Cloud Peak, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming (7-19-16) – Part 1: The Mistymoon Trail to Base Camp

Lupe!  Stop that!  Be quiet!  You’re gonna get us in trouble.  People are still asleep!  Come on, it’s time to get going anyway!  (7:27 AM, 47°F)  Reluctantly, Lupe quit barking at the chipmunk, returning to SPHP with a huge smile on her face.  SPHP had promised her this was going to be a great day.  Lupe was already enthused, and she hadn’t even left the trailhead at West Tensleep Lake yet.

Lupe and SPHP headed N from the trailhead.  Lupe quickly came to a “Y” in the trail.  SPHP led her to the left down toward the E shore of West Tensleep Lake.  The day was starting off clear and cool.  There was hardly a ripple on the lake.

Lupe on the E shore of West Tensleep Lake. Photo looks N, the direction Lupe would take along the Mistymoon Trail.
Lupe on the E shore of West Tensleep Lake. Photo looks N, the direction Lupe would take along the Mistymoon Trail.

Looks like we’re going to have perfect conditions, Loop.  We’ll reach base camp in plenty of time.  You can dilly-dally barking at squirrels all you want when we get farther from the campground.  This evening we might even have time to go take a look at Lake Solitude.

From the look on her face, it all sounded good to Lupe.  She trotted N along the Mistymoon Trail (No. 063), sniffing everything and expectantly checking the trees for squirrels.  It wasn’t long before she reached the N end of West Tensleep Lake.

Lupe quickly left West Tensleep Lake behind. Photo looks S.
Lupe quickly left West Tensleep Lake behind. Photo looks S.

A little N of the lake, Lupe suddenly growled, startling SPHP.  Right over there, SPHP!  A monstrous squirrel – taller than you!  Can I go get it?  Come and help me!  It will be a squirrel feast!  Hurry, hurry!  Don’t let it get away!

SPHP looked.  There was a monstrous squirrel, and it had heard Lupe growl!  It had moved a few steps over toward a small tree where it’s head was hidden from view.  Apparently the monstrous squirrel thought the rest of it couldn’t be seen either.  It was standing stock still, pretending to be invisible.  Lupe wasn’t deceived in the least.

The monstrous squirrel.
The monstrous squirrel.

Hang on, Loop!  That’s no squirrel – it’s a moose!  You’ve seen them a few times before, remember?  And no, we can’t go chasing after it.

Moose or monstrous squirrel, it was mighty exciting to Lupe.  It was very close, and far from any tree big enough for it to climb.  Lupe stood quivering, hoping SPHP would let her go after it.  SPHP let her watch it quietly for a couple of minutes, but that was all.  Come on, Loopster, we have to let it be.

Are you serious!?  You know, SPHP, there’s something really screwed up about your instincts.  Sometimes I don’t think you know a darn thing about hunting or being in a pack!  If we ever starve to death on one of these mountain adventures, it will be your fault.

Shush!  I’m carrying your water and Taste of the Wild.  You have nothing to complain about.  Let’s carry on.

You’re a slow study, SPHP, a really slow study!

By now, the monstrous squirrel was ambling nonchalantly away, convinced that it really was invisible.  Lupe consented to continuing N on the trail.

Looking S back at some of the monstrous squirrel habitat in the West Tensleep Creek valley.
Looking S back at some of the monstrous squirrel habitat in the West Tensleep Creek valley.

Less than half a mile N of West Tensleep Lake was a ford across West Tensleep Creek.  There wasn’t all that much water in the creek, this time of year.  Lupe and SPHP had no problem getting across.

Lupe at the ford in West Tensleep Creek. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe at the ford in West Tensleep Creek. Photo looks WSW.

On the W side of the creek, the Mistymoon Trail angled NNW across a meadow.  Lupe followed the trail through the meadow and into the forest on the other side.  She arrived at a sign marking the start of the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area.

Lupe reaches the Cloud Peak Wilderness.
Lupe reaches the Cloud Peak Wilderness.

From here on, the Mistymoon Trail stayed mostly in the forest for several miles.  It headed N, roughly paralleling West Tensleep Creek, but well to the W and often considerably above it.  Lupe seldom saw the creek, but she frequently heard it.  She came to a few tiny trickling streams along the trail, but many more were dried up completely.

Lupe had some luck finding squirrels in the forest, and got to give a good barking to each one.  Sadly, these were all quite ordinary squirrels.  Lupe never saw another monstrous one or anything approaching it the rest of the day.

Lupe reaches by far the biggest clearing along the Mistymoon Trail on the way to Lake Helen. Most of the trail stayed in the forest. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe reaches by far the biggest clearing along the Mistymoon Trail on the way to Lake Helen. Most of the trail stayed in the forest. Photo looks NNE.

Most of the time, Lupe was gaining elevation at an easy to moderate pace.  There were even occasional downhill sections.  Eventually, though, she came to steeper areas where there were switchbacks.

When Lupe finally arrived at a junction with Trail No. 097 coming in from the SW, SPHP knew it wasn’t much farther to Lake Helen.  Within just a few minutes, Cloud Peak (13,167 ft.) came into view for the first time.  Cloud Peak was Lupe’s ultimate peakbagging goal on this trek, but she wouldn’t attempt the ascent until tomorrow.  Today all she had to do was get to base camp near Paint Rock Creek Falls.

Lupe's first view of Cloud Peak (on the horizon L of Center) from the Mistymoon Trail. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe’s first view of Cloud Peak (on the horizon L of Center) from the Mistymoon Trail. Photo looks NNE.

Once Lupe spotted Cloud Peak, it took her hardly any time at all to reach Lake Helen, the largest of three lakes she would come to along the Mistymoon Trail.

It was time for a break.  SPHP took off the boots and socks that had gotten wet fording West Tensleep Creek and laid them out to dry in the sun.  Lupe wasn’t too hungry yet, though she did nibble at some Taste of the Wild.  It was a gorgeous July morning in the Bighorn Mountains.  SPHP dangled feet in Lake Helen while sitting on a boulder.  Lupe preferred curling up and dozing in the shade of a little spruce tree.  Occasionally, she snapped at flies annoying her.

Lupe reaches the SW shore of Lake Helen. Photo looks NNE toward Cloud Peak.
Lupe reaches the SW shore of Lake Helen. Photo looks NNE toward Cloud Peak.
Lupe at Lake Helen.
Lupe at Lake Helen.
With the help of the telephoto lens, much of Lupe's eventual route up Cloud Peak is already in view beyond Lake Helen. The route starts below the high ridge on the L, and slopes up to the R above the biggest snow patch seen near Center, then follows the top of the near ridge the rest of the way R to the summit. Photo looks NNE.
With the help of the telephoto lens, much of Lupe’s eventual route up Cloud Peak is already in view beyond Lake Helen. The route starts below the high ridge on the L, and slopes up to the R above the biggest snow patch seen near Center, then follows the top of the near ridge the rest of the way R to the summit. Photo looks NNE.

Lupe had been making very good time along the Mistymoon Trail to Lake Helen, so SPHP took quite a long break there.  By the time, SPHP was ready to press on, the weather had changed.  The sky was clouding up.  Fortunately, it didn’t look threatening.  Lupe and SPHP hit the Mistymoon Trail again.  It wound around up above the W side of Lake Helen before returning to the shore farther N.

Flowers along the Mistymoon Trail.
Flowers along the Mistymoon Trail.
Looking S back at Lake Helen as Lupe makes progress around the W shore on her way N.
Looking S back at Lake Helen as Lupe makes progress around the W shore on her way N.

The Mistymoon Trail passed through increasingly beautiful territory.  Lupe reached two more lakes in rapid succession.  Only 0.5 mile N of Lake Helen, she came to Lake Marion.  Another 0.5 mile N of Lake Marion brought Lupe to Mistymoon Lake.

Lupe with a scenic view of a pond between Lake Helen and Lake Marion. Photo looks NE.
Lupe with a scenic view of a pond between Lake Helen and Lake Marion. Photo looks NE.
Lupe nears Lake Marion, the middle and smallest of the 3 lakes in succession. Two parts of Lake Marion are in view from here. Cloud Peak is in view on the L. Photo looks NE.
Lupe nears Lake Marion, the middle and smallest of the 3 lakes in succession. Two parts of Lake Marion are in view from here. Cloud Peak is in view on the L. Photo looks NE.
The S end of Lake Marion. Photo looks E.
The S end of Lake Marion. Photo looks E.
The N end of Lake Marion. Photo looks NE.
The N end of Lake Marion. Photo looks NE.
Lupe reaches Mistymoon Lake near its SW shore. The Mistymoon Trail ended near this point at its junction with the Solitude Trail. The Solitude Trail leading N along the W shore of Mistymoon Lake is seen here. Photo looks NE.
Lupe reaches Mistymoon Lake near its SW shore. The Mistymoon Trail ended near this point at its junction with the Solitude Trail. The Solitude Trail leading N along the W shore of Mistymoon Lake is seen here. Photo looks NE.

It was still early afternoon when Lupe reached the end of the Mistymoon Trail at its junction with the Solitude Trail (No. 038) near the SW shore of Mistymoon Lake.  Lupe only needed to go another mile or so N of Mistymoon Lake to reach her base camp near Paint Rock Creek Falls tonight.  She had a ton of time to get there.

SPHP paused to consider an idea.  Although the intention had been to press straight on to base camp, SPHP still felt full of energy.  No doubt Lupe was in even better shape.  Why not take the Solitude Trail E instead of N, just as a side excursion?  Lupe would get to see the Fortress Lakes and Gunboat Lake.  Sure, it was a bit of a climb, but even the more distant Gunboat Lake was less than 1.5 miles away.

Loopster, do you want to go see Fortress Lakes and Gunboat Lake?  We have plenty of time to do that, and still come back and continue on to base camp.

Lupe was in favor!  It did seem like a good idea.  Sometimes SPHP is so clever!  So instead of heading N on the Solitude Trail toward base camp, Lupe followed it E near the S shore of Mistymoon Lake on her way to Fortress Lakes and Gunboat Lake.

Lupe at Mistymoon Lake. Photo looks E along the S shore in the direction Lupe would follow the Solitude Trail to the Fortress Lakes and Gunboat Lake.
Lupe at Mistymoon Lake. Photo looks E along the S shore in the direction Lupe would follow the Solitude Trail to the Fortress Lakes and Gunboat Lake.

The climb on the Solitude Trail up to the largest of the Fortress Lakes was fairly steep, but adorned with lots of beautiful lupines.  It didn’t take too long to get up to where the trail leveled out and Lupe had a good view of the lake.

Lupines along the Solitude Trail on the way to Fortress Lakes.
Lupines along the Solitude Trail on the way to Fortress Lakes.
Lupe nears the largest of the Fortress Lakes from the W. The Solitude Trail continues on past the lake along the S (Right) shore. Photo looks E.
Lupe nears the largest of the Fortress Lakes from the W. The Solitude Trail continues on past the lake along the S (Right) shore. Photo looks E.

Lupe continued E on the Solitude Trail until she was S of the W end of the largest of the Fortress Lakes.  Here, SPHP had another brilliant idea.  The maps showed another smaller Fortress Lake a short distance up the grassy slope to the S.  Why not go take a quick look at it?  Lupe really likes going off trail, so this idea met with quick approval, too.

It didn’t take Lupe long to reach the smaller Fortress Lake, which was quite pretty, tucked away in a spot sheltered by small mountains on three sides.

Lupe got up on an interesting big rock near the smaller Fortress Lake S of the largest lake. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe got up on an interesting big rock near the smaller Fortress Lake S of the largest lake. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe on the same rock, but this photo looks W toward part of the smaller Fortress Lake.
Lupe on the same rock, but this photo looks W toward part of the smaller Fortress Lake.
Lupe and SPHP both liked the looks of this smaller Fortress Lake. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe and SPHP both liked the looks of this smaller Fortress Lake. Photo looks WSW.

The micro-side excursion to the smaller Fortress Lake was a success!  Lupe and SPHP both liked the scenic little lake.  After enjoying the view, Lupe and SPHP went NE back down to the Solitude Trail.  Lupe continued E above the S shore of the largest Fortress Lake.

Lupe SE of the largest Fortress Lake. Photo looks back to the W the way Lupe had come here.
Lupe SE of the largest Fortress Lake. Photo looks back to the W the way Lupe had come here.

Lupe passed the Fortress Lakes, and started getting close to Gunboat Lake.  There were some minor rocky hills at the NE end of Gunboat Lake.  Lupe and SPHP climbed up on them to get a better view of Gunboat Lake.  SPHP thought Gunboat Lake was really gorgeous!

Lupe reaches the top of a rocky hill NE of Gunboat Lake. Photo looks SW.
Lupe reaches the top of a rocky hill NE of Gunboat Lake. Photo looks SW.
Lupe at Gunboat Lake. The small mountain on the R at the far end of the lake is Peak 10860. Photo looks SW.
Lupe at Gunboat Lake. The small mountain on the R at the far end of the lake is Peak 10860. Photo looks SW.
A beautiful American Dingo near beautiful Gunboat Lake. Photo looks SSW.
A beautiful American Dingo near beautiful Gunboat Lake. Photo looks SSW.

The original plan for Lupe’s side excursion from Mistymoon Lake was fulfilled.  Lupe had seen the Fortress Lakes and Gunboat Lake.  It was time to turn back.  However, Lupe was doing great, and SPHP was becoming ever more enthused about this beautiful territory!

SPHP checked the maps.  Another mile or so NE along the Solitude Trail would take Lupe to Florence Pass and Florence Lake.  Lupe probably would have gone on to Florence Pass, except for one thing.  At the far SW end of Gunboat Lake, SPHP saw a small mountain.  It was shown on the topo maps too, with an elevation of 10,860 feet.  It looked easy to get over there, easy to climb, and was sort of on the way back toward Mistymoon Lake.

Why not have Lupe climb Peak 10,860?  Lupe would love the off trail trek!  SPHP couldn’t resist.  Sorry, Florence Pass, Lupe is off to do a little peakbagging instead!

Peak 10860 beyond Gunboat Lake. Photo looks SW.
Peak 10860 beyond Gunboat Lake. Photo looks SW.

It all went well.  Lupe raced along ahead of SPHP sniffing and exploring.  For SPHP, it was a lovely stroll in a gorgeous setting.  The climb was fun and relaxing.  The views were marvelously rewarding.  Soon Lupe was at the top of Peak 10860.

Lupe partway up Peak 10860. Photo looks back to the NE toward Gunboat Lake and the Florence Pass area toward the L beyond it.
Lupe partway up Peak 10860. Photo looks back to the NE toward Gunboat Lake and the Florence Pass area toward the L beyond it.
Piece of cake climb! Looking W up toward the summit of Peak 10860.
Piece of cake climb! Looking W up toward the summit of Peak 10860.
Lupe near the top of Peak 10860. A pretty unnamed lake is seen below on the L. Farther off in the distance on the R is Lake Helen. Photo looks SW.
Lupe near the top of Peak 10860. A pretty unnamed lake is seen below on the L. Farther off in the distance on the R is Lake Helen. Photo looks SW.
Lake Helen from Peak 10860. Photo looks WSW.
Lake Helen from Peak 10860. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe at the very summit of Peak 10860!
Lupe at the very summit of Peak 10860!
Umm, SPHP, this Peak 10860 really isn't all that high. Are we going to do this other one, too? Sure thing, Loop. Just spread your wings and fly on up there. Remember to smile! I will stay here and take your picture. Photo looks ESE.
Umm, SPHP, this Peak 10860 really isn’t all that high. Are we going to do this other one, too? Sure thing, Loop. Just spread your wings and fly on up there. Remember to smile! I will stay here and take your picture. Photo looks ESE.
Looking NNE down on the largest Fortress Lake from Peak 10860.
Looking NNE down on the largest Fortress Lake from Peak 10860.

It was great up on Peak 10860!  SPHP became so enthralled, anything seemed possible.  Looking back toward Florence Pass, it looked like there was a good route from that area up Bomber Mountain (12,840 ft.).  Why, after climbing Cloud Peak tomorrow, maybe Lupe should come back here the next day and climb Bomber Mountain, too!  The whole notion was exciting.

Looking NE back toward Bomber Mountain (L of Center) and the Florence Pass area (R of Center). Part of Gunboat Lake is on the lower R.
Looking NE back toward Bomber Mountain (L of Center) and the Florence Pass area (R of Center). Part of Gunboat Lake is on the lower R.

Well, Loopster, this side excursion has been a grand success, but time is moving on and we better, too.  We’d best get started back to Mistymoon Lake, and on over to base camp!

The Carolina Dog was ready to go.  SPHP decided to head NW off Peak 10860, in the general direction of Mistymoon Lake.  Lupe led the way.  Soon both Fortress Lakes were in view below off to the NNE.

Lupe started down Peak 10860 along a route that soon revealed both of the Fortress Lakes down below. SPHP should have headed down that way back to the Solitude Trail. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe started down Peak 10860 along a route that soon revealed both of the Fortress Lakes down below. SPHP should have headed down that way back to the Solitude Trail. Photo looks NNE.

SPHP now made a terrible decision.  It would have been very simple to just let Lupe lead the way back down to the Fortress Lakes and the Solitude Trail.  However, in the saddle between Peak 10860 and a lower peak to the NW, SPHP led Lupe around to the WNW instead.

At the time, it looked like there might be a more direct route to Mistymoon Lake going this way, but what initially appeared to be an easy way around to the NW side of the lower peak wasn’t.

The route Lupe ended up taking wasn’t awful, but it was sure a lot harder than the Fortress Lakes route would have been.  It was steep, proved to be every bit as long, and there was no trail.  The terrain forced Lupe to lose so much elevation, she was nearly back down to Lake Marion’s level before she could turn NW to start climbing back up toward the Mistymoon Trail and Mistymoon Lake again.

Lupe contemplates the silly route SPHP chose. Photo looks SW toward Lake Marion. The terrain forced Lupe almost all the way down to Lake Marion's level before she could turn NW to return to the Mistymoon Trail. She had to regain some of this lost elevation on the way back to Mistymoon Lake.
Lupe contemplates the silly route SPHP chose. Photo looks SW toward Lake Marion. The terrain forced Lupe almost all the way down to Lake Marion’s level before she could turn NW to return to the Mistymoon Trail. She had to regain some of this lost elevation on the way back to Mistymoon Lake.
Lake Marion again with the telephoto lens.
Lake Marion again with the telephoto lens.

Well, the plucky American Dingo made her way back to Mistymoon Lake, of course, and in much better shape than SPHP.  Lupe continued exploring while SPHP trudged N along the Solitude Trail.  Beyond the lake, the trail gradually climbed NE toward the pass over to the Paint Rock Creek valley.  Cloud Peak loomed above.

Cloud Peak looms in the sunlight above the pass N of Mistymoon Lake over to the Paint Rock Creek valley. The areas in shadow and sunlight look connected in this photo, but they aren't. Photo looks NE.
Cloud Peak looms in the sunlight above the pass N of Mistymoon Lake over to the Paint Rock Creek valley. The areas in shadow and sunlight look connected in this photo, but they aren’t. Photo looks NE.

All that surplus energy and enthusiasm SPHP had earlier was gone.  Boy, I’ve done it again haven’t I, Looper?  We could have been at base camp hours ago, and all rested up for Cloud Peak tomorrow.  Right now, I feel like even a full night’s sleep isn’t going to revive me.  I’m running on empty.  Hah, Bomber Mountain the day after Cloud Peak!  I’m surprised you didn’t laugh out loud up there on Peak 10860, dear Dingo!

The Carolina Dog was too polite to respond.  SPHP made it over the pass.  Paint Rock Creek valley was beautiful.  There was the waterfall, and beyond it the ledge to the NW above the waterfall where Lupe’s base camp would be.

Paint Rock Creek valley. The waterfall isn't in view, but is toward the right edge of the photo near the cluster of stunted trees and bushes. Lupe's base camp would be set up on the grassy ledge just above that area. Photo looks NW.
Paint Rock Creek valley. The waterfall isn’t in view, but is toward the right edge of the photo near the cluster of stunted trees and bushes. Lupe’s base camp would be set up on the grassy ledge just above that area. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on the side trail off the Solitude Trail that leads over to the waterfall on Paint Rock Creek. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the side trail off the Solitude Trail that leads over to the waterfall on Paint Rock Creek. Photo looks N.
Looking down Paint Rock Creek from near the base of the waterfall. Photo looks SW.
Looking down Paint Rock Creek from near the base of the waterfall. Photo looks SW.
Lupe at Paint Rock Creek Falls. The falls wouldn't be in view from base camp, but its sound would soothe Lupe all night long. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe at Paint Rock Creek Falls. The falls wouldn’t be in view from base camp, but its sound would soothe Lupe and SPHP all night long. Photo looks NNE.

Lupe and SPHP crossed the valley and made it over to Paint Rock Creek Falls.  Lupe had a drink of the clear, cold water.  Then it was time to make the short, steep climb up to the grassy ledge above the falls.

Up on top, SPHP was surprised to find that there wasn’t another soul around.  This was the closest and best place anywhere for a Cloud Peak base camp.  Well that’s pretty awesome Loop, we have this glorious place all to ourselves!  At least we are well positioned for tomorrow!

SPHP set up Lupe’s “tiny house”.  There was still an hour and a half left before sunset, but even Lupe was ready to retire for the night.  Your a smart Dingo, Lupe!  Even though it would be fun to watch the sun go down, this time I’m following your lead!

Lupe's tiny house set up at the best base camp there is for an ascent up Cloud Peak. Photo looks NE.
Lupe’s tiny house set up at the best base camp there is for an ascent up Cloud Peak. Photo looks NE.
Lupe in her "tiny house".
Lupe in her “tiny house”.
Sweet dreams, Lupe! More adventures ahead tomorrow!

For Day 2 of Lupe’s Cloud Peak adventures, click here: Cloud Peak, Bighorn Mountains, WY (7-20-16) Part 2 – Base Camp to the Summit.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Bighorn Mountains, WY Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

Hazelton Pyramid, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming (7-18-16)

It wasn’t even noon yet, when Lupe concluded her successful visit to all three possible Washakie County, Wyoming high points (9,600 ft.).  There was still time in the day for Lupe to tackle her next peakbagging goal, Hazelton Pyramid (10,534 ft.), which was only 6 or 7 miles away to the SE.  Lupe and SPHP headed E on Hwy 16 in the G6.  After going just a couple of miles, SPHP parked at Powder River Pass.

Some sort of bicycling event was going on along Hwy 16.  There were lots of bicyclists at the big pullout, which was serving as a rest and refreshment stop.

Lupe near Powder River Pass. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe near Powder River Pass. Photo looks NNE.

Lupe wasn’t here for the bicycle event.  A short stroll S of Hwy 16 were some big rock formations from which SPHP wanted to get a preliminary look at Hazelton Pyramid.

Lupe up on the rock formations near Powder River Pass. Hazelton Pyramid is the more distant peak on the R. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe up on the rock formations near Powder River Pass. Hazelton Pyramid is the more distant peak on the R. Photo looks SSE.
Hesse Mountain (10,385 ft.) (L) as seen from Powder River Pass. Nearly 2 years ago, Lupe had climbed Hesse Mountain on 8-6-14. Photo looks SE.
Hesse Mountain (10,385 ft.) (L) could also be seen from Powder River Pass. Nearly 2 years ago, Lupe had climbed Hesse Mountain on 8-6-14. Photo looks SE.

The view of Hazelton Pyramid was encouraging.  Lupe also got a look at Hesse Mountain, which she had climbed on an intermittently foggy day almost 2 years ago.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the G6.  A mile E of Powder River Pass, SPHP turned S off Hwy 16 onto USFS Road No. 29.  No. 29 wound around for 4 or 5 miles in a generally SSW direction.  At a small turnaround loop where the road first reaches the North Fork of the Powder River, SPHP parked the G6 again (1:02 PM).  Hazelton Pyramid was about 2 miles away to the ESE.  Lupe would start for Hazelton Pyramid from here.

Hazelton Pyramid is the more distant peak on the R. The high ground at Center is in the area of High Point 10201 on the Peakbagger.com topo map. Photo taken from USFS Road No. 29 before reaching the North Fork of the Powder River. Photo looks SE.
Hazelton Pyramid is the more distant peak on the R. The high ground at Center is in the area of High Point 10201 on the Peakbagger.com topo map. Photo taken from USFS Road No. 29 before reaching the North Fork of the Powder River. Photo looks SE.
Lupe cools off in the North Fork of the Powder River before setting out for Hazelton Pyramid.
Lupe cools off in the North Fork of the Powder River before setting out for Hazelton Pyramid.

A bridge near the turnaround loop got SPHP over to the N side of the Powder River where Lupe started off heading NE on 4WD Route 584111.  She soon turned E on Route 584116, which quickly leveled out and left open ground to enter the forest.  Before long, the road curved S and crossed a small creek.  Beyond the creek, Lupe and SPHP continued on the road, but not very far, since it started trending SW.

Lupe left the road to begin climbing ESE through the forest.  The forest featured great views of, well, trees.  Lupe was happy with that.  Trees meant squirrels!  The slope gained elevation at a moderate pace, making for a pretty pleasant shady trek.  Lupe had fun dashing this way and that winding along a maze of faint animal trails.  She did find a few squirrels to growl and bark at, while they taunted and hurled insults at her from the safety of the treetops.

After 0.5 mile or more going through the forest, Lupe reached the top of a relatively flat and broad ridge.  There was a large meadow here from which it was possible to see Hazelton Pyramid again, and some of the high ground above tree line leading to it.

Lupe reaches a big meadow on the first ridge. Hazelton Pyramid is the distant peak on the R. From here, Lupe headed toward the high rocky ridge on the L. She followed the base of that ridge to the minor pass and high point seen just L of Center. Photo looks E.
Lupe reaches a big meadow on the first ridge. Hazelton Pyramid is the distant peak on the R. From here, Lupe headed toward the high rocky ridge on the L. She followed the base of that ridge to the minor pass and high point seen just L of Center. Photo looks E.

There were a couple of reasonable looking routes toward Hazelton Pyramid from here.  Lupe could either climb above tree line heading ENE to the base of a rocky ridge which she could follow up to high ground near High Point 10201, or stay lower and farther S while heading E in an area of scattered forest.

SPHP thought the route up near the rocky ridge looked more dramatic and interesting.  Lupe was quite certain the scattered forest would offer more squirrel possibilities, but she had no real objections to the rocky route.  After all, there might be marmots up there, and marmots are fun, too!  Either way was fine with Lupe.  In any case, there was still a bit of forest to go through even to get to the rocky route.

Above tree line, Lupe approaches the rocky ridge (L). She soon passed below it to reach the saddle seen R of Center, and then climbed the high point on the R. Photo looks E.
Above tree line, Lupe approaches the rocky ridge (L). She soon passed below it to reach the saddle seen R of Center, and then climbed the high point on the R. Photo looks E.

Lupe lost a little elevation going through the last section of forest on the way to the rocky route, but quickly regained it on a somewhat steep climb just beyond the forest.  Soon (well relatively soon, SPHP kept stopping for air) Lupe was approaching the area below the rocky ridge.  Here the climb was not so steep. The views got better and better as Lupe headed for a saddle near the E end of the ridge.

Looking back to the W along the rocky ridge as Lupe continues her climb.
Looking back to the W along the rocky ridge as Lupe continues her climb.

When Lupe reached the saddle (a short distance SW of High Point 10201), she had a great view of Hazelton Pyramid ahead.  Lupe could also see the high ground she would follow as it swept around to the summit.

Lupe reaches the saddle SW of High Point 10201. Hazelton Pyramid is seen beyond her. Lupe would eventually follow the high ground on the L as it sweeps around toward the summit. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe reaches the saddle SW of High Point 10201. Hazelton Pyramid is seen beyond her. Lupe would eventually follow the high ground on the L as it sweeps around toward the summit. Photo looks ESE.

Before continuing on to Hazelton Pyramid, Lupe checked out the views from the minor high point immediately SW of the saddle.

Lupe up on the minor high point SW of the saddle. Photo looks SW.
Lupe up on the minor high point SW of the saddle. Photo looks SW.
Looking NW over the rocky ridge toward some of the higher peaks of the Bighorns.
Looking NW over the rocky ridge toward some of the higher peaks of the Bighorns.
Looking W. USFS Road No. 29 is visible far below on the L. The G6 is parked down there, but not in view.
Looking W. USFS Road No. 29 is visible far below on the L. The G6 is parked down there, but not in view.

After a short rest break on the minor high point, Lupe and SPHP returned to the saddle.  It was time to follow the high ground leading over to the summit of Hazelton Pyramid.  Most of the time, Lupe was able to stay at or near the top of the long ridge.  A couple of times she was forced to lose some elevation to get around small cliffs.

Getting closer! Photo looks SE.
Getting closer! Photo looks SE.
Looking back to the W along Lupe's route. This first part of the way from the minor high point was pretty easy. The high ground was wide, mostly grassy, and not steep at all. As Lupe got closer to the top of Hazelton Pyramid, the ground grew progressively rougher, rockier, and steeper.
Looking back to the W along Lupe’s route. This first part of the way from the minor high point was pretty easy. The high ground was wide, mostly grassy, and not steep at all. As Lupe got closer to the top of Hazelton Pyramid, the ground grew progressively rougher, rockier, and steeper.

The last part of Lupe’s climb up Hazelton Pyramid was the steepest and rockiest, but still easily manageable.  The true summit turned out to be along a ridge of boulders extending farther to the SE a few hundred feet beyond the apparent summit Lupe had seen while climbing up from the NW.  Lupe and SPHP stayed on the NE side of this ridge due to a steep drop off immediately to the SW.

Lupe on Hazelton Pyramid! The very highest boulder is seen still a little farther beyond her. Photo looks SE.
Lupe on Hazelton Pyramid! The very highest boulder is seen still a little farther beyond her. Photo looks SE.
Lupe reaches the highest boulder on Hazelton Pyramid! Photo looks SE.
Lupe reaches the highest boulder on Hazelton Pyramid! Photo looks SE.
Lupe at the summit. Note the survey benchmark clearly visible on top of the boulder. Photo looks SE.
Lupe at the summit. Note the survey benchmark clearly visible on top of the boulder. Photo looks SE.
The survey benchmark at the summit.
The survey benchmark at the summit.

Naturally, Lupe and SPHP took a break up on Hazelton Pyramid for water, a bit to eat, and to spend some time admiring the splendid views.  Although it had been a beautiful, mostly sunny day during the entire ascent, a line of gray clouds was now approaching from the SW.  Streaks of rain trailed beneath the clouds.  SPHP eyed the clouds suspiciously, even though they didn’t look too threatening.

Fortunately, there wasn’t any thunder or lightning.  Lupe and SPHP stayed on the mountain.  A SW wind picked up and blew rather strongly for a little while as the clouds approached.  Lupe had to endure a rainstorm as they passed over Hazelton Pyramid, but it didn’t rain hard or last too long.  The day soon grew somewhat sunnier again.

Looking NNW from Hazelton Peak before the rain clouds arrived. The cairn seen next to Lupe is some distance NW of the true summit. Lupe originally passed by it on her way to the summit. High Point 10372 is the barren, somewhat lower peak 1.25 miles away in the foreground R of Center. Much higher peaks of the Bighorn range are seen on the far horizon.
Looking NNW from Hazelton Peak before the rain clouds arrived. The cairn seen next to Lupe is some distance NW of the true summit. Lupe originally passed by it on her way to the summit. High Point 10372 is the barren, somewhat lower peak 1.25 miles away in the foreground R of Center. Much higher peaks of the Bighorn range are seen on the far horizon.
Lupe went a little farther SE along the summit ridgeline beyond the true summit of Hazelton Pyramid (10,534 ft.) to get this view of Hazelton Peak (10,264 ft.) seen beyond Lupe another 1.33 miles farther to the SE.
Lupe went a little farther SE past the true summit of Hazelton Pyramid (10,534 ft.) to get this view of Hazelton Peak (10,264 ft.), seen beyond Lupe another 1.33 miles farther to the SE.
Looking WSW over the edge of the Hazelton Pyramid summit ridge.
Looking WSW over the edge of the Hazelton Pyramid summit ridge.
Lupe in an Egyptian mood just below the summit of Hazelton Pyramid. Here she poses as the Dingo-Sphinx. SPHP did not dare request any riddle from the Dingo-Sphinx for fear of what might happen if SPHP couldn't answer the riddle correctly.
Lupe in an Egyptian mood just below the summit of Hazelton Pyramid. Here she poses as the Dingo-Sphinx. SPHP did not dare request any riddle from the Dingo-Sphinx for fear of what might happen if SPHP couldn’t answer the riddle correctly.

Eventually, of course, it was time to start down off Hazelton Peak to begin the trek back to the G6.  For a long way, Lupe and SPHP continued to enjoy the wonderful mountain scenery visible from the high ground above tree line.

Lupe starts back down off Hazelton Pyramid. She would retrace her route up along the high ground seen on the long ridge in the foreground, going first down toward the R, and then over to the L. Photo looks W.
Lupe starts back down off Hazelton Pyramid. She would retrace her route up along the high ground seen on the long ridge in the foreground, going first down toward the R, and then over to the L. Photo looks W.
Tiny blue flowers like these were abundant on the upper slopes of Hazelton Pyramid.
Tiny blue flowers like these were abundant on the upper slopes of Hazelton Pyramid.
Looking NNW. High Point 10372 in the foreground on the R.
Looking NNW. High Point 10372 in the foreground on the R.
Looking W toward the minor high point (L of Center) Lupe climbed on the way to Hazelton Pyramid. The saddle is seen to the R of it. Somewhere in the cluster of rocky prominences to the R of center is High Point 10201.
Looking W toward the minor high point (L of Center) Lupe climbed on the way to Hazelton Pyramid. The saddle is seen to the R of it. Somewhere in the cluster of rocky prominences to the R of center is High Point 10201.
High Point 10372 with higher peaks of the Bighorn Range in the distance. Photo looks NNW using the telephoto lens.
High Point 10372 with higher peaks of the Bighorn Range in the distance. Photo looks NNW using the telephoto lens.
Looking back up at the apparent summit of Hazelton Pyramid from the NW. The true summit is out of sight 200 to 300 feet farther SE along a continuation of the ridge of boulders seen on the R which curves directly away from the camera at a point near the Center of this photo.
Looking back up at the apparent summit of Hazelton Pyramid from the NW. The true summit is out of sight 200 to 300 feet farther SE along a continuation of the ridge of boulders seen on the R, which curves directly away from the camera at a point near the Center of this photo.
Looking N. High Point 10372 (L) and double-peaked Hesse Mountain (R) with higher peaks of the Bighorn Range on the horizon.
Looking N. High Point 10372 (L) and double-peaked Hesse Mountain (R) with higher peaks of the Bighorn Range on the horizon.
Rock columns in the general area of High Point 10201. Photo looks N.
Rock columns in the general area of High Point 10201. Photo looks N.
Lupe returns to the saddle area NE of the minor high point she climbed on the way to Hazelton Pyramid. Photo looks N.
Lupe returns to the saddle area NE of the minor high point she climbed on the way to Hazelton Pyramid. Photo looks N.
Looking W back down along the first rocky ridge.
Looking W back down along the first rocky ridge.

Lupe retraced her way up Hazelton Peak all the way back down below tree line.  Not too long after reaching the forest, SPHP tried to take a shortcut, heading WNW down off the ridge before reaching the big meadow.

The shortcut became a longcut and a Lupe adventure all its own, but one without photos as SPHP tried to hurry through the darkening forest.  At one point Lupe crossed a road which may have been 4WD Route 584113.  Lupe explored beautiful little clearings of swampy land near a tiny creek.  However, the forest seemed longer, denser, and more difficult to navigate than on Lupe’s original route.

All’s well that ends well, though!  Lupe finally emerged from the forest and swamps on open ground above and N of 4WD Route 584116.  SPHP recognized Route 584111 a little farther off to the W.  Lupe trotted happily along.  She was almost back to the North Fork of the Powder River and the G6 (7:37 PM).

Sunset in the Bighorn Mountains, 7-18-16
Sunset in the Bighorn Mountains, 7-18-16

Well, Loopster!  That was a pretty good day wasn’t it?  Up before dawn barking at cows and horses on the way to the Bighorns, visiting all 3 of the Washakie County High Point candidates, and then climbing Hazelton Pyramid, too!

Yes, this was great, and about time, too!  What’s on the agenda tomorrow?

Tomorrow you start for Cloud Peak (13,167 ft.), the highest mountain in the entire Bighorn Range!  It’s so big and so far it will take us 2 days to get to the top.

Oh, sounds exciting!  Will there be squirrels?

I think you’re gonna like it, and yeah, there should be some squirrels.  Believe me, your summer of 2016 is going to be fantastic.  You haven’t seen anything yet, Looper!

Heh, I certainly hope so SPHP, until today that’s been just about literally true! 

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Bighorn Mountains, WY Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe Adventures.

The Washakie County High Point, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming (7-18-16)

Huge sigh!  One of many at long intervals.  Dejected, Lupe lay bored on the floor.  Sometimes she stared out the window.  Sometimes just out into space.  After a promising start with a trip to the Laramie Mountains in Wyoming in late May, Lupe had returned to the Black Hills on June 1st expecting great things from the summer of 2016.  Instead, June immediately turned hot – too hot for her Black Hills expeditions.  June shot by, and Lupe didn’t get to go anywhere in the hills.

Early July started out a little better, with two short Summits on the Air outings (Custer Peak & Boulder Hill) with Joe and Dusty.  Then it was back to laying on the floor, forlorn and disappointed day after day.  The middle of July came and went.  Still Dullsville.

Lupe didn’t realize it yet, but great things were in the works.  Preparations for her fabulous Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation were nearing completion.  Lupe would soon be on her way much farther than she had ever been before to visit beautiful places and climb some spectacular peaks!

One mountain on the list, however, wasn’t that far away.  Cloud Peak (13,167 ft.), the tallest mountain in the Bighorn range of north central Wyoming, was easily the highest peak Lupe would attempt to climb this year.  For Lupe and SPHP, Cloud Peak meant a 3 day/2 night backpacking trip.

Why not take Lupe to the Bighorns even before the start of her summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation?  Getting Cloud Peak out of the way beforehand would free up several days on her summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation she could use to climb much more distant peaks she might never otherwise have a chance to attempt.  It was a good idea, and high time for some action anyway.

SPHP checked the weather forecasts.  Starting July 18th, 4 consecutive days of 100°F heat with little or no chance of rain were coming to Buffalo, WY.  Perfect for adventuring in the high country, where it would be considerably cooler!  Much to her surprise and delight, Lupe was on the road headed for the Bighorns before dawn.

Lupe was already on her way to the Bighorn Mountains when the sun rose on July 18th.
Lupe was already on her way to the Bighorn Mountains when the sun rose on July 18th.

Only a few hours later, Lupe was in the Bighorns!  Before tackling Cloud Peak, though, SPHP had a couple of other easier peakbagging objectives in mind for Lupe.  The first one was really easy – the Washakie County High Point (9,600 ft.).  At 9:48 AM (66°F), SPHP parked the G6 just S of Hwy 16 along USFS Road No. 25.  This intersection is in Washakie County only a short distance W of the Johnson County line.

Finally back in action! Lupe arrives in the glorious Bighorn Mountains of north central Wyoming. Here she is S of Hwy 16 ready for an easy trek to the Washakie County High Point. Two of the three possible high points are in the forest on the low hill beyond her. Photo looks SSW.
Finally back in action! Lupe arrives in the glorious Bighorn Mountains of north central Wyoming. Here she is S of Hwy 16 ready for an easy trek to the Washakie County High Point. Two of the three possible high points are in the forest on the low hill beyond her. Photo looks SSW.

The only thing time consuming or unusual about the Washakie County High Point is that there are three candidates for the actual highest point.  Two of them are about 0.25 mile S of Hwy 16 on a low forested ridge.  The third candidate is about the same distance N of Hwy 16.  Lupe and SPHP headed across the field toward the S candidates first.  As a guide, SPHP had a copy of a trip report by Edward Earl dated July 30, 2002.

At the edge of the forest was a barbed wire fence.  The lower part of the fence was a wire mesh which Lupe could not get through.  Lupe and SPHP followed the fence W until Lupe reached a gate with orange posts where she was able to get by.  After that, Lupe sniffed around exploring the forest while making the climb to the first of the high points.

Lupe next to the summit cairn of the first of the Washakie County High Points she reached S of Hwy 16. This high point is NW of the other high point S of Hwy 16. Photo looks NW.
Lupe next to the summit cairn of the first of the Washakie County High Points she reached S of Hwy 16. This high point is NW of the other high point S of Hwy 16. Photo looks NW.
Another view looking NW toward the Washakie County High Point. (Still looking at part of the NW high point of the 2 candidates S of Hwy 16.)
Another view looking NW toward the Washakie County High Point. (Still looking at part of the NW high point of the 2 candidates S of Hwy 16.)

Lupe visited the two Washakie County High Point candidates S of Hwy 16.  Both were very rocky.  They were only a few minutes walk apart, but due to the forest, not really visible from each other.  Neither had much in the way of views, although there were partial views to the S and E from the SE high point.  The most open views were actually from a lower rock outcropping a bit to the S of the area between the two high points.

Before visiting the Washakie County High Point candidate S of Hwy 16 that was the farthest SE, Lupe found this lower rock outcropping nearby, which actually offered the best views. Photo looks SSW.
Before visiting the Washakie County High Point candidate S of Hwy 16 that was the farthest SE, Lupe found this lower rock outcropping nearby, which actually offered the best views. Photo looks SSW.
Lupe at the SE candidate for Washakie County High Point S of Hwy 16. Photo looks SE.
Lupe at the SE candidate for Washakie County High Point S of Hwy 16. Photo looks SE.
The SE candidate of the 2 high points S of Hwy 16 was a line of slanting boulders. Photo looks WNW in the general direction of the NW high point, which could not be seen from here due to the forest, although it is only a few minutes walk away.
The SE candidate of the 2 high points S of Hwy 16 was a line of slanting boulders. Photo looks WNW in the general direction of the NW high point, which could not be seen from here due to the forest, although it is only a few minutes walk away.
Another view of the SE high point candidate. Photo looks SE.
Another view of the SE high point candidate. Photo looks SE.
Still at the SE high point candidate. Although it wasn't possible to see the NW candidate from here, it was possible to catch a glimpse of both from some of the territory between them. Photo looks NW.
Still at the SE high point candidate. Although it wasn’t possible to see the NW candidate from here, it was possible to catch a glimpse of both from some of the territory between them. Photo looks NW.

Edward Earl’s trip report mentioned a cairn at both high point candidates S of Hwy 16, but Lupe only saw a cairn at the NW high point.  After visiting both of the S candidates, Lupe headed NE through the forest until she reached USFS Road No. 25 near a cattle guard providing an opening in the fence line.  Lupe is an expert at crossing cattle guards, which present no obstacle to her at all.

Lupe and SPHP proceeded across Hwy 16 a few hundred feet E of the Hwy 16/USFS Road No. 25 intersection.  Shortly after re-entering the forest N of the highway, Lupe came to another barbed wire fence.  It had 5 wires, and the lowest wire was dangerously close to the ground for Lupe.  SPHP lifted Lupe over the fence.  Lupe then continued N, once again up a gentle forested slope while looking for her final objective – the third and last Washakie County High Point candidate.

Edward Earl’s trip report mentioned a small summit, with perhaps 20′ of prominence just E of the Johnson County line in Johnson County.  Lupe came to a pile of boulders that looked likely to be this small summit.

When Lupe found this pile of boulders N of Hwy 16, SPHP figured it must be the 20' high summit mentioned in Edward Earl's trip report. Photo looks NNE.
When Lupe found this pile of boulders N of Hwy 16, SPHP figured it must be the 20′ high summit mentioned in Edward Earl’s trip report. Photo looks NNE.
Up on top of the 20' high summit. Photo looks S.
Up on top of the 20′ high summit. Photo looks S.

According to Edward Earl, the 3rd Washakie County High Point candidate was located on a small E/W running ridge 50 to 80 yards to the W of the small summit.  Only 100 feet W of the small summit there was supposed to be a 4 foot high boulder with a cairn on it and a log leaning against it.  Mr. Earl thought the true high point was 50 to 100 feet farther W of this boulder.

It sounded pretty easy to find.  Lupe and SPHP headed W from the small summit looking for the 4 foot high boulder and E/W ridge.  However, Lupe had no luck.  She went well beyond 100 feet without seeing the 4 foot high boulder.  There didn’t seem to be any sign of the E/W ridge either.  The forest in this area was all on gently sloping terrain.  A 4 foot high boulder or a ridge of any significant size should have been easy to spot.  Lupe and SPHP circled around the area several times, but found nothing of interest.

Puzzling.  Lupe and SPHP returned to the small summit with all the boulders.  Was it possible this wasn’t the summit Edward Earl had mentioned?  A short distance to the N, the forest sloped up toward higher ground.  Well, Loop, let’s go check it out.  I can’t think of anything else reasonable to try.

After going a little farther N, Lupe and SPHP arrived up on a ridge that was definitely higher than the small summit.  This ridge seem to go roughly E/W, although it was N of the small summit, not W of it.  Maybe Lupe was too far E?  Lupe and SPHP headed W along the ridge.  Lupe hadn’t gone too far, when there was a break in the ridge.  Not far away on the other side of the break was a small hill or continuation of the ridge.  Lupe headed for it.

Lupe arrives up on the W side of the break in the ridgeline. Was this actually the small summit Edward Earl had mentioned? Lupe did have to climb about 20 feet to get up here. Or was this rock with a cairn on it the 4 foot high rock? Was the rotting tree beyond it the log that had been leaning against the rock? Photo looks N.
Lupe arrives up on the W side of the break in the ridgeline. Was this actually the small summit Edward Earl had mentioned? Lupe did have to climb about 20 feet to get up here. Or was this rock with a cairn on it the 4 foot high rock? Was the rotting tree beyond it the log that had been leaning against the rock? Photo looks N.

On the W side of the break, Lupe did have to climb up about 20 feet to get up on a little hill from which the ridge continued on in an E/W direction.  Perhaps this was the small summit Edward Earl had mentioned?  There was another possibility, too.  The hill featured a rock several feet high with a cairn on it.  A rotting tree to the N of it might have been the log leaning against the 4 foot high boulder?

SPHP wasn’t completely certain where Lupe was in relation to Edward Earl’s directions, but this area did seem to fit the general description.  It seemed clear that Lupe should continue exploring farther W along the ridge for at least a few hundred feet in any case.  If this was Mr. Earl’s small summit, Lupe should find a four foot high boulder about 100 feet to the W.  If not, Lupe should still cross the 3rd high point candidate somewhere along the way.  Lupe and SPHP headed W.

Lo, and behold!  There it was!  Roughly 100 feet away Lupe did find a 4 foot high boulder with a cairn on it!  It was sitting off by itself in the forest, like a true landmark.  SPHP felt 90% certain this had to be the boulder Edward Earl was referring to.

Nice job, Lupe! This must be Edward Earl's 4 foot high boulder with a cairn on it. The final Washakie County High Point candidate is close by to the W!
Nice job, Lupe! This must be Edward Earl’s 4 foot high boulder with a cairn on it. The final Washakie County High Point candidate is close by to the W!

Since Mr. Earl thought the actual Washakie County High Point candidate was a point along the ridge 50 to 100 feet to the W of this boulder, Lupe and SPHP wandered over in that direction.  The ridge sloped gradually down toward the W, so the actual high point candidate was simply located along the ridge wherever the Washakie and Johnson County border crossed it.

There was no fence or other indication where the county line was.  Lupe went far enough to make certain she had crossed the third Washakie County High Point candidate somewhere along the way.  She then returned to the area about 80 feet W of the boulder.  Smile, Lupe!  As far as I’m concerned, you’ve done it and can claim another peakbagging success.  Congratulations on visiting all three candidates for the Washakie County, Wyoming High Point!

Lupe at the approximate location of the Washakie County High Point candidate N of Hwy 16, roughly 80 feet W of the 4 foot boulder. Although it was only a trivial peakbagging success, Lupe had visited all three Washakie County High Point candidates. Searching for this last one had been rather fun. Photo looks N.
Lupe at the approximate location of the Washakie County High Point candidate N of Hwy 16, roughly 80 feet W of the 4 foot boulder. Although it was only a trivial peakbagging success, Lupe had visited all three Washakie County High Point candidates. Searching for this last one had been rather fun. Photo looks N.

Well, that really hadn’t been hard at all.  By 11:48 AM, Lupe was back at the G6.  Still plenty of time left in the day for another, more scenic and challenging adventure!  Hazelton Pyramid (10,534 ft.) was close at hand to the SE.  Lupe’s fun in the Bighorn Mountains was just beginning!

Hazelton Pyramid, Lupe's next Bighorn Mountains adventure as seen from the SE Washakie County High Point S of Hwy 16. Photo taken looking SE using the telephoto lens.
Hazelton Pyramid, Lupe’s next Bighorn Mountains adventure as seen from the SE Washakie County High Point S of Hwy 16. Photo taken looking SE using the telephoto lens.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Bighorn Mountains, WY Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe Adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 107 – Lowden Mountain & Union Hill (12-6-14)

A warmish forecast on a day in early December meant an opportunity for Lupe to go on one of her Black Hills Expeditions.  SPHP parked the G6 at Newton Lake (just a pond, really) along Deerfield Road a few miles NW of Hill City.  It was 9:46 AM, but still only 32°F.  The sky was all overcast.  It didn’t look threatening at all, but maybe things weren’t going to warm up as much as advertised.

Well, it didn’t really matter.  Conditions were good enough, and Lupe was already here.  There was no way the American Dingo was going to let SPHP back out now!  Lupe and SPHP crossed Deerfield Road, and got on the Mickelson Trail heading SE for Burnt Fork Road.  Almost immediately, though, SPHP decided it would be more fun to just cut through the forest instead.  Lupe and SPHP left the trail to plunge NE into the forest.

It wasn’t far at all to Burnt Fork Road, but Lupe came to a fence.  SPHP decided to just follow the fence N, staying on the W side of it.  Union Hill (6,120 ft.), Lupe’s first peakbagging goal of the day, was to the NE.  By heading N a little bit, maybe Lupe could find a route that avoided crossing the fence line.

Lupe wasn’t concerned about the route to Union Hill.  She was looking for a route to squirrels.  She soon found one, too!  A whole lot of barking commenced.  To Lupe’s surprise, her barking was answered – not by the squirrel, but by a couple of dogs who must have lived nearby.  One of them, a big black and white dog, made an appearance at the edge of a clearing to the E.

The black and white dog approached Lupe warily.  One can’t be too careful when dealing with a Carolina Dog, you know!  Lupe and the black and white dog had a good sniff.  The black and white dog seemed friendly, but was suspicious of SPHP.  When SPHP tried to get close, the black and white dog slunk off barking and growling.

Lupe had come to an old road on the W side of the clearing.  Lupe and SPHP followed it N, and soon came to an intersection.  A marker showed that Lupe had been on USFS Road No. 389.1Q.  The other road SPHP recognized as No. 389.1B, which ran E/W here just to the S of Lowden Mountain (6,055 ft.).  SPHP had intended for Lupe to climb Lowden Mountain, but only after climbing Union Hill first.

However, with Lowden Mountain so close already, the plan changed.  Union Hill could wait.  Lupe and SPHP started climbing up the S slope of Lowden Mountain.  The first half of the climb was steepest, but really not bad.  About halfway up, Lupe started coming to rock outcroppings, but they were pretty easily traversed or avoided.  The second half of the climb gained elevation more gradually.  Lupe had to go farther N than SPHP expected, but it wasn’t too long before Lupe was at the summit.

Lupe on the very summit of Lowden Mountain. Photo looks SW.
Lupe on the very summit of Lowden Mountain. Photo looks SW.

The very highest part of the mountain was in a relatively small area.  Pine trees blocked the view in most directions.  However, a little way to the E was a mostly bare ridge offering wide open views.  Union Hill was on display about 1.25 miles almost straight E.

My, oh my, Lupe! What a big pink tongue you have! "The better to lick you with, my dear!" Union Hill is the rounded hill seen just above Lupe's head. Photo looks E from Lowden Mountain.
My, oh my, Lupe! What a big pink tongue you have! “The better to lick you with, my dear!” Union Hill is the rounded hill seen just above Lupe’s ear. Photo looks E from Lowden Mountain.

This was actually Lupe’s 3rd time at the summit of Lowden Mountain.  Way back on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 54 on 4-6-13, Lupe had climbed Lowden Mountain twice on the same day.  SPHP remembered that by going down a bit to the NW of the summit, it was possible to reach a very rocky high ridge that extended out the W.  Lupe and SPHP left the summit to go over and check out the views from the rocky ridge.  The best views were to the WNW and S.

Lupe on the rocky ridge WNW of the summit of Lowden Mountain. The closest hill is Smith Mountain, which Lupe had climbed for the 1st time just 8 days earlier on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 106. Photo looks S.
Lupe on the rocky ridge WNW of the summit of Lowden Mountain. The closest hill is Smith Mountain (5,897 ft.), which Lupe had climbed for the 1st time just 8 days earlier on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 106. Photo looks S.

Lupe left Lowden Mountain going down the steep N slope.  For some reason there wasn’t any snow until Lupe had lost quite a bit of elevation.  Lupe and SPHP angled toward the NE as Lupe descended.  When she reached a forest of quite young pines, there was plenty of snow around.  The young Ponderosa pines were growing very tightly packed together, making the going a little difficult for SPHP.

By the time Lupe was out of the thick stand of young trees, she was so far down the mountain that the terrain was leveling out fast.  Lupe came to USFS Road No. 389.1K, which wound around, but generally made its way NNE.  No. 389.1K led Lupe to USFS Road No. 389.1A, where SPHP stopped to check the maps.  The maps showed a bewildering maze of roads in this area.  Lupe had gone so far N that Union Hill was now off to the SE.

The partially restored ruins of the old Gold Mountain mine weren’t too far away to the E.  Lupe had seen them once before back on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 54, but it would be fun to see them again on the way to Union Hill.  As SPHP put the maps away, SPHP suddenly realized that one of the water bottles SPHP always carries was missing.  It must have fallen out of the pocket of the backpack somewhere along the way.

It was only a water bottle, but Lupe would go back to look for it.  Not until she climbed Union Hill first, though.  Sheesh!  It looked like Lupe was going to make a tradition out of climbing Lowden Mountain twice each time she came here.  Oh, well.  In the meantime, onward to Gold Mountain mine!

The roads were snowy and slippery.  It was actually easier just heading ENE through the forest.  Lupe lost elevation as she went, and soon came to a rather snowy little valley with a small creek flowing SE in it.  She stayed on the N side of the valley where the ground was snow-free due to the southern exposure.  The creek flowed down to a snow-filled meadow.  The ruins of the old Gold Mountain mine sat up on a hillside to the N of the meadow.

Lupe reaches the ruins of the old Gold Mountain mine. Photo looks N.
Lupe reaches the ruins of the old Gold Mountain mine. Photo looks N.

The Gold Mountain mine was first claimed in the late 1870’s, and actively worked until 1942.  It is one of the few old mines still standing in the Black Hills.  SPHP remembered that there was an old boiler or kiln up on the hill.  Lupe and SPHP went up the hill to see if it was still there.

It was.  So was a bunny!  The bunny saw Lupe coming, made a mad dash for the S end of the kiln, and hopped inside.  The kiln immediately became an item of great interest to Lupe.  She circled around it sniffing carefully, but the bunny was safe inside.  SPHP suddenly seemed to remember from Expedition No. 54 that there was broken glass scattered somewhere around this area.  Lupe had best just leave the kiln and bunny alone, before something tragic happened.

Lupe sniffs around the old furnace or kiln at Gold Mountain mine. She knows there is a bunny inside! This is going to be tough, even for an American Dingo! After all, how many bunnies have a stone and iron fortress to protect them?
Lupe sniffs around the old furnace or kiln at Gold Mountain mine. She knows there is a bunny inside! This is going to be tough, even for an American Dingo! After all, how many bunnies have a stone and iron fortress to protect them?
Looking W at the Gold Mountain mine.
Looking W at the Gold Mountain mine.

Lupe and SPHP left Gold Mountain mine.  A short road led SE down a hill, passed to the N of a little frozen pond, and met up with Burnt Fork Road (USFS Road No. 389).  Lupe turned S on Burnt Fork Road, following it less than 0.5 mile to a primitive road coming steeply down a side valley from the E.  Lupe turned E on this road and started gaining elevation.

A little stream flowed near the primitive road.  Lupe had a great time exploring the woods along the stream.  In some places, the stream had frozen, creating huge ice flows right on the road.  SPHP had a less great time trying to get up the slippery ice flows.  The primitive road led to a better road which came in from the N and turned ESE.  Lupe continued ESE on this better road up to a snowy saddle.

By the time the better road reached the snowy saddle, it wasn’t better any more.  In fact, it had almost disappeared.  However, on the other side of the saddle, it looked like it got better again.  It turned ENE down into a bigger snowy valley filled with aspens.  Lupe wasn’t going that way.  The saddle was due N of Union Hill.  After a short rest break, Lupe and SPHP climbed the N slope.  It was snowy and fairly steep, but soon Lupe was at the summit cairn.

Lupe at the summit cairn and post on Union Hill. Photo looks SSE toward Harney Peak (7,242 ft.), which can be seen between the trees.
Lupe at the summit cairn and post on Union Hill. Photo looks SSE toward Harney Peak (7,242 ft.), which can be seen between the trees.

Lupe on Union Hill summit, 12-6-14The top of Union Hill was a long, broad, gently sloping ridge.  It was mostly grassy and thinly forested.  Lupe and SPHP went over toward the W end of the ridge to see what kind of view there might be back toward Lowden Mountain.  The W end of Union Hill was more thickly forested, but there was one spot from which there was a relatively clear view of Lowden Mountain.

Lowden Mountain is the closest hill. Photo looks W from Union Hill.
Lowden Mountain is the closest hill. Photo looks W from Union Hill.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the summit of Union Hill on the way to do a little exploring of the E end of the summit ridge.  Lupe agreed to pose for one more photo W of the summit, but she looked a bit stiff trying to hold her head up above the tall grass.

Lupe just W of the summit cairn on Union Hill. She seemed to be taking this photo rather seriously as she tries to hold her head above the tall grass. Photo looks E.
Lupe just W of the summit cairn on Union Hill. She seemed to be taking this photo rather seriously as she tries to hold her head above the tall grass. Photo looks E.

Lupe soon discovered that a road leads up near the top of Union Hill from the E.  Lupe and SPHP followed the road for a little while after it turned NE.  When it started bending SE, Lupe headed N into the forest.  She followed a forested ridge to a little high point.  Off to the W was the big snowy valley Lupe and SPHP had seen from the saddle N of Union Hill.  Lupe and SPHP turned W and went down into it.

Lupe in the snowy aspen filled valley NNE of Union Hill. Photo looks SSW back toward the summit.
Lupe in the snowy aspen-filled valley NNE of Union Hill. Photo looks SSW back toward the summit.

Down in the snowy valley, Lupe and SPHP went NW until Lupe found the road that had continued E over the saddle just N of Union Hill.  Lupe and SPHP followed it N until it reached an intersection.  SPHP was surprised.  Lupe had been here before!

Back on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 82, Lupe and SPHP had come looking for Lowden Mountain from the Marshall Gulch area to the NE.  Lupe had reached this intersection, but SPHP had been a bit turned around, and gave up on finding the mountain.  Lupe had made it this far, though.  If SPHP had persisted in heading just a little farther SW, Lowden Mountain would have come into view.  Instead, Lupe and SPHP had gone N from this intersection, and eventually circled back E.

The roads at the intersection were variously marked with USFS Road No. 389 or 254.  The markers didn’t really make any sense when compared with SPHP’s maps, but SPHP knew which way to go without any markers.   Lupe and SPHP left the intersection heading N again, but this time looking for a road to the W.

Lupe soon found one.  The road going W went over a little rise, slowly curved SW and gradually lost elevation.  Lupe sniffed around in the forest, while SPHP enjoyed an easy hike.  The area seemed pretty remote and secluded.  Eventually, it dawned on SPHP that this road was going to come out back at the upper end of the primitive road with the frozen stream.

And it did!  Lupe had gone clear around High Point 5921 N of Union Hill.  Lupe and SPHP followed the primitive road W back down to Burnt Fork Road.  Lupe turned N and followed Burnt Fork Road to the road to the old Gold Mountain mine.  Instead of returning to the mine, Lupe stayed on a lower branch of the road.  It went right past the frozen pond.

Lupe at the frozen pond SE of the Gold Mountain Mine. Photo looks SW.
Lupe at the frozen pond SE of the Gold Mountain Mine. Photo looks SW.

It was time to start the search for the lost water bottle.  Lupe and SPHP returned to where SPHP had first noticed it was missing near USFS Road No. 389.1A.  The plan now was just to retrace Lupe’s route from earlier in the day until she came across the water bottle.  It seemed easy enough.

However, it was harder than SPHP anticipated.  Lupe and SPHP followed USFS Road No. 389.1K going SSW back toward Lowden Mountain.  At first, SPHP wasn’t finding any of SPHP’s old footprints or Lupe’s paw prints.  Lupe already had a good start on the climb up Lowden Mountain, by the time SPHP saw tracks in the snow.

Once the tracks were found, it was pretty easy to follow them up the N face of Lowden Mountain, at least until the snow ended.  By then, it wasn’t that much farther up to the rocky W ridge, so Lupe and SPHP went there first to look for the water bottle.  No luck.  Lupe climbed up to the top of Lowden Mountain, completing her second ascent of the day.  SPHP was really expecting to find the water bottle at the summit.  It was nowhere to be found.

Since it wasn’t at the summit, the chances of finding the water bottle were now not very good.  Lupe might still find it somewhere on the way back to the G6, but success seemed unlikely.  Well, too bad, but it wasn’t exactly the end of the world.  Lupe and SPHP stuck around at the top of Lowden Mountain for a little while enjoying the views again.

Looking E toward Union Hill. Lupe could now say she'd been there!
Looking E toward Union Hill. Lupe could now say she’d been there!
Looking W.
Looking W.
Lupe had some Taste of the Wild at the summit of Lowden Mountain. Her little silver bowl is next to her.
Lupe had some Taste of the Wild at the summit of Lowden Mountain. Her little silver bowl is next to her.
Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) from Lowden Mountain. Photo looks SSE.
Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) from Lowden Mountain. Photo looks SSE.
Union Hill (Center). Burnt Fork Road can be seen in the valley. Photo looks E.
Union Hill (Center). Burnt Fork Road can be seen in the valley. Photo looks E.

On the way back to the G6, Lupe and SPHP went back down the S side of Lowden Mountain again.  There wasn’t much snow on this side of the mountain.  Although SPHP saw tracks from earlier in the day a few times, most of the time there weren’t any tracks to follow.  Going down, the terrain looked different than it had coming up.  Unsurprisingly, SPHP did not find the lost water bottle.

The last chance to find it was along USFS Road No. 389.1Q S of Lowden Mountain, where Lupe had met the skittish black and white dog.  SPHP kept watching for the water bottle, but neither SPHP nor Lupe came across it.  Well, that was that.  No telling where it had been lost.

At 4:53 PM (38°F), Lupe and SPHP were back at the G6.  It was almost dark out.  A full moon would be rising soon.  Tonight, somewhere around Lowden Mountain, a water bottle bathed in moonlight was going to freeze and crack.  SPHP had a much better fate in store – a long comfy snooze with a warm, soft, Alpo-stuffed American Dingo!

Smith Mountain from the S slope of Lowden Mountain just after sunset.
Smith Mountain from the S slope of Lowden Mountain just after sunset.

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

Dry Falls & Crossing the Columbia River, WA (8-19-12)

Day 12 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Lupe and SPHP went down to Howard Lake early in the morning before Lanis was up.  The lake was calm and quiet.  Even the fishermen weren’t up yet.  Perfect!  Lupe and SPHP took the single track trail heading S along the E shore.

Lupe saw ducks floating peacefully on the lake.  She crossed a tiny inlet stream.  Near the S end of the lake, the trail left the shoreline and went back into the cedar forest.  A large crane was spooked by SPHP’s approach, and flew away with a great flapping of wings.  Lupe found a few early-rising squirrels.  SPHP did as much as possible to discourage her from barking at this early hour.

Looking back to the N, it was possible to see some of the higher mountains to the NW Lupe had seen the evening before on the mysterious Great Northern Mountain Trail No. 117.  At the very S end of the lake, Lupe crossed another small inlet stream, shortly before reaching the broad cedar-lined trail on the W side of the lake.

By the time Lupe and SPHP had completed their circumnavigation of Howard Lake, Lanis was stirring.  It was time to break camp, and continue W.  Lupe was soon on her way.  NW of Libby, a huge beautiful river, the Kootenai, flowed NW paralleling Hwy 2.  Near Troy; Lanis, Lupe and SPHP turned S on Hwy 56 in order to go see the Ross Creek Scenic Area Giant Cedars.

The turn for the Giant Cedars off Hwy 56 was 0.5 mile S of Bull Lake.  The side road ended at a trailhead 4 miles from the highway.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP all took the 1 mile loop trail through the towering forest.  A small creek meandered through the area, and the trail crossed it several times.  The ancient western red cedars had huge trunks.  Ferns and moss grew between the monstrous trees.  The forest felt prehistoric, like a dinosaur could come crashing along at any time.  Lupe hadn’t been allowed to go on the Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park, but the Ross Creek Scenic Area Giant Cedars had to be just as impressive.

Lupe’s travels continued.  Hwy 200 took her W into Idaho for the 1st time.  Idaho became the 4th Lupe state!  Soon huge Lake Pend Oreille was in view SW of the highway.  At the N end of Pend Oreille, 3 bears ran across the road, right in broad daylight.  They were gone in a flash.  At Sandpoint, Lupe got back on Hwy 2 again.  Washington became the 5th Lupe state.  The American Dingo’s empire was expanding rapidly!

Hwy 2 took Lupe through Spokane, and then out onto barren plains in eastern Washington state.  The area is probably quite pretty at other times of the year, but in late August it felt like a desert.  It had been 95°F back in Sandpoint, ID, and it wasn’t any less out here.  The sun beat down mercilessly.

The Element was air conditioned, of course.  Lupe rode in comfort past yellow wheat fields, and many black fields that had burned or been plowed under.  Dust devils whirled across the desolate landscape.  Far to the N, mountains were on the horizon.  To the S, there was nothing.

SPHP had bought a fried chicken at Safeway in Spokane.  The plan had been to eat it at a city park in one of the little towns along the way.  However, there didn’t seem to be any parks.  Lupe passed through Deep Creek, Reardon and Davenport, and found nothing.  On the way to Creston, there was a forlorn rest area with a couple of picnic tables.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP devoured the chicken there, but there wasn’t a green blade of grass anywhere.  The place was like an oven.

Of course, at Creston there was a pretty nice little park, but with the chicken already gone, there was no longer a reason to stop.  Lupe continued W.  Past Coulee City, Lanis turned SW on Hwy 17.  Soon Lupe came to a most amazing sight – Dry Falls.  Lanis and SPHP had never even heard of Dry Falls before, but there was a parking area and a little visitor center right next to Hwy 17.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped to take in the scene.

Dry Falls is thought by some to have been the site of the mightiest waterfall ever known. At the end of the last ice age, it is estimated there were recurring floods here with a volume of water 10 times that of all the rivers in the world combined!
Dry Falls is thought by some to have been the site of the mightiest waterfall ever known. At the end of the last ice age, it is estimated there were recurring floods here with a volume of water 10 times that of all the rivers in the world combined!

On the opposite side of a chain link fence were sheer 400 foot cliffs down to a broad canyon below.  As the name implies, there is no giant waterfall at Dry Falls now, but the huge canyon downstream is thought to have been carved by recurring flooding on a cataclysmic scale at the end of the last ice age.  A volume of water 10 times that of all the rivers now in the world combined plunged over a precipice 5 times as wide as Niagara Falls.

The canyon below Dry Falls.
The canyon below Dry Falls.

Hwy 17 eventually sloped down into the canyon several miles downstream of Dry Falls, and went past a series of lakes.  At Sun Lakes State Park, lots of people were actively boating, swimming and camping.  Of all the lakes, Lenore Lake was the largest.  Hwy 17 went for miles along its E shore.

Lenore Lake is the largest lake in the Dry Falls canyon, but is miles downstream from the falls. This photo looks back upstream toward the N.
Lenore Lake is the largest lake in the Dry Falls canyon, but is miles downstream from the falls. This photo looks back upstream toward the N.
Lenore Lake in the canyon downstream of Dry Falls. Photo looks S (downstream).
Lenore Lake in the canyon downstream of Dry Falls. Photo looks S (downstream).

The entire canyon below Dry Falls was close to 20 miles long.  Along the way, the canyon walls slowly became less impressive, gradually fading away completely before reaching Soap Lake.

From Soap Lake; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took Hwy 283 SW to I-90.  Pretty soon, Lupe came to another river gorge, that of the mighty Columbia River.

Lupe crossed the Columbia River on this I-90 bridge.
Lupe crossed the Columbia River on this I-90 bridge.
The Columbia River.
The Columbia River.

The light started slowly fading as Lupe, Lanis and SPHP rolled on W of the Columbia River.  Suddenly it didn’t feel like it was too much farther to Puget Sound and Seattle.  Off to the N of I-90, an impressive mountain came into view in the distance.  SPHP figured it was probably Mt. Stuart.

The bright searing heat of eastern Washington state was gone.  Clouds hung over the Wenatchee mountains ahead.  It was much cooler and foggy as Lupe went over 3,022 ft. Snoqualmie Pass.  Darkness fell.  Near Lake Sammamish State Park; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped for the night.  Lupe was almost to Seattle.  Tomorrow, Lupe would see the ocean!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 108 – Calumet Ridge & Silver Mountain (12-11-14)

Record setting warmth in December in the Black Hills region meant it was expedition time for Lupe!  When it hit an unbelievable 70°F+, SPHP planned to take Lupe to Cicero Peak (6,166 ft.) the very next day.  Unfortunately, when morning came, SPHP got off to a late start – too late to justify the travel time.  It might be extraordinarily warm out, but that didn’t do a thing to boost the limited number of daylight hours.

Since Calumet Ridge (5,601 ft.) was closer, and Lupe had never been there before either, Calumet Ridge became Lupe’s primary peakbagging goal for the day.  Expedition No. 108 started at a little side road just off USFS Road No. 358 (Boulder Hill Road).  Lupe was less than 0.5 mile S of Boulder Hill (5,331 ft.) and a mile N of Hwy 16, as she left the G6 at 9:43 AM (57°F) following the little side road W.

There was still ice on the road, and snow in the shadier parts of the forest.  The road skirted to the N of Silver Mountain (5,405 ft.), which Lupe had climbed for the first time only a few weeks earlier on Expedition No. 105.  Years ago, the Ponderosa pine forest on Silver Mountain burned almost completely in a devastating wildfire.  In less than a mile, the road Lupe was following turned WSW and entered the burn area.

The road disappeared completely in the grass as Lupe headed up onto a barren ridge sweeping down to the NW from Silver Mountain.  Lupe followed the ridge a little way, and then turned W heading back into the forest.  She soon crossed USFS Road No. 366 at the saddle marking the high point on the road.  Lupe and SPHP continued W of No. 366, climbing two forested ridges separated by a snowy little valley that drained to the N.

From the second ridge, Lupe saw another larger valley to the W.  There was some open ground down there and a road.  Lupe and SPHP headed down into the valley, but as Lupe neared the road, a Jeep came along and parked in the open part of the valley a bit to the S.  A man with a rifle got out of the Jeep.  SPHP realized he intended to do some target practice.

Lupe has never liked gunfire, and she wasn’t going to like this.  SPHP hurried NW to reach the road and start heading N.  When the man opened fire, Lupe was greatly alarmed.  She instantly started begging SPHP to stop and hide.  It was all SPHP could do to persuade her to keep going.  Fortunately, it wasn’t far to a jeep trail that left the main road to climb NW up a little side valley.  Lupe relaxed a little, as the sound of gunfire became less distinct and more intermittent.

The jeep trail split after about 0.25 mile.  Lupe and SPHP took the branch that curved W.  It started climbing more quickly as it bent around to the S.  Lupe arrived up on a little ridge, where SPHP thought there might be some views, but all that could be seen were nearby low forested hills.  Lupe was now up on the E slopes of Calumet Ridge, still about 400 feet below and 0.5 mile SE of the summit.

Very conveniently, Lupe found another jeep trail nearby that went NW.  This jeep trail was icy, and gained elevation at a steady moderately steep pace.  Lupe and SPHP soon reached the top of the ridge at a broad, flat saddle area S of the summit.  The jeep trail continued on down the other side of Calumet Ridge.

Lupe and SPHP turned N.  Lupe found the summit of Calumet Ridge at a rock outcropping in a shady forested area.  She perched up on the highest boulder to claim her Calumet Ridge peakbagging success!

Lupe claims her peakbagging success on the summit boulder near the N end of Calumet Ridge!
Lupe claims her peakbagging success on the summit boulder near the N end of Calumet Ridge!

There really weren’t any views from the forested summit, but a little exploring around revealed that there was a good viewpoint not too far to the E.  From there, Lupe enjoyed a wide open view off to the N and E.  She could see Boulder Hill and Silver Mountain, and far beyond them out onto the plains of western South Dakota.

Boulder Hill (L) and Silver Mountain (R) from Calumet Ridge. They are both about 2.5 miles away. Photo looks ESE.
Boulder Hill (L) and Silver Mountain (R) from Calumet Ridge. They are both about 2.5 miles away. Photo looks ESE.

There was another viewpoint, too.  This one was at some big rocks a very short distance NW of the summit.  From here, there was a narrow view to the NW toward Sheridan Lake and the central Black Hills.

A glimpse of Sheridan Lake to the NW from Calumet Ridge.
A glimpse of Sheridan Lake to the NW from Calumet Ridge.
Sheridan Lake
Sheridan Lake

Lupe and SPHP took a little break at the summit.  That meant Taste of the Wild for Lupe, and an apple for SPHP.  Now what?  SPHP checked the maps.  The highest parts of Calumet Ridge extend for about 0.5 mile running NNW/SSE.  Lupe was near the N end where the 5,601 ft. summit was shown.  However, the topo map also showed a very small area enclosed by a 5,600 ft. contour toward the middle of the S end of the ridge.

Well, Lupe had better check that S summit out, too!  It was so close in elevation to the N summit, that it was even possible it might actually be a bit higher.  In any case, to be certain Lupe had really visited the true summit, she needed to visit the S one, too.  Lupe and SPHP headed S, and started following a dirt road that winds partway along the ridge.

S of the saddle where Lupe had first reached the ridgeline, the dirt road brought Lupe to a big open pit toward the E side of the ridge.  Lupe sniffed around exploring the pit.  Although the Black Hills are full of old dig sites from the gold rush days in the late 1800’s, this pit was too large and too new to date back anywhere close to that long ago.  SPHP could discern no particular reason why the pit was here, but there it was.

Lupe investigates the open pit on Calumet Ridge.
Lupe investigates the open pit on Calumet Ridge.

The dirt road eventually disappeared as Lupe and SPHP continued SSE along the ridge.  Lupe arrived at a high spot on the W side of the ridge where there was a rock outcropping with a clear view toward Mount Warner (5,889 ft.) to the SW.  Lupe could see Harney Peak (7,242 ft.), too.

Someone had left a white metal chair up here, positioned to take advantage of the view.  Sadly, Lupe also noticed an old dilapidated couch fallen down below the viewpoint.  It must have served the same purpose once upon a time.  People and their trash!  Although they like to claim everything is sacred – in practice, nothing really is.

Lupe at the viewpoint on the way to the S summit of Calumet Ridge. Photo looks SW toward Mt. Warner (R) in the foreground, and more distant Harney Peak (L) on the far horizon.
Lupe at the viewpoint on the way to the S summit of Calumet Ridge. Photo looks SW toward Mt. Warner (R) in the foreground, and more distant Harney Peak (L) on the far horizon.

It wasn’t much farther to the S summit.  The S summit was comprised of a large rock formation, surrounded by cliffs on most sides.  However, at the N end from which Lupe approached, it was only 12-15 feet up to the top, and it wasn’t quite a cliff.  It looked possible to scramble up, without too much difficulty, using rocks and trees for support.

The S summit of Calumet Ridge. Photo looks S at the N end of the summit block where Lupe would scramble up to the top.
The S summit of Calumet Ridge. Photo looks S at the N end of the summit block where Lupe would scramble up to the top.

The short scramble up to the top of the S summit was scarier than the photo shows.  You sure wouldn’t want to have small children attempt it.  However, between the rocks and trees, there were plenty of good handholds and footholds.  There must have been adequate pawholds, too.  Lupe and SPHP were soon up on the S summit of Calumet Ridge.

The summit area was the size of a modest room in a house.  There were trees and grass growing up there, and enough room to walk around a bit.  The best views were off to the SE toward Silver Mountain, and the SW toward Mount Warner.

Lupe up on the S summit of Calumet Ridge. Silver Mountain is seen 2.5 miles to the SE.
Lupe up on the S summit of Calumet Ridge. Silver Mountain is seen 2.5 miles to the SE.
Silver Mountain using the telephoto lens from the S summit of Calumet Ridge.
Silver Mountain using the telephoto lens from the S summit of Calumet Ridge.
Looking SW toward Mount Warner (L).
Looking SW toward Mount Warner (L).

Since the N and S summits of Calumet Ridge weren’t in view from one another due to the forest, it wasn’t possible to form any firm opinion on which might actually be higher.  In any case, Lupe had visited both.

Lupe and SPHP returned NNW to the broad saddle area where Lupe had first reached the ridgeline.  Instead of going SE back down the way she had come up, Lupe took the jeep trail down the W side of the mountain.  The road started off heading W, but soon made a sharp turn back to the SE.  Someone was using a chainsaw in the forest a little way below the road.  He didn’t see Lupe go by when she passed his truck parked in the middle of the road, but she saw him.

The road dropped rather steeply along much of its length.  Lupe and SPHP soon arrived down in a valley just W of a saddle area S of Calumet Ridge.  SPHP briefly considered having Lupe go on to make an attempt at climbing Samelius (5,856 ft.) and Hardesty (5,562 ft.) Peaks, located close to each other more than 2 miles to the SW.  Lupe could probably climb both of them before sunset, but then there would be a long trek back to the G6 in the dark.  Samelius and Hardesty would have to wait for another day.

Lupe turned E and went over the saddle.  Almost immediately, she started hearing gunfire again.  It was distant, but still made her nervous.  She made persistent efforts to persuade SPHP to stop and hide.  SPHP stopped to pet and console her.  SPHP assured Lupe she wasn’t going to get shot, if she stayed close.  Lupe wasn’t entirely convinced.  She stuck to SPHP like glue, but still campaigned for taking shelter.  SPHP had to stop several times to boost her spirits.

The area E of the saddle was a maze of little roads among low, mostly forested hills.  To stay as far as possible from the gunfire, Lupe and SPHP wandered in a generally SE direction, sometimes on the roads, and sometimes just in the forest.  Lupe came to a field where traffic noise from Hwy 16 could be heard not that far off to the S.  Part of the field extended up into a little valley to the NE.  Lupe and SPHP went that way, re-entering the forest at the end of the field.

Lupe passed a number of interesting plants like these while wandering the forests SE of Calumet Ridge.
Lupe passed a number of interesting plants like these while wandering the forests SE of Calumet Ridge.

Lupe reached USFS Road No. 366 again, a little S of the saddle where she had crossed it going W earlier in the day.  This time she crossed it heading E.  Although she hadn’t gone on to climb Samelius and Hardesty Peaks, she now headed for Silver Mountain.  This would be Lupe’s 2nd ascent of Silver Mountain in just a few weeks.  Lupe and SPHP hoped to see a dramatic sunset up there.

Lupe arrived at the top of Silver Mountain about half an hour before sunset.  With the forest completely burned off the top of Silver Mountain, Lupe and SPHP enjoyed 360° views.  Lupe wasn’t actually too interested in the views.  Target practice was still going on off to the NW toward Calumet Ridge.  She huddled under SPHP’s jacket, which made her feel safer.

Nervous Lupe up on Silver Mountain. Photo looks SW toward Harney Peak.
Nervous Lupe up on Silver Mountain. Photo looks SW toward Harney Peak.

Together Lupe and SPHP watched the sunset, but it never really developed much color.  Once it became clear that the show was over, Lupe and SPHP started down the steep N slope of Silver Mountain.

Lupe ready to follow SPHP down off Silver Mountain.
Lupe ready to follow SPHP down off Silver Mountain.

There was a lot of dead timber on the N slope, and despite two days of very warm weather, there was still some snow, too.  It was slow going coming down the mountain.  Target practice continued off to the W until it was so dark stars were starting to come out.

By the time Lupe reached a road down below, twilight had faded to darkness.  The road was icy and slick.  SPHP didn’t recognize the place and turned the wrong direction.  After about 10 minutes, SPHP realized the error and turned around.  The road led Lupe all the way back to the G6.  Lupe arrived at 5:31 PM.  It was still a crazy 57°F out!

Lupe had a mostly fun day going to Calumet Ridge.  There was too much target practice going on in the area to the E of Calumet Ridge, though.  It had basically gone on all day long.  Lupe and SPHP both agree that more remote locations are more to their liking.

Lupe on Calumet Ridge, 12-11-14.
Lupe on Calumet Ridge, 12-11-14.

As for Cicero, Samelius and Hardesty Peaks, which Lupe never made it to this day – Lupe did go on to climb all three and more before the end of 2014.  But those Lupe adventures are the subjects of other posts.

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

Glacier National Park to Howard Lake, MT (8-18-12)

Day 11 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

When Lupe set out on her 2012 Dingo Vacation, SPHP had hoped she might make it as far as the west coast to see the Pacific Ocean.  It hadn’t been certain, though.  An alternate plan had been to just go as far as Glacier National Park in Montana.  Lupe woke up on Day 11 of her 2012 Dingo Vacation at the Sprague Creek campground along Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, having arrived the previous day.

The prior day’s events had changed everything, however.  SPHP had finally realized that U.S. National Parks are not dog friendly.  Glacier National Park was full of great trails to spectacular mountains, lakes, streams, and even a few remaining glaciers, but regulations prohibited Lupe from going on any of the trails.  Dogs weren’t permitted, even on a leash.

So, Lupe was going to leave.  Before she did, she was going to see the Trail of the Cedars nature trail.  The evening before, a ranger up at Logan Pass had told SPHP that the Trail of the Cedars nature trail was the only trail in Glacier National Park where dogs were allowed.

Except they weren’t.  When Lupe, Lanis and SPHP arrived at the start of the Trail of the Cedars, there were no pets signs – just like everywhere else.  The ranger had been wrong.  Lupe wasn’t even allowed here.  Nearby, on the opposite side of Going-to-the-Sun Road, there was an observation deck with a view of McDonald Creek.  The rushing creek was very clear and pretty.  The observation deck was as far as Lupe got to explore in Glacier National Park.

Lanis on the Trail of the Cedars. Lupe wasn't allowed on it, and Lanis didn't go very far.
Lanis on the Trail of the Cedars. Lupe wasn’t allowed on it, and Lanis didn’t go very far.
McDonald Creek was a wonderful clear blue-green color.
McDonald Creek was a wonderful clear blue-green color.
Dancing with Dingoes: Lanis and Lupe dance on the McDonald Creek observation deck. SPHP cut in for a couple dances with Lupe shortly afterward.
Lanis and Lupe dance on the McDonald Creek observation deck. SPHP cut in for a couple dances with Lupe, too.

McDonald Creek, Glacier NP, 8-18-12McDonald Creek, Glacier NP, 8-18-12Lupe & Lanis at McDonald Creek, Glacier NP, 8-18-12McDonald Creek, Glacier NP, 8-18-12And that was it for Lupe in Glacier National Park.  Since she couldn’t do much of anything here, it was time to start heading farther W!  Due to the park regulations, it was settled – Lupe was going to see the Pacific Ocean!

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were soon heading W out of Glacier National Park.  In Kalispell, Lanis stopped at a gas station.  SPHP gassed up the Element.  Lanis spent a frantic 20 minutes looking for his cell phone, only to discover that SPHP had been sitting on it.  Next was a stop (one of many on Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation) at the local McDonald’s.  From the Dollar Menu, Lanis got a giant soft drink, Lupe got a chocolate sundae, and SPHP got a caramel sundae.

As usual, SPHP spoon fed Lupe her chocolate sundae, as Lanis drove W out of Kalispell on Hwy 2.  Lupe always had to devour them rather quickly, since the chocolate sundaes tended to melt fast in the summer heat.  Fortunately, Lupe was consistently willing to apply herself to the task at paw.  The sundaes never really had a chance.

Once both sundaes were gone, SPHP checked the road atlas.  In the Cabinet Mountains of NW Montana, there was a lake shown S of the town of Libby.  The lake was back in the Kootenai National Forest along a gravel loop road W of Hwy 2.  The lake wasn’t a very big one, but it still looked like it might be interesting.  There was a campground shown, too.  Maybe Lupe could have some fun there?

Six miles in on the gravel loop road, there was a side road going to the Lake Creek campground.  A mile off the main loop, the side road ended at a rather nice level campground with a big open area.  There was no lake, but there was a stream.  This was the rather confusingly named Lake Creek.  Lake Creek looked like it sometimes had a lot of water in it.  There was some water in it now, too, but most of the creek bed was dry.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had lunch at the Lake Creek campground, and did a little exploring along Lake Creek.  Even though there wasn’t any lake, this campground was pretty nice.  It felt quiet and remote.  Only two spots were taken.  For a little while, Lanis and SPHP debated whether or not to skip looking for the lake and just stay here.  Lupe was busy sniffing around.  She seemed happy enough at Lake Creek.

In the end, Lanis and SPHP decided to move on and continue looking for the lake.  By now, signs had revealed that the lake Lupe was looking for was Howard Lake.  The main loop road went on and on.   A black bear ran across the road, and quickly disappeared into the forest again.  It was an exciting moment!  This was the first bear Lupe had seen on her 2012 Dingo Vacation, despite all the warning signs about bears back in the Beartooths, Yellowstone and Glacier.

After some confusion and needless backtracking, Lanis and SPHP finally found Howard Lake.  By now it was late enough to camp, so a site was selected.  Lupe’s tiny house was set up again.  Howard Lake was only 33 acres in size.  It seemed to be a favorite of the locals.  It was a fishing lake, and there were a number of small boats with people fishing in them.

Howard Lake was only 33 acres. It was a popular fishing lake for locals. Lupe cooled off swimming and wading at this small beach.
Howard Lake was only 33 acres. It was a popular fishing lake for locals. Lupe cooled off swimming and wading at this small beach.

Although only one picture still survives from Lupe’s time at Howard Lake, she did have a number of adventures there.  She cooled off swimming and wading at the small beach.  She went with Lanis and SPHP following a wide trail (which apparently used to be the old road) through a tall cedar forest on the W side of the lake.  Lupe was thrilled to find that the cedar forest was full of squirrels.

Later, while Lanis spent some time resting in Lupe’s tiny house after all the driving he’d been doing, Lupe and SPHP went and explored part way along a mysterious trail that climbed into the forest W of the lake.  A sign said this was Great Northern Mountain Trail No. 117, but neither Lupe nor SPHP knew where it went.

The trail gained elevation, and then leveled out.  Up here there were quite a few dead trees in the forest.  Some had fallen across the trail.  Lupe and SPHP worked their way around them.  Some higher mountains came into view to the N.  The trail turned and went into a dense part of the forest.  By now, the sun was starting to get low.  The cedar forest became darker, denser and progressively more mysterious.  Lupe and SPHP met no one.

Finally, Great Northern Mountain Trail No. 117 came to a junction.  There was a sign, but nothing on the sign meant anything to SPHP.  Lupe and SPHP took the left branch of the trail for a little way, but it was going to be dark soon.  SPHP hadn’t brought a flashlight.  It was time for Lupe to turn back.  On the return trip, she had fun barking at squirrels.  By the time Lupe arrived back at Howard Lake, it was already pretty dark.

As soon as Lupe reached the campground, a big German Shepherd spotted her.  Lupe snarled at him and fled.  The German Shepherd gave chase.  Lupe raced in circles between the trees, frequently zig-zagging and doubling back desperate to escape.  She is very fast for her size, but the German Shepherd was young, huge, and had much longer legs.  Lupe was too agile for the German Shepherd to catch her, but he was keeping up a hot pursuit, and frequently getting very close.

SPHP called to Lupe.  She came running.  SPHP picked her up and carried her to the safety of the Honda Element.  When the German Shepherd finally realized the game was over, it went away.  Lupe could come out of the Element again.  Lanis and SPHP were cooking beef stew.  Carolina Dogs love beef stew!

Dancing with Dingoes: Lanis and Lupe dance on the McDonald Creek observation deck. SPHP cut in for a couple dances with Lupe shortly afterward.
Dances with Dingoes, Glacier National Park.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2012 West Coast Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.