Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 166 – Sullivan Peak, Red Point & Twin Buttes (4-10-16)

What looked like the shortest, easiest route to the Triangle Park area on SPHP’s old USFS map hadn’t panned out.  The map showed an improved gravel road going WSW from the long abandoned Lauzon School at a sharp turn along County Road No. 769 (Dewey Road).  Instead, Lupe had arrived to find nothing but a faint dirt road heading W across a pasture.  It didn’t look like anything that would prove hospitable to the G6.

No problem, right?  Farther S was another possible, if longer, access route.  USFS Road No. 120 headed N from County Road No. 769 about 1.5 miles E of Dewey.  Actually, it was kind of a problem.  Although Lupe and SPHP drove almost all the way to Dewey, USFS Road No. 120 seemed to be another of the map’s fictions.  SPHP saw no sign of it.

A couple miles back to the E, there had been a flat little field where there was an old water tank and an older windmill.  Overhead a large power line ran E/W next to County Road No. 769.  There had also been a place to turn off the road and park.  The map, if it could be believed, showed that this was USFS land.  It seemed like the only realistic option, if Lupe was going to make it to Triangle Park.

So, Lupe’s Expedition No. 166 began from near the old water tank and windmill (9:50 AM, 47°F).  As the crow flies, Lupe was starting 3.5 miles S of Sullivan Peak (4,967 ft.).  As the Carolina Dog sniffs, it was likely to be considerably farther.  Sullivan Peak was one of 3 peakbagging objectives Lupe had around Triangle Park.

The first thing to do was to get up on the long, high ridge that extends S from Sullivan Peak almost all the way down to where Lupe was beginning her trek.  SPHP started hiking NW toward a low forested ridge at the W side of the field.  Right away there was trouble.  Lupe wasn’t coming.  Her nemesis was here!  There was cactus in the field.

SPHP returned to examine Lupe’s paws.  She was OK.  Somehow Lupe, knew cactus was around, though.  SPHP tried to persuade Lupe to follow very closely, so SPHP could help her avoid the cactus.  No luck.  The American Dingo just didn’t want to go.

Not a very good start, so far.  SPHP looked around.  There was a fair amount of cactus in this field.  SPHP decided to just carry Lupe over to the forest, which wasn’t too far away.  Lupe’s spirits rose a little in the forest, but she still didn’t want to move.  SPHP put her leash on her.  It worked!  Somehow, Lupe found the leash a bit comforting.  She started following SPHP.  The leash enabled SPHP to guide her around the cactus without mishap.

Lupe and SPHP headed N through the forest, climbing steadily up the low ridge.  The climb became steeper, but before too long Lupe reached the S end of a higher ridge.  The higher ridge was broad, grassy, and sloped gently up to the N.  The big field was rimmed with trees.  To the E there was a thin line of trees near the edge of a cliff.

Lupe, wearing her leash, reaches the S end of the first of the high ridges on her way to Sullivan Peak. A long cliff was just beyond the trees on the E (R) side of this field.
Lupe, wearing her leash, reaches the S end of the first of the high ridges on her way to Sullivan Peak. A long cliff was just beyond the trees on the E (R) side of this field.

SPHP hoped there wasn’t any cactus in the big field on the high ridge, but it was soon apparent there was.  Lupe had to stay on her leash, so she wouldn’t run into any of it.  Lupe and SPHP marched N near the E side of the field.  Sometimes there were places with big views to the E from the nearby cliffs.

Looking SE from the cliffs at the E side of the big field.
Looking SE from the cliffs at the E side of the big field.

Near the N end of the field, Lupe found a road.  She was quite content to trot along the road, and not venture off it.  SPHP took her leash off.  The road went N beyond the field, passed by a small section of forest, and entered another big field that was more rolling and scenic.  Lupe and SPHP continued following the road N.  Maybe this was the fabled USFS Road No. 120 that would take Lupe close to Sullivan Peak?

After passing through the second big field, the road curved around to the E of a little hill before turning NW away from the cliffs.  From the little hill, another higher ridge could be seen to the N.  The higher ridge sloped gradually up to a much higher point than where Lupe was.  Maybe that was Sullivan Peak?

Looking N from the little hill beyond the N end of the second big field. Was that Sullivan Peak at the far end of the next higher ridge? Photo looks N.
Looking N from the little hill beyond the N end of the second big field. Was that Sullivan Peak at the far end of the next higher ridge? Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP left the road to stay close to the E edge of the ridge near the cliffs.  Lupe and SPHP climbed steadily, but the going was slow.  Off the road there was cactus.  Even with her leash on, sometimes Lupe wanted to be carried.  In some places, there was quite a bit of deadfall timber.  Lupe found herself at some pretty dramatic viewpoints as she gained elevation.

Gaining elevation! This photo looks back to the S at the big fields Lupe had come through.
Gaining elevation! This photo looks back to the S at the big fields Lupe had come through.

The high ridge Lupe had seen from the little hill was NOT Sullivan Peak.  The ridge went farther and farther N.  Lupe came to big areas that had completely burned in a forest fire years ago.  The deadfall timber and cactus made for an icky, slow trek, but the views from ever higher along the cliffs became steadily more impressive.

Yet another higher ridge appears, even farther N! Maybe that bump up barely seen beyond the trees on the R was Sullivan Peak?
Yet another higher ridge appears, even farther N! Maybe that bump up barely seen beyond the trees on the R was Sullivan Peak?
Looking S back along the E cliffs at one of the areas Lupe passed through that had been devastated by a forest fire years ago. Even though the local area wasn't very pretty, the fire had really opened up the views!
Looking S back along the E cliffs at one of the areas Lupe passed through that had been devastated by a forest fire years ago. Even though the local area wasn’t very pretty, the fire had really opened up the views!

A big notch in the ridge forced the cliffs to bend around it to the W.  Going around the W edge of the notch, Lupe came to an area where the forest hadn’t burned.  Lupe was quite happy to find a road going through the living forest.  For a little while, she ran around without her leash again.

Happy Lupe on the road through the living forest. Photo looks NE.
Happy Lupe on the road through the living forest. Photo looks NE.

Soon this road going through the living forest turned NW, too.  Once again, Lupe and SPHP left the road to stay not too far from the cliffs to the E.  Lupe had to climb up through a section of rocky, moderately steeper terrain.  A little past where the ground leveled out again, Lupe came to another big burned area.  Finally, she had a view of the real Sullivan Peak!

Sullivan Peak (L) is finally in view! The high point on the right is the "bump up beyond the trees" seen in a prior photo. Photo looks N.
Sullivan Peak (L) is finally in view! The high point on the right is the “bump up beyond the trees” seen in a prior photo. Photo looks N.
Getting closer! Lupe just S of Sullivan Peak (L). Photo looks N.
Getting closer! Lupe just S of Sullivan Peak (L). Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP continued N through the devastated forest, with Sullivan Peak now within reach.  There didn’t seem to be any cactus around up here, so Lupe got to explore a little without her leash on.  She didn’t seem to think there was any cactus, either.  She ran around, expending a lot of energy leaping over all the dead trees.

Finally, Lupe was there!  She reached the top of Sullivan Peak.  The dead forest was ugly, but the resulting 360° views were wonderful!

Lupe reaches Sullivan Peak! Photo looks NE along the short summit ridge.
Lupe reaches Sullivan Peak! Photo looks NE along the short summit ridge.
Lupe on the highest rock on Sullivan Peak. Note the little round pin in the rock in front of her. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe on the highest rock on Sullivan Peak. Note the little round pin in the rock in front of her. Photo looks ESE.

There didn’t seem to be a survey benchmark, but a round metal pin somewhere between the size of a quarter and a half dollar had been cemented to the rock next to the highest rock on the mountain.

The metal pin is seen in front of Lupe's right front paw. Photo looks E.
The metal pin is seen in front of Lupe’s right front paw. Photo looks E.
Lupe at the NE end of the summit ridge. Red Point, her next peakbagging goal, is the little forested hill seen directly above her in this photo. It looked so insignificant from Sullivan Peak, SPHP could hardly believe Red Point was a named peak. It didn't seem very red or pointy either! Photo looks NE.
Lupe at the NE end of the summit ridge. Red Point, her next peakbagging goal, is the little forested hill seen directly above her in this photo. It looked so insignificant from Sullivan Peak, SPHP could hardly believe Red Point was a named peak. It didn’t seem very red or pointy either! Photo looks NE.

When Lupe went over to see the view from the NE end of the summit ridge, it turned out there was a survey benchmark on Sullivan Peak after all!  It was located about 12-15 feet NE of the metal pin.

This survey benchmark was 12-15 feet NE of the previously seen round metal pin.
This survey benchmark was 12-15 feet NE of the previously seen round metal pin.
Lupe back on the very highest rock again. This photo looks S at the "bump up beyond the trees".
Lupe back on the very highest rock again. This photo looks S at the “bump up beyond the trees”.

Lupe and SPHP took quite a long break up on Sullivan Peak.  Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild.  SPHP enjoyed the views.  When SPHP got out a chocolate, coconut granola bar, Lupe was eager to help make it disappear!

There were lots of beautiful views from Sullivan Peak, but SPHP’s favorite was N toward Wildcat Peak (5,500 ft.), the Elk Benchmark (5,669 ft.), Twin Buttes (4,949 ft.) and Triangle Park.  Lupe seemed equally happy with all the views!

Lupe scrambled up on a high rock to add genuine American Dingo spirit to this look at Wildcat Peak (L of Center) and the Elk Benchmark (R of Center). Photo looks N from Sullivan Peak.
Lupe scrambled up on a high rock to add genuine American Dingo spirit to this look at Wildcat Peak (L of Center) and the Elk Benchmark (R of Center). Photo looks N from Sullivan Peak.
Twin Buttes (L of Center) and Wildcat Peak (R). Triangle Park is seen below on the L. Photo looks NW.
Twin Buttes (L of Center) and Wildcat Peak (R). Triangle Park is seen below on the L. Photo looks NW.

Lupe’s next peakbagging goal was Red Point (4,680 ft.) at the E end of Triangle Park.  She had seen it far below from the NE end of the summit ridge on Sullivan Peak.  Red Point looked so small and insignificant, SPHP was amazed it was even a named peak.  It was just a small hill compared to Sullivan Peak, and it wasn’t even red or pointy.  Nevertheless, Lupe and SPHP headed N down to Triangle Park to go visit Red Point.

An American Dingo high up in its rocky Sullivan Peak fortress, shortly before descending to go see Red Point, a small green forested hill on the E edge of Triangle Park. Lupe and SPHP both thought Sullivan Peak looked way more like a Red Point than the actual Red Point did! Photo looks E.
An American Dingo high up in its rocky Sullivan Peak fortress, shortly before descending to go see Red Point, a small green forested hill on the E edge of Triangle Park. Lupe and SPHP both thought Sullivan Peak looked way more like a Red Point than the actual Red Point did! Photo looks E.

When Lupe made it down to Triangle Park, she had to cross part of the huge field to reach Red Point.  Once again, Lupe sensed cactus.  SPHP had to use the “checking the maps technique” developed on Expedition No. 165 to get Lupe to come.  It worked again!  Lupe came racing across the big field.

It only took 5 or 6 minutes to climb Red Point.  From a grassy open spot on the S side of Red Point, Sullivan Peak loomed high above.

Lupe appears every bit as pleased to reach the summit of Red Point, as any other mountain. Photo looks ENE.
Lupe appears every bit as pleased to reach the summit of Red Point, as any other mountain. Photo looks ENE.
Sullivan Peak (Center) from Red Point. Photo looks S.
Sullivan Peak (Center) from Red Point. Photo looks S.

Lupe’s 3rd and final peakbagging goal for the day was Twin Buttes (4,949 ft.), about a mile to the WNW on the other side of Triangle Park.  As Lupe left Red Point to head over there, she became very excited.  She saw a huge herd of “Giant Deers” (elk)!  The Giant Deers had already seen Lupe and SPHP, too.  They were beating a hasty retreat N into the trees and out of sight.

The last of the big elk herd disappears into the trees by an even smaller hill N of Red Point. Photo looks N.
The last of the big elk herd disappears into the trees by an even smaller hill N of Red Point. Photo looks N.

The Giant Deers were gone in just a few seconds.  Lupe and SPHP continued WNW across Triangle Park aiming for a ridge to the right of a high point E of Twin Buttes.  There was a very faint road, which gave Lupe all the confidence she needed to cross most of the field on her own.  However, when it ended at an intersection with a better road entering Triangle Park from the NE, she wanted to be carried again.

Lupe on her way across the NE end of Triangle Park to Twin Buttes. The high point pictured is just E of Twin Buttes. Lupe and SPHP eventually climbed the ridge on the R side of this photo. Photo looks WNW.
Lupe on her way across the NE end of Triangle Park to Twin Buttes. The high point pictured is just E of Twin Buttes. Lupe and SPHP eventually climbed the ridge on the R side of this photo. Photo looks WNW.

Since it wasn’t much farther to the base of the ridge, SPHP carried Lupe over there.  She was happy again climbing the ridge under her own power.  Up on top of the ridge, there was a road that went SW between Twin Buttes and the high point to the E.  The summit wasn’t far away!  Lupe didn’t hesitate, even when it was time to leave the road.  Lupe climbed right to the top of Twin Buttes.

Climbing from the E, Lupe had reached the summit of the highest of the Twin Buttes right away.  The E butte gradually lost elevation along a long summit ridge as it went W.  It was clear the views would be best from there.  Lupe and SPHP trekked over to the W end of the summit ridge.  The view was really awesome!  Lupe could see far into Wyoming.  The border was less than 2 miles away.

Lupe at the W end of the highest (easternmost) of the Twin Buttes. The high point of the lower W Butte is visible on the R. The small lake on the L is M.W. Lake in Wyoming. Photo looks WNW.
Lupe at the W end of the highest (easternmost) of the Twin Buttes. The high point of the lower W Butte is visible on the R. The small lake on the L is M.W. Lake in Wyoming. Photo looks WNW.

Although the lower W butte was in view not too far away, there didn’t seem to be any reason to go over there.  The view was better from the higher W end of the E butte.  After peering far into Wyoming, Lupe and SPHP went back to the true summit at the E end of the easternmost of the Twin Buttes.  At the high point, Lupe and SPHP took another break.  Once again, Lupe was most helpful when another chocolate, coconut granola bar was foolish enough to make its appearance.

Looking W back along the summit ridge of the higher E butte of Twin Buttes.
Looking W back along the summit ridge of the higher E butte of Twin Buttes.
Wildcat Peak (L of Center) and Elk Benchmark (R) from Twin Buttes. Photo looks N.
Wildcat Peak (L of Center) and Elk Benchmark (R) from Twin Buttes. Photo looks N.
Sullivan Peak (Center) and Triangle Park from Twin Buttes. Photo looks SE.
Sullivan Peak (Center) and Triangle Park from Twin Buttes. Photo looks SE.
Looking W along the summit ridge of Twin Buttes from the actual high point.
Looking W along the summit ridge of Twin Buttes from the actual high point.
While Lupe and SPHP were still relaxing at the highpoint of Twin Buttes, the Bluebird of Happiness came to pay a visit. Photo taken with telephoto lens.
While Lupe and SPHP were still relaxing at the highpoint of Twin Buttes, the Bluebird of Happiness came to pay a visit. Photo taken with telephoto lens.

While Lupe and SPHP were still relaxing at the highpoint of Twin Buttes, the Bluebird of Happiness came to pay Lupe a visit.  Lupe and SPHP did feel happy, even after the Bluebird of Happiness flitted onward to parts unknown.  Lupe and SPHP left the summit to go take a look at the world from the high point just to the E of Twin Buttes.

Triangle Park and Sullivan Peak (R) from the high point E of Twin Buttes. Photo looks SE.
Triangle Park and Sullivan Peak (R) from the high point E of Twin Buttes. Photo looks SE.
The summit of Twin Peaks as seen from the high point to the E. Photo looks W.
The summit of Twin Peaks as seen from the high point to the E. Photo looks W.
Red Hill (L) is buried in the green trees. Photo looks SE from the high point E of Twin Buttes.
Red Hill (L) is buried in the green trees. Photo looks SE from the high point E of Twin Buttes.

It was a long way back to the G6, and the sun was saying it was time to start heading back.  Lupe and SPHP returned to the road between Twin Buttes and the highpoint to the E.  SPHP’s old USFS map said this must be USFS Road No. 118.  It would eventually tie in to No. 120 more than a mile SW of Sullivan Peak.

Lupe and SPHP followed No. 118 SW only partway down a ridge on the W side of Triangle Park.  Then Lupe and SPHP left the road, turning SE to get down there more quickly.  Once down in Triangle Park, Lupe continued SE straight for Sullivan Peak.  She passed by a little to the E of a pond at the W end of Triangle Park.

Lupe knew there was cactus around.  Even so, she was OK trotting along some faint animal trails.  SPHP only had to carry her for a final short stretch to the base of Sullivan Peak when the last animal trail faded away.  Lupe climbed all the way back up to Sullivan Peak under her own power, completing her 2nd ascent of the day!

Lupe back up on Sullivan Peak for a 2nd time. Photo looks N toward Wildcat Peak (L of Center) and Elk Benchmark (slightly R of Center).
Lupe back up on Sullivan Peak for a 2nd time. Photo looks N toward Wildcat Peak (L of Center) and Elk Benchmark (slightly R of Center).

Although it was getting sort of late, Lupe and SPHP lingered for a little while on Sullivan Peak again.  The splendid views were hard to leave behind.  It was time to go, though, and there was a need for some speed.

Lupe and SPHP left Sullivan Peak heading S, retracing the last part of the route Lupe had first taken there.  By now, SPHP was convinced that the first road Lupe had reached early in the day really was USFS Road No. 120.  As soon as she reached it again, Lupe and SPHP got on it and stayed on it almost all the way back.  Traveling the road was a lot faster than trying to dodge cactus and burned out forests.

Since No. 120 mostly stayed well to the W of the cliffs along the E edge of the high ridges Lupe was on, she didn’t get to see the same big views as earlier in the day.  However, it was still a beautiful evening trek beneath blue sky and white clouds sailing by overhead.  Lupe was happy being on the road.  She enjoyed trotting along sniffing the air.  Much of the time, it was possible to see far to the SW into Wyoming.

Back near the S end of the big field on the last high ridge, No. 120 turned SW into the forest, just as SPHP’s old USFS map indicated it would.  It would have been fun to see where it came out, but following No. 120 to the end would have added another 0.75 mile just to reach County Road No. 759 (Dewey Road) again, plus an extra 0.75 mile backtracking on No. 759.

Leaving the last high ridge, Lupe wanted to be carried to avoid the cactus.  SPHP carried her down, but didn’t stay far enough E to find the most direct route back to the G6.  As a result, the terrain ended up forcing Lupe almost straight S until she reached No. 759.  An easy, cactus free stroll to the E for 15 minutes on No. 759 brought Lupe back to the G6 (7:38 PM, 47°F).

Lupe’s Expedition No. 166 turned out to be a big success!  Red Point had been a bit disappointing, but both Sullivan Peak and Twin Buttes had been wonderful.  Even though they aren’t particularly high peaks for the Black Hills, their remote location near Triangle Park on the far SW edge of the Black Hills made them both dominating high points.  The forest fires, which made the peaks themselves rather ugly, had totally opened up the panoramic views.

Lupe didn’t think about any of that.  She was ready to go!  The sun was down, but the sky was still light.  Lupe rode joyously in the G6 standing with her head out the window, tongue hanging in the breeze.  She let every cow, horse, deer, and haystack she passed along the long, winding gravel road know that an American Dingo coming through!Lupe on Twin Buttes, 4-10-16Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 165 – Matias Peak & Cicero Peak (4-4-16)

Lupe was on her way home from her adventures in western Nebraska.  It wasn’t the end of her adventures on this trip, though.  There was still time for one of Lupe’s Black Hills, SD Expeditions on the way!  As Hwy 18 climbed into the southern hills NE of Edgemont, SPHP was looking for USFS Road No. 379.  Lupe was going to climb Matias Peak (4,780 ft.).

Before reaching the top of the long hill, SPHP spotted a road heading into the trees on the N side of Hwy 18.  There was room to park the G6 there, too.  (11:52 AM, 59°F)  Good!  This was it, USFS Road No. 379!  A marker proved it.  Matias Peak was no more than 2 miles away as the crow flies.  SPHP’s old USFS map showed no road to it, but No. 379 was supposed to get within a mile SW of the summit.

Lupe and SPHP set out on No. 379.  Instead of heading NNE toward Matias Peak, the road wound its way downhill into a dry canyon to the WNW.  Once it reached the bottom of the canyon, No. 379 turned N and started back uphill.  Soon Lupe came to an unmarked intersection.  She took the right branch, which led NE.

Lupe hadn’t followed the right branch very far when Matias Peak came into view at a minor pass.

Matias Peak in the southern Black Hills as seen from a minor pass along USFS Road No. 379. Photo looks NE.
Matias Peak in the southern Black Hills as seen from a minor pass along USFS Road No. 379. Photo looks NE.

Lupe and SPHP stayed on No. 379, and went over the pass.  Lupe had already lost 100 feet of elevation when SPHP realized No. 379 was going turn NW away from the mountain and continue losing elevation.  A look around at the terrain showed it would have been better to leave the road back at the pass.  From there, Lupe could climb the ridge to the E.

Lupe and SPHP turned around and returned to the pass.  Lupe left No. 379 and started climbing.  Soon she was a very unhappy Carolina Dog.  There was cactus!  Lupe didn’t want to go this way.  She sat down and wouldn’t move.  She lifted a front paw pathetically begging SPHP for help and mercy.

SPHP checked her paws.  She didn’t seem to have cactus spines in any of them.  SPHP knew her paws weren’t really that sore.  Just a couple of hours ago, she had been racing around having a great time at Toadstool Geological Park in Nebraska.  Maybe she could smell the cactus?

In any event, whether Lupe had stepped on any or not, it was clear she knew cactus was around.  She wanted to go back to the road, or be carried.  The road wasn’t going to take Lupe to Matias Peak.  Going back meant giving up.  On the other hand, Matias Peak was still 1.5 miles away.  SPHP wouldn’t be able to carry her that far, and then all the way back again.

For a couple minutes, Lupe rested while SPHP pondered.  Well, let’s try it and see how it goes.  There’s quite a bit of forest, and there shouldn’t be much cactus in the forest.  SPHP picked Lupe up and started carrying her on up the ridge.  SPHP tried to stay in the forest as much as possible, but there were still sunny little openings harboring more cactus.

Where there were boulders, Lupe was willing to scramble up on her own power for short stretches.  Mostly SPHP had to carry her.  After a somewhat steep, rocky section, Lupe and SPHP reached the flat top of the ridge.  There was a nice view to the N.

Looking N.
Looking N.

Well, at least some progress had been made.  SPHP hoped that this ridge would just sweep around to the NE right on up to Matias Peak.  For a while it looked promising as SPHP carried Lupe E along the top of the ridge.  It all ended at a big steep drop.  SPHP put Lupe down and told her to stay, a completely unnecessary command.  She wasn’t about to budge.

SPHP scouted around looking for a view between the trees.  Low cliffs were just ahead.  Down below was a large field.  On the other side was another forested ridge.  That was probably the ridge that would lead N to Matias Peak.  SPHP returned to Lupe.  Time for a water and rest break!

SPHP studied the topo map printed out from Peakbagger.com.  It was a bit confusing at first, since the topo map was too old to show the correct location of Hwy 18, where Lupe and SPHP had started from.  In a few minutes, though, SPHP was pretty certain where Lupe was.  She was now at the E end of a small ridge marked toward the W end as 4,355 ft. elevation.  Lupe needed to cross the field down below, and head NE toward the next ridge.  That ridge would lead her N to Matias Peak.

It took a long time.  SPHP carried Lupe down off the ridge, finding a way down toward the S.  Then it was a long trek in the sun carrying Lupe across the field.  However, Lupe was willing to climb the far ridge on her own.  SPHP just kept an eagle eye out to help her avoid the occasional cactus.

Once up on the ridge, it was a steady climb, but a fairly gradual one most of the rest of the way up Matias Peak.  There were small cliffs on the W side of the ridge, which provided very nice viewpoints in that direction in many places.  Most of the time, Lupe and SPHP stayed near the cliffs to enjoy the views.

Looking WSW from the S ridge leading up to Matias Peak. USFS Road No. 379 can be seen coming down through the trees on the L. (That's the part of it Lupe and SPHP did not continue on beyond the pass. The pass is near the L edge of this photo.) Wyoming is on the horizon!
Looking WSW from the S ridge leading up to Matias Peak. USFS Road No. 379 can be seen coming down through the trees on the L. (That’s the part of it Lupe and SPHP did not continue on beyond the pass. The pass is near the L edge of this photo.) Wyoming is on the horizon!
Lupe relaxes on one of SPHP's many rest breaks going up Matias Peak.
Lupe relaxes on one of SPHP’s many rest breaks going up Matias Peak.

SPHP took many rest breaks on the way up Matias Peak.  Lupe would never have made it to the top, except for the gradual development of a technique Lupe seemed willing to go along with, despite her trepidation over the scattered cactus.

The technique went as follows: SPHP carried Lupe for a little way, and then put her down.  SPHP then left without her, continuing on up the mountain, scouting around to make sure there wasn’t any cactus along the way.  Lupe always watched with concern as SPHP marched off, but she wouldn’t move.

After going a suitable distance, SPHP would stop, turn around and shout back to Lupe that it was “time to check the maps”.  Lupe seemed to take this to mean that SPHP had somehow magically eliminated all the cactus in her way.  She immediately came running full tilt to catch up.

Of course, Lupe knows what checking the maps normally involves, so SPHP had to actually sit down, get out the maps and take a look at them for a few minutes each time.  Then it was time to carry Lupe for another stretch, before putting her down again.  Rinse and repeat.  Over and over.  It was slow, but not nearly as slow as trying to carry Lupe the entire distance.

Fortunately, Lupe never did run into any cactus.  She continued to believe in the power of checking the maps.  As Lupe and SPHP got nearer the summit, an unmarked dirt road appeared, temporarily curving closer to the W from somewhere off to the SE.  Lupe was perfectly willing to trot along without fear on this road.  Lupe and SPHP began to make rapid progress toward the summit.

Near the end of the climb, Lupe had to leave the road again, which now curved back around to the E of the summit.  The field to the NW had quite a bit of cactus in it, especially higher up.  SPHP went back to carrying Lupe all the time, but it wasn’t too far to the forest at the base of the final short steep climb to the summit.

There didn’t seem to be any cactus around on the final stretch up through the rocks and trees.  Lupe climbed up under her own power.  The top of Matias Peak is a flat forested ridge of moderate length running SW/NE.  Lupe found the very highest rocks to be somewhat closer to the NE end.

Lupe makes it to the top of Matias Peak! She is standing next to the very highest rock. There were a couple of other rocks around almost as high, one of which is the rock in the foreground. Photo looks NE.
Lupe makes it to the top of Matias Peak! She is standing next to the very highest rock. There were a couple of other rocks around almost as high, one of which is the rock in the foreground. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on another rock contending for the highest point on Matias Peak. This one was a bit to the W of the other two, and had a view off to the WNW in the general direction of Pilger Mountain (4,788 ft.).
Lupe on another rock contending for the highest point on Matias Peak. This one was a bit to the W of the other two, and had a view off to the WNW in the general direction of Pilger Mountain (4,788 ft.).

Lupe and SPHP were pleased to find that although the entire summit ridge was forested, there were several good viewpoints from Matias Peak.

Parker Peak (4,848 ft.) (Center) is the high point of Fall River County. Photo looks SE.
Parker Peak (4,848 ft.) (Center) is the high point of Fall River County. Photo looks SE.
Looking SSE at a truck going over a bridge on Hwy 18. It turned out there was a much easier route up Matias Peak than the one Lupe and SPHP took starting out on USFS Road No. 379. The easier route begins on an unmarked dirt road that leaves Hwy 18 from the big flat grassy area seen to the R of the bridge. This is the same road that Lupe and SPHP encountered not far from the summit.
Looking SSE at a truck going over a bridge on Hwy 18. It turned out there was a much easier route up Matias Peak than the one Lupe and SPHP took starting out on USFS Road No. 379. The easier route begins on an unmarked dirt road that leaves Hwy 18 from the big flat grassy area seen to the R of the bridge. This is the same road that Lupe and SPHP encountered not far from the summit.
The best view from Matias Peak was toward Wildcat Peak (5,500 ft.) (L of Center) and Elk Benchmark (5,669 ft.) (R). Photo looks NNW using the telephoto lens.
The best view from Matias Peak was toward Wildcat Peak (5,500 ft.) (L of Center) and Elk Benchmark (5,669 ft.) (R of Center). Photo looks NNW using the telephoto lens.

Lupe and SPHP lingered up on Matias Peak for a while.  When it was time to go, Lupe’s confidence had returned to the point where she was running around like normal in the forest.  She came down off the short steep part at the SE end of the summit under her own power.  However, when she reached the grassy area where SPHP had seen quite a few cactus on the way up, SPHP insisted on carrying Lupe the rest of the way down to the dirt road.

Rather than retrace Lupe’s scenic, but slow approach route, SPHP decided Lupe should just stay on the dirt road to see where it went.  Lupe didn’t worry about cactus while on the road, but was still cautious enough not to make forays off to either side.  SPHP didn’t have to carry Lupe at all.

The dirt road wound around a little bit, but eventually straightened out and headed due S across open fields.  It reached Hwy 18 at the top of the long hill NE of Edgemont just W of a bridge over a deep ravine.  There was a big paved pullout on the N side of Hwy 18 where the dirt road reached it.  Even at the highway, the dirt road wasn’t marked with any sign or number.

If Lupe and SPHP would have started up Matias Peak from this point, instead of on USFS Road No. 379, Lupe would have had a much easier, though less scenic time reaching the summit.  The dirt road headed almost straight toward the summit gaining elevation at an easy pace.  Only the last little part of the climb would have been off the road.

Lupe on the pullout on the N side of Hwy 18 where the easiest and most direct route to Matias Peak (seen in the background) begins. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the pullout on the N side of Hwy 18 where the easiest and most direct route to Matias Peak (seen in the background) begins. Photo looks N.

The last part of the return trip from Matias Peak was a not-so-fun trek W along busy Hwy 18 for about 0.75 mile as the highway slowly curved SW.  It was all a gradual downhill slope, which was fortunate, since Lupe wanted to be carried part of the time.  SPHP had to oblige.

Lupe didn’t like the highway traffic, or the scattered cacti and broken glass waiting for her on the shoulder and in the ditch.  SPHP was in complete agreement.  Both Lupe and SPHP were quite happy when the G6 finally came back into view (4:17 PM, 70°F).

Before completing the drive home, Lupe had one final mission.  When Lupe’s trip to western Nebraska had started just 2 days ago, the last peak Lupe had climbed with new friend Jobe Wymore before leaving the Black Hills was Cicero Peak (6,166 ft.).  SPHP had been so interested in Jobe’s mountaineering stories, SPHP had forgotten the camera case up on top of the mountain.  Now Lupe was going to go back up Cicero Peak to see if it was still there.

SPHP parked the G6 at the start of USFS Road No. 338 (Cicero Peak Road) (4:55 PM, 60°F).  Somehow Lupe knew right away.  Maybe the air smelled different.  Maybe she remembered from being here before.  However she knew, Lupe was certain there wasn’t any cactus here!  Suddenly she was free to race happily through the forests again without a care in the world.

Lupe explored, while SPHP hiked the 1.5 mile road back up to the summit of Cicero Peak.  It was a gradual, easy climb.  Near the top, Lupe discovered what may be the last snow she will find in the Black Hills this spring.  There wasn’t much left, and the snow was melting fast, but it was clear Lupe loved it.  She ate big mouthfuls.  She rolled on it to cool off.  The snow tasted and felt great!

Ahh, snow! Feels and tastes so great!
Ahh, snow! Feels and tastes so great!

As Lupe neared the summit, the question was, would the camera case still be there?  SPHP wasn’t even completely certain that was where it had been left behind.

Lupe reaches the tower on top of Cicero Peak. Photo looks SSW.
Lupe reaches the tower on top of Cicero Peak. Photo looks SSW.

Lupe went around to the highest rocks just W of the summit tower.  Sure enough, Lupe found the camera case laying among the highest rocks!  The carrying strap looked like a squirrel had nibbled on one edge of it.  The squirrel hadn’t done it much harm, though.  Apparently camera case carrying straps lack that nutty taste squirrels crave.

Lupe finds the camera case resting among the summit rocks of Cicero Peak, right where SPHP had left it 2 days earlier. A squirrel had chewed the strap a little, but had done little damage.
Lupe finds the camera case resting among the summit rocks of Cicero Peak, right where SPHP had left it 2 days earlier. A squirrel had chewed the strap a little, but had done little damage.

Finding the camera case again made Lupe’s Cicero Peak mission a complete success!  All that was left was the descent back down the mountain.

On the way down, Lupe saw smoke from a forest fire to the SE.  She saw Matias Peak, where she had just been, looking small and insignificant far away on the S edge of the Black Hills.  She glimpsed the strange rock to the NW that Lupe and SPHP know as “Cracked Molar” (officially Beecher Rock?).  Sharp-eyed Jobe had noticed it two days ago.

Smoke from a forest fire (L) somewhere not too far SE of Cicero Peak.
Smoke from a forest fire (L) somewhere not too far SE of Cicero Peak.
Matias Peak (L) from Cicero Peak using the telephoto lens. Photo looks SSW.
Matias Peak (L) from Cicero Peak using the telephoto lens. Photo looks SSW.
The rock Lupe and SPHP know as "Cracked Molar" is probably officially Beecher Rock. Photo looks NW using the telephoto lens.
The rock Lupe and SPHP know as “Cracked Molar” is probably officially Beecher Rock. Photo looks NW using the telephoto lens.

The thing that made Lupe happiest, though, was seeing, tasting, and feeling the last of the cold melting snow one more time.Lupe coming down Cicero Peak, 4-4-16Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Toadstool Geologic Park, Nebraska (4-4-16)

The thin yellow-orange crescent of the dying moon hung low in the eastern sky.  Overhead, the Milky Way stretched across the dark heavens.  Birds were already singing, though.  Dawn was coming.  A faint light was already discernable on the horizon.  In the darkness, Lupe sniffed around the huge vacant parking lot of the scenic overlook on the S side of Hwy 20 E of Harrison, Nebraska.

Lupe and SPHP weren’t sleepy, but there wasn’t any sense in leaving before it was light out.  Lupe had come to see what was here.  It would be light out soon enough.  Back in the G6 for another restless hour.  SPHP finally dozed a bit and woke up to find Lupe wide awake, and the sun about to rise.

Sunrise from the scenic overlook on the S side of Hwy 20 in western Nebraska.
Sunrise from the scenic overlook on the S side of Hwy 20 in western Nebraska.
Sunrise a few minutes later from Hwy 20 approaching Fort Robson State Park.
Sunrise a few minutes later from Hwy 20 approaching Fort Robson State Park.

Within a few minutes, Lupe and SPHP were heading E on Hwy 20 toward Crawford, Nebraska.  It was a gorgeous morning for a drive.  Fort Robson State Park was still closed when Lupe passed through.  Nearing Crawford, Lupe stopped briefly at a golf course with a great view of Saddle Rock, one of the Red Cloud Buttes.

Lupe likes chasing balls, but she isn't much into golf. She still stopped at this golf course W of Crawford due to the great view of Saddle Rock, part of the Red Cloud Buttes. Photo looks WNW.
Lupe likes chasing balls, but she isn’t much into golf. She still stopped at this golf course W of Crawford due to the great view of Saddle Rock, part of the Red Cloud Buttes. Photo looks WNW.

Four or five miles N of Crawford, SPHP left Hwy 2/71 turning left on Toadstool Road.  The gravel road was in fairly decent shape.  It went W a couple miles before following the Burlington Northern railroad NW.  Lupe had a blast riding with her head out the window in the wind.  She barked with great vigor and enthusiasm at mostly unimpressed cows and horses along the way.

SPHP spotted an interesting mountain a few miles to the W.  It looked like a great peakbagging goal for Lupe on a future trip.  SPHP had no idea what mountain it was.  A check of the maps later on revealed it is called Roundtop (4,540 ft.).

SPHP thought the mountain L of Center looked like an interesting possible future peakbagging goal for Lupe. A check of the maps later on revealed it is most likely Roundtop (4,540 ft.).
SPHP thought the mountain L of Center looked like an interesting possible future peakbagging goal for Lupe. A check of the maps later on revealed it is most likely Roundtop (4,540 ft.).

After following the railroad for 10 or 11 miles, Lupe reached a turn to the W for Toadstool Geologic Park.  It was a little over a mile to the campground.  Lupe was soon there.  Not another soul was in sight, which was just perfect!  Lupe and SPHP got out to take a look around.

Lupe at the entrance to Toadstool Geological Park in western Nebraska's badlands. A sod home is seen on the L.
Lupe at the entrance to Toadstool Geological Park in western Nebraska’s badlands. A sod home is seen on the L.

Toadstool Geologic Park has 6 campsites with covered picnic tables, fire rings, grills, and plenty of flat grassy land to pitch a tent on.  There was a restroom, too, but that was it for amenities.  There were no trees to provide shade, and no water or electricity.  On the bright side, this time of year there weren’t any fees, either.  The flat, exposed campground was next to stark, but beautiful badlands territory just to the W.

Before checking out the badlands on the Fossil Loop Trail, Lupe went to take a look at the campground’s sod house.  A sign said the sod house had been constructed in 1984 as an example of the homes pioneers lived in on the prairie.  Lupe went inside, but it didn’t take her long to check out the only amenities, which consisted of four walls and a roof.  Life used to be extremely hard on the prairie!

Lupe on a little mound near the sod house. Photo looks SSW at some of the fossil rich badlands at Toadstool Geological Park.
Lupe on a little mound near the sod house. Photo looks SSW at some of the fossil-rich badlands at Toadstool Geological Park.

Next, Lupe and SPHP went to check out the Fossil Loop Trail.  The mile long trail starts on the W side of the campground.  There was a box full of pamphlets providing a self-guided tour.  Numbered posts along the trail correspond to numbered sections in the pamphlet, so it was a good idea to take one along.  According to the pamphlet:

Toadstool Geologic Park is a key link in understanding the earth’s history from 38 to 24 million years ago.  Geologists consider it the “type section for the White River Group,” meaning that all other similar-aged deposits in North America are compared to the geologic standard designated at Toadstool.  It is also the standard for animal fossils of that age – the Eocene and Oligocene epochs about 30 million years ago.

One of several informational displays at Toadstool Geologic Park.
One of several informational displays at Toadstool Geologic Park.

While SPHP took the Fossil Loop Trail self-guided tour, Lupe raced around sniffing and exploring the badlands.  There wasn’t much vegetation and she didn’t encounter any cactus, which made Lupe very happy.  She did agree to take a little time out from her explorations of the strange rock formations to add some Carolina Dog charm to a number of photos.

Lupe among the toadstools. The toadstools are slabs of sandstone perched precariously on clay supports. Many of the sandstone caps were leaning sharply in one direction or another. Some of the toadstools were surprisingly large.
Lupe among the toadstools. The toadstools are slabs of sandstone perched precariously on clay supports. Many of the sandstone caps were leaning sharply in one direction or another. Some of the toadstools were surprisingly large.

Lupe at Toadstool Geological Park, 4-4-16A tiny trickling stream wound through part of the area the Fossil Loop Trail went through.  During periods of significant rain or melting snow, it was clear the stream would flash flood, making the trail at first impassable and later a complete muddy mess, but it was fine while Lupe was here.

A tiny stream trickled through this valley. In wet weather, parts of the trail would be a mucky mess.
A tiny stream trickled through this valley. In wet weather, parts of the trail would be a mucky mess.

About halfway around the loop, there was an intersection with a Bison Trail.  A sign said the Bison Trail was 3 miles long.  There was no mention of the Bison Trail in the pamphlet, or at any of the informational displays back at the campground.

Lupe near the intersection with the Bison Trail. Lupe and SPHP didn't take the Bison trail, which was 3 miles long according to the sign, since there was no indication where it was really going.
Lupe near the intersection with the Bison Trail. Lupe and SPHP didn’t take the Bison trail, which was 3 miles long according to the sign, since there was no indication where it was really going.

Shortly after passing the Bison Trail, the Fossil Loop Trail climbed out of the shallow valley up onto some of the badlands formations.  The trail stayed up here the rest of the way.  A little bit of easy scrambling was required, and the trail went close to the edge of some cliffs, but this section of the Fossil Loop Trail had some of the most interesting rock formations.

Lupe up on the badlands formation on the Fossil Loop Trail. Post No. 5 for the self-guided tour is on the lower left. Photo looks ENE.
Lupe up on the badlands formations on the Fossil Loop Trail. Post No. 5 for the self-guided tour is on the lower left. Photo looks ENE.
When it rains, this dry wash must fill with water and create quite a waterfall! The trail passed very close to the cliff partly in view on the lower left. Photo looks SSE from the Fossil Loop Trail.
When it rains, this dry wash must fill with water and create quite a waterfall! The trail passed very close to the cliff partly in view on the lower left. Photo looks SSE.
An American Dingo adds a dash of color to this otherwise pale tan and blue scene. 30 million years ago miniature horses, humpless camels, gigantic tortoises, pigs and rhinoceroses roamed here. Now dingoes do!
An American Dingo adds a dash of color to this otherwise pale tan and blue scene. 30 million years ago miniature horses, humpless camels, gigantic tortoises, pigs and rhinoceroses roamed here. Now Dingoes do!

The Fossil Loop Trail was fun, but didn’t take very long to complete.  Upon returning to the campground, Lupe and SPHP had a bit to eat.  The solitude was broken when another vehicle entered the park.  It turned out that a couple from northern Italy, Lorenzo and Gabriella, had come to hike the Bison Trail!  When they couldn’t find any information about it, they came over to meet Lupe and talk to SPHP.

Lorenzo and Gabriella said the Bison Trail leads to a boneyard where 700 hundred bison had died!  They wondered where the trail was.  SPHP told them to just take the Fossil Loop Trail.  Halfway along it they would find the intersection with the Bison Trail.  After chatting pleasantly for a few more minutes, off they went.

SPHP was impressed that Lorenzo and Gabriella had travelled so far to see Toadstool Geological Park, but it was time for Lupe to move on.  Except for a joy ride N barking at cows and horses, Lupe’s mini-Dingo Vacation in scenic western Nebraska was coming to an end.  Minus the cactus on the hike with new friend Jobe Wymore, it had all been great fun!

Maybe Lupe will return some day to camp out at Toadstool Geological Park.  Then she can explore the Bison Trail, climb Roundtop, and visit Fort Robson State Park.  A stretch of pleasant dry weather during spring or fall would be the best time to be here.   In badlands like these, winters are too cold and the summers baking hot!

There's a little scrambling around on stuff like this on the Fossil Loop Trail, but it's not hard.
There’s a little scrambling around on stuff like this on the Fossil Loop Trail, but it’s not hard.

Note:  After Lupe returned home, a little online research revealed that the Bison Trail at Toadstool Geological Park probably goes to the Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Research & Visitor Center.  Approximately 120-125 (not 700) bison died at this site around 10,000 years ago.  The Bison Trail is not the only access route.  For directions to Hudson-Meng by road, click here.

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

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument & the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point, Nebraska (4-3-16)

On a lonely stretch of Hwy 29 in NW Nebraska, someone with a big pack was hiking N.  Lupe and SPHP were heading N, too.  There was room for one more in the G6 with a little rearranging.  Lupe and SPHP stopped across the highway from the backpacker.

Want a ride?  Nope, he didn’t!  Where are you going?  Hiking the Great Plains Trail from Texas to the Canadian Border.  Wow, that sounds awesome!  Mind if Lupe gets a picture taken with you?  No problem, that would be fine!  Lupe and SPHP hopped out of the G6, and went across Hwy 29 to meet Luke “Strider” Jordan.

Lupe meets Luke "Strider" Jordan as he is hiking the Great Plains Trail from Texas to Canada. Photo looks N along Hwy 29 in NW Nebraska.
Lupe meets Luke “Strider” Jordan as he is hiking the Great Plains Trail from Texas to Canada. Photo looks N along Hwy 29 in NW Nebraska.

Lupe and SPHP had never heard of the Great Plains Trail before.  Luke explained that parts of it were still being put together.  He handed SPHP a business card with trail information on it.  “The Great Plains Trail – Find a New Adventure!  From Canada to Texas, 1800 Scenic Miles, Three National Parks, Three National Monuments, Ten National Forests/Grasslands, Five State High Points, Six State Parks”

Luke had started out on Guadalupe Peak (8,749 ft.), the highest mountain in Texas, (and also the S end of the Great Plains Trail) on Valentine’s Day.  The Montana portion of the Great Plains Trail hasn’t been created yet, so Luke was going to hike through western North Dakota to reach the Canadian Border.  He expected to get there sometime around May 12th.

This wasn’t the first long distance trail Luke had done.  Three years ago he had hiked the entire North Country Trail from central North Dakota to Vermont.  Clearly, Luke merited his “Strider” nickname!

Well, since Luke didn’t want a ride, how about a piece of fried chicken, a banana, or a Coke?  The Coke sounded good.  Yeah, Strider would take a Coke.  SPHP retrieved one from the G6 for him.

SPHP gave Strider a phone number for Lupe, too.  The Great Plains Trail goes through the Black Hills.  If Strider wanted to, when he reached the Black Hills he could spend an evening with Lupe and SPHP, sleep in a bed, use the shower, etc.  Maybe Lupe would even join Luke on a stretch of the trail?

After friendly goodbyes and a pat on the head for Lupe, Strider continued N.  In the G6, Lupe and SPHP continued N, too.

A Coke was all Strider wanted. Strider didn't say so at the time, but later on SPHP found out online that he was in the process of making the first through trek of The Great Plains Trail anyone has ever made!
A Coke was all Strider wanted. Strider didn’t say so at the time, but later on SPHP found out online that he was in the process of making the first through trek of the entire Great Plains Trail anyone has ever made!

About a dozen miles N of where she had left Strider behind, Lupe came to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  SPHP wasn’t sure how dingo-friendly it would be, but decided to take a chance and check it out.  At the very least, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument was very wallet-friendly.  There was no admission fee!

Lupe reaches Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in NW Nebraska.
Lupe reaches Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in NW Nebraska.

Most of the land that is now Agate Fossil Beds National Monument was once part of the Agate Springs Ranch owned by James and Kate Cook.  In 1892, Erwin H. Barbour of the University of Nebraska was the first scientist to visit the ranch and examine the strange Devil’s Corkscrews, later recognized as the fossilized burrows of Palaeocastor, an ancient dry land beaver.

Near the entrance to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is the 1.0 mile long Daemonelix Trail, which heads up a hillside to a rocky area where the Devil’s Corkscrews can still be seen.  This is the most scenic of two trails at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  However, SPHP was hoping Lupe could do a little peakbagging along the Fossil Hills Trail, which starts 3 miles farther in at the visitor’s center.

Information near the start of the 1 mile long Daemonelix Trail near the entrance.
Information display at the start of the 1 mile long Daemonelix Trail near the monument entrance.

Information near entrance of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, 4-3-16Lupe had to wait in the G6 while SPHP went in to find out if she could climb Carnegie Hill (4,600 ft.), one of two small hills at the end of the Fossil Hills Trail.  In the visitor center, there was a pretty cool diorama featuring skeletons of ancient mammals that had lived in this area 20 million years ago.

Part of the diorama featuring skeletons of ancient mammals in the visitor center.
Part of the diorama featuring skeletons of ancient mammals in the visitor center.

Diorama of ancient mammals in the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center, 8-3-16SPHP talked to Ranger Steven Lawlor.  Would it be alright if Lupe climbed Carnegie Hill?  Ranger Lawlor was a bit hesitant, but said OK with some provisions.  They were all very basic rules Lupe had no intention of violating.  Lupe had to be on a leash, no collecting or disturbing of rocks, plants or fossils, watch out for rattlesnakes, and don’t fall off any cliffs.

Soon Lupe was on her way (2:23 PM, 66°F).  The Fossil Hills Trail is a concrete sidewalk that leads all the way up to Carnegie Hill and nearby University Hill.  Lupe liked that.  No cactus at all to deal with!

Lupe starting out on the Fossil Hills Trail. University Hill (L) and Carnegie Hill (R), the trail's destination, are both in view. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe starting out on the Fossil Hills Trail. University Hill (L) and Carnegie Hill (R), the trail’s destinations, are both in view. Photo looks SSE.
The Niobrara River, little more than a good-sized stream here, meanders through the length of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. Photo looks SW from a bridge on the Fossil Hills Trail.
The Niobrara River, little more than a good-sized stream here, meanders through the length of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. Photo looks SW from a bridge on the Fossil Hills Trail.
Getting close! Carnegie Hill (L) and University Hill (R) are just ahead. Photo looks W.
Getting close! Carnegie Hill (L) and University Hill (R) are just ahead. Photo looks W.

University Hill and Carnegie Hill are very close together.  The trail came to University Hill first.  It was an easy climb to the top.

Lupe on University Hill. The Fossil Hills Trail circumnavigates Carnegie Hill (R). Photo looks S.
Lupe on University Hill. The Fossil Hills Trail circumnavigates Carnegie Hill (R). Photo looks S.
Lupe on University Hill. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on University Hill. Photo looks NW.

Lupe on University Hill, Agate Fossil Beds NM, 4-3-1619 or 20 million years ago, this part of Nebraska was somewhat like modern Africa.  It was the golden Age of Mammals.  Ancient horses, rhinos, sheep, beardogs, hogs, camels and other animals roamed the area.  Displays depicting how some of these creatures may have looked are located along the Fossil Hills Trail.Display along Fossil Hills Trail, Agate Fossil Beds NP, 4-3-16Display along Fossil Hills Trail, Agate Fossil Beds NP, 4-3-16Display along Fossil Hills Trail, Agate Fossil Beds NM, 4-3-16After climbing University Hill, Lupe climbed Carnegie Hill from the E.

Lupe on Carnegie Hill. University Hill is seen to the N. Carnegie Hill is the higher of the two, although University Hill had looked higher from back down at the visitor Center.
Lupe on Carnegie Hill. University Hill is seen to the N. Carnegie Hill is the higher of the two, although University Hill had looked higher from back down at the visitor Center.
Looking SSE from Carnegie Hill.
Looking SSE from Carnegie Hill.
Another look N at University Hill.
Another look N at University Hill.

After climbing Carnegie Hill, Lupe and SPHP returned to the trail to complete a circumnavigation of Carnegie Hill.  On the way, Lupe came upon a display that intrigued her.

A beardog! That was something to consider. If Lupe hadn't had the good luck to be a Carolina Dog, maybe she would have liked being a beardog? It sounded almost as scary!
A beardog! That was something to consider. If Lupe hadn’t had the good luck to be a Carolina Dog, maybe she would have liked being a beardog? It sounded almost as scary!

The display was about beardogs that used to live here millions of years ago.  Lupe thought that beardogs might have been almost as ferocious and scary as Carolina Dogs are today.

At some point in the Miocene Epoch, the SW side of Carnegie Hill had been the site of a waterhole where herbivores gathered to drink.  During droughts, when many animals were forced to congregate here, they had been easy prey for predators.

In August 1904, O.A. Peterson of the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh discovered a great bonebed here.  Between 1904 and 1923, scientists from Yale University, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and other institutions also worked at these fossil beds.

Lupe on the SW side of Carnegie Hill where the great bonebed of ancient mammals was once excavated by scientists early in the 20th century.
Lupe on the SW side of Carnegie Hill where a great bonebed of ancient mammals was once excavated by scientists early in the 20th century.

After completing her circumnavigation of Carnegie Hill, Lupe started on her way back to the G6.  It was getting close to 4 PM by the time she arrived (3:43 PM, 66°F).  The visitor center was about to close.  SPHP went in to see if Ranger Steven Lawlor would consent to having his picture taken with Lupe?

Ranger Lawlor was happy to have a couple photos taken with Lupe, but first gave SPHP a very quick tour.  James and Kate Cook, owners of the Agate Springs Ranch, had been friends of Chief Red Cloud.  Over time, the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne gave them many gifts.  The Cooks eventually donated their impressive collection of authentic Indian artifacts to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.

The Running Water Winter Count on display at the visitor center. Plains Indians used winter counts to keep track of their history, picking one event each winter to stand for the year's activities. This is a modern winter count created by artist Dawn Little Sky. It shows a chronology of events impacting the lives of James Cook and Red Cloud and the Agate Fossil Beds area.
The Running Water Winter Count on display at the visitor center. Plains Indians used winter counts to keep track of their history, picking one event each winter to stand for the year’s activities. This is a modern winter count created by artist Dawn Little Sky. It shows a chronology of events impacting the lives of James Cook, Chief Red Cloud and the Agate Fossil Beds area.

Diorama in Agate Fossil Beds Visitor Center, 4-3-16

Lupe and Ranger Lawlor outside the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center.
Lupe and Ranger Lawlor outside the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center.
Lupe get some love from Ranger Steven Lawlor of the National Park Service.
Lupe gets some love from Ranger Steven Lawlor of the National Park Service.

Lupe and Ranger Steven Lawlor at Agate Fossil Beds NM, 4-3-16After saying goodbye to Ranger Lawlor, Lupe and SPHP left Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  Lupe returned to Hwy 29 and headed N to Harrison, Nebraska.

SPHP was hoping Lupe still had time to visit the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point (4,740 ft.) E of Harrison.  The Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point is 3.5 miles N of Hwy 20 near the W border of the wilderness area about halfway between Harrison and Crawford, Nebraska.  SPHP’s map showed a dirt road leading N from Hwy 20 to the high point.

Although SPHP drove E slowly on Hwy 20 looking for the dirt access road, nothing promising appeared.  To complicate matters, the Soldier Creek Wilderness does not border Hwy 20, but is separated from it by private lands ranging from 0.25 to 0.75 mile wide.  Looking N from the highway at the vast expanse of remote ridges and valleys, it wasn’t even possible to tell with any precision where the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point was.

Just before Hwy 20 started to lose serious elevation, there was a scenic overlook with a big parking lot on the S side of the highway.  Lupe and SPHP pulled in there, so SPHP could take another look at the maps.  SPHP was certain Lupe was now E of where the access road should have been.

The maps showed one more possible access route.  Cottonwood Road leaves Hwy 20 several miles W of Soldier Creek Wilderness.  It goes N and then winds NE to come within 1.5 miles of the wilderness boundary.  Maybe it would be possible to get permission to cross the private property?  It seemed like a real long shot, but what else was there to do?

Lupe and SPHP drove back W again.  SPHP kept looking for an access road to the N, but still saw nothing encouraging.  Cottonwood Road was the only reasonable possibility left.  It was too late in the day to consider trying anything else.

At least there was a green and white street sign along Hwy 20 when Lupe reached Cottonwood Road.  Lupe and SPHP turned N.  Soon Lupe was having a field day barking at cows!  A huge herd was in the field to the W.  They weren’t used to such abuse.  The cows mooed as though annoyed, but they didn’t run off.

Cottonwood Road wasn’t all that great.  Even though it is a county road, there was little gravel on it.  It went N for 1.75 miles, then turned sharply E for a short stretch before winding NE for 1.5 miles.  The road slowly deteriorated as it wound along.  It was a good thing it wasn’t real wet, or 4WD would have been necessary.

A ranch came into view on the N side of the road.  A couple of people were near some buildings.  A sign said this was Banners Ranch.  Lupe and SPHP stopped in.  Lupe stayed in the G6, while SPHP chatted with the old rancher and his son.  They knew about the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point, but were perplexed by the notion that any stranger would find it worth coming way out here to see it.

Another 0.5 mile farther E, Cottonwood Road would turn N.  At that point, SPHP could park the G6 and go on foot to their neighbor’s ranch, owned by Emery Fox.  Mr. Fox owned the land bordering the Soldier Creek Wilderness.  SPHP would have to ask for permission to cross his land.  A red gate in a fence line was the way to the high point.  SPHP thanked the Banners for their help, and returned to Lupe in the G6.

Going E, the road didn’t get any better.  At one point the G6 had to go off it entirely to miss a huge mud puddle left by melting snow.  SPHP parked the G6 where Cottonwood Road turned N.  There wasn’t much choice.  A sign at the start of the driveway into the Fox Ranch said “No Unauthorized Vehicles Allowed Beyond This Point”.  The sign was hardly necessary.  There was no way the G6 would have survived that road.

This was the right place, though.  A 12 foot long gently arching metal sign along the fence line said “FOX”.  Lupe was on her best behavior leaving the G6 (6:00 PM, 58°F).  A whole herd of cows was standing right outside.  Lupe didn’t bark once.  Good girl!  Lupe and SPHP headed E on the Fox’s high-clearance 4WD authorized vehicles only driveway.

Half a mile later, Lupe and SPHP arrived at the Fox Ranch headquarters.  The Banners had said there would be two houses.  Emery Fox lives in the bigger home to the N farthest up the slope.  His son, Evan, lives in the smaller home to the W.  Mr. Fox was home.  SPHP requested permission to cross his ranch so Lupe could go to the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point.

Emery Fox seemed just as surprised as the Banners had been that anyone would be interested in seeing the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point.  He was a quiet, soft-spoken man.  Apparently he saw no harm in it, so he gave Lupe permission to go.

Lupe and Emery Fox, owner of the Fox Ranch on the W border of the Soldier Creek Wilderness. Mr. Fox kindly granted Lupe permission to cross his ranch to go see the wilderness high point.
Lupe and Emery Fox, owner of the Fox Ranch on the W border of the Soldier Creek Wilderness. Mr. Fox kindly granted Lupe permission to cross his ranch to go see the wilderness high point.
Emery Fox's home and headquarters of the Fox Ranch. Photo looks N.
Emery Fox’s home and headquarters of the Fox Ranch. Photo looks N.

SPHP’s maps showed a road going S from the Fox’s home that would eventually turn E toward the high point, before turning S again.  SPHP could see the road S and intended to take it, planning to just continue E to the high point when the road turned S again.

However, Mr. Fox pointed out two tracks in his field going up a grassy ridge to the ESE.  Mr. Fox said to take the track to the left.  He also talked about a red gate prior to reaching the high point.  SPHP never did fully understand the directions offered by the Banners or Mr. Fox, but not wanting to disobey instructions, Lupe and SPHP headed SE taking the left track up the ridge as Mr. Fox indicated.

SPHP feared that this route was going to take Lupe too far N.  There wasn’t enough daylight left to waste too much of it, either.  Fortunately, when Lupe reached the top of the ridge, the road (just a pickup truck path through a big field) continued ESE toward another barren ridge with a couple of high points on it.  Maybe one of them was the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point?  There was also a barren ridge farther S, and one with trees on it to the N, but both seemed too far away to be right.

Lupe and SPHP stayed on the road, except once when Lupe spotted 3 pronghorns.  After crossing the ridge, the road slowly lost elevation, eventually coming to a fence at a low point.  There wasn’t any red gate, which was a bit disturbing.  On the other side of the fence, the road made a short jog to the S going up a little rise before turning ESE again back up on the high ground.  The two high points were back in view.  The road was heading almost straight for them.

Just a little W of the high points, Lupe reached another fence.  This time there was a red gate!  Signs also indicated that this was the border of the Soldier Creek Wilderness.  On the high point farthest to the SE, a post was sticking up.

Lupe reaches the red gate on the W border of the Soldier Creek Wilderness. The Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point is ahead on the R! Photo looks ESE.
Lupe reaches the red gate on the W border of the Soldier Creek Wilderness. The Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point is ahead on the R! Photo looks ESE.

The road continued E skirting to the N of the highest point where the post was sticking up.  SPHP left the road heading directly for the post.  Lupe, however, didn’t budge from the road.  SPHP hadn’t seen any cactus here, but Tenderpaw Lupe wasn’t taking any chances.  SPHP had to carry her several hundred feet to the post.

A couple of feet S of the post were some white rocks.  Down in the middle of them was a survey benchmark.  It said “Summit”.  Lupe really was at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point!

Lupe at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point. The survey benchmark is hidden among the rocks right behind her. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point. The survey benchmark is hidden among the rocks right behind her. Photo looks ESE.
Survey benchmark at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point.
Survey benchmark at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point.

Although it was getting pretty late in the day, there was time to relax for a few minutes to enjoy Lupe’s success.  Only 1.5 hours ago, SPHP had been rather pessimistic about Lupe’s chances of getting here.

Lupe’s luck had held, though!  The Banners and Emery Fox had been friendly and helpful.  The road going through the pastures to get here had led right to the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point.  It was an easy hike, too, all out in the open with very little elevation change over gently rolling terrain.  Now that Lupe was here, it all seemed pathetically easy.

Lupe relaxing at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point. Photo looks S.
Lupe relaxing at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point. Photo looks S.

Lupe on the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point, 4-3-16

Looking SSW.
Looking SSW.
Looking NW back toward the red gate on the W boundary of the Soldier Creek Wilderness.
Looking NW back toward the red gate on the W boundary of the Soldier Creek Wilderness.
Looking N.
Looking N.

Lupe relaxed at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point so much that when it was time to leave this remote and peaceful place, she forgot to worry about cactus.  She trotted back to the road under her own power.

The sun was going down, but there wouldn’t be any beautiful sunset.  Instead the sun sank into a cloud bank on the horizon.  It was still a wonderful easy evening trek back to the Fox Ranch HQ.

When Lupe and SPHP reached the top of the ridge SE of Emery Fox’s home, Lupe looked back at the Soldier Creek Wilderness one last time.  SPHP now realized it was possible to see both the Fox Ranch HQ and the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point from here.

Looking back to the ESE at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point from the ridge just SE of the Fox Ranch HQ. The high point is just L of the big trees on the R side of this photo. (Taken with telephoto lens.)
Looking back to the ESE at the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point from the ridge SE of the Fox Ranch HQ. The high point is just L of the big trees on the R side of this photo. (Taken with telephoto lens.)
Lupe on the ridge SE of the Fox Ranch HQ. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on the ridge SE of the Fox Ranch HQ. Photo looks NW.

Emery Fox was waiting for Lupe and SPHP to return.  It was his turn to take a picture of Lupe.  Mr. Fox and SPHP chatted for a while.  Emery’s son, Evan, came along and joined in.  Emery said his grandfather homesteaded this ranch in 1905.  Emery had been born here, and has lived here all his life.

Back at the red gate, there had been a sign on the fence facing E toward those entering the Fox Ranch.  It was about an open fields and waters program.  None of the gates in the fences had been closed.  SPHP asked about the program.

This Open Fields and Waters Program sign was on the fence next to the Red Gate on the border of the Soldier Creek Wilderness.
This Open Fields and Waters Program sign was on the fence next to the Red Gate on the border of the Soldier Creek Wilderness.

Mr. Fox said all of his land was enrolled in the open fields and waters program.  (He did not want to talk about how much acreage he owns.)  Hunters and fishermen with the proper licenses can legally walk in on his property to hunt and fish in season.  Mr. Fox gets some financial reward from the state of Nebraska in exchange for enrolling his property.

Lupe and SPHP weren’t here to hunt or fish, just to pass through on a peakbagging mission.  SPHP thanked Mr. Fox and Evan for making Lupe’s success in reaching the Soldier Creek Wilderness High Point possible.  Then Lupe and SPHP headed W back to the G6 as stars began to twinkle above (8:01 PM, 50°F).

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Scotts Bluff National Monument & Wildcat Hills, the Scotts Bluff County Highpoint, Nebraska (4-3-16)

A squirrel!  Lupe bounded after it.  The squirrel scrambled to safety up a big tree in Gardner Park.  Lupe stood below, her front paws propped up against the tree trunk as she tried to leap up after that elusive rodent, while barking furiously the entire time.

It was early, too early.  The sun wasn’t even up yet, although it was light out.  Lupe had to stop making such a ruckus.  People live right across the street from the park.  SPHP persuaded Lupe to give up on the squirrel and return to the G6.

At least it was encouraging to see that Lupe’s paws weren’t too terribly sore.  In her excitement over the squirrel, even Lupe had momentarily forgotten about all the horrible cactus she had braved yesterday on Wildcat Mountain (5,025 ft.) while peakbagging with her new friend Jobe Wymore.

It had been windy nearly all night, but the air was still now.  The wind was a good thing!  SPHP’s boots were dry again.  SPHP retrieved them from the roof of the G6 and put them on.  Jobe was gone.  He was on his way back to Denver today for the flight back home to the Portland, Oregon area.  Well, what now Loopster?

Lupe was in Gering, Nebraska, so it was pretty easy to decide what was next.  Just W of Gering is Scotts Bluff National Monument.  Scotts Bluff was a famous landmark S of the North Platte River back in the days of the Oregon and Mormon Trails.  The monument features several easy trails, and even a road to the top of Scotts Bluff.

Lupe arrives bright and early at Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska.
Lupe arrives bright and early at Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska.

Lupe arrived at the entrance to Scotts Bluff National Monument well before it opens for visitors at 8 AM.  Lupe and SPHP wandered around for a while outside the visitor center.  High light-colored bluffs stood brilliantly illuminated in the morning sunlight.

Eagle Rock (4,510 ft.) as seen from near the Scotts Bluff National Monument visitor center. Photo looks NW.
Eagle Rock (4,510 ft.) as seen from near the Scotts Bluff National Monument visitor center. Photo looks NW.

Yes, Lupe remembered yesterday evening’s cactus ordeal.  Her paws were still quite sore, even if the squirrel had made her forget the pain for a few minutes.  Lupe refused to go wandering in the grassy fields.  She just knew there was more cactus laying in wait for her!  The Carolina Dog was too smart to fall for that again!

Just W of the entrance road was a path up to a display of a wagon being pulled by oxen.  SPHP carried Lupe up to it.  Lupe sniffed around the oxen.  They must have had a bath, because they didn’t sniff like anything.  They sure looked clean, too!  SPHP told Lupe about how pioneers used to travel W through this area with wagons and oxen like these for hundreds of miles along the Oregon and Mormon Trails.

Lupe was very interested.  Why, Oregon, wasn’t that where her new friend Jobe Wymore lived?  Lupe could travel W on the Oregon Trail and go see Jobe!  Wouldn’t Jobe be surprised to see her again!  Lupe was all for it, on a couple of conditions.  First, the oxen had to agree to let her ride in the wagon until her paws healed up.  Second, she had to be allowed back in the wagon while traveling through any cactus country.

Lupe ready to hit the Oregon trail to go see Jobe!
Lupe ready to hit the Oregon trail to go see Jobe!

When the visitor center opened at 8:00 AM, SPHP went in and paid the $5.00 admission fee.  Ordinarily, Lupe and SPHP would have taken the 1.6 mile Saddle Rock trail on paw and foot up to the top of Scotts Bluff.  However, with Lupe’s sore paws, and much of the Saddle Rock trail exposed to direct morning sun, SPHP decided to just drive to the top.

Lupe near the parking lot on top of Scotts Bluff. Photo looks E.
Lupe near the parking lot on top of Scotts Bluff. Photo looks E.

Two short trails go to overlooks from the parking lot up on Scotts Bluff.  Lupe took the North Overlook Trail first.

Lupe and SPHP had hardly started on the trail when Wildcat Mountain and Hogback Mountain came into view on the far S horizon.  Lupe had made it to Wildcat Mountain with Jobe Wymore just yesterday evening!  She would have gone on to Hogback Mountain, too, if it hadn’t been for all the painful cactus.

Dome Rock (4,547 ft.) (L), Wildcat Mountain (5,025 ft.) (Center on far horizon), and Hogback Mountain (5,062 ft.) (distant ridge on the R) could be seen from near the start of the North Overlook trail. Photo looks S.
Dome Rock (4,547 ft.) (L), Wildcat Mountain (5,025 ft.) (Center on far horizon), and Hogback Mountain (5,062 ft.) (distant ridge on the R) could be seen from near the start of the North Overlook trail. Photo looks S.

There were impressive views in every direction as Lupe explored the North Overlook Trail.  She visited the Scotts Bluff high point, and a number of overlooks along the way.  If Lupe had been here 160 years ago, she could have seen wagons and oxen down below traveling slowly W up the very wide, flat North Platt River valley.

From near the N end of the North Overlook Trail, Lupe could see Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.).  It was 90 miles away in Wyoming, and very faint on the WNW horizon.  Laramie Peak was the first mountain Lupe had climbed on her summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation to Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.

Gering, Nebraska from Scotts Bluff. Photo looks ENE.
Gering, Nebraska from Scotts Bluff. Photo looks ENE.
Looking SW from near the N end of the North Overlook Trail.
Looking SW from near the N end of the North Overlook Trail.
Lupe on the North Overlook Trail. Photo looks SSE toward Scotts Bluff's high point.
Lupe on the North Overlook Trail. Photo looks SSE toward Scotts Bluff’s high point.

The South Overlook Trail was shorter than the North Overlook Trail.  The panoramic views at the S overlook were even better!  Chimney Rock, another famous landmark along the Oregon and Mormon Trails, was in sight more than 20 miles to the ESE.  The views of Dome Rock, Crown Rock and South Bluff to the S were fabulous.  A long, high ridge extended far away to the W.

Lupe could see the Scotts Bluff National Monument visitor center, and the start of the Saddle Rock Trail far below.

Dome Rock (L), Wildcat Mountain (Center L on far horizon), and Hogback Mountain (Center on far horizon) from the South Overlook. Photo looks S.
Dome Rock (L), Wildcat Mountain (Center L on far horizon), and Hogback Mountain (Center on far horizon) from the South Overlook. Photo looks S.
Looking SW from the South Overlook. The first of 3 tunnels on the road coming up to the top of Scotts Bluff is seen below as it passes through Eagle Rock.
Looking SW from the South Overlook. The first of 3 tunnels on the road coming up to the top of Scotts Bluff is seen below as it passes through Eagle Rock.
Chimney Rock, another famous landmark along the Oregon and Mormon Trails, could be seen 20+ miles away to the ESE. Photo taken with telephoto lens.
Chimney Rock, another famous landmark along the Oregon and Mormon Trails, could be seen 20+ miles away to the ESE. Photo taken with telephoto lens.
South Bluff (4,700 ft.) (Center) as seen from the South Overlook on Scotts Bluff. Crown Rock (4,610 ft.) is the lower narrow rock ridge on the L. The Scotts Bluff visitor center is seen below on the R. Photo looks SSW.
South Bluff (4,700 ft.) (Center) as seen from the South Overlook on Scotts Bluff. Crown Rock (4,610 ft.) is the lower narrow rock ridge on the L. The Scotts Bluff visitor center is seen below on the R. Photo looks SSW.

Lupe had come through 3 tunnels on the way up to the parking lot on top of Scotts Bluff.  Since Lupe and SPHP seemed to have the entire national monument to themselves this early in the morning, on the way back down SPHP parked the G6 right on the narrow road.  Lupe hopped out for a couple photos of the tunnels.

Looking N back up at the 3rd and highest tunnel. None of the tunnels were very long, but who doesn't like a tunnel? Very cool!
Looking N back up at the 3rd and highest tunnel. None of the tunnels were very long, but who doesn’t like a tunnel? Very cool!
The 2nd (middle) tunnel.
The 2nd (middle) tunnel.

With such an easy drive to the top, and just a couple of short trails to explore, Lupe’s visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument didn’t take very long.  It wasn’t even mid-morning yet when Lupe and SPHP exited the national monument.

Of course, there had been lots of displays to look at in the visitor center, but American Dingoes are about as interested in hanging out in visitor centers, as visitor centers are interested in letting American Dingoes inside.

Lupe and SPHP returned to Gering, NE and turned S.  About 0.5 mile after hitting the 4-lane on Hwy 71, SPHP turned W on Carter Canyon Road.  South Bluff, Dome Rock and Scotts Bluff could be seen to the NW beyond a huge, dusty tilled field.  It was a beautiful, though barren, scene.

South Bluff (L), Dome Rock (Center) and Scotts Bluff (R) from Carter Canyon Road near the junction with Hwy 71 S of Gering, Nebraska. Photo looks NW.
South Bluff (L), Dome Rock (Center) and Scotts Bluff (R) from Carter Canyon Road near the junction with Hwy 71 S of Gering, Nebraska. Photo looks NW.

Lupe and SPHP were now on the way to Wildcat Hills (4,940 ft.), the Scotts Bluff county high point.  The first 6 miles of Carter Canyon Road were paved and went due W.  Carter Canyon Road turned S at the end of the pavement.  The dirt road gradually turned W again as it went several miles up scenic Carter Canyon to arrive at a “Y” near the top of the ridge.

To the right was Summit Ranch Road.  A sign indicated Robidoux Pioneer Graves were in that direction.  To the left, Carter Canyon Road continued S.  Wildcat Hills was only a couple miles farther to the SSW, so Lupe and SPHP stayed on Carter Canyon Road.  It swung up around a little hillside revealing a huge home on the right, which is apparently the Summit Ranch headquarters.  Off to the SE was a tall tower on a hill.

SPHP expected to be able to drive very close to the summit of Wildcat Hills, but about a mile short of the destination reached a snowbank covering the road.  It didn’t look like anything the G6 could get through.  A short test drive into it instantly revealed that the G6 would certainly get high-centered.

Hmm, definitely a showstopper for the G6. Where was Jobe's BEAST when Lupe really needed it? At least the cold snow felt good on Lupe's pincushion paws! The power line SW of Wildcat Hills can already be seen in the distance. Photo looks SW.
Hmm, definitely a showstopper for the G6. Where was Jobe’s BEAST when Lupe really needed it? At least the cold snow felt good on Lupe’s pincushion paws! The power line SW of Wildcat Hills can already be seen in the distance. Photo looks SW.

SPHP backed the G6 out of the snowbank, turned it around and parked (9:40 AM, 56°F).  The Wildcat Hills summit couldn’t be more than another 1.25 miles away.  SPHP had already spotted a power line ahead to the SW which was just beyond Wildcat Hills.  Lupe and SPHP would have to proceed on paw and foot from here.

Lupe and SPHP abandoned the G6 and headed SW on the road.  As it turned out, even if the G6 had been able to make it past that first big snow drift, there were plenty more, even bigger ahead.  Most of the road was wet, but not too muddy.  Lupe liked going over the big snow drifts best.  The cold snow felt good!

The road went up and down small hills and ridges.  Several places there were pretty nice views back toward Hogback Mountain to the SE.  For some strange reason, Lupe showed not the slightest interest in going over there.

Hogback Mountain from Carter Canyon Road. Lupe showed no interest in going back to make another attempt on the cactus capital of Nebraska! Photo looks SE.
Hogback Mountain from Carter Canyon Road. Lupe showed no interest in going back to make another attempt on the cactus capital of Nebraska! Photo looks SE.
Using the telephoto lens.
Using the telephoto lens.

As Lupe and SPHP got closer to the power line, it became clear that a small barren hill a short distance NW of Carter Canyon Road was Wildcat Hills, the Scotts Bluff county high point.  Lupe was almost there!

SPHP left Carter Canyon Road heading W along a fence line.  A short stroll down a hill to cross a faint road skirting Wildcat Hills to the NE, and then a short walk up to the summit was all that was left to do.

Nope, Lupe wasn’t doing it.  She didn’t want to leave the road.  SPHP looked around.  Yeah, Lupe was right.  There was quite a bit of cactus on the hillside.  Still, this was a shortcut.  Lupe was fine with being carried.  SPHP had to stop a number of times on the way, but managed to tote the Tenderpaw Carolina Dog all the way up to the top of Wildcat Hills.

Nope, Lupe isn't going anywhere. She is just standing there waiting for her next ride. The summit of Wildcat Hills is seen up ahead on the L. The little used dirt road that skirts Wildcat Hills to the NE and N can be seen. Photo looks SW.
Nope, Lupe isn’t going anywhere. She is just standing there waiting for her next ride. The summit of Wildcat Hills is seen up ahead on the L. The little used dirt road that skirts Wildcat Hills to the NE and N can be seen. Photo looks SW.

Up on top of Wildcat Hills, barbed-wire fences met at a “T”.  There was plenty of cactus up here.  SPHP told Lupe to just “stay” and not move around.  She was more than happy to oblige.  There were too many cacti to move a muscle!  SPHP picked her up and repositioned her as needed for a couple of summit photos.  Lupe was very patient with the whole ordeal.

Hogback Mountain from Wildcat Hills, the Scotts Bluff County High Point. Photo looks SE.
Hogback Mountain from Wildcat Hills, the Scotts Bluff County High Point. Photo looks SE.
Looking SW from Wildcat Hills.
Looking SW from Wildcat Hills.

Well, it didn’t take Lupe very long to inspect the high point of a cactus-infested barren hill, even though there were 360° views.  Soon she was ready to go back to the G6.  SPHP carried her down to the E off the high point as far as the faint road.

Once she was on the road, Lupe was good to go.  She still wasn’t completely certain about things, and stopped briefly a few times along the way, but for the most part she trotted along just fine.  Lupe and SPHP followed the faint road to Carter Canyon Road.  Lupe stayed on Carter Canyon Road all the rest of the way back to the G6.  The snowy parts of the journey were her clear favorites.

Lupe had already jumped back up into the G6 (11:06 AM), when a blue pickup truck appeared.  It was pulling a horse trailer, heading S for the same snow bank that had stopped the G6.  SPHP waited to see what would happen.  The truck stopped in front of the snow drift.  A man got out to take a look.  His opinion was the same as SPHP’s – no way was this going to happen.

The owners of the truck were Gordon and Judy Hoffmaier.  They hadn’t expected so much snow up here, either.  They had their horses, Willow and Sage, with them, intending to do some riding.  Gordon unloaded the horses before trying to turn the pickup truck and horse trailer around in the field next to the road.  SPHP chatted with Judy, and held Willow’s rope.  Lupe was busy chillin’ in the G6.

Gordon & Judy Hoffmaier with their horses Willow and Sage. Fortunately, Gordon had no problem turning their pickup truck and horse trailer around in the field next to the road.
Gordon & Judy Hoffmaier with their horses Willow and Sage. Fortunately, Gordon had no problem turning their pickup truck and horse trailer around in the field next to the road.
Well, if I'm not allowed to bark at the horses, that takes all the fun out of it! I'll just chill here in the G6 for a while.
Well, if I’m not allowed to bark at the horses, that takes all the fun out of it! I’ll just chill here in the G6 for a while.

With their truck and trailer turned around and back on the road, Gordon and Judy went back to loading up their horses into the trailer again before moving on to find a less snowy area to go riding.  Lupe and SPHP returned in the G6 to the “Y” in the road at the upper end of Carter Canyon.

This time, Lupe and SPHP took the Summit Ranch Road branch of the “Y” hoping to find the Robidoux Pioneer Graves.  After a mile with no indication of where the graves might be, and with a view of the road continuing on to the N for many miles, SPHP gave up.  SPHP turned the G6 around and drove back to Carter Canyon Road.

Looking ENE at Carter Canyon from near the "Y" in the road close to the Summit Ranch.
Looking ENE at Carter Canyon from near the “Y” in the road close to the Summit Ranch.
Carter Canyon. Photo looks ENE.
Carter Canyon. Photo looks ENE.
Bluffs E of Carter Canyon from Carter Canyon Road. Photo looks ESE.
Bluffs E of Carter Canyon from Carter Canyon Road. Photo looks ESE.

Lupe and SPHP went back down through Carter Canyon and headed N through Gering.  In Scottsbluff, SPHP stopped at Wal-Mart for a few supplies – fried chicken, 2 bananas, and a 6 pack of Coke.  The morning had been a success!  Lupe had seen the world from Scotts Bluff and Wildcat Hills.

Before the noon hour was over, the G6 was gassed up again and ready to go.  Lupe and SPHP left Scottsbluff heading W on Hwy 26.  Lupe was starting the journey home, but her western Nebraska adventures weren’t over yet!Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

To the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska with Mountaineer Jobe Wymore (4-2-16)

Lupe was back, and that meant she already had good news!  There were a few more inches of snow around than when Lupe had been here on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 164 just 4 days ago, but once again the G6 had made it to the intersection of Six Mile Road and USFS Road No. 301.1A (4-1-16, 11:06 AM, 32°F), only 0.33 mile E of Copper Mountain.

The good news was that there was now absolutely no question whether it would be possible to get up on the summit of Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) tomorrow morning.  Odakota Mountain was just a couple of miles away from the G6 as the roads went, and SPHP believed the G6 could get even closer.

Although it wasn’t really necessary for Lupe’s updated scouting report, Lupe and SPHP went on to climb both Odakota Mountain and Copper Mountain (6,920 ft.).

Advanced scout Lupe dashes ahead on Six Mile Road. She loved the several inches of new snow. Fortunately, there hadn't been enough new snow to prevent the G6 from reaching the area.
Advanced scout Lupe dashes ahead on Six Mile Road. She loved the several inches of new snow. Fortunately, there hadn’t been enough new snow to prevent the G6 from reaching the area.
Lupe on her way up Odakota Mountain.
Lupe on her way up Odakota Mountain.
Lupe at the summit cairn on Odakota Mountain. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe at the summit cairn. Photo looks NNW.
Advance scout Lupe happy to be able to report that getting to the summit cairn on Odakota Mountain was fun and easy! Photo looks S.
Advance scout Lupe happy to be able to report that getting to the summit cairn on Odakota Mountain was fun and easy! Photo looks S.
Even the deadfall timber on Odakota Mountain looked better with a little more snow on it. Photo looks W.
Even the deadfall timber on Odakota Mountain looked better with a little more snow on it. Photo looks W.
Odakota Mountain as seen from Copper Mountain. Snow always makes mountains look more impressive! Photo looks SW.
Odakota Mountain as seen from Copper Mountain. Snow always makes mountains look more impressive! Photo looks SW.
Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) (L of center) from Green Mountain. Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) is the high ridge on the R. Photo looks SE.
Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) (L of center) from Copper Mountain. Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) is the high ridge on the R. Photo looks SE.

Lupe’s updated scouting trip had been necessitated by a 3 hour rain at Lupe’s home on Wednesday morning, 3-30-16.  To add insult to injury, the following day, Thursday, 3-31-16, featured a series of intermittent mini-blizzards as squall lines repeatedly passed through the Black Hills region all day long.  It was impossible to know how much snow had fallen at over 7,000 ft. without coming here again today.  Lupe didn’t mind in the least.  She was having fun!

The amount of new snow near Odakota Mountain was perfect!  Enough to beautify the mountains, yet not enough to prevent easy access.  Lupe and SPHP were excited and pleased!

Back at home, SPHP served as Lupe’s secretary and emailed out her updated Odakota road condition report to the interested party.  “It’s ON! … Meet as previously planned.”  The response came a short time later.  “Perfect!  This is EXACTLY what I wanted to hear! … Looking forward to making this happen, Jobe Wymore”

The next morning (4-2-16), Lupe and SPHP were waiting for Jobe at Medicine Mountain Road 2 miles S of Crazy Horse.  Within 30 minutes, Jobe arrived in a rented silver vehicle that was an absolute BEAST!  High clearance, 4WD, huge knobby tires.  SPHP should have known.  The quote on Jobe’s Peakbagger.com account homepage read “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare. – Juma Ikaanga, 2:08:01 marathoner.”  Jobe was ready for anything.

A few minutes later, with the G6 safely ditched a few miles in on Medicine Mountain Road, Lupe and SPHP joined Jobe in the BEAST.  Before long it was parked at the junction of Six Mile Road and USFS Road No. 693 near Odakota Mountain.  Lupe, Jobe & SPHP began the 0.5 mile, snowy trek to the summit of Odakota.

On 3-26-16, Jobe Wymore had selected Lupe to serve as his local peakbagging expert after seeing that she had been to Odakota Mountain several times.  He had emailed Lupe.  All he ready wanted to know was how much snow there was, and whether or not the roads were open.  Lupe emailed back that she would find out.  That’s how Lupe came to be Jobe’s advanced scout.

Jobe lives in the Portland, Oregon area and had already bought a plane ticket to Denver.  His main peakbagging objectives were Wildcat Mountain (5,025 ft.) and Hogback Mountain (5,062 ft.) in the Wildcat Hills S of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  However, if Odakota Mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota was accessible, he wanted to drive the extra 200+ miles N to ascend it, too.

SPHP hadn’t initially recognized Jobe Wymore’s name.  A day or two after Lupe had promised Jobe she would check out conditions near Odakota Mountain, SPHP finally looked Jobe Wymore up on peakbagger.com.  It was an eye-opener.  Jobe was not your average, casual day-hiking peakbagger like Lupe and SPHP.  Jobe was a real mountaineer!

Over 2,400 ascents, over 1,300 different mountains climbed, 205 ascents of Grandeur Peak (8,299 ft.) over 19 years, and 600 ascents of Malans Peak (6,960 ft.) alone in less than a 2.5 year period.  Jobe had climbed the highest mountains in all 50 U.S. states including Denali (20,310 ft.) in Alaska.  All but 6 of them, twice.  The lowest peak in his top 10 summits by elevation was Mt. Whitney (14,495 ft.), the highest peak in the lower 48 U.S. states.

It went on – successful summits in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, and Australia.  Jobe had been up extremely remote peaks including Mt. Angayukaqsraq (4,700 ft.) in NW Alaska, and Mt. Bona (16,500 ft.) in SE Alaska.  Jobe had been to the highest points in every county of Wisconsin, Colorado, North Dakota, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada.

Furthermore, Jobe had climbed with other people whose names SPHP did recognize from Peakbagger.com – Edward Earl, Dick Ellsworth, Dave Covill, Greg Slayden, Gustav Sexauer and Steve Mueller.

Yes, meeting Jobe was like meeting a celebrity.  Lupe wasn’t fazed.  Carolina Dogs are celebrities themselves!  Soon advanced scout and Black Hills peakbagging expert Lupe was posing with peakbagger extraordinaire and mountaineer Jobe Wymore at the summit of Odakota Mountain.

Lupe and Jobe Wymore arrive at the summit cairn on Odakota Mountain. Photo looks N.
Lupe and Jobe Wymore arrive at the summit cairn on Odakota Mountain. Photo looks N.
Celebrities Jobe and Lupe on Odakota. It was a great moment for both! Jobe said Odakota Mountain had been on his list of places to go for 20 years. Photo looks NW.
Celebrities Jobe and Lupe on Odakota. It was a great moment for both! Jobe said Odakota Mountain had been on his list of places to go for 20 years. Photo looks NW.

Although Odakota Mountain is the 2nd highest in all of South Dakota at 7,200 feet, the mountain is kind of a mess covered with deadfall timber.  There are still enough trees around to interfere with the views in every direction at the top.  SPHP was a little afraid that someone of Jobe’s vast experience might find Odakota disappointing.

Jobe’s reaction was surprising.  For a few moments he was entranced.  He said he had been meaning to climb Odakota for 20 years.  For Jobe, it was a beautiful moment, the fulfillment of a long held ambition.

Lupe and SPHP were glad Jobe liked Odakota Mountain and the Black Hills.  Jobe wanted to visit a couple more peaks in the few hours he had remaining before having to head S to Nebraska.  Lupe, Jobe and SPHP went to nearby Copper Mountain, which isn’t as high as Odakota, but has a better viewpoint.

Lupe and Jobe on Copper Mountain with Odakota (L) in the background. Photo looks SW.
Lupe and Jobe on Copper Mountain with Odakota (L) in the background. Photo looks SW.
Jobe on Copper Mountain. Photo looks W.
Jobe on Copper Mountain. Photo looks W.
Looking SE at Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) from Copper Mountain.
Looking SE at Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) from Copper Mountain.

There were lots of places Lupe would have liked to take Jobe in the Black Hills, but Jobe’s time was very limited.  Cicero Peak (6,166 ft.), S of Custer, SD has a 1.5 mile long access road (USFS Road No. 338), which goes almost all the way to the top.  The road was closed, but Jobe had time to hike it with Lupe and SPHP.

Lupe enjoyed trotting along on and off the road, while Jobe and SPHP were engaged in conversation.  Jobe was full of fascinating tales about people and mountains.  SPHP recognized some names and places, but knew nothing about many others.

Jobe told of a mountaintop writhing with baby rattlesnakes emerging from a huge den at the summit.  He had stories about a life-threatening storm on Mt. Bona (16,500 ft.) in Alaska, and being forced to turn back on 3 separate occasions by weather on Aconcagua (22,841 ft.), the highest peak in the Andes of South America.

Perhaps the most riveting tale of all was about the tragic death of Edward Earl.  Edward drowned on 6-19-15 while attempting to cross the Jago River in NE Alaska after two failed attempts at climbing Mt. Isto (8,976 ft.), the highpoint of the Brooks Range.  Although Jobe had not been on that trip, Jobe personally knew Edward Earl and all three of the friends that had been with him on that fateful day.

It was all so interesting, that SPHP failed to take any photos, except at the top of Cicero Peak, and then forgot all about the camera case.

Jobe scratches Lupe's chin in exchange for guide services rendered coming up to the summit of Cicero Peak. A bit more to the left, Jobe. Ahh, that feels good! Photo looks N.
Jobe scratches Lupe’s chin in exchange for guide services rendered coming up to the summit of Cicero Peak. A bit more to the left, Jobe. Ahh, that feels good! Photo looks N.

After climbing Cicero Peak, Jobe’s few hours in the Black Hills were up.  He had to head S to the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska to complete his main peakbagging objectives of this trip before flying back home late tomorrow afternoon.  Even though Jobe had to leave the Black Hills, Lupe’s adventures with Jobe weren’t over yet!  Jobe didn’t mind if Lupe and SPHP tagged along and went to the Wildcat Hills, too.

So, Lupe and SPHP in the G6, followed by Jobe in the BEAST, headed S for Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  The drive went through desolate, sparsely populated SW South Dakota and NW Nebraska.  It was the sort of territory Lupe and SPHP love.  Unspoiled vistas of hills and prairies for SPHP, and an abundance of cows and horses to bark furiously at for Lupe.

Lupe on her cow and horse lookout perch in the G6 while enjoying the journey to the Wildcat Hills.
Lupe on her cow and horse lookout perch in the G6 while enjoying the journey to the Wildcat Hills.

After gassing up in Scottsbluff, Jobe took the lead in the BEAST, with Lupe and SPHP following in the G6.  Jobe drove through Scottsbluff and Gering, continuing S on 4-lane Highway 71.  A couple of miles S of the Scotts Bluff/Banner County Line, Jobe turned W on County Road No. 40.  After a mile, it turned SW for a short distance before dead-ending at a yellow house, apparently the only home served by County Road No. 40.

Jobe knew that this house was the home of Richard Archer, who refers to himself as either “Arch” or “The Bluffman”.  Arch is actually a tenant and not the owner of the property, but both Arch and the owner are not only tolerant of respectful hikers, but curious and friendly toward them as well.  Wildcat Mountain and Hogback Mountain are both on the owner’s ranchlands.

There was no answer when Jobe knocked on the door.  Since it was late afternoon already, the plan had been to get permission from Arch to come back and climb Wildcat and Hogback Mountains in the morning.  Unfortunately, Arch wasn’t home.  Jobe needed paper to write a note to leave at the house.  By the time SPHP returned with the paper, Jobe had a new idea.

Although it was fairly late in the day, there were still probably a good 3 hours of daylight left.  Would Lupe and SPHP be willing to climb Wildcat and Hogback Mountains now?  The whole round trip was only about 5 or 6 miles, give or take a little.  Lupe and SPHP were fine with that.  Sure!  Sounds realistic.  Maybe we can even get some sunset shots from Hogback Mountain?

Jobe wrote out two notes, one to leave on the door of the house and one on the dashboard of the BEAST.  As soon as they were in place, Lupe, Jobe & SPHP headed out through a pasture behind the house.  A faint road lead WSW for a while before being forced to turn S by a ravine to the W.

The climb was gradual at first, but became steeper as the road continued on.  Eventually, the road played out.  A muddy single track trail continued S, climbing at a moderately steep pace.  There was an incredible amount of cactus around, but amazingly, Lupe didn’t seem bothered by it.  She trotted right along with SPHP, following Jobe up.

When the trail reached the S end of the ravine to the W, the trail more or less disappeared too.  The summit of Wildcat Peak was now just 0.5 mile to the W.  Lupe, Jobe, and SPHP followed a long slope up the mountain.  The very last part was a steep little climb up to a flat, roomy summit.  Jobe made it up there first, followed by Lupe and SPHP a couple minutes later.

Lupe reaches the top of Wildcat Mountain! Her next objective, Hogback Mountain, is seen just a mile to the NW.
Lupe reaches the top of Wildcat Mountain! Her next objective, Hogback Mountain, is seen just a mile to the NW.
USGS benchmark on Wildcat Mountain.
USGS benchmark on Wildcat Mountain.
Peakbagging buddies Lupe & Jobe on Wildcat Mountain. The USGS benchmark is seen on the ground in front of Jobe. Photo looks E.
Peakbagging buddies Lupe & Jobe on Wildcat Mountain. The USGS benchmark is seen on the ground in front of Jobe. Photo looks E.
Presumably a weather station near the SE end of the Wildcat Mountain summit area. Photo looks SE.
Presumably a weather station near the SE end of the Wildcat Mountain summit area. Photo looks SE.
The view to the N.
The view to the N.
Jobe at the W end of the Wildcat Mountain summit area. Hogback Mountain, the most prominent peak in Nebraska, and single main objective of Jobe's trip, is seen behind him now just a mile off to the NW. (Prominence is a measure of the minimum elevation one would have to lose crossing land or water to reach a higher place.)
Jobe at the W end of the Wildcat Mountain summit area. Hogback Mountain, the most prominent peak in Nebraska, and single main objective of Jobe’s trip, is seen behind him now just a mile off to the NW. (Prominence is a measure of the minimum elevation one would have to lose crossing land or water to reach the start of a climb to a higher place.)

After 10 minutes or so spent enjoying the views up on Wildcat Mountain, the slanting rays of the sun indicated it was time to press on to Hogback Mountain, now just a mile away to the NW.  There were small cliffs on the NW side of Wildcat Mountain, and larger ones to the S.  Everyone had to go back to the NE end of the summit area to lose a little elevation before turning W along the rather steep N slope.

It wasn’t too far down to the long ridge NW of Wildcat Mountain that led to Hogback Mountain.  SPHP was a little slow coming down, but Lupe and SPHP soon caught up with Jobe, who was waiting on the ridge.  The way ahead looked easy!  Jobe and SPHP pressed onward.

Poor Lupe didn’t.  She wasn’t coming.  She didn’t bark; she didn’t whine.  She just sat silently on the snow being left behind.  Jobe noticed first.

Suffering Lupe on the ridge NW of Wildcat Mountain, seen in the background. Cactus had turned her into Tenderpaw Lupe. The American Dingo couldn't go on to Hogback Mountain. It hurt, and just wasn't fun anymore.
Suffering Lupe on the ridge NW of Wildcat Mountain, seen in the background. Cactus had turned her into Tenderpaw Lupe. The American Dingo couldn’t go on to Hogback Mountain. It hurt, and just wasn’t fun anymore.

The cactus had finally gotten to Lupe.  Jobe and SPHP returned to her.  Several times, Jobe and SPHP inspected all her paws and pulled fine little cactus spines out of them.  Lupe started onward again a couple of times, but she didn’t get far.  Cactus loaded with more sharp spines were practically everywhere.

Back home in her Black Hills of South Dakota, Lupe has become a local peakbagging expert.  Most places in the Black Hills, except at lower elevations near the prairie or toward the drier southern hills, there aren’t any cactus, or very few.  Here in the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska, the cactus infested ridge had reduced the intrepid American Dingo to just Tenderpaw Lupe.

The cactus were terrible.  Lupe kept stopping.  She was done.  She didn’t whine.  She just sat there and lifted one paw up to SPHP and Jobe asking for help.  As far as Lupe was concerned, the Wildcats and Hogs could have these hills!  SPHP told Jobe to go on.  SPHP would start back to Arch’s house with Lupe.  Jobe asked if SPHP was sure?  Absolutely!  Jobe had come all this way to climb Hogback Mountain.  He had to go while there was still light.  Jobe took off running.

SPHP picked Lupe up.  No doubt the most reliable route back was the known route Lupe had taken to get here.  However, that meant climbing back up to go around the steep N slope of Wildcat Mountain.  Even though it was a bit risky, SPHP decided to carry Lupe downhill to the NE.  SPHP would try to stay up on the ridge as long as possible before descending down into the steep Badlandy cedar breaks below.  Maybe it wouldn’t even be necessary?

It was.  The ridge finally ran out.  Lupe and SPHP had already lost quite a bit of elevation.  Hopefully, there would be a way through in the big gullies down below.  This was badlands type terrain, a land of narrow, very steep-sided ravines.  If Lupe and SPHP could lose enough elevation, the ravines would ultimately empty out onto wide open flatlands near Arch’s house.

SPHP found a way down to the bottom of a ravine.  It continued to lose elevation at a rapid pace.  The ravine was choked with cedar trees, making it difficult to force a way through.  The real danger, though, was that there might be a 10 foot drop along the way, with no safe way down.  That would have forced a climb back out.  Fortunately, it didn’t happen.  There were a few 4-6 foot drops along the way, but Lupe and SPHP managed to scramble down each time.

Lupe on the steep side of the cedar breaks N of Wildcat Mountain. At least there wasn't much cactus down here. She was willing to trot along on her own power part of the time.
Lupe on the steep side of the cedar breaks N of Wildcat Mountain. At least there wasn’t much cactus down here. She was willing to trot along on her own power part of the time.

The damp, muddy ground down at the bottom of the ravines was friendlier to Lupe’s paws.  For one thing, there wasn’t nearly so much cactus down here.  There was still some, but it wasn’t everywhere.  Part of the time Lupe was willing to trot along on her own power.  It was generally slow going fighting through the cedar trees in the narrow gullies, but Lupe and SPHP continually made progress.  Gradually, the ravine was getting bigger.

Suddenly, Lupe and SPHP both heard it – a human voice.  It was Jobe!  Jobe was looking for Lupe somewhere up above.  SPHP shouted back.  Soon Jobe was in view close by a little higher up.  Jobe joined Lupe and SPHP.  It was kind of amazing.  SPHP hadn’t told Jobe which way SPHP intended to take Lupe on the way back.  Jobe had followed footprints in the patches of snow, though, to pick up the general direction.

It hardly seemed like Jobe would have had enough time to get to Hogback Mountain and way back here already.  Had he made it?  Jobe had.  In fact, he had explored all three high points in contention for being the true summit.  In Jobe’s opinion, the middle one was the highest.  SPHP felt rather sorry that Jobe couldn’t have had much time to enjoy the summit he had come all this way to see, but it was very kind of Jobe to come back so fast to help Lupe.

For a while Jobe and SPHP took turns carrying Lupe.  Occasionally, Lupe went short stretches under her own power.  Jobe’s superior physical conditioning enabled him to carry Lupe longer, farther and faster than SPHP could.

Jobe to the rescue! Lupe gets one of many free rides from Jobe down in the cedar breaks N of Wildcat Mountain.
Jobe to the rescue! Lupe gets one of many free rides from Jobe down in the cedar breaks N of Wildcat Mountain.
Jobe looking a bit tired, but Lupe seems plenty comfy getting carted around. SPHP hopes she doesn't think she's going to get carried everywhere from now on!
Jobe looking a bit tired, but Lupe seems plenty comfy getting carted around. SPHP hopes she doesn’t think she’s going to get carried everywhere from now on!
Jobe had forgotten to change shoes back at the BEAST. He didn't have his usual hiking boots on. The cactus spines were occasionally getting through his shoes! SPHP seriously hoped that Jobe wasn't going to go lame, too. Alternating between carrying Lupe and Jobe would have made for a very long trek back to Arch's house!
Jobe had forgotten to change shoes back at the BEAST. He didn’t have his usual hiking boots on. The cactus spines were occasionally getting through his shoes! SPHP seriously hoped that Jobe wasn’t going to go lame, too. Alternating between carrying Lupe and Jobe would have made for a very long trek back to Arch’s house!

The cedar break ravines were getting bigger and wider.  After carrying Lupe through the winding ravines for a while, Jobe spotted the faint road to Arch’s house just up a short slope to the E.  Soon Lupe, Jobe and SPHP were up there.  Arch’s house was in view no more than 0.5 mile ahead across gently sloping pastureland.  Funnel Rock could be seen to the SE.

After escaping from the cedar breaks, Arch's house was in view ahead. Photo looks ENE using the telephoto lens.
After escaping from the cedar breaks, Arch’s house was in view ahead. Photo looks ENE using the telephoto lens.
Funnel Rock (Center) as seen from the NW. It is just a short distance W of Hwy 71, about 0.75 mile S of the turn W on County Road No. 40 to Arch's house.
Funnel Rock (Center) as seen from the NW. It is just a short distance W of Hwy 71, about 0.75 mile S of the turn W on County Road No. 40 to Arch’s house.

Between Jobe and SPHP, Lupe got carried the entire rest of the way back to Arch’s house.  The Bluffman was home!  He had seen Jobe’s notes.  Arch invited Jobe, Lupe and SPHP in.

For maybe 45 minutes, Lupe, Jobe and SPHP got acquainted with The Bluffman.  The house was very rustic.  It was filled with animal heads, antlers, rattlesnake skins mounted on boards, and beard balls.  A self-extracted tooth dangled on dental floss.  It was easy to imagine The Bluffman as a character straight out of the Old West.  He looked plenty tough enough to have fit right in with the pioneers on the Oregon and Mormon Trails along the North Platte River 160 years go.

Lupe was happy laying on the floor listening to the conversation, while giving her sore paws a break.  SPHP asked about rattlesnakes?  Yes, there were plenty in the area.  The Bluffman didn’t like to kill them unless they were near the house.  These hills were their home, too, after all.  The Bluffman had something like 14 rattlers that had strayed too close in the freezer!  The Bluffman mentioned elk, eagles, coyotes, mountain lions, and all kinds of smaller creatures living in these hills.

The Bluffman asked if Jobe and SPHP had any money?  He offered to sell elk antlers, and a turkey claw back scratcher he had made himself.  Arch makes a variety of frontier-days type items to supplement his income.

Arch with the turkey claw back scratcher he made. From the looks of it, SPHP would rate it industrial strength. Lupe, always the enterprising Carolina Dog, can help you obtain one from The Bluffman at a reasonable markup, of course. Lupe is betting there isn't anyone on your Christmas list that already has one!
Arch with the turkey claw back scratcher he made. From the looks of it, SPHP would rate it industrial strength. Lupe, always the enterprising Carolina Dog, can help you obtain one from The Bluffman at a reasonable markup, of course. Lupe is betting there isn’t anyone on your Christmas list that already has one!

When the time came to go, SPHP asked Arch if he would mind letting Lupe get a photo taken with him?  He not only didn’t mind, he went and put on his finest 3 skunk-tail hat for the occasion.  It was already getting so dark out the photos turned out rather grainy and fuzzy (learn to use the flash, SPHP!), but they are still kind of unique.

Lupe and Arch, The Bluff Man, outside his home in the Wildcat Hills of NE.
Lupe and Arch, The Bluffman, outside his home in the Wildcat Hills of NE.
Tenderpaw Lupe with The Bluff Man and Mountaineer Jobe Wymore in the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska.
Tenderpaw Lupe with The Bluffman and Mountaineer Jobe Wymore in the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska.
Jobe and Arch outside Arch's home. Arch has rented this place for 10 years now. He really loves nature and this quiet life in the Wildcat Hills.
Jobe and Arch outside Arch’s home. Arch has rented this place for 10 years now. He really loves nature and this quiet life in the Wildcat Hills.

Arch had sure lived up to his reputation as a friend to hikers and peakbaggers interested in Wildcat and Hogback mountains.  He had treated Lupe, Jobe and SPHP very kindly.  Meeting him and seeing his home had been quite a pleasure, and an unusual experience to say the least.

Out in the driveway, after Arch had gone inside the house, it was time to say goodbye to Lupe and SPHP’s new friend Jobe Wymore.  Jobe only had 2.5 hours sleep in the past two days, and must have been exhausted.  He needed to check into his motel in Gering, and get some sleep before starting on his way back to Denver and then home in the morning.

Lupe’s time with Jobe had sure been fun!  (At least up until the whole cactus ordeal, and even then Jobe had been a true friend.)  It had certainly been a memorable day from start to finish.  Jobe and SPHP said goodbye, then Jobe came around to pet Lupe already relaxing on her soft perch in the G6.  The BEAST then took Jobe away along dusty County Road No. 40 back to the highway.

Maybe Lupe and SPHP will see Jobe again some day, but who knows when?  If so, you can be certain there will be more American Dingo adventures in store!Jobe carries Lupe in the cedar breaks N of Wildcat Mountain, NE 4-2-16

After Lupe’s adventure with Jobe Wymore in the Wildcat Hills, she emailed him asking how he first got interested in climbing mountains.  “I guess in its simplest terms it had a tad to do with as a young lad stumbling upon Expedition to the Ultimate by Reinhold Messner, and just having the stars align after that.  A person’s most devoted undertakings in life are seldom drawn up by one moment, but rather that one moment being polluted and molded into something substantial.”

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

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 164 – Clark, Humbolt, Copper & Odakota Mountains (3-28-16)

Lupe was on a mission!  Another account holder at Peakbagger.com had contacted her on 3-20-16 asking for beta on road conditions in the western Black Hills.  How much snow was there?  Were the roads open?  Lupe and SPHP hadn’t been to the highest parts of the hills for several months, and didn’t know for certain – but Lupe was going to find out.

The other Peakbagger.com account holder wasn’t coming to the region until early April.  Since snow was in the forecast, it hadn’t made sense to run out to the western hills right away.  The last shot of new snow was over by the morning of 3-26-16.  Lupe and SPHP waited for 3-28-16, to give the snow a bit of time to melt.

It was supposed to get to 60°F by afternoon, but it was still quite cool in the morning.  That was alright.  Lupe and SPHP planned to visit a couple of lower peaks along the way.  The high country could wait until afternoon.  Let the snow keep melting until then!  Lupe’s first peakbagging goal was Clark Mountain (5,267 ft.), just W of Sheridan Lake.

Lupe and SPHP set off heading W up Clog Gulch on Be Still Road (USFS Road No. 738) from Hwy 385 (8:35 AM, 35°F).  Be Still Road took Lupe around the N end of Clark Mountain, gaining a bit of elevation while slowly turning SW.  After 0.5 mile, a house came into view up ahead.  Lupe was approaching private property.  To stay on USFS land, Lupe and SPHP turned SE leaving the road behind.  Lupe started climbing.

The first part of the climb was steep and rocky.  The rocks weren’t all that large, however, or difficult to navigate.  There was snow on the ground most places, but less than an inch on average.  After a pretty good climb, the ground became less steep as Lupe approached a broad swath of open ground where the pines had been cut down beneath a power line.

It wasn’t too much farther to the top of Clark Mountain.  Lupe passed under the power line, and turned S.  On the last part of the trek, Lupe was on a gently rising ridge about 100 feet wide.  A rock outcropping came into view ahead.  It was the summit of Clark Mountain!  Lupe climbed up on top of the highest rocks to claim her first peakbagging success of the day.

Lupe reaches the top of Clark Mountain! Photo looks SW.
Lupe reaches the top of Clark Mountain! Photo looks SW.
Looking S at the summit.
Looking S at the summit.

There were a couple of other rock outcroppings that looked almost as high a bit farther to the S.  Lupe and SPHP went to check them out.  They proved to be a little lower.  Lupe had already been to the true summit.  Lupe hopped up on one of these also-ran rock outcroppings, anyway.

Lupe on the 2nd highest rock outcropping on Clark Mountain. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the 2nd highest rock outcropping on Clark Mountain. Photo looks N.
Rin Tin Lupe!
Rin Tin Lupe!

To make absolutely certain Lupe hadn’t been to a false summit, Lupe and SPHP continued exploring to the S.  SPHP was also hoping to find a vantage point with a view to the E toward Sheridan Lake, less than a mile away.

The forest at the top of Clark Mountain consists mostly of large pines, without too many young ones in between.  By all appearances, the forest had been thinned quite a few years ago.  Even so, it was only possible to get glimpses of distant views in most directions.  Only an insignificant little piece of Sheridan Lake could be seen.

Lupe and SPHP didn’t have to go much farther S to be completely convinced Lupe had been to the top of the mountain.  Lupe returned to the true summit for a final look around before departing.

Although it was possible to get glimpses of distant views from Clark Mountain, that was about it. SPHP was disappointed that there weren't any clear views toward Sheridan Lake to the E. The top of the mountain was a very broad flat ridge.
Although it was possible to get glimpses of distant views from Clark Mountain, that was about it. SPHP was disappointed that there weren’t any clear views toward Sheridan Lake to the E. The top of the mountain was a broad flat ridge.
Lupe sits just below the summit rocks. Photo looks NE.
Lupe sits just below the summit rocks. Photo looks NE.

After bidding the Clark Mountain summit a final farewell, Lupe went N starting her descent.  She could have gone NW back down to Be Still Road, but instead Lupe explored the NE ridge.  This route wasn’t as steep and rocky.  Lupe passed through a stretch of very densely packed young pines.  Before long, she came to an open area which looked like it had been heavily logged recently.

Lupe went down into the open area following a logging trail E.  The logging trail entered a valley just S of the NE ridge, and followed the valley as it curved NE again.  After an easy downhill stroll, the logging trail ended right back at the G6, just S of Be Still Road (9:59 AM, 53°F).  Before heading on to Humbolt Mountain (5,722 ft.), SPHP gathered up a small collection of Lupe Treasures for recycling.

Humbolt Mountain is 3.5 miles SW of Clark Mountain near Hill City.  SPHP drove up Penalua Gulch Road looking for an access point.  The short road went through private property, and dead-ended at private driveways.  Lupe and SPHP had better luck on China Gulch Road (USFS Road No. 249), a bit farther W.  It provided an access point on USFS land less than a mile N of Hwy 16/385 (10:24 AM, 53°F).  Humbolt Mountain was just 0.25 mile to the SE.

Lupe and SPHP headed ENE up a faint road until Lupe wasn’t far from the N end of the mountain.  The intrepid Carolina Dog then turned SSE and began her climb in earnest.  The terrain got steeper and rockier as she went.  SPHP switchbacked a little bit looking for the easiest way up.  Lupe arrived up on the summit ridge somewhat S of its N end.  She then turned S to follow the ridge to the true summit near the S end of the mountain.

Humbolt Mountain’s summit ridge was much narrower and rockier than Clark Mountain’s had been.  Lupe went up and down, frequently having to skirt around the W side of a series of large rock outcroppings.  She had to lose a bit of elevation at a shallow saddle before the final climb up to the true summit.  Humbolt Mountain was forested, but Lupe and SPHP were pleased to find a few decent viewpoints.

Lupe was nearing the summit of Humbolt Mountain when this nice view of Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) (Center) appeared. Summit Peak (5,655 ft.) is the much lower forested ridge in front of Harney. Photo looks S.
Lupe was nearing the summit of Humbolt Mountain when this nice view of Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) (Center) appeared. Summit Peak (5,655 ft.) is the much lower forested ridge in front of Harney. Photo looks S.
Harney Peak from Humbolt Mountain using the telephoto lens. Summit Peak is in the foreground. Photo looks S.
Harney Peak from Humbolt Mountain using the telephoto lens. Summit Peak is in the foreground. Photo looks S.
Lupe reaches the summit of Humbolt Mountain. Photo looks S.
Lupe reaches the summit of Humbolt Mountain. Photo looks S.
Looking SE at Storm Hill (5,656 ft.)
Looking SE at Storm Hill (5,656 ft.)

The rocky ridge was quite narrow, and there were several pine trees with annoyingly low branches up at the very summit.  After taking a look around, Lupe and SPHP continued S just a short distance where the ridge was a bit lower, but also wider and more open.  It was time for a little break.  Lupe had some Taste of the Wild.  SPHP consumed an orange.

Lupe on the ridge just S of the summit. Photo looks SSW.
Lupe on the ridge just S of the summit. Photo looks SSW.
The view of Harney Peak from the rest break spot. Beautiful! Photo looks S.
The view of Harney Peak from the rest break spot. Beautiful! Photo looks S.

After a leisurely, but not overlong rest break, Lupe returned to the summit of Humbolt Mountain.  Although the view toward Harney Peak was the most impressive, Storm Hill could also be seen close by to the SE.  A little to the N of the summit was a look at Five Points (6,221 ft.) to the N.

Lupe back at the summit. Photo looks NE.
Lupe back at the summit. Photo looks NE.
Storm Hill. Photo looks SE.
Storm Hill. Photo looks SE.
One spot near the summit of Humbolt Mountain yielded this view of Five Points (6,221 ft.) (R). The mountain Lupe and SPHP call False North Point is on the L. Photo looks N.
One spot near the summit of Humbolt Mountain yielded this view of Five Points (6,221 ft.) (R). The mountain Lupe and SPHP call False North Point is on the L. Photo looks N.

Lupe returned to the G6 via the same route she had taken up the mountain (12:18 PM, 57°F).  The day had warmed up considerably.  Even out in the high country of the western Black Hills, whatever snow there was had to be melting fast.

Lupe on her way back to the G6. Here she is still up on the summit ridge well to the N of the summit. These slanting rock formations were typical toward the N end of Humbolt Mountain.
Lupe on her way back to the G6. Here she is still up on the summit ridge well to the N of the summit. These slanting rock formations were typical toward the N end of Humbolt Mountain.

It was time for Lupe to go conduct her western hills reconnaissance!  Lupe and SPHP drove to Hill City, and turned NW on Deerfield Road.  At East Slate Road, SPHP turned S.  For the first few miles, there was hardly any snow at all.  Lupe enjoyed the drive.  There were lots of cows and a few horses to bark at along the way.

After a few miles, patches of snow appeared on the road.  The snow was only a few inches deep most places, and pretty slushy.  The G6 made it all the way to Six Mile Road (USFS Road No. 301) without any problem.  Six Mile Road was in good enough condition so SPHP could easily have driven further, but SPHP parked the G6 at the start of USFS Road No. 301.1A (1:09 PM, 54°F).  Lupe and SPHP would continue on paw and foot from here.

Dingo on a mission! Lupe reconnoitering road conditions on Six Mile Road E of Copper Mountain. Photo looks S.
Dingo on a mission! Lupe reconnoitering road conditions on Six Mile Road E of Copper Mountain. Photo looks S.

Although there was some snow on Six Mile Road, it was melting fast.  Lupe and SPHP followed the road as it wound its way up closer to Copper Mountain.  The cliffs at the SE end of Copper Mountain (6,920 ft.) have some great views.  Before pressing on to her ultimate objective, Lupe was going to climb Copper Mountain first.

Lupe didn’t leave Six Mile Road until she was SW of Copper Mountain.  She then climbed N to the top of the W ridge before proceeding E.  There was some deadfall timber and thick stands of young pines along the way, but the climb wasn’t long or difficult.  Lupe reached the flat, rocky summit.  Most of the summit is forested, but there are cliffs very close by with magnificent views to the S and E.  Lupe and SPHP had a look around.

A pretty grand view from Copper Mountain! Harney Peak (L) is seen on the far horizon above Lupe. Much closer Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.) is on the R. Photo looks SE.
A pretty grand view from Copper Mountain! Harney Peak (L) is seen on the far horizon above Lupe. Much closer Medicine Mountain (6,878 ft.) is on the R. Photo looks SE.
Northeast Cicero Peak (6,240 ft.) was in view far to the SSE from Copper Mountain. It looked pretty snowy in this shot taken with the telephoto lens.
Northeast Cicero Peak (6,240 ft.) was in view far to the SSE from Copper Mountain. It looked pretty snowy in this shot taken with the telephoto lens.
Looking N from the E edge of Copper Mountain. Gillette Prairie is the open grassland seen below.
Looking N from the E edge of Copper Mountain. Gillette Prairie is the open grassland seen below.
Lupe at the SE end of Copper Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Lupe at the SE end of Copper Mountain. Photo looks SE.

Lupe could see Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) about 1.5 miles away to the SW.  Odakota Mountain is the 2nd highest in the Black Hills and all of South Dakota.  It is not nearly as well known as Harney Peak.  However, Odakota Mountain was Lupe’s ultimate objective for Expedition No. 164.  It was the mountain that the other Peakbagger.com account holder had contacted Lupe about!

Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) (Center) as seen from Copper Mountain. Lupe was going to Odakota Mountain next. Six Mile Road is in view below. Photo looks SW.
Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) (Center) as seen from Copper Mountain. Lupe was going to Odakota Mountain next! Six Mile Road is in view below. Photo looks SW.

Lupe and SPHP went back to Six Mile Road, and resumed following it W.  There wasn’t any significant snow on the road until the final turn up to a saddle 0.5 mile NNW of Odakota Mountain.  This point was about 2 miles closer along the road to Odakota Mountain than where the G6 was parked.  The G6 could have made it this far, but no farther.

USFS Road No. 693 left Six Mile Road going S from the snowy saddle.  No. 693 is a minor gravel road that ultimately gets to within about 0.30 mile of Odakota’s summit.  It was snow-covered, narrow, and had some partially cleared deadfall timber.  A 4WD high-clearance vehicle might have been fine on No. 693, but not the G6.  Lupe and SPHP now knew the truth about the road conditions in the vicinity of Odakota Mountain.

Lupe at the start of USFS Road No. 693 near its junction with Six Mile Road. A car could get this far, but 4WD would be needed to go any farther. This was actually good news. The summit of Odakota Mountain was an easy 0.5 mile hike away.
Lupe at the start of USFS Road No. 693 near its junction with Six Mile Road. A car could get this far, but 4WD would be needed to go any farther. This was actually good news. The summit of Odakota Mountain was an easy 0.5 mile hike away.

Surprisingly, there was only 1-2″ of snow on the ground on average.  Lots of places had no snow, and some areas had 4-6 inches.  What snow there was, looked new.  Apparently there hadn’t been any snow pack at all until the last couple of small storms.  It was possible to drive as far as No. 693 or very close to it.  That left a hike of about 0.5 mile one way to the summit of Odakota Mountain.

Happily, if conditions didn’t change, the other Peakbagger.com account holder wouldn’t have any problem getting to the top of Odakota Mountain!

Of course, being this close to the top of the 2nd highest mountain in South Dakota meant Lupe and SPHP were going to go see it.  Lupe and SPHP went S on USFS Road No. 693.

Lupe on USFS Road No. 693. A narrow path existed between the mostly cleared away deadfall timber. Photo looks N.
Lupe on USFS Road No. 693. A narrow path existed between the mostly cleared away deadfall timber. Photo looks N.

The last 0.30 mile was just a bushwhack toward the summit of Odakota Mountain.  The smallish summit ridge is oriented E/W.  The top is level, but a complete tangle of deadfall timber.  SPHP wondered if the limestone cairn Lupe had seen on prior visits near the E end of the ridge would still be there?  It was!

Lupe at the Odakota Mountain summit cairn. Photo looks S.
Lupe at the Odakota Mountain summit cairn. Photo looks S.
Looking W along Odakota's summit ridge. What a mess of deadfall timber!
Looking W along Odakota’s summit ridge. What a mess of deadfall timber!

Even though a lot of dead trees have fallen over on Odakota Mountain, there are still enough trees standing to mar the views.  Currently, the only good viewpoint is at the far SE end of the mountain.  Lupe and SPHP had been there once before, but it was quite a trek through the dead forest.  Lupe wasn’t going back there today.  Her reconnaissance mission was already successfully accomplished!

SPHP had other things in mind for Lupe.  First among them was another rest break.  Lupe ate the rest of her Taste of the Wild.  SPHP finished the last orange.  There were still a few hours of daylight left.  Lupe could go exploring a couple of places she hadn’t been to before!

The first place Lupe went exploring after leaving Odakota Mountain was the gravel quarry N of Six Mile Road.  The gravel quarry wasn’t the real goal, though.  SPHP wanted to see what the views were like from the high cliffs a short distance NE of the quarry.

Lupe discovers a pristine white snow field at the gravel quarry N of Six Mile Road and Odakota Mountain. Photo looks N.
Lupe discovers a pristine white snow field at the gravel quarry N of Six Mile Road and Odakota Mountain. Photo looks N.
Gillette Prairie (R) from the high cliffs NE of the gravel quarry. Part of Reynolds Prairie is seen farther away on the L. Photo looks N.
Gillette Prairie (R) from the high cliffs NE of the gravel quarry. Part of Reynolds Prairie is seen farther away on the L. Photo looks N.
The E end of Odakota Mountain from the cliffs NE of the gravel quarry. Photo looks S.
The E end of Odakota Mountain from the cliffs NE of the gravel quarry. Photo looks S.

The second place Lupe went exploring was along a ridge going S from Six Mile Road and Copper Mountain toward Medicine Mountain.  Lupe went clear to the very S end of the high ground along the ridgeline, but the views never really opened up completely.

Bear Mountain (7,166 ft.) is the high ridge in the distance. Photo looks S from the ridge extending S from Six Mile Road and Copper Mountain.
Bear Mountain (7,166 ft.) is the high ridge in the distance. Photo looks S from the ridge extending S from Six Mile Road and Copper Mountain.
Medicine Mountain. Photo looks SE using the telephoto lens.
Medicine Mountain. Photo looks SE using the telephoto lens.
Copper Mountain and Six Mile Road. Photo looks N.
Copper Mountain and Six Mile Road. Photo looks N.
Loopster here with your American Dingo eyewitness peakbagging report! Odakota Mountain, Copper Mountain and the surrounding area are a go!
Loopster here with your American Dingo eyewitness peakbagging report! Odakota Mountain, Copper Mountain and the surrounding area are a go!

Lupe and SPHP arrived back at the G6 at 6:12 PM (47°F).  Well, that was it.  Lupe’s peakbagging reconnaissance mission was over!  She gave SPHP orders to submit her report to the interested party when she got home, but not until she was first served a proper Alpo dinner.

Cows, horses and deer provided entertainment on the way home.  The fun never ends on the rambunctious Carolina Dog’s Black Hills Expeditions!

Copper Mountain from the NE on the way home.
Copper Mountain from the NE on the way home.
Green Mountain (7164 ft.) from the E.
Green Mountain (7164 ft.) from the E.
Part of the entertainment committee.
Part of the entertainment committee.

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