the Gilpin Trail.
By the time Lupe reached Gilpin Lake, it was getting close to sunset. This photo looks S back toward the pass Lupe had just come over.
By the time Lupe reached Gilpin Lake, it was getting close to sunset. This photo looks S back toward the pass Lupe had just come over.
Gilpin Lake in the Zirkel Wilderness.
Gilpin Lake in the Zirkel Wilderness.  The pass over to the Gold Creek Lake Trail is at the far left.

It was still several miles from Gilpin Lake back to the Slovenia Trailhead.  With the sun starting to get low, it was soon time for Lupe to continue on down the trail.  Although there had been people along the trails earlier in the day, Lupe and SPHP had seen no one since meeting the guy from Steamboat Springs shortly before Lupe reached Mt. Zirkel.

A cloud to the S threatened to rain, but only sprinkled a bit.  The sun went down and twilight came on.  The rushing waters of Gilpin Creek were the only sound.  The scenery faded into darkness.  Only the solitude and an American Dingo remained with SPHP in the beautiful valley.

Gilpin Creek, Mount Zirkel Wilderness, Colorado.
Gilpin Creek, Mount Zirkel Wilderness, Colorado.

Want 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. 143 – Bald Hills, Peak 6888 & Crows Nest Peak (10-24-15)

Thursday evening, 10-22-15, the Black Hills got some much needed rain.  While checking the weather online, SPHP noticed that there was a band of snow shown up in the higher western Black Hills near the border with Wyoming.  Lupe loves the snow, so on Saturday morning, 10-24-15, Lupe and SPHP set out for the high country.

It turned out there wasn’t any snow.  Or, at least, if there had been, it was all melted by Saturday.  Lupe and SPHP did see some areas of frost in the shade of the pines in some areas, but that was it.  Lupe wasn’t going to get to play in the snow, but she still had a couple of peakbagging goals in the area.

NW of Redbank Spring, SPHP parked the G6 about 0.25 mile W of USFS Road No. 117 along No. 113.  No. 113 would take Lupe to her first destination, which was Bald Hills (6,690 ft.).

Lupe on USFS Road No. 113 shortly after starting out for peakbagging goal Bald Hills.
Lupe on USFS Road No. 113 shortly after starting out for peakbagging goal Bald Hills.

At first, No. 113 headed WNW through a tall grass field, but it soon turned N to enter the forest.  In the forest, the road was muddy.  SPHP had to leave the road due to the amount of mud clinging to SPHP’s boots.

Most of the rest of the way to Bald Hills, SPHP walked through the forest.  It was pretty easy.  This part of the hills is all high ground, but very gently rolling.  Lupe was feeling great in the cooler weather.  She raced through the forest sniffing everything.

Along USFS Road No. 113 was this area of frozen mud. The thin ice was hollow underneath. The water had already soaked into the ground. When Lupe came by again later in the day, the ice had all melted.
Along USFS Road No. 113 was this area of frozen mud. The thin ice was hollow underneath. The water had already soaked into the ground. When Lupe came by again later in the day, the ice had all melted.

Bald Hills is a high point near the SW end of a long ridge that extends out to the W.  Despite the name “Bald Hills”, the area is nearly all forested.  When Lupe reached the high point shown on Peakbagger.com, there was a big level field there.  The top was all bald, but it was also surrounded by forest.  Presumably the trees have grown up since the name was given to the area.

The surrounding band of trees was thinnest to the W.  It was possible to see between them to catch glimpses of Mount Pisgah (6,380 ft.) 5 miles away in Wyoming.  Bald Hills is in South Dakota, but only 0.5 mile from the Wyoming border.  Some of the surrounding trees had been killed by pine bark beetles.  Whenever those trees finally fall over, the view will be better.

Lupe and SPHP took a break.  Both had cake and water on Bald Hills.  Lupe also had Taste of the Wild.  SPHP had carrots from the garden.  Afterwards, Lupe posed for a few photos.

Lupe at the summit of Bald Hills. It not clear which other hills might be considered part of Bald Hills. There were other fingers of the same general ridge off to the N, but Lupe was where the maps shown the location to be.
Lupe at the summit of Bald Hills. It’s not clear which other hills might be considered part of Bald Hills. There were other fingers of the same general ridge off to the N, but Lupe was where all SPHP’s maps showed the location of Bald Hills to be.
The hill might be bald on top, but there isn't much of a view due to surrounding forests.
The hill might be bald on top, but there isn’t much of a view due to surrounding forests.  Photo looks ENE.
OK, there was kind of a view to the W toward Mount Pisgah in Wyoming. Only peakbaggers like Lupe would come way out here for such a mediocre look at the world, though. Actually Lupe comes more for the sniffing and the squirrels than the views or even the peakbagging.
OK, there was kind of a view to the W toward Mount Pisgah (6,380 ft.) in Wyoming.  Only peakbaggers like Lupe would come way out here for such a mediocre look at the world, though.  From Lupe’s point of view the sniffing, squirrels, and solitude were great.
Yeah, the field on top of Bald Hills was actually pretty big!
Yeah, the field on top of Bald Hills was actually pretty big!  It would have been a great place for some Squeaker Ball action!

Lupe’s next peakbagging goal was Peak 6888 off to the NE.  Lupe and SPHP set off on No. 113 again, retracing Lupe’s route to Bald Hills, but only for a short distance.  There were two other fingers of the same ridge that Bald Hills was part of that SPHP thought Lupe should explore along the way.  Side roads off USFS Road No. 113 went along both ridges.  The first one Lupe came to was No. 113.1E.

No. 113.1E headed WNW.  SPHP had hoped it might lead to a clearer viewpoint off to the W.  Instead it lost elevation at a steady, moderate pace and stayed in the forest.  The road went on and on.  SPHP gave up on finding a better view here.  When a side road appeared that headed back E, Lupe and SPHP took it.  SPHP hoped to find a shortcut to road No. 113.1D on the next ridge to the NE.

The side road lost elevation gradually, and came to a sharp bend at a draw.  SPHP didn’t want to lose any more elevation.  Just above the road was a little earthen dam.  Lupe and SPHP left the side road to investigate.  There turned out to be a little stock pond behind the dam.  There was another even smaller dam and pond above this one.  SPHP named the larger pond Hidden Slew, since the water seemed a bit slimy.

Lupe at Hidden Slew.
Lupe at Hidden Slew.
Only readers of The (Mostly) True Adventures of Lupe get to see and learn the secret locations of great things like puny little slimy stock ponds. What a benefit! This photo shows the very remote little side road Lupe followed to reach this hidden treasure.
Only readers of The (Mostly) True Adventures of Lupe get to see and learn the secret locations of great things like puny little slimy stock ponds in the Black Hills. What a benefit! This photo shows the very remote side road off No. 113.1E that Lupe followed to reach Hidden Slew.  What a treasured find!  Photo looks W.

From Hidden Slew, Lupe and SPHP started climbing up the NE slope of the draw.  Pretty soon, SPHP noticed that along the N side of the draw, it looked like there might be a viewpoint.  Going over in that direction, Lupe found a slope heading up to the ridge where No. 113.1D was.

This slope had been pretty heavily logged.  Climbing higher, Lupe discovered the only spot where there was an opening in the forest big enough for a clear distance shot with the camera.  Off to the NW was a nice look at Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.).

Inyan Kara (R of Center) is seen here to the NW. This was the only clear distance shot anywhere in the Bald Hills area.
Inyan Kara (R of Center) is seen here to the NW.  This was the only clear distant view Lupe found anywhere in the vicinity of Bald Hills.  Inyan Kara is in Wyoming.  The mountain is on a single square mile of isolated Black Hills National Forest land totally surrounded by private ranches.

Lupe and SPHP easily reached the top of the logged slope to find USFS Road No. 113.1D, as expected.  Lupe followed No. 113.1D NW for a while, but it too began to drop into a denser forest.  There weren’t going to be any better views continuing in that direction.  So Lupe and SPHP turned around, and headed SE back to the junction with No. 113.

It was possible to get a pretty good look at Sweetwater Mountain while moving along, but there weren't any unobstructed views of it for the camera. Sweetwater Mountain is also in Wyoming.
It was possible to get a pretty good look at Sweetwater Mountain (6,440 ft.) (the long forested ridge in the distance) while moving along, but there weren’t any unobstructed views of it for the camera. Sweetwater Mountain is also in Wyoming.
Lupe racing around on USFS Road No. 113.1D.
Lupe racing around on USFS Road No. 113.1D.  Even though the area had already been heavily logged, it looks like they might just as well have taken down even more trees.  Many of the trees still standing are dead, killed by pine bark beetles.

Back at No. 113, Lupe and SPHP turned E on it again.  This time Lupe followed it to the formerly frozen mud so elegantly portrayed earlier in this post.  By now, the ice had melted.

Near by was a side road, No. 113.1G, which headed N down into Bear Canyon.  It looked like it was going to turn NE, and head up into the upper end of Bear Canyon, which was where Lupe needed to go to reach Peak 6888.  So Lupe and SPHP left No. 113 again to check out No. 113.1G.

This high up in the Black Hills, the fall colors are now completely done. All the leaves have fallen off the aspen trees. The leaves on the ground have all turned a dull brown.
This high up in the Black Hills, the fall colors are now completely done. All the leaves have fallen off these aspen trees along No. 113.1G. The leaves on the ground have all turned a dull brown.  Everywhere Lupe went this day, it was the same.

No. 113.1G did turn NE, and did lead Lupe to the upper reaches of Bear Canyon, where there were three stock ponds in a row.  Beyond the upper stock pond was a big open field.  Lupe posed for a photo near the middle stock pond, which SPHP judged to be most beautiful of all.  Then Lupe continued following the road, which now headed NNE toward Peak 6888.

Lupe amidst the scenic splendor of the middle stock pond in upper Bear Canyon.
Lupe amidst the scenic splendor of the middle stock pond in upper Bear Canyon.

SPHP isn’t sure where the transition from USFS Road No. 113.1G occurred, perhaps it was at the stock ponds, but Lupe was now on Bear Canyon Road.  When Lupe reached the high point on Bear Canyon Road, she was essentially at the summit of Peak 6888.

The topo map from Peakbagger.com showed the official summit location of Peak 6888 a little way off to the W of the road.  The whole area was so flat, it hardly made any difference, but Lupe and SPHP wandered off the road to the W to see what might be a little higher than everything else.  This area had also been pretty heavily logged.  SPHP thought a particular stump looked like it was at the highest point.  Lupe posed for her obligatory summit of Peak 6888 photos.

Lupe on the stump at the tip top of Peak 6888.
Lupe on the stump at the tip top of Peak 6888.
Another peakbagging goal of interest only to peakbaggers. Peak 6888 was so flat that even with nearly all the trees cut down there weren't any views. This photo looks ENE toward Bear Canyon Road, which is just beyond the big pile of logs. The logging must have occurred fairly recently. Many of the trees that had been cut down still had green needles on them.
Another peakbagging goal of interest only to peakbaggers. Peak 6888 was so flat that even with nearly all the trees cut down there weren’t any views. This photo looks E toward Bear Canyon Road, near the big pile of dead trees. The logging must have occurred fairly recently. Many of the trees that had been cut down still had green needles on them.

Lupe had now completed both of her peakbagging goals for the day.  She headed N on Bear Canyon Road to reach USFS Road No. 109.  She followed No. 109 0.5 mile E to No. 117.  Lupe was now a little over 3 miles N of where No. 113 left No. 117.  The G6 was parked back along No. 113.

The sun was still fairly high in the sky, though.  Lupe had time to revisit Crows Nest Peak (7,048 ft.), which she had just been to on Expedition No. 139 on 9-27-15.  Crows Nest Peak (7,048 ft.) was only about 2 miles to the NE.  Lupe could reach it from a new direction this time, which meant more exploring, more squirrels, and more fun!

So off she went.  Lupe followed No. 117 a little farther N to get past a fence line.  She then turned NE, crossed a field near another stock pond of immense interest (sadly not pictured), and plunged up into the forest.

Lupe at the intersection of Bear Canyon Road and USFS Road No. 109. Photo looks S.
Lupe at the intersection of Bear Canyon Road and USFS Road No. 109.  The forested ridge in the background is part of Peak 6888.  Photo looks S.
Lupe along No. 117. She would soon cross the big field at the right close to another stock pond, mercifully not pictured here.
Lupe along No. 117. She would soon cross the big field at the right close to another stock pond, mercifully not pictured here.  Photo looks N.

It had been SPHP’s intention that Lupe would just climb up the ridge to the NE, and then try to stay on high ground while heading directly for Crows Nest Peak.  However, partway up the ridge, there was a really nice level road.  It wound its way N and E along the side of the ridge.  It looked so easy and inviting, Lupe followed it instead of climbing to the top of the ridge.  Eventually, this road reached another.  A marker showed that Lupe had been on No. 695.1A.

Lupe on No. 695.1A just before it ended at No. 695. Since No. 695 went the wrong direction, Lupe left the roads to cross the field shown in sunlight and head into the forest again.
Lupe on No. 695.1A just before it ended at No. 695. Since No. 695 went the wrong direction, Lupe left the roads to cross the field shown in sunlight and head into the forest again.

No. 695.1A ended at No. 695, which went SE, not the direction Lupe needed to go.  Lupe left the roads, and crossed a sunlit field covered with dark brown bushes.  She then entered the forest again.  SPHP had the same plan as before, just climb to the top and stay on high ground heading NE to Crows Nest Peak.

The same thing happened again.  Lupe came to another nice level road which wound around to the N, but mostly to the E.  This road proved to be No. 266.1A, which linked up to No. 266.  No. 266 had been recently graded and was a muddy mess, but it took Lupe right on up to Crows Nest Peak.

Lupe on No. 266.1A on her way to Crows Nest Peak. This was a pleasant level stroll in the low angle sunlight.
Lupe on No. 266.1A on her way to Crows Nest Peak. This was a pleasant, level, sunlit stroll.
Aspen trees S of No. 266 on the approach to Crows Nest Peak.
Aspen trees S of No. 266 on the approach to Crows Nest Peak.
Thought you would get away without seeing any more ponds, aye? Well, here is Lupe now at the pond just 200 feet W of the USGS Benchmark at the summit of Crows Nest Peak.
Thought you would get away without seeing any more ponds or mud puddles, aye? Well, here is Lupe now at the pond on Crows Nest Peak just 200 feet W of the USGS Benchmark at the summit. Photo looks N.
Lupe reaches the survey marker post next to the USFS Benchmark on Crows Nest Peak. This was Lupe's 3rd time on Crows Nest Peak.
Lupe reaches the survey marker post next to the USGS Benchmark on Crows Nest Peak. This was Lupe’s 3rd time on Crows Nest Peak.

Lupe didn’t stay long on top of Crows Nest Peak.  The sun would only be up for another 30 or 40 minutes, at most.  The G6 was now 5 miles away.  Lupe left Crows Nest Peak heading S on No. 266.  Instead of turning W along with the road, she continued S through the forest.  She found a trail that took her SSW, and then SW.  It was an interesting area.  In the rapidly fading light, it seemed very remote and wild.

It was dark by the time Lupe and SPHP reached USFS Road No. 117 again, still at least a couple of miles from the G6.  The moon, more than 3/4 full, was shining brilliantly in the clear sky.  Only the brightest stars could be seen.  Suddenly Lupe heard them – the wild dogs who live in the forests and fields – the coyotes.

Lupe sat next to SPHP listening very intently.  The coyotes yipped and howled and sang.  This was the biggest coyote choir Lupe had ever heard.  A whole pack was out there.

SPHP told Lupe about how the coyotes live wild and free all the time, doing whatever they please, while roaming the Black Hills at will.  SPHP also mentioned that they were often cold and tired and hungry.  Lupe thought things over.  Living free sounded wonderful, but so did a steady diet of Taste of the Wild, Alpo, treats, and a comfy soft, warm bed.

The coyotes sang for just a few minutes.  They stopped as abruptly as they had started.  Lupe decided to continue on with SPHP to the G6 beneath the silent, silver moon.

Hey, another pond shot! Trees are reflected in the pond on Crows Nest Peak.
Hey, another pond shot! Trees are reflected in the tiny pond on Crows Nest Peak half an hour before sunset.

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

Black Mountain, Moffat County Highpoint, Colorado (8-15-15)

Dawn on Day 7 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation found Lupe at Battle Pass in southern Wyoming.  The American Dingo was up and ready to go.  Another great day of Dingo adventures was about to begin.  Lupe and SPHP headed W on Hwy 70.  Lupe’s peakbagging goal for the day was going to take her out of Wyoming and into Colorado to climb Black Mountain (10,840 ft.), the Moffat County High Point.

American Dingo at dawn at Battle Pass, WY in the Sierra Madre range. Yes, the dingo is a bit underexposed here. It was early!
Intrepid American Dingo, Lupe, is up at dawn at Battle Pass, WY in the Sierra Madre range. Yes, our heroine is a bit underexposed here. It was early!

Dawn at Battle Pass, WY 8-15-15The drive down Hwy 70 from Battle Pass went through gorgeous, unspoiled mountain scenery.  Lupe rode with her head out of the window in the wind.  She had a look of pure joy on her face.  Highway 70 left Wyoming and entered Colorado.  Lupe passed the Slater U.S. Post Office on the N side of the road.  If there was a town of Slater somewhere around here, Lupe and SPHP didn’t see it.  Lupe turned S on South Slater Creek Road, a gravel road that crossed the Little Snake River.

South Slater Creek Road headed S for a mile, and then followed Slater Creek through a narrow gap in a high ridge.  Immediately beyond the gap was an intersection.  Lupe and SPHP took the fork to the left across the creek.  SPHP was expecting this to be County Road No. 82, but a sign said Moffat County 1.  The road headed S along the E side of the Slater Creek valley for miles, eventually turning more SE and gaining quite a bit of elevation.  The grand unspoiled vistas brought to mind the days of the Old West.

Looking W down at the Slater Creek Valley and beyond.
Looking W down at the Slater Creek Valley and beyond.

Eventually SPHP saw a sign for County Road No. 82.  Lupe was on the right road, but not for long.  A few miles later, the road forked at the Brush Mountain Ranch.  A sign said No. 82 continued E.  The other choice was an unmarked road that went S.  SPHP didn’t have any detailed maps of the area, and assumed continuing on No. 82 was the right thing to do.  Lupe headed E.  Soon a very nice looking mountain came into view off to the N.  SPHP didn’t know it at the time, but this was Brush Mountain (9,869 ft.).

Lupe near Brush Mountain in Colorado. Photo looks N.
Lupe near Brush Mountain in Colorado. Photo looks N.

SPHP was looking for USFS Road No. 110, but County Road No. 82 went on and on.  The scenery was all beautiful and remote.  There began to be some signs though, that Lupe was on the wrong road for getting to Black Mountain.  USFS Road No. 110 never appeared.  Suddenly No. 82 magically became No. 80.  After No. 80 went S for some miles, there was a sign pointing to Bears Ears (10,577 ft.).  It pointed W instead of SE.  Signs mentioned California Park, which SPHP had never heard of before.

Dingo barking alert! Cows dead ahead.
Dingo barking alert! Cows dead ahead.
Lupe SE of Bears Ears (?) SPHP isn't certain, but thinks so. Photo looks NW.
Lupe in California Park SE of Saddle Mountain (10,057 ft.) in Colorado.  Photo looks NW.

SPHP became convinced it just couldn’t be this far to USFS Road No. 110.  Finally at the top of a small ridge, there was a trailhead of some sort with a map posted.  After studying the map, SPHP realized that the correct road was the one that turned S way back at the Brush Mountain Ranch.  Gah!  It was 22 miles of gravel just to get back there.  Lupe didn’t mind.  Neither did SPHP either, not really.  Sometimes unplanned adventures just happen.  This was one of them.

Quite some time later, Lupe and SPHP reached Brush Mountain Ranch again.  This time Lupe took the road headed S.  Soon there was a sign with the unhelpful  message “1W”.  The road crossed Slater Creek.  SPHP stopped and let Lupe out of the G6 to go get a drink.  Instead she raced off down into the trees.  SPHP hadn’t noticed the huge black cow resting in the shade chewing its cud.  Lupe ran right up to it and barked furiously in its face.

The cow was pretty comfy where it was.  Never before in its entire life had the cow seen such a shrill, noisy, annoying thing as the Carolina Dog that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere.  There was only one good thing about it.  The frantic doggie was tiny by comparison.  The cow declined to get up.  It wasn’t going anywhere.  SPHP called Lupe.  She came racing back up the hill.  Her enthusiastic expression showed what worlds of fun it was threatening the monstrous cow.  She couldn’t believe SPHP had let her out of the G6 to do that.  Lupe never did get a drink out of the creek.

SPHP drove on.  In practically no time, there was a sign for USFS Road No. 110.  At last!  No. 110 wound around in the forest.  Locals kept blocking the road.  Some people had cut down a huge dead tree.  They were cutting it up and loading the pieces onto a big trailer.  They had to move their trailer so Lupe and SPHP could get by.  A guy in a pickup and a guy in a sheepherder’s rig going in opposite directions were stopped on the road while they chatted.  Lupe and SPHP came through to bust up the conversation.  One of them thanked SPHP a moment later. The conversation had gone on way too long.

Looking W somewhere along the way to Black Mountain.
Looking W somewhere along the drive to Black Mountain.  SPHP believes these may be Mount Oliphant (10,670 ft.) (L), Buck Point (10,550 ft.) (Center), and Mount Welba (10,569 ft.) (R).

It was lunch time by the time Lupe and SPHP reached the Black Mountain trailhead along USFS Road No. 110.  Lupe and SPHP had lunch in the shade of some small trees.  Finally, at 12:54 PM (69°F), Lupe and SPHP started for Black Mountain on Trail No. 1185.

For a short distance, the trail was faint and hard to follow as it climbed steeply through an area of tall grass.  Beyond the tall grass the trail was in much better shape.  It was easy to follow and headed NW along the SW slope of a big forested ridge.  The trail undulated up and down.  There was a net elevation gain, but not all that much.  The forest provided welcome shade.  Now and then there were glimpses of distant territory to the SW.

Eventually Trail No. 1185 reached a saddle between the forested ridge and Black Mountain.  Beyond the saddle, the trail started climbing much more steeply.

Four horseback riders appeared.  They were heading down.  Lupe and SPHP got off the trail to let them pass.  They stopped.  The first rider said Lupe would get up on the mountain just in time for the lightning to be snapping and popping real good.  On this encouraging note, the riders continued on.  As the last horse went by, Lupe couldn’t contain herself any longer and barked.  SPHP grabbed her nose and held her mouth shut to keep her from spooking the horses.

After the horses went by, it wouldn’t have taken too long to finish the steep part of the climb to get up on Black Mountain.  However, someone far down the mountain started firing a gun as if a war was breaking out.  The sound carried very well way up the mountain.  Lupe kept wanting to stop and hide.  SPHP finally persuaded her to finish the steep climb.

Once up on top, a sign by the trail said Black Mountain, East Summit, 10,801 ft.  SPHP stopped and sat on a big log.  Lupe was happy resting and hiding out nearby.

Lupe happily rests on Black Mountain while she waits for the sound of gunfire far below to stop.
Lupe rests happily on Black Mountain while she hides from the sound of gunfire.

Black Mountain is a plateau.  The entire mountaintop is pretty flat with sharp drops all around the edges.  The mountain has two large parts separated by a comparatively narrow ridge of level ground.  The W part of the mountain is somewhat smaller than the E part.  Lupe had arrived on the mountain near the far SE corner of the larger E part.  The E portion of Black Mountain extends more than 0.5 mile NW/SE, and at most 0.25 mile SW/NE.  Trail No. 1185 runs along the length of the SW rim.

The war ended and no more gunfire was heard.  Since the E end of the mountain is just an increasingly narrow flat ridge, it was a short easy walk from where Lupe came up over to the N side of the mountain.  Lupe and SPHP went to see what was over there.  There was quite a nice view.

Lupe at the NE rim of Black Mountain very near the E end of the plateau. Photo looks N.
Lupe at the N rim very near the E end of the Black Mountain plateau.  Photo looks N.  The high mountain on the L is likely Buck Point.

After seeing the view to the N, it was time for Lupe to find the true summit of Black Mountain.  The highest point and true summit was shown on SPHP’s topo map as being less than 0.25 mile to the W.  It was supposed to be a very short distance N of the trail.  Lupe and SPHP headed W on the trail to find it.

Unsurprisingly, there really wasn’t any identifiable exact summit.  Being a plateau, the top of Black Mountain was so level it was hard to say any particular point was the absolute highest.  None of the territory N of the trail looked noticeably higher than the trail itself.  In fact, not too far N of the trail, the ground clearly began to lose elevation.  SPHP chose a spot with a few flowers a bit N of the trail for Lupe’s official summit of Black Mountain photo.

Lupe's official Black Mountain summit photo. This place looked about as high as anywhere else on the mountain. Close enough for Dingo work!
Lupe’s official summit of Black Mountain photo. This place looked about as high as anywhere else on the mountain and sported a few nice flowers, too.  Close enough for Dingo work.  Dingoes aren’t fanatics about summits, they are fanatics about cows and squirrels!

After Lupe’s summit photo, Lupe and SPHP went back to the trail to continue NW along the SW rim of Black Mountain.  Soon Lupe wanted to stop again.  Now there were faint rumblings of thunder.  SPHP agreed to stop at a point where there was a good view from the SW rim.  It was possible to see a long way to the S, but the view was marred by smoke haze.  There had been some haze back in Wyoming, but the smoke was definitely thicker here in Colorado.

A look back from the SW rim of Black Mountain towards the SE. A road is visible going up the first distant ridge just to the right of the tall tree at the center of this photo. The G6 is parked back over there.
A look back from the edge of Black Mountain towards the SE.  A road is visible going up the first distant ridge just to the right of the tall tree at the center of this photo. The trailhead where the G6 is parked is at the highest point seen on that road from here.

It was kind of hot – at least in the 70’s °F.  Lupe and SPHP sat near the edge of Black Mountain.  Soon both fell asleep.  Suddenly SPHP awoke to the sound of puppy feet dashing away.  Lupe had heard a squirrel.  The usual commotion ensued.  When it was over, Lupe was completely revived.  Lupe and SPHP continued NW on the trail.  By now there were sprinkles of rain, but nothing serious.  The rain soon quit.

The clouds passed on by.  It was sunny again when Lupe reached the NW end of the E portion of Black Mountain.  Lupe was close to the narrow flat area that connects the E part of Black Mountain with the W part.  Lupe and SPHP crossed over to the N side of the mountain to check out the view over there.

Looking N from the NW end of the E portion of Black Mountain. SPHP believes the mountain at center is Mount Oliphant and the one on the right is Buck Point.
Looking N from the NW end of the E portion of Black Mountain. SPHP believes the mountain at center is Mount Oliphant and the one on the right is Buck Point.  Mount Welba may be on the left.
Lupe along the NE rim of Black Mountain. Photo looks NW towards the W portion of the mountain.
Lupe along the NE rim of Black Mountain. Photo looks NW towards the W portion of the mountain.

A communications site was shown on the topo map.  Sure enough, a little tower was in clear view a bit farther W.

Lupe reached the communications site on Black Mountain. Photo looks NE.
Lupe reaches the communications site on Black Mountain. Photo looks NE.

From the tower at the communications site, Lupe and SPHP headed SW.  At a cliff, Lupe could see a long forested ridge extending S from the W portion of Black Mountain.  There was a big gulf of open space between the cliff where Lupe was and that far S ridge.

The high ridge that extends S from the W portion of Black Mountain. Lupe did not explore any farther in that direction.
This high ridge that extends S from the W portion of Black Mountain. Lupe did not explore any farther in that direction.

Lupe could have gone on to explore the W portion of Black Mountain, but SPHP was satisfied she had gone far enough.  It was getting to be time to turn around.  On the way back, Lupe and SPHP explored the NE rim of the E part of Black Mountain.  The ground was definitely lower and not as level here as along the SW rim, but it was still pretty easy going through the forest.  With no trail, SPHP thought about how few people or American Dingoes must ever venture to this part of Black Mountain.

It was beautiful and peaceful.  There were little meadows filled with flowers, although most were now past their prime.  There were many places with good views to the N.  Lupe and SPHP had a very fun time exploring.

These flowers toward the NE rim of Black Mountain were still looking pretty bright and beautiful.
These flowers toward the NE rim of Black Mountain were still looking pretty bright and beautiful.
Lupe near the NE rim of Black Mountain. She is getting close to the SE end of the mountain again here.
Lupe near the NE rim of Black Mountain. She is getting close to the SE end of the mountain again here.

Shortly before Lupe reached the trail again near the far SE end of the mountain, SPHP realized a big dark cloud was approaching from the W.  Lupe and SPHP headed down as soon as Lupe reached the trail.

The dark cloud started sprinkling rain.  Lupe kept wanting to stop due to thunder.  SPHP made her press on.  Lupe had lost considerable elevation, and was already at the end of the steep part of the trail, when the storm hit.  It rained harder and the wind blew.  Lupe and SPHP took shelter beneath a clump of trees right next to the trail.  The trees provided pretty good protection.  Lupe didn’t get very wet.  The worst was over in 10-15 minutes.

Lupe was still reluctant to go on.  She could still hear the thunder.  Then she saw a deer in the forest.  In an instant, the thunder was forgotten.  An hour before sunset, Lupe was back at the G6.  Her adventures on Black Mountain were done.

Happy days. Lupe in a meadow of flowers near the NE rim of Black Mountain where Dingoes are seldom seen.
Happy days. Lupe in a meadow of flowers near the NE rim of Black Mountain where Dingoes are seldom seen.

Want 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.

Saratoga Hot Springs, Red Mountain & Bridger Peak, Wyoming (8-14-15)

The morning of Day 6 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation found Lupe and SPHP at the dispersed camping site at the intersection of USFS Roads No. 100 & 215 in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming.  Lupe had climbed Kennaday Peak (10,810 ft.) the day before, and despite getting back rather late, she was full of energy.  She sniff excitedly around in the forest nearby and was successful in finding a squirrel to bark at.  The squirrel returned insults from the safety of a big pine tree.

While all this excitement was going on, SPHP sat in the G6 catching up the trip journal.  Suddenly, a yellowish hummingbird was flitting around the G6 – kind of a bright, cheerful, living drone.  The hummingbird was a good omen.  Soon it was time to go.  Lupe and SPHP paid a quick visit to the South Brush Creek Campground to get water, and then headed W on Hwy 130 to the town of Saratoga.

The first thing on the agenda in Saratoga was to check out the Saratoga Hot Springs.  In addition to two hot pools, there is a regular cool swimming pool, too.  SPHP was disappointed to learn that the swimming pool ($4.00 admission) wouldn’t open until noon, which was still hours away.  However, the hot springs were open 24/7 and free, which was an amazing and unbeatable deal.  SPHP looked forward to getting clean again!

Lupe arrives to check out the Saratoga Hot Springs on 8-14-15. Of course she couldn't go in, but she did get to wade in the nearby North Platte river.
Lupe arrives to check out the Saratoga Hot Springs on 8-14-15. Of course she couldn’t go in, but she did get to wade in the nearby North Platte river.
Unfortunately, the lovely cool swimming pool at the Saratoga Hot Springs was closed until noon.
Unfortunately, the lovely cool swimming pool at the Saratoga Hot Springs was closed until noon.

Swimming pool at Saratoga Hot Springs 8-14-15

The biggest, and by far the largest, of two hot pools at the Saratoga Hot Springs.
The biggest, and by far the largest, of two hot pools at the Saratoga Hot Springs.

One rather unusual feature of Saratoga Hot Springs, is that it is situated right next to a small side channel of the North Platte River.  More hot water bubbles up into the side channel from underground.  SPHP was able to leave the hot spring, walk over to the hot bubbling water at the side channel, and wade a considerable distance upstream.

SPHP waded up this side channel of the North Platte river. There were little fish and crayfish in it.
SPHP waded up this side channel of the North Platte river. There were little fish and crayfish in it.

There were little fish and quite a number of crayfish in the side channel.  SPHP surprised a fawn grazing along the banks.  If SPHP had waded downstream instead of upstream, it would easily have been possible to wade right on down all the way to the North Platte River itself.

The North Platte River in Saratoga, WY.
The North Platte River in Saratoga, WY.

SPHP returned to Lupe in the G6 from the Saratoga Hot Springs refreshed and clean.  Lupe agreed that SPHP sniffed a lot better.  SPHP had learned from a local oil refinery worker, and sometimes Medicine Bow Mountains hunting guide, where there was a city park.  Lupe and SPHP went to the park for a picnic.  Lupe wasn’t too hungry yet.  She mostly rested on the nice green grass in the shade of some trees.  It was a peaceful time, since the trees didn’t seem to harbor any squirrels.

After the picnic, Lupe and SPHP headed S on Hwy 130 to Encampment, WY.  Along the way, SPHP took a picture of Kennaday Peak (10,810 ft.), which Lupe had climbed the evening before to enjoy the sunset.

Kennaday Peak from Hwy 130 a few miles S of Saratoga, WY. Kennaday Peak is 15 miles due E of Saratoga.
Kennaday Peak from Hwy 130 a few miles S of Saratoga, WY. Kennaday Peak is 15 miles due E of Saratoga.

From Encampment, Hwy 70 went W up to Battle Pass in the Sierra Madre mountain range.  There was a big parking area for the 3,100 mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail near the highway.  Only one other vehicle was parked there, a pickup truck with a big horse trailer.  No one was around.

Lupe had two peakbagging goals in the area.  One was Red Mountain (10,508 ft.), located no more than 1.5 miles to the S, and which involved less than 600 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead.  The other was Bridger Peak (11,004 ft.), which was about 5 miles away to the NW, and a more significant climb.  Lupe was going to visit Red Mountain first.

A broken sign was propped up at the S end of the parking lot where a small road led up into the forest.  It said “Dead End Road, Private Property 100 Feet Ahead, Horse & Foot Traffic Only On Posted Trail.”  Not terribly welcoming, but Lupe and SPHP started going S following this road.  It was 12:55 PM, and 70°F.

Right away Lupe reached the private property.  The dirt road serving as the Continental Divide Trail continued through it.  As Lupe progressed, various dirt side roads headed off in different directions into the forest.  These were either chained off, had “No Trespassing” signs, or both.  Occasionally there were big rock cairns with posts sticking out of them showing the correct way to go.

Less than 0.5 mile NW of Doane Peak, the private property ended close to a “T” intersection with another dirt road.  Lupe went to the right heading SW over a small ridge and then down to a meadow.  Red Mountain could be seen ahead across the meadow.

Lupe reaches the meadow NE of Red Mountain - the forested ridge seen through the trees. Photo looks SW.
Lupe reaches the meadow NE of Red Mountain – the forested ridge seen through the trees. Photo looks SW.

Lupe left the road and Continental Divide Trail.  She headed across the meadow straight up into the trees directly toward Red Mountain.  There wasn’t too much deadfall timber to contend with, and the summit of Red Mountain was only a few hundred feet higher than the meadow.  The way wasn’t too steep, either.  Lupe enjoyed a pretty nice romp in the shady forest.  SPHP followed her on up the mountain.

At the top of Red Mountain, Lupe came to a cairn about 3′ high made, appropriately enough, of red rocks.  The cairn was about 30′ W of what looked like the actual highest natural point on the mountain.  SPHP wasn’t really expecting much in the way of views from Red Mountain.  The forested ridge might very well not offer views of anything at all other than the forest.  Red Mountain surprised, though.  There were some very nice open views to the S.

Lupe reaches the summit cairn on Red Mountain.
Lupe reaches the summit cairn on Red Mountain.
The natural high point is seen here, although the cairn 30' to the W is built up a bit taller now.
The natural high point is seen here, although the cairn 30′ to the W is built up a bit taller now.  Lupe takes a break with her 1st peakbagging goal of the day already accomplished.
Wow! Lupe is pleased and impressed with the view to the S from Red Mountain - much better than anticipated!
Wow! Lupe is pleased and impressed with the view to the S from Red Mountain – much better than anticipated!  No telling how many squirrels are out there!

From the summit cairn, it looked like there was some pretty high ground still off to the W on Red Mountain.  Since it was possible there might even be a higher point over there, Lupe and SPHP headed W, going far enough to be satisfied Lupe had already reached the true summit.  Along the way, Lupe discovered a clearing with a good view of Bridger Peak off to the NW – her next peakbagging goal for the day.

Bridger Peak to the NW from Red Mountain.
Bridger Peak to the NW from Red Mountain.

The meadow with the view of Bridger Peak was less than 100′ from the summit cairn.  Lupe and SPHP returned to the summit.  SPHP took one last look at the great view to the S, while Lupe tried to hide from the sun.

"Kinda bright here SPHP, can we go now?"
“Kinda bright here SPHP, can we go now?”

On the way back down Red Mountain, Lupe stayed more to the E along the ridgeline than the way she’d come up.  Before she lost much elevation, there were some openings in the forest with pretty good distant views all the way E to Medicine Bow Peak.

Lupe and SPHP were back at the G6 again at 3:10 PM.  It was still 70°F.  There was actually quite a nice clear view of Bridger Peak from Highway 70 close to the Continental Divide Trail trailhead where the G6 was parked.  Lupe and SPHP walked down to the highway for a couple of shots of Bridger Peak.

Bridger Peak from Battle Pass along Hwy 70.
Bridger Peak from Battle Pass along Hwy 70.
Lupe at Battle Pass with Bridger Peak to the NW.
Lupe at Battle Pass with Bridger Peak, her 2nd peakbagging goal of the day, to the NW.

The maps showed that there was a Battle Site and Battle Cemetery at two separate places up on Battle Pass.  The Battle Cemetery road was shown a half mile farther N and closer to Bridger Peak, so SPHP decided to move the G6 over there.  Lupe and SPHP had hardly left the Continental Divide Trail trailhead parking lot when there was a right turn off Highway 70 where the Battle Site was supposed to be.  Why not find out something about the battle the place was named after?

SPHP pulled off the highway.   A very short paved road led to another big empty parking lot.  There were views from Battle Pass and signs about wildlife, but nothing about the battle that Battle Pass must be named after.  Lupe and SPHP didn’t even get out of the G6.  SPHP drove back to Highway 70 and continued N.  Just before the highway turned W, there was a gravel road heading E into the forest towards where the map said Battle Cemetery was supposed to be.

A short drive on the gravel road led to a big parking area with dirt roads radiating out from it.  This parking area was full of dust.  There were lots of vehicles parked at various points near the surrounding forest.  Campers could be seen back in the trees.  People were around.  From the dirt road to the NW, several ATV’s roared into view.  The drivers skidded into the parking area purposely stirring up an impressive choking cloud of dust.  Oh, yay, people!

SPHP parked the G6 in the dust cloud.  The road to the NW the ATV’s had come from was probably the road to Bridger Peak.  Lupe and SPHP left the G6 for Bridger Peak at 3:29 PM.  (Still 70°F!)  Lupe headed for the dirt road to the NW.  SPHP was surprised and happy to see a little signpost for the Continental Divide Trail practically right next to the road.  Lupe and SPHP could follow a single track trail leading N into the forest instead of the dusty road.

The Continental Divide Trail climbed steeply to gain 150 – 200′ of elevation and then leveled out. It went up and down some, but was pretty easy going.  The trail didn’t look like it got much use, but was in good enough condition so it wasn’t hard to follow, except in a couple of short sections. After about a mile, the trail reached a dirt road.  There was no sign of the trail anywhere on the other side of the road.  Apparently the road was the Continental Divide Trail from here on, because Lupe never saw a sign for it again the rest of the way to Bridger Peak.  It’s quite likely this was the same NW road the ATV’s had arrived from back at the parking lot.

Lupe and SPHP followed the road all the way up to Bridger Peak.  There was almost no traffic.   Just a few vehicles and ATV’s came by.  This was another road trek through the forest sort of like the one Lupe and SPHP had made the prior day up to Kennaday Peak.  The road up to Bridger Peak did feature more openings in the forest, and more opportunities to see some views along the way.

The sky had been mostly sunny, with puffy clouds when Lupe left the big dusty parking lot.  As time went by, the weather started deteriorating.  Scattered thunderstorms appeared here and there not too far away.  They weren’t big, but still worrisome.  Eventually, a threatening cloud appeared over Bridger Peak and kept growing.  It started sprinkling rain on and off. When the thunder started, Lupe really didn’t want to go on.  She wanted to stop and hide.

SPHP allowed the concerned Carolina Dog periodic short stops, even though the need to hurry was growing.  Thunder sounded closer and closer as the summit came into view.  It was looking rather stormy by the time Lupe reached the top of Bridger Peak, but the storm hadn’t really hit yet.  SPHP started taking a few pictures fast.  Lupe wasn’t going to be willing to stay up on the summit very long.  After about 10 minutes, suddenly there was a crack and thunder boomed very loud nearby.  A gusty wind and cold rain hit Bridger Peak almost immediately.

Lupe reaches the Bridger Peak summit.
Lupe reaches the Bridger Peak summit.

Lupe on summit of Bridger Peak, WY 8-14-15

The views from 11,004' Bridger Peak.
The views from 11,004′ Bridger Peak.  The closest ridge in the center is 10,508′ Red Mountain, which Lupe had climbed just before coming here.

Lupe on Bridger Peak 8-14-15Bridger Peak summit 8-14-15SPHP hadn’t seen the lightning, but Lupe left no doubt about what she wanted to do.  SPHP was in full agreement.  The American Dingo and SPHP both fled, scrambling downhill fast.  Naturally, within 5 minutes the worst of the storm was over.  The rain became just a sprinkle, the wind died down, and the thunder pealed from farther away.  None of these storms were really very big.  The Dingo was not reassured.  Thunder rumbled a little ways off several times every minute.  Although the thunder gradually diminished, Lupe begged SPHP again and again to stop and hide.

A last look back at the summit of Bridger Peak.
A last look back at the summit of Bridger Peak.
Looking E not far from the summit of Bridger Peak.
Looking E not far from the summit of Bridger Peak.
On the way back.
On the way back.

Lupe and SPHP did stop many times.  Lupe liked hiding in the forest.  Even though it was now all downhill, progress back down Bridger Peak was as slow or slower than coming up.  By the time Lupe got back to where the Continental Divide Trail separated from the road, the sun had set and light was fading fast.  Lupe was doing much better, though.  The thunder had quit as the storms all moved off to the E.  The sky was clearing again.  Lupe actually had a lot of fun racing around in the woods along the Continental Divide Trail on the way back.

It was almost dark when Lupe reached the G6 again at 8:43 PM (59°F).  Stars were already coming out.  Lupe and SPHP left the dusty parking lot, and drove back up to the Continental Divide Trail trailhead closer to Red Mountain.  Not a soul was around, nor any other vehicle.  Lupe and SPHP had sardines for dinner right on the parking lot.  It was getting so dark SPHP could hardly see to eat them, but Lupe really loved the sardines.Lupe on Bridger Peak, WY 8-14-15

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 142 – Castle Peak (10-17-15)

On Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 140 down Bittersweet Creek, Lupe and SPHP had failed to find a way to get down to Castle Creek when USFS Road No. 429 disappeared into a tangle of deadfall timber.  Lupe’s peakbagging goal had been to reach Castle Peak (6,358 ft.) that day.  Since Lupe and SPHP did not find a Northwest Passage to it from No. 429, it was time to take another approach.

SPHP parked the G6 just 0.25 mile N of Mystic at the intersection of USFS Road No. 428 and Mystic Road.  It was a beautiful sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky.  Lupe and SPHP started up Pony Gulch following No. 428.  Pony Gulch and the road wound around some, generally heading W.  The road gained elevation steadily, at an easy to moderate pace.

When Lupe spotted a mud puddle ahead on the road, she ran to get a drink.  She was shocked to find that the water cracked beneath her paws – the puddle was frozen!  This was the first ice Lupe had encountered on her Black Hills expeditions this fall.  This puddle proved to be the only puddle that was frozen, but Lupe didn’t come to very many other puddles.  It has been a very dry autumn so far in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Lupe was happy to soon discover a little stream, which had evidently gone underground before reaching the lower end of Pony Gulch where the G6 was parked.  The little stream was close to the road for a while, but then went up a side canyon.  Another little stream appeared farther up Pony Gulch, but it soon disappeared underground at both ends.

The tiny stream in Pony Gulch.
The first (lower) tiny stream in Pony Gulch.
Lupe on USFS Road No. 428 exploring Pony Gulch NW of Mystic, SD.
Lupe on USFS Road No. 428 exploring Pony Gulch NW of Mystic, SD.

Near the upper end of Pony Gulch there was an intersection.  It wasn’t marked, but this was USFS Road No. 238, also known as Divide Road, probably because it winds around hills up on a ridge dividing the Rapid Creek and Castle Creek drainages.  Rapid Creek is the largest stream in the Black Hills.  Castle Creek is its largest tributary.

Lupe and SPHP followed No. 238.  It continued climbing, but very slowly.  Lupe was now out of Pony Gulch and up pretty high.  There were some open points with nice views off to the S.  The road then wound around to the N side of the ridge, but the forest hid the views in that direction.

Lupe pauses along No. 238 where there were views of distant hills to the S.
Lupe pauses along No. 238 where there were views of distant hills to the S.
The fall colors are virtually done now in the Black Hills, this small stand of aspens along USFS Road No. 238, was the best remaining example Lupe found on her way to Castle Peak.
The fall colors are virtually done now in the Black Hills. This small stand of aspens with a few yellow leaves still clinging to the trees along USFS Road No. 238 was the best remaining example Lupe found on her way to Castle Peak.

Lupe eventually came to the intelligence test intersections along No. 238.  Of course, this Carolina Dog passed both tests with flying colors!  No, she didn’t want to take USFS Road No. 184 to a place called Bloody Gulch.  And no, she wasn’t taking any dead ends to Poverty Gulch either.

Lupe at the 2nd Intelligence Test intersection. This really isn't all that difficult to figure out. No, Lupe did not want to take any dead ends into Poverty Gulch.
Lupe at the 2nd Intelligence Test intersection. This really isn’t all that difficult to figure out. No, Lupe did not want to take any dead ends into Poverty Gulch.  If you have any sense, you won’t make it your destination, either.

Shortly after passing the Dead End to Poverty Gulch test, Lupe reached USFS Road No. 238.1A, which goes 0.75 mile all the way up to the top of Castle Peak from the N.  Lupe was soon there.  Although Castle Peak is heavily forested, the summit featured an open area clear of trees.  There were good views SE toward Harney Peak (7,242 ft.)Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) was visible to the N.  Trees around the open area still blocked the views in other directions.

At one time there must have been a fire lookout tower on Castle Peak, but nothing remains of it except a bit of the foundation.  There was a USGS Survey Benchmark set into solid rock.  The benchmark did not show the elevation, but did say “Castle Peak” and “1950”.

The USGS Survey Benchmark on Castle Peak.
The USGS Survey Benchmark on Castle Peak.

Someone had built a crude, but effective, bench out of some rocks and a board.  There were also three poles lashed together so they stood up like a big tripod.  Lupe used the bench as a platform for a few pictures.

Lupe on the bench. Photo looks SE toward Harney Peak.
Lupe on the bench. Photo looks SE toward Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) , the highest point in the distance on the left.
Another bench shot. This one looks SW.
Another bench shot. This one looks SW.
Looking N. Custer Peak is the high point in the distance. The USGS Survey Benchmark is at lower right.
Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) is the high point in the distance. The USGS Survey Benchmark is at lower right.  Photo looks N.
Lupe on Castle Peak. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on Castle Peak. Photo looks NE.

After spending a little time at the summit, Lupe and SPHP headed SW through the forest.  Before long, Lupe reached a viewpoint where it was possible to see to the W.  On the horizon, a number of peaks and high ridges Lupe visited earlier in 2015 were in sight.

Lupe at the viewpoint SW of the Castle Peak summit. Whitetail Peak is the high ridge on the horizon. Photo looks NW.
Lupe at the viewpoint SW of the Castle Peak summit. White Tail Peak (6,962 ft.) is the high ridge on the horizon. Photo looks NW.
Whitetail Peak from Castle Peak.
White Tail Peak (6,962 ft.) from Castle Peak.
Looking WSW. The N end of Reynolds Prairie is the grassland in the distance. Beyond it to the WSW is Nipple Butte (L of Lupe's ears). Flag Mountain is to the W (R of Lupe's ears).
Looking WSW. The N end of Reynolds Prairie is the grassland in the distance. Beyond it to the WSW is Nipple Butte (6,800 ft.) (L of Lupe’s ears). Flag Mountain (6,937 ft.) is to the W (R of Lupe’s ears).

Lupe was hungry and thirsty.  She took a break at the viewpoint SW of the Castle Peak summit.  Water and Taste of the Wild were on the menu, as usual.  While Lupe dined, SPHP considered Lupe’s options from here.  Her next objective was to reach the Castle Peak campground along USFS Road No. 181.  It wasn’t far away at all, only 0.5 mile S as the crow flies.

Lupe chows down on some Taste of the Wild on Castle Peak.
Lupe chows down on some Taste of the Wild on Castle Peak.

Lupe isn’t a crow, though, and neither is SPHP.  There were cliffs to the S.  The way down to the campground was through a valley just W of the SW viewpoint.  How would Lupe get down there, though?

Lupe could try to go directly down the steep W slope of Castle Peak, or backtrack to the summit and go down on USFS Road No. 238.1A the way she had come up.  About 0.5 mile to the N, Lupe would reach No. 238.1E, which did curve around to the W and down into the valley, but it was a rather long detour.  SPHP took a couple more pictures before having Lupe explore the options.

A last look at White Tail Peak from Castle Peak.
A last look at White Tail Peak from Castle Peak.
Looking W from Castle Peak.
Looking W from Castle Peak.

Looking down the steep W slope of Castle Peak, it looked like a long way down to the valley floor.  It appeared possible to go that way, but it would be slow going.  SPHP decided Lupe may as well take the long, but easy route.  Lupe returned to the summit of Castle Peak and headed N on No. 238.1A.  She turned W on No. 238.1E when she reached it.

The maps had shown No. 238.1E heading W and then turning S into the valley W of Castle Peak, only to dead end in the valley.  However, another road, No. 181.1A, came up into the lower end of the same valley from Castle Creek not far from the campground.  It also dead ended in the valley before reaching No. 238.1E, so that there was a gap between the roads.  All Lupe had to do when No. 238.1E ended was continue on down the valley and find No. 181.1A.

So that’s what Lupe did.  When No. 238.1E ended, Lupe just kept going down the valley.  The valley became rocky and narrow with a deep gully in the valley floor.  There was a lot of deadfall timber in the way for quite some distance, too.  It wasn’t too terrible, though, and eventually Lupe reached No. 181.1A.

In the meantime, a small creek had appeared.  No. 181.1A had a lot of deadfall timber on it at first, but finally it pretty much ended.  The little creek then flowed on the road, but was too small to cause any problems.  Lupe enjoyed splashing through the cold water.  No. 181.1A linked up with Castle Peak Road (No. 181) very close to the campground.

Lupe reaches the Castle Creek Campground.
Lupe reaches Castle Peak campground.  The Castle Peak campground is located in a remote part of the central Black Hills.  It is one of the nicest campgrounds in the hills, but has only 9 campsites.  All of the campsites are next to Castle Creek, which is one of the largest streams in the Black Hills.

Lupe and SPHP walked through the campground.  It looked very nice.  All of the sites are level, spacious and right next to Castle Creek.  There was plenty of grass beneath the shade of big pines and spruce trees.  The campground was deserted, except for two guys living the good life at one of the sites.  They had a campfire going.  Although the sun wouldn’t set officially for a couple of hours, there wouldn’t be sunlight down in the valley much longer.

Lupe checks out a campsite at Castle Peak campground. Rocky hillsides tower above. Castle Creek flows at the base of the cliffs.
Lupe checks out a campsite at Castle Peak campground. Rocky hillsides tower above. Castle Creek flows at the base of the cliffs hidden in the trees.

It was a long way back to the G6 – 8 miles along Castle Peak Road back to Mystic Road.  Another 2 miles along Mystic road would take Lupe to Mystic.  The G6 was 0.25 mile N of Mystic.  Lupe and SPHP started the long trek back.

Down in the valley there were no distant views, but Castle Creek flowed merrily along.  Above the valley floor, rocks and hills were still in sunlight.  Gradually the sunlight retreated up the slopes until it disappeared altogether.

There was no traffic along the road.  None whatsoever.  Twilight came on.  An owl hooted far away.  Except for the soothing sound of flowing water, it was quiet.  Lupe explored the forests and fields until darkness, then she traveled close to SPHP.  There was another break for Taste of the Wild.  SPHP got out the flashlight and put on a sweater.

The flashlight wasn’t really needed.  A crescent moon, low in the SW, put out an amazing amount of light.  Another expedition ended the way many of them do, with Lupe and SPHP traveling the road together beneath a night sky full of shimmering stars.

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

Kennaday Peak, Wyoming (8-13-15)

Day 5 of Lupe’s Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation started out just great.  The G6 wouldn’t start.  It wouldn’t even try.  It just clicked when turning the key.  Other than that, it was another glorious morning in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming.  It wasn’t long before kind people came along willing to give the G6 a jump start.  The jump fried the tire pressure detection system, but the G6 was running!

Although the plan had been for Lupe to climb Kennaday Peak (10,810 ft.) near Saratoga, suddenly there was a new plan.  Lupe was going to get a tour of Laramie, Wyoming!  Lupe enjoyed the trip to Laramie on Hwy 130.  Once out of the Medicine Bow Range, there were fields with cows to bark at.  Lupe hadn’t seen cows for several days.  She leaped up and down, back and forth, barking furiously the whole time.  By the time Lupe reached Laramie, she needed a big drink of water.  She panted happily and seemed quite satisfied with herself.

SPHP found a Wal-Mart in Laramie on Grand Boulevard.  Although they were busy and booked up, the Wal-Mart guys tested the G6’s battery almost right away.  SPHP was fully prepared to buy a new one, but surprisingly, it tested just fine.  The G6 seemed to start again fine, too.  Hmm.  Mechanical things just don’t fix themselves very often, but whatever.

Somehow SPHP had forgotten to bring a can opener on the trip.  Wal-Mart was a great place to buy one.  It had been a long drive to Laramie just to buy a can opener, but it was all SPHP really accomplished in Laramie.  After a picnic at a Kiwanis Park on the way out of town, Lupe headed back up into the Medicine Bow Range.  The cows along Hwy 130 were noisily assaulted by the crazed dingo once again.

Back in the Medicine Bows, at the junction of USFS Roads No. 100 & 215, SPHP parked the G6 at a dispersed camping spot.  It was already 3:34 PM and 75°F out by the time Lupe and SPHP were ready to start up USFS Road No. 215, which goes all the way to the summit of Kennaday Peak.  A sign warned that the 6 mile long road was narrow and steep.  Before leaving the dispersed camping site, Lupe checked out Fish Creek and wetted down her barker again.

Lupe in Fish Creek before starting out for Kennaday Peak on USFS Road No. 215.
Lupe enjoys a quick dip in Fish Creek before starting out for Kennaday Peak on USFS Road No. 215.

Most of the way to Kennaday Peak, USFS Road No. 215 wasn’t nearly so steep and narrow as the sign had warned.  The G6 could have gone most of the way up with no problem, except that there were virtually no places to park anywhere along the road.  The road did deteriorate substantially near the summit, but it still would have been a piece of cake for any high clearance vehicle.

No. 215 went through a forest until it got very close to the barren summit area of Kennaday Peak.  So there really wasn’t much to see along the way other than trees.  There was a horse near Fish Creek at a sharp bend in the road where it crossed the creek fairly early on.  Three ATV’s came along, the last one coming down the road with a black lab running in front of it for exercise.  Other than that, Lupe and SPHP had the road completely to themselves the whole way up.  Lupe ran in and out of the forest looking for squirrels, but there weren’t many.

The summit of Kennaday Peak from USFS Road No. 215.
The summit of Kennaday Peak from USFS Road No. 215.

Once the road finally left the forest, things got more interesting.  Now the terrific views could be seen.  It was still a bit of a trek to the top, but soon Lupe was there.  The lookout tower proved to be abandoned.  It was all boarded up and had some junk stacked next to it.

The abandoned lookout tower on Kennaday Peak.
The abandoned lookout tower on Kennaday Peak.

Kennaday Peak 8-13-15There were fabulous mountain views in all directions from Kennaday Peak.  To the N was Elk Mountain (11,156 ft.).  To the E was Medicine Bow Peak (12,013 ft.).  Far to the NE was Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.). On the S horizon were distant mountains that may have included Mt. Zirkel (12,180 ft.).  And very far away on the NW horizon was a jagged line of mountains that may have been the Wind River range.  The North Platte River valley to the S and SW was huge and impressive too.

Elk Mountain to the N of Kennaday Peak was closer than most of the other mountains that could be seen. There were huge views from Kennaday Peak, but lots of the mountains that could be seen were very far away.
Elk Mountain to the N of Kennaday Peak.  There were huge views from Kennaday Peak, but lots of the mountains that could be seen were very far away.

Lupe had arrived at the summit of Kennaday Peak about an hour before sunset.  There had been quite a few clouds around at first, but they started to dissipate as Lupe and SPHP enjoyed the views and waited together for the sun to go down.

During the wait, SPHP noticed that many of the rocks on Kennaday Peak were quite rounded and there was a lot of sand.  It looked like Kennaday Peak may have been a beach or underwater in ancient times.  The incredible age of the world before Lupe and SPHP seemed impossible to truly comprehend.

Lupe beautifully lit up by the sinking sun on Kennaday Peak.
Lupe beautifully lit up by the sinking sun on Kennaday Peak.
Day 5 of Lupe's summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation fades from view.
Day 5 of Lupe’s summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation fades from view.

Most of the 6 mile trek back down USFS Road No. 215 to the G6 was in darkness.  Except for one ATV and one pickup truck that made brief appearances, Lupe and SPHP were alone.  The horse was still near the sharp bend in the road where it crossed Fish Creek.  In the darkness, SPHP couldn’t see it, though Lupe probably could.  She seems to have excellent night vision.  SPHP could hear that the horse was wearing a bell.  At 10:37 PM (57°F), Lupe was back at the G6.  Time for dinner and a snooze!

Sunset from Kennaday Peak 8-13-15
Sunset from Kennaday Peak 8-13-15

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Black Hills, SD & WY Expedition No. 141 – Old Baldy Mountain & Cement Ridge (10-11-15)

Lupe was happy and excited.  She was on her way to another Black Hills Expedition.  On USFS Road No. 256, SPHP stopped the G6 along the road.  There was a very nice stand of yellow aspens, and SPHP wanted a photo of it.  This late in the season, most of the aspens higher up were probably past their prime already, but these still looked good.  Their golden glory wouldn’t last long, though.  Leaves fell by the thousands with every gust of the NW breeze.

Aspens along USFS Road No. 256 E of Minnesota Ridge.
Aspens along USFS Road No. 256 east of Minnesota Ridge.

Lupe’s chance to sniff around along No. 256 didn’t last long.  Soon it was time to continue on.  Lupe enjoyed the long ride through the hills.  She rode with her head out the window in the wind, barking ferociously at cows and horses along the way.  By the time most of them even looked up to see what the commotion was all about, she was already past them.  It didn’t matter, Lupe was satisfied she had done her barking duty.

At 10:59 AM, SPHP parked the G6 at the Old Baldy trailhead off USFS Road No. 134 .  It was 67°F, overcast and breezy.  Old Baldy Trail No. 66 goes to Old Baldy Mountain (6,096 ft.).  There is a W route and an E route to get there, the W route being a little longer.  Both routes meet up again 0.8 mile from the summit for the final climb.  Both trails go up and down through the hills, but there really isn’t all that much net elevation change – the trail is pretty easy.

Lupe and SPHP took the E route to Old Baldy Mountain.  This trail is a bit unusual for the Black Hills.  It goes through a forest consisting mostly of aspens with some scattered pines.  Usually it is the other way around, and the pines dominate.  Most of the aspens were well beyond their peak for fall colors, but there was still enough color around for a very pleasant journey.  The trail and forest floor were now decorated with the speckled browns, pale yellows and golds of the fallen aspen leaves.

Lupe on the E route of Old Baldy Trail No. 66.
Lupe on the E route of Old Baldy Trail No. 66.

Lupe on Old Baldy Trail No. 66 E route, 10-11-15Lupe along Old Baldy Trail No. 66 E route, 10-11-15Old Baldy Trail No. 66, E Route, 10-11-15Aspens along Old Baldy Trail No. 66, E Route, 10-11-15At the low point along the E route of the Old Baldy Trail, there was a sign for Baldy Lake.  Beyond the sign was a big beautiful pasture and a tiny stream, but no lake.  Baldy Lake couldn’t have been more than just a stock pond, even when it did exist.  The tiny creek trickled through a breach in a low earthen dam where Baldy Lake used to be.  After crossing the tiny creek, it didn’t take Lupe long to reach the junction of the E and W routes to Old Baldy Mountain.

The bridge across the tiny creek at the low point of the E route of Old Baldy Trail No. 66.
The bridge across the tiny creek at the low point of the E route of Old Baldy Trail No. 66.

Lupe at trail junction near Old Baldy Mountain, 10-11-15The trail up to the summit of Old Baldy Mountain gains only about 300 feet of elevation.  It didn’t take Lupe long to reach the top.  The NW breeze was still blowing, but the clouds were gone.  Now it was sunny, clear and rather warm out, especially for 1/3 of the way through October.  Lupe was thirsty!  She had a big drink of water up on Old Baldy, one of many this day.Lupe on Old Baldy Mountain 10-11-15Old Baldy Mountain isn’t particularly high for the area, but there were some pretty nice views.  Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) could be seen about 11 miles to the ESE.  The Beaver Creek valley was just S of Old Baldy.  Lupe’s next destination, Cement Ridge (6,674 ft.), was several miles to the WSW.

Terry Peak from Old Baldy Mountain.
Terry Peak from Old Baldy Mountain.
The Beaver Creek valley.
The Beaver Creek valley.
Cement Ridge, Lupe's next destination.
Cement Ridge, Lupe’s next destination.
Looking S towards the Beaver Creek valley.
Looking S towards the Beaver Creek valley.

Lupe and SPHP went back down Old Baldy Mountain.  This time Lupe took the W route on Old Baldy Trail No. 66.  Lupe followed it quite a long way as it wound around through the forest.  She came to one spot where there was an unobstructed view of Old Baldy Mountain from the S.

Looking W at the Beaver Creek valley. Lupe is SE of Old Baldy Mountain here, not far from the W route of Old Baldy Trail No. 66.
Looking W at the Beaver Creek valley. Lupe is SE of Old Baldy Mountain here, near the W route of Old Baldy Trail No. 66.
Looking N at Old Baldy Mountain from the W route of Old Baldy Trail No. 66.
Looking N at Old Baldy Mountain from the W route of Old Baldy Trail No. 66.

When the W route of the Old Baldy trail started taking Lupe SE, she left the trail and plunged into the forest.  Lupe needed to head W to get to Schoolhouse Gulch Road, USFS Road No. 222.  Going W through the forest was a short cut.  Lupe was happy in the forest.  She likes being off any road or trail.  It really wasn’t very far to No. 222.  Soon Lupe and SPHP were there.  Lupe may have been disappointed the shortcut was so very short.

Looking W from USFS Road No. 222 (Schoolhouse Gulch Road).
Looking W from USFS Road No. 222 (Schoolhouse Gulch Road).

Lupe and SPHP headed N on No. 222.  Part of the time, Lupe and SPHP just paralleled the road out in the field to the W.  Lupe got a drink out of Beaver Creek where she crossed it still heading N.  No. 222 curved to the NW.  As a road hike on a fairly major gravel road, Lupe wasn’t all that thrilled with it, but it was still quite pretty.  Lupe dashed in and out of the forest checking for squirrels.  SPHP started collecting some of the inevitable trash along a main road.

After following USFS Road No. 222 for a couple of miles, Lupe reached USFS Road No. 103.  This road was more to Lupe’s liking.  It was more like a jeep trail or logging road.  It wound around to the S before turning W to connect with USFS Road No. 850 up on Cement Ridge.  Before reaching Cement Ridge, Lupe crossed the border from South Dakota into Wyoming.

From where Lupe reached No. 850, the Cement Ridge lookout tower was still a mile or more off to the NW.  Lupe and SPHP mostly stayed NE of the road following the highest part of the ridgeline.  There were big views off to the NE over the northern Black Hills of South Dakota.  The prairie could be seen beyond the hills.

Vehicles started coming and going on the road.  Lupe was going to have company up at the lookout tower.  As it turned out, Lupe was never alone up there.  Four or five carloads of people with kids and dogs arrived.  Lupe was a bit overwhelmed with so many dogs, so Lupe and SPHP went a bit W of the lookout tower to an old picnic table.  Lupe panted and rested in the shade of the table.

Cement Ridge is located at the NW end of the Black Hills of South Dakota.  It is so far NW, that the lookout tower is actually a mile into Wyoming.  The hillside surrounding the lookout tower is barren, and has a commanding view of a good deal of territory.  Crow Peak (5,787 ft.) was off to the NNE.  Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.) and Sundance Mountain (5,824 ft.) were far away to the NW.   Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.) was on the horizon to the SW.

Unfortunately, there was a fair amount of smoke haze in the air.  The views, especially to the W towards the sun, were not as distinct as they normally would be.  The camera just didn’t want to pick up the hazy peaks in the distance towards the W.

Lupe on Cement Ridge. The lookout tower is now in view to the NW.
Lupe on Cement Ridge. The lookout tower is in view to the NW.

Lupe on Cement Ridge, 10-11-15Lupe on Cement Ridge, 10-11-15

Looking NW from near the picnic table W of the lookout tower. Warren Peaks is on the horizon, but the camera wouldn't pick it up with all the haze around.
Looking NW from W of the lookout tower. Warren Peaks is on the horizon, but the camera wouldn’t pick it up with all the haze around.
Looking SW.
Looking SW.  In this shot, Lupe is a purple-eared puppy, due to a reflection of sunlight on the lens.
Looking SW. Inyan Kara Mountain is the high point just right of center.
Looking SW. Inyan Kara Mountain is the high point just right of center.
The Cement Ridge fire lookout tower from the NW.
The Cement Ridge fire lookout tower from the NW.

Lupe at Cement Ridge Lookout Tower, 10-11-15Cement Ridge USGS Benchmark, 10-11-15The topo maps on Peakbagger.com show the true summit of Cement Ridge more than a mile to the SE of where the lookout tower is.  Peakbagger shows a high point there of 6674 feet, compared to 6647 feet at the lookout tower.  It doesn’t really look higher than the lookout tower, especially from the lookout tower.  SPHP doubts that it really is higher.

Lupe did not say what she thought.  She seemed unconcerned by this issue.  Nevertheless, when Lupe was done at the lookout tower, Lupe and SPHP went and climbed up to this other high point.  There was what might of been a small limestone cairn next to a bush, but nothing else of note.  The only view from the purported true summit of Cement Ridge was back to the NW towards the lookout tower.

Lupe leaves the Cement Ridge Lookout Tower on USFS Road No. 850.
Lupe leaves the Cement Ridge Lookout Tower on USFS Road No. 850.  Photo looks NW.
The high point on the ridge shown here is shown on Peakbagger.com topo maps as the true summit of Cement Ridge at 6,674 feet. SPHP really thinks the lookout tower is higher, but Lupe went to investigate.
The high point on the ridge seen here is shown on Peakbagger.com topo maps as the true summit of Cement Ridge at 6,674 feet. SPHP really thinks the lookout tower is higher, but Lupe went to investigate.  In any case, the views are much better at the lookout tower.
Lupe at the supposed true summit of Cement Ridge according to Peakbagger.com topo maps. Photo looks NW back at the Cement Ridge lookout tower more than a mile away.
Lupe at the supposed true summit of Cement Ridge according to Peakbagger.com topo maps. Photo looks NW.  The Cement Ridge lookout tower seen at the top of the bare spot more than a mile away.
Lupe at what might be a poorly assembled cairn at the purported true summit of Cement Ridge.
Lupe at what might be a poorly assembled cairn at the purported true summit of Cement Ridge.

By now it was time to start making tracks back to the G6.  The sun was still above the horizon, but only for another 30 or 40 minutes.  Lupe and SPHP left the controversial summit of Cement Ridge.  Lupe explored the rest of this ridge, which trended to the SE.  The ridge remained quite high for at least 0.25 mile.  Although this ridge was all forested, there were some small NE facing cliffs at regular intervals.  There were often quite nice views in that direction from these cliffs.

The ridge didn’t lose much elevation until it curved to the S, then it went steadily downhill.  Lupe loved following the ridge.  There was no trail at all.  She played wild forest Dingo, running here and there exploring everything.  The sun went down a little while before the ridge ended at a pasture full of cows.  The cows made way for Lupe.  Just beyond their pasture was a dirt road.

SPHP was looking for USFS Road No. 105, but knew this wasn’t it.  Lupe and SPHP started following the dirt road S.  When it curved to the SE, suddenly there was rather loud gunfire.  The sound was coming from over the ridge to the W.  Lupe was immediately anxious.  She wanted to stop and hide.  SPHP made a number of short stops to encourage the nervous Carolina Dog, but mostly urged her to just keep going.

Lupe reached USFS Road No. 105.  A marker showed she had been following No. 105.1D.  There was a nice red barn in the field to the S of No. 105.  SPHP now knew for certain where Lupe was.  She was maybe 3 miles from the G6.  The gunfire continued for 30 minutes.  Finally it ended, but Lupe wasn’t immediately relieved.  She kept begging to stop.  SPHP even carried her a couple of times, but only for short distances.  Lupe made slow progress in between many stops along the way.

When it got dark enough for the stars and flashlight to come out, Lupe finally felt better.  The gunfire was long gone.  Under cover of darkness, her confidence was back.  When she reached the G6 at 7:44 PM (47°F), she wasn’t ready to get in and go home.  Instead, she wanted to stay out under the stars and play wild forest Dingo all night.

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

Browns Peak, Wyoming (8-12-15)

Morning.  Day 4 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation.  SPHP was mildly disappointed.  Although it had started raining shortly after Lupe returned to the G6 after climbing Sugarloaf Mountain the previous evening, the rain had fizzled out before too long.  SPHP now saw it hadn’t even rained enough to do a decent job of knocking the dust off the poor G6.  Oh well, it was a gorgeous morning in the Medicine Bow Range of Wyoming.  Time for new Lupe adventures!

Dawn on 8-12-15, Day 4 of Lupe's Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation
Dawn on 8-12-15, Day 4 of Lupe’s Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation

After a quick bite to eat, Lupe and SPHP headed N on the Gap Lakes Trail from the trailhead at the end of the road at Lewis Lake.  It was 7:01 AM, 49°F, and partly cloudy with a slight S breeze.  Lupe’s planned adventure for the day was to climb Browns Peak (11,722 ft.).  It looked like a perfect day!

Lupe encourages SPHP to hurry up and finish eating. The sun is already shining on Sugarloaf Mountain and Medicine Bow Peak!
Lupe at Lewis Lake waiting impatiently for SPHP to hurry up and finish eating. The sun is already shining on Sugarloaf Mountain (11,300 ft.) (L) and Medicine Bow Peak (12,013 ft.) (R)!

Lewis Lake, Sugarloaf Mountain & Medicine Bow Peak 8-12-15The Gap Lakes Trail started out gaining elevation at an easy pace.  Less than 0.25 mile from the Lewis Lake trailhead, Lupe passed the junction with the Lost Lake Trail.  She passed a couple of small lakes along the way to South Gap Lake.

Lupe near the Gap Lakes Trail in the Medicine Bow Range.
Lupe near the Gap Lakes Trail in the Medicine Bow Range.
Lupe now close to a pond just E of South Gap Lake, a portion of which is visible in the background. Photo looks W.
Lupe now close to a pond just E of South Gap Lake, a small portion of which is visible in the background. Photo looks W.
Lupe reaches South Gap Lake.
Lupe reaches South Gap Lake less than a mile from the trailhead.
Looking SW towards Medicine Bow Peak from the Gap Lakes Trail near South Gap Lake.
Looking SW towards Medicine Bow Peak from the Gap Lakes Trail near South Gap Lake.

There are lots of alpine lakes, most of them fairly small, in the Medicine Bow Range.  South Gap and North Gap Lakes are among the largest lakes in the area.  The Gap Lakes Trail headed N along the E shore of South Gap Lake.  Lupe and SPHP thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.  Lupe was headed for the gap between the long ridge extending N from Medicine Bow Peak and Browns Peak.

Looking now towards the N end of South Gap Lake and "The Gap" or pass that separates it from North Gap Lake.
Looking now towards the N end of South Gap Lake and “The Gap” or pass that separates it from North Gap Lake.
South Gap Lake. Looking SW.
South Gap Lake. Looking SW.
Lupe reaches "The Gap" (pass). Great view of South Gap Lake looking S back towards Sugarloaf Mountain, which Lupe had climbed the previous afternoon.
Lupe reaches “The Gap”.  There was a great view of South Gap Lake looking S back towards Sugarloaf Mountain, which Lupe had climbed the previous afternoon.

About the time Lupe reached the pass, there were several groups of people coming and going on the trail.  Most were heading S back towards Lewis Lake and the trailhead.  Others were heading N for the Shelf Lakes which are along the Circle Trail to the E of North Gap Lake.  Lupe was heading for the Shelf Lakes, too.

First look at North Gap Lake from the pass. Photo looks N.
First look at North Gap Lake from the pass. Photo looks N.

When the trail got down to North Gap Lake, a portion of it went right along a boulder field at the very edge of the water.  One group of people said the trail actually went up and over the boulder field.  There was a faint trail leading that way from the N, but it wasn’t visible from the S.  Lupe and SPHP just stayed down at the water’s edge.  It was slow going, but it wasn’t too long before SPHP made it past the boulder field.

The N end of North Gap Lake from the E shore near where the Circle Trail leaves the Gap Lakes Trail to head E to Shelf Lakes.
The N end of North Gap Lake from the E shore.   Near here the Circle Trail leaves the Gap Lakes Trail to head NE to the Shelf Lakes.  Photo looks NW.
Just E of North Gap Lake the Circle Trail goes up a hill. This photo looks back to the W at North Gap Lake from the Circle Trail.
Just E of North Gap Lake the Circle Trail goes up a hill. This photo looks back to the W at North Gap Lake from partway up the hill on the Circle Trail.

When Lupe came to the Circle Trail along the E shore of North Gap Lake, she left the Gap Lakes Trail.  The Circle Trail led up a small hill to the first of the Shelf Lakes.

Looking NE at the first of the Shelf Lakes that Lupe came to along the Circle Trail.
Looking NE at the first of the Shelf Lakes that Lupe came to along the Circle Trail.

Lupe climbed a small hill N of the Shelf Lakes.  Elk Mountain (11,156 ft.) was visible off to the NW.

Elk Mountain NW of the Shelf Lakes. It was actually quite a long way off. This photo was taken with a telephoto lens.
Elk Mountain NW of the Shelf Lakes. It was actually quite a long way off. This photo was taken with a telephoto lens.

There were two Shelf Lakes that Lupe went past on the NW side of Browns Peak.  The second one was the largest.  Beyond the second Shelf Lake, the Circle Trail gradually disappeared.  Lupe continued NE and came to some more small lakes.  One of the lakes still had a big snowbank covering part of it.  Larger lakes could be seen farther N of Browns Peak, but Lupe wasn’t going there.

Looking SW back at the largest of the two Shelf Lakes.
Looking SW back at the largest of the two Shelf Lakes.
The clear waters of another small lake NW of Browns Peak.
The clear waters of another small lake NW of Browns Peak.

Small lake N of Browns Peak, Medicine Bow Range 8-12-15

Crescent Lake and Elk Mountain from N of Browns Peak.
Crescent Lake and Elk Mountain NW of Browns Peak.

Although the Circle Trail is supposed to lead around to climb over the lower NE side of the very big ridge that forms Browns Peak, SPHP had lost the trail, which seemed to just fade away.  The topo maps showed that Browns Peak is a pretty easy climb from the NE, so it wasn’t really a problem.  Rather than look for the trail, Lupe and SPHP started climbing Browns Peak from the W end of the largest of a couple more lakes that Lupe came to.  The climb was steeper this way, but it didn’t look too hard and would save some distance.

The key to getting up on Browns Peak without undue delays was to avoid the trees and boulder fields as much as possible.  There were big patches of bushes extending far up beyond tree line, but usually it was possible to find a route through them.  Lupe climbed and climbed.  Each ridge she came to looked like it would be the last, but there were many false tops along the way.  Each time she climbed one, another higher ridge came into view at a considerable distance and height above.

Yes, it looks promising, but there's another higher ridge beyond this one. Lupe didn't care. She was having fun while SPHP struggled on up.
Lupe climbing Browns Peak.  Yes, it looks promising, but there are higher ridges beyond this one. Lupe didn’t care. She was busy having fun while SPHP struggled on up.

Lupe had gained quite a bit of elevation already when a strange thing occurred.  Suddenly there was a loud crack and the roll of thunder.  It was totally unexpected.  Most of the sky was clear blue!  The few clouds in sight were high and thin.  Yet, somewhere not terribly far away to the SW, in the direction of Medicine Bow Peak, a bolt of lightning had struck.

It seemed ridiculous.  The sky looked totally non-threatening, but SPHP was now concerned that weather was building just out of sight.  Lupe and SPHP hurried onward.  Browns Peak would be a terrible place to be during a storm.  The summit is huge and pretty much featureless.  There would be no place to take shelter anywhere near the summit.

Gradually the slope of the mountain was decreasing.  Lupe was getting close to the top.  Large, puffy white clouds coming from Medicine Bow Peak could now be seen.  They drifted towards Browns Peak, but stayed a little to the S.  For a little while, SPHP kept a close eye on them.  At first they did seem to be building up, but then they just spread out as if a wind high in the sky was blowing the tops of the clouds off, limiting how big they could get.  That single bolt of lightning and thunder proved to be the only one Lupe and SPHP heard all day.

The weather was going to be fine.  It was breezy up on Browns Peak, but that was about it.  A steady line of clouds grew up over Medicine Bow Peak, and then blew on by Browns Peak.  SPHP stopped paying attention to them.  It was time for Lupe to go to the summit of Browns Peak to claim it as her latest peakbagging success!

The highest part of Browns Peak is toward the SW part of the mountain, but not too near the end.  The topo map showed three high points, all of similar elevation.  The true summit was marked as being near the center of the ridge.  The two other highest points were shown as being to the W and the NE of the true summit.  Lupe went first to the high spot marked on the map as the true summit.

Lupe at where the topo map showed the true summit of Browns Peak. Another high point to the NE is in view and looks higher.
Lupe at where the topo map showed the true summit of Browns Peak. Another high point to the NE is in view and looks clearly higher.

Then the weirdness started.  The top of Browns Peak is huge and pretty flat.  It is strewn with rocks and not much else.  There’s not a single tree or bush.  So its easy to see quite a distance up there.  And although Lupe was at what was supposed to be the true summit of Browns Peak, both of the high points to the W and the NE looked to be clearly higher.  There was even a jumble of rocks off to the NW that looked higher.

No problem, thought SPHP!  Lupe can just go to all of these high points and see which one is really the highest.  So Lupe began quite a trek around to various high points on the mountain.  From (1) the true summit, she went to (2) the W high point, (3) somewhat farther to the SW just so SPHP could get a photo of Medicine Bow Peak and Sugarloaf Mountain from Browns Peak, (4) back to the W high point, (5) to the high rocks NW of the true summit, (6) back to the true summit, and (7) to the top of the NE high point.

The crazy thing was, although it always looked like Lupe was going uphill – when SPHP turned around to look from each high point Lupe reached, without fail all of the other high points always looked higher than where Lupe was at the moment!  And they weren’t just a little bit higher, they always looked noticeably and significantly higher.

Lupe at the W high point on Browns Peak. Photo looks at the NE high point (L) and true summit (R of center). Here they both look easily higher.
Lupe at the W high point on Browns Peak. Photo looks at the NE high point (L of center) and true summit (R of center). Here they both look easily higher.
Medicine Bow Peak and Sugarloaf Mountain from Browns Peak. Photo looks SW.
Medicine Bow Peak (R) and Sugarloaf Mountain (L) from Browns Peak. Photo looks SW.
Lupe now at the high rocks NW of the true summit. Photo looks NE towards the NE high point, which still looks higher yet.
Lupe now at the high rocks NW of the true summit. Photo looks NE towards the NE high point, which looks higher yet.
Lupe is still at the NW rocks high point, but now the photo is looking back at the now obviously higher W high point.
Lupe is still at the NW rocks high point, but now the photo is looking back at the now obviously higher W high point.
Lupe on the NE high point on Browns Peak, the only high point that she actually had to climb up. Photo looks SSW towards the true summit (near L side of horizon seen here) and the NW rocks (more to the right side of horizon seen here).
Lupe on the NE high point on Browns Peak, the only high point that she actually had to climb up. Photo looks SSW towards the true summit (near L side of horizon seen here) and the NW rocks high point (more to the right side of horizon seen here).
Lupe still on the NE high point. This photo looks SW towards the W high point.
Lupe still on the NE high point. This photo looks SW towards the W high point.

SPHP couldn’t remember Lupe ever having gone uphill so much to lose so much elevation!  It was bizarre, it made no sense.  After Lupe had visited every high point on the topo map and more besides, SPHP had no clue where the highest rock on the mountain was.  It could have been almost any of them.

Possible explanations:  Perhaps Browns Peak is cursed or enchanted.  Perhaps SPHP has a brain tumor.  Perhaps time and space are warped at Browns Peak.  Perhaps it is all just an incredibly deceptive illusion.  SPHP thought Browns Peak needed a better name.  Why not Deceptive Peak, Illusion Mountain or Bewilderment Peak?  Topless Mountain seemed a little racy, but might prove popular.

No matter.  Lupe had run around sniffing practically the entire top of the mountain.  Regardless where the actual true summit is, Lupe had caught a good whiff of it somewhere along the way.  Time was marching on.  The clouds had been getting darker and thicker while Lupe ran all over the mountain.  It was time to head back.

SPHP had originally thought it would be fun for Lupe to take the Circle Trail down to Lost Lake on the SE side of Browns Peak.  She could then have completed a nice loop back past Lost Lake and Telephone Lakes on the Lost Lake Trail on the return trip to the G6.  In the end, though, Lupe just went back the way she had come to Browns Peak.

On the way down the mountain, there were interesting views to the N.  Sheep Lake, Arrowhead Lake, and Crescent Lake could all be seen.  Elk Mountain was off to the NW.  Kennaday Peak was to the WNW.  And very far off on the horizon to the NNE was Laramie Peak, where Lupe had started her Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation just 3 days earlier.  It already seemed like a long time ago!

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.  This photo was taken two days earlier on 8-10-15 when Lupe was on her way up Medicine Bow Peak.

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 140 – Bittersweet Creek, The Northwest Passage, Dingo of the Mists (10-5-15)

Nearly all of September, 2015, the Black Hills of South Dakota were hot and exceptionally dry.  Relief came the first weekend of October.  The hills were socked in with clouds, fog, and at least some much needed rain.  Lupe was bored, bored, bored spending long hours looking out the front window.  An occasional squirrel was about all the excitement there was.

By Monday, October 5th, the forecast was better.  When SPHP started getting the backpack ready, Lupe brightened up and looked very hopeful.  SPHP did not disappoint her.  When she realized an expedition was really in store for her, Lupe raced around leaping and barking with excitement encouraging SPHP to hurry up!

Although the great day for Expedition No. 140 had arrived, SPHP hadn’t really given much thought as to where Lupe might go.  The decision wasn’t made until almost the last minute.  The plan was to explore Bittersweet Creek down to Castle Creek, head upstream to the Castle Creek Campground, and then climb Castle Peak (6,358 ft.).  The maps didn’t show any reasonably short alternative routes back, so Lupe would have to return the same way.

About 0.5 mile N of Signal Knob (6,200 ft.), SPHP parked the G6 at 10:13 AM (49°F) near the top of the highest hill on USFS Road No. 187 (Golden West Road).  SPHP had expected sunshine, but the sky was still mostly overcast.  The clouds were starting to break up, though.  Here and there, patches of sunshine came and went.

Lupe and SPHP headed N on No. 187.  Off to the NW, the high ridges at the E edge of the Limestone Plateau country, still mostly in the clouds, attracted SPHP’s attention.  Lupe eagerly sniffed around in the fields near the road.

Looking NW towards the ridges of the Limestone Plateau country.
Looking NW towards the ridges of the Limestone Plateau country.
Looking N near No. 187. Lupe is very happy to be out exploring the Black Hills again.
Looking N near No. 187. Lupe is very happy to be out exploring the Black Hills again.
Although the fall colors are mostly past their prime already, Lupe did come to some stands of aspens that still looked pretty nice.
Although the fall colors are mostly past their prime already, Lupe did come to some stands of aspens that still looked pretty nice.

SPHP wasn’t paying enough attention.  Almost right away, SPHP missed the turn E on Deerfield Trail No. 40.  A mile N of the G6, SPHP realized Lupe was already well beyond the trail.  It didn’t matter.  Lupe and SPHP just turned E and wandered through the forest.  Lupe went up over a very small ridge and down into a valley on the other side.

There was a road down at the bottom of the valley.  Lupe followed it SE to a junction with USFS Road No. 429.  A marker there showed that Lupe had been on side road No. 429.1B.  No. 429 was the road Lupe and SPHP had been looking for.  The maps showed it following Bittersweet Creek about 3 miles NE from here to USFS Road No. 181 down by Castle Creek.

Bittersweet Creek is a minor tributary of Castle Creek.  It was just a tiny stream at the intersection of No. 429 and No. 429.1B.  As Lupe followed No. 429 downstream, Bittersweet Creek soon became more than a trickle.  The road looked seldom used, but was in good shape.  Following No. 429 down Bittersweet Creek was easy.  Lupe ran up and down the road making forays off of it to investigate whatever interested her along the way.   Gradually the creek got bigger.

Lupe on USFS Road No. 429 in the Bittersweet Creek valley.
Lupe on USFS Road No. 429 in the Bittersweet Creek valley.

After Lupe had gone a mile or more on No. 429, she came to an intersection with USFS Road No. 429.1D, which headed up a side valley.  Near this intersection, there was a series of very small waterfalls along Bittersweet Creek.  Just below the first waterfall, the creek bed was orange.  Naturally, SPHP dubbed this first waterfall Orange Falls.

While Orange Falls was kind of pretty, Lupe recommends that you NOT cancel your trip to Niagara in favor of Orange Falls.  Orange Falls is perhaps one foot high and about the same width.  Below Orange Falls, the area was rather swampy.  There were some very nice displays of vibrantly green moss growing close to the creek.  Below Orange Falls, the creek bed remained orange the entire rest of the way Lupe followed it.

Lupe near one of the falls below Orange Falls on Bittersweet Creek.
Lupe near one of the falls below Orange Falls on Bittersweet Creek.

The color of the creek bed was not the only thing that changed at the intersection with No. 429.1D.  As Lupe continued down Bittersweet Creek on No. 429, the road started to deteriorate rapidly.  The ground was all churned up like the road had been purposely destroyed.  No. 429 was no longer an easy hike.  The ground wasn’t the real problem, though.  Soon there started to be more and more deadfall timber that had fallen across the road.

Deadfall starts to make its appearance on USFS Road No. 429 in the Bittersweet Creek valley.
Deadfall starts to make its appearance on USFS Road No. 429 in the Bittersweet Creek valley.

Lupe, of course, had little problem working her way through the deadfall.  SPHP, however, faced increasing difficulty.  If Lupe wanted to climb Castle Peak, though, it was important to follow Bittersweet Creek all the way to Castle Creek.  Once at Castle Creek, SPHP knew that USFS Road No. 181 was a good road.  So SPHP persisted, but the going got steadily worse.Deadfall on No. 429 near Bittersweek Creek, 10-5-15

The creek bed of Bittersweet Creek remained orange below Orange Falls as far as Lupe went. SPHP doesn't know what causes the orange color. It is not typical for Black Hills streams.
The creek bed of Bittersweet Creek remained orange below Orange Falls as far as Lupe went. SPHP doesn’t know what causes the orange color. It is not typical for Black Hills streams.

Although SPHP kept hoping the road would improve as Lupe drew closer to Castle Creek, it didn’t.  Finally, the road completely disappeared in a tangle of deadfall timber.  Lupe was probably only a mile from Castle Creek by now, but it looked like getting there would take SPHP hours.

Umm, yeah, thinking this isn't going to work.
Umm, yeah, thinking this isn’t going to work.

Clearly, staying on the valley floor down by Bittersweet Creek was no longer an option.  Lupe and SPHP started climbing up the side of the valley.  SPHP hoped maybe there was a way forward up there, or at least a view of what lay ahead.  Lupe gained about 100 feet of elevation.  Trees blocked any view of Bittersweet Creek and what, if anything, remained of USFS Road No. 429 below.  Steep slopes rose another 150 to 200 feet higher.  It wasn’t practical to try to move forward on the slopes, either.

SPHP gave up on the notion of Lupe reaching Castle Peak.  SPHP decided to just continue climbing up the steep slope however far it took to reach more level ground.  Once there, Lupe could just return to the G6.  There should still be time to do something else.  Sometimes adventures just don’t turn out the way one expects.  It’s part of what makes them adventures.

At least the steep slope didn’t have much deadfall timber on it.  Most of the dead trees seemed to have fallen clear down to the valley floor to choke No. 429.  Instead, the slope was infested with thistles.  After climbing 200 more scratchy feet up the slope, Lupe arrived unexpectedly at another USFS road.

This high road was nice and level.  It was in good shape.  There was almost no deadfall timber on it.  Suddenly SPHP could make progress again.  Lupe followed the high road a short distance NW and reached an intersection.  None of the roads had any marker.  SPHP checked the maps.  The most detailed map showed a maze of side roads coming off USFS Road No. 187 up in here.

Lupe reaches the high roads hundreds of feet above Bittersweet Creek. It was much easier going up here!
Lupe reaches the high roads hundreds of feet above Bittersweet Creek. It was much easier going up here!

While they got very close to Castle Creek, the map didn’t show any of the side roads ever connecting to USFS Road No. 181.  SPHP knew that meant that they all probably ended high up on the ridges and steep slopes on the S side of the Castle Creek valley.  Still, maybe one of them would lead to a reasonably easy way down.  If Lupe could get to Castle Creek, she could still climb Castle Peak.

Like the explorers of old, but on a tiny scale, Lupe and SPHP started looking for the fabled Northwest Passage.  This Northwest Passage only needed to take Lupe to a point where she could finish her journey to Castle Peak.  Initial results were somewhat encouraging.  Castle Peak was soon in view.  Lupe was clearly already on the slopes just above the Castle Creek valley.  All that was necessary was to find an easy way down.

From a ridge near the high roads, Castle Peak was in view to the NW.
From a ridge near the high roads, Castle Peak was in view to the NW.
Looking E down the Castle Creek valley from one of the high roads.
Looking E down the Castle Creek valley from one of the high roads.

Lupe and SPHP spent a couple of hours exploring various branches of USFS Road No. 187 looking for her Northwest Passage.  Sometimes Lupe could see the Castle Creek valley floor and USFS Road No. 181 below.  Some of the high roads lost considerable elevation.  In the end, though, none of them got close to the valley floor.  All of them ended at cliffs or steep slopes still at least 200 to 300 feet above Castle Creek.

The old explorers never found their Northwest Passage.  It was there, but frozen solid and impassable.  Lupe never found her Northwest Passage either.  It may have been there, but on some side road there wasn’t time to explore.  By now so much time had passed that even if Lupe found a way through, she wouldn’t be able to climb Castle Peak and return before dark.  And SPHP wasn’t about to scramble up some steep hillside in the dark.

Of course, Lupe was having fun the entire time.  She wasn’t worried about getting to Castle Peak.  She was looking for squirrels and other interesting things in the forest.  While SPHP tried to figure out which of the many branches of USFS Road No. 187 to take to get back to the G6, Lupe had her own little adventures in the forest.  SPHP managed to find the junction of USFS Roads No. 187.2E and No. 187.2F.  From there the way back was clearly indicated on the maps.

On the way back to the G6 on USFS Road No. 187.
On the way back to the G6 on USFS Road No. 187.

Yellow aspen leaves on a tree near USFS Road No. 187The sun wasn’t down yet when Lupe got back to the G6 at 4:31 PM (59°F).  There was more than an hour yet before sunset.  What now?  Lupe and SPHP drove NW to Reynolds Prairie.  From the S end of Reynolds Prairie, SPHP took USFS Road No. 189 heading N.  Just N of Nipple Butte (6,800 ft.), near the junction with USFS Road No. 599, was a beautiful stand of aspens that hadn’t even reached the height of their fall colors yet.  Lupe agreed to pose for a few pictures.

Aspens N of Nipple Butte.
Aspens N of Nipple Butte.

Lupe N of Nipple Butte 10-5-15

Aspens N of Nipple Butte, 10-5-15From there, Lupe and SPHP drove up to the end of USFS Road No. 599.  At it’s N end, No. 599 is just S of White Tail Peak, which Lupe had climbed on Expedition No. 138.  SPHP had hoped to get a view of White Tail Peak (6,962 ft.) from the S, but by the time Lupe got there, fog was rolling in.  Lupe and SPHP turned around, and returned to USFS Road No. 189 where there were more pretty aspens.Lupe near USFS Road No. 189 close to Flag Mountain, 10-5-15

The fog started rolling in before Lupe even reached the side road to Flag Mountain. This photo was taken near USFS Road No. 189.
Fog above aspen trees near USFS Road No. 189.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 140 ended with a climb up the spur road to Flag Mountain (6,937 ft.) from USFS Road No. 189.  Normally Flag Mountain has great 180° views to the E.  Lupe has seen them before.  This time, Flag Mountain was enveloped in fog.

Lupe loved the fog.  She raced through the now mysterious forests, sniffing madly.  For an hour, as the gloomy fog thickened and the light faded, Flag Mountain was haunted by the wild Dingo of the Mists.

Lupe on Flag Mountain.
Lupe on Flag Mountain.

Lupe on Flag Mountain, 10-5-15

The wild Dingo of the Mists
The wild Dingo of the Mists

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Sugarloaf Mountain, Wyoming (8-11-15)

SPHP only heard Lupe stir once during the night.  Even so, when SPHP woke up around 6:00 AM, Lupe was already wide awake.  The 3rd day of Lupe’s 2015 Dingo Vacation had dawned.  Lupe was hungry!  She hadn’t had anything to eat the previous evening after her long trek up Medicine Bow Peak (12,013 ft.).  SPHP gave her Taste of the Wild and Alpo for breakfast.

After climbing two big mountains, Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) and Medicine Bow Peak, on the prior two days, SPHP wasn’t really all that raring to go, even if Lupe was.  SPHP wasn’t sure what to do this morning, but at least for a little while, it wasn’t going to be anything too strenuous.  After Lupe had eaten, SPHP drove to Snowy Range Pass.  There was a round rock observation platform there.  Lupe checked it out.

Lupe visits Snowy Range Pass. Medicine Bow Peak (L) and Sugarloaf Mountain (R) in the background.
Lupe visits Snowy Range Pass. Medicine Bow Peak (L) and Sugarloaf Mountain (R) in the background.  Lupe had climbed Medicine Bow Peak the day before.
Lupe checks out the cool round rock Snowy Range Pass observation platform near Hwy 130.
Lupe checks out the cool round rock Snowy Range Pass observation platform near Hwy 130.

Snowy Range Pass observation platform 8-11-15

Looking back at Medicine Bow Peak (L) and Sugarloaf Mountain (R) from the Snowy Range observation platform.
Looking NW back at Medicine Bow Peak (Center) and Sugarloaf Mountain (R) from the Snowy Range Pass observation platform.

To the S of the observation platform was a broad plain dotted with rock outcroppings and clumps of pines.  A big pond or small lake could be seen out there.  This area is known as Libby Flats.  Beyond Libby Flats were mountains in Colorado in the distance.

Libby Flats as seen from the Snowy Range Pass observation platform.
Libby Flats as seen from the Snowy Range Pass observation platform.

A footpath led from near the round rock observation platform toward another smaller pond down the hill to the E.  Lupe wanted to check that out, too.  She raced down to the small pond and then came running back with her report.  She liked it.  SPHP promised her she could come back, but now SPHP was hungry.

Lupe and the Snowy Range Pass observation platform from the footpath to the small pond.
Lupe and the Snowy Range Pass observation platform from the footpath to the small pond.

After SPHP had eaten at the nearby Mirror Lake picnic ground, Lupe and SPHP returned to Snowy Range Pass.  A trek to both the small nearby pond and the more distant bigger pond was on the agenda now.  Despite the Carolina Dog’s enthusiasm, SPHP was feeling none too energetic.  Libby Flats sounded good – especially the “flats” part.

Libby Flats proved to be a fun time.  It was easy strolling around the various low rock formations and wandering the meadows between the clumps of forest.  Lupe went to both of the ponds.  Near the N shore of the larger pond, Lupe and SPHP watched clouds, listened to birds sing, insects hum and the breeze blow.  SPHP dozed off for a while.  The ever-faithful Lupe snoozed next to SPHP.

Lupe explores Libby Flats.
Lupe explores Libby Flats.

Flowers at Libby Flats 8-11-15

Lupe near the NW end of the big pond on Libby Flats.
Lupe near the NW shore of the big pond on Libby Flats.
American Dingo at Libby Flats S of Snowy Range Pass in Wyoming.
A very busy American Dingo at Libby Flats S of Snowy Range Pass in Wyoming.

SPHP woke up feeling considerably recovered – still no where near 100%, but definitely better.  Lupe sprang to life.  What to do with all this newfound energy?  SPHP had a plan – it was time to climb Sugarloaf Mountain (11,300 ft.)!  Lupe had more fun exploring Libby Flats on the way back to the G6 at Snowy Range Pass.  From there, it was only a short drive to the trailhead near Lewis Lake.

Lupe about to set off from Lewis Lake to climb Sugarloaf Mountain (L). Medicine Bow Peak at (R).
Lupe about to set off from Lewis Lake to climb Sugarloaf Mountain (L). Medicine Bow Peak is seen on the (R).

Lupe set off on the trail that goes between Lewis and Libby Lakes at 3:08 PM.  The sky had clouded up to a considerable extent during the nap, and it was a pleasant 61°F out.  The trail went along the S shore of Lewis Lake, and then headed up to the pass between Sugarloaf Mountain and Medicine Bow Peak.

Flowers along the trail near Lewis Lake.
Flowers along the trail near Lewis Lake.

Flowers near Lewis Lake 8-11-15Shortly before reaching the junction at the pass where the Lakes Trail meets the Medicine Bow Trail, Lupe and SPHP left the trail from Lewis Lake and started climbing SE towards Sugarloaf Mountain.  Lupe reached the top of a small ridge.  SPHP sat down on a big rock to study Sugarloaf Mountain for a few minutes.

The N face looked too steep to seriously consider.  From perhaps 50 to 75 feet below the summit, a long ridge swept down towards the SW.  Most of the ridge looked too steep for SPHP to climb up, too.

However, partway down the ridge there were two large white boulders sitting up on top right at the edge of the ridge.  They were larger than any of the other boulders in view on the ridgeline.  There were two clumps of greenery – bushes and small trees – near the top of the ridge too.  One clump was closer to the summit than the two big white boulders, and the other was farther down the ridge.

It looked like it might be possible to scramble up onto the ridge at either of the clumps of greenery.  Lupe and SPHP headed across the small valley toward the base of the ridge below the clump of greenery closest to the summit.  Lupe had to cross a boulder field just to get to the base of the ridge.  The boulder field extended all the way up to the greenery.

Lupe is great at picking her way through boulder fields.  She is fast, too.  Lupe had plenty of time to strike dramatic poses and survey the surroundings from various big boulders, while SPHP slowly climbed the ridge.  SPHP eventually reached the greenery and arrived up on the ridgeline.  The hardest part of climbing Sugarloaf Mountain was done.

Off to the S and E, a long line of showers could be seen about 10 miles away.  What had been an increasingly overcast day was now starting to look like rain.  Still, SPHP figured the showers would probably move away off to the E.  SPHP turned and looked up the length of the ridgeline toward the summit.  A cairn was on a big rock nearby.  It seemed unnecessary.  The way up was pretty obvious – a continuous scramble through boulders all the way.

Looking NE from the highest big patch of greenery on the ridge that sweeps down to the SW from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Looking NE from the highest big patch of greenery on the ridge that sweeps down to the SW from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The boulder field up the SW ridge really wasn’t bad at all.  Soon Lupe reached some green mossy areas between the boulders.  Most of the way SPHP was able to avoid the boulders and just walk normally along the mossy areas up to the top of the ridge.  There the mossy areas ended.  The last 50 to 75 feet up really was just a scramble up the big pile of boulders leading to the summit.  Soon Lupe was there – on top of Sugarloaf Mountain!

Lupe on Sugarloaf Mountain. The curved loose rock wall is just behind her.
Lupe on Sugarloaf Mountain. Part of the “Great Wall of Sugarloaf” is just behind her.  Browns Peak is on the right.

At the top of Sugarloaf Mountain was a little curved wall built of loose rock that someone had built up there.  It was rather cool.  SPHP dubbed it the “Great Wall of Sugarloaf”.  The summit area was narrow in the NW/SE direction, but quite long in the SW/NE direction.  There was plenty of room to walk around and enjoy the fabulous views.

Looking N from Sugarloaf Mountain. Browns Peak is on the (R). Of the 3 largest lakes on the (L) side of the photo, Klondike Lake is the closest and South Gap Lake is the most distant.
Looking N from Sugarloaf Mountain. Browns Peak (11,722 ft.) is on the (R). Of the 3 largest lakes on the (L) side of the photo, Klondike Lake is the closest and South Gap Lake is the most distant.
Looking W towards Medicine Bow Peak from Sugarloaf Mountain. Lupe had been up on Medicine Bow Peak less than 24 hours earlier!
Looking W towards Medicine Bow Peak from Sugarloaf Mountain. Lupe had been up on Medicine Bow Peak less than 24 hours earlier!

Less than a minute before Lupe reached the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, it had started to sprinkle.  It sprinkled on and off while Lupe was on the summit.  There was an E breeze up on Sugarloaf.  Oddly and unexpectedly, the line of showers to the E & S was getting closer instead of moving farther away.  Lupe and SPHP were having fun up on Sugarloaf when suddenly the sprinkles turned to rain.  The rocks were getting wet and slippery fast.  Even though Lupe had only been up on the summit for 10 or 15 minutes, it was time to head down.

By the time Lupe and SPHP were back down to the top of the SW ridge below the summit, the rain had stopped.  It was back to just sprinkling intermittently again.  SPHP wished Lupe had been able to spend more time up on the summit.  However, since she was already on her way down, there was no sense in going back up.  The rain could start in again any time.

Lupe had a blast on the way back to the G6.  So did SPHP.  It was fun scrambling around on the rocks.  It sprinkled now and then, but it didn’t really rain.  Sugarloaf Mountain had been just the right difficulty and height to make it challenging enough to be fun, but not another long exhausting trip.

Lupe reached the G6 at 6:57 PM.  Inside the G6 she had another good meal of Alpo and Taste of the Wild.  Within just a few minutes it started raining again – this time harder and more steadily.  Nice and dry, and with a full belly, the Carolina Dog zonked out for a good long snooze on her pile of pillows and blankets.Lupe on Sugarloaf Mountain 8-11-15Want 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.