Rialto Beach, the Hoh Rain Forest fiasco & Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula, Washington (8-22-12)

Day 15 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

After breaking camp at the Klahowya campground on the Olympic Peninsula; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed SW on Hwy 101 to the town of Forks.  There was a U.S. National Park Service Recreation Information Center in Forks, and SPHP wanted to stop in briefly to see if there was ANY place in Olympic National Park where Lupe could go on a trail.

As expected, the news wasn’t good.  Dogs are not allowed on any trails in Olympic National Park.  However, there was one place dogs could go, provided they were on a leash.  Dogs were allowed on Rialto Beach, from the parking lot N about a mile to Ellen Creek.  That sounded great!  Since Rialto Beach wasn’t too far away; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were on their way.

The Olympic Peninsula was turning out to be a far more dangerous place than SPHP had ever imagined.  On the way to Rialto Beach, there were signs warning about vampires!  Just yesterday, Lupe had battled Big Paw, and now vampires?!

No, vampires beyond this point!? Since when do vampires obey regulations?
No, vampires beyond this point!? Since when do vampires obey regulations?
The vampire threat level was Code Red!
The vampire threat level was Code Red!

If Lanis and SPHP were concerned, Lupe wasn’t.  It was a bright and beautiful morning.  Sundown wouldn’t be for many hours.  Lanis and SPHP could just chill for the time being.  Vampires never saunter around in broad daylight – everyone knows that!

Rialto Beach was wonderful!  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed N along the shore.  It was great to see the Pacific Ocean, see and hear the crashing waves, and smell the salty air.  The white bleached trunks of huge dead trees were scattered along the high tide line, looking like the bones of dinosaurs.  Lupe didn’t quite know what to make of it all.  She had seen the ocean at Puget Sound just a couple of days ago, but this was the first time she had ever been right on the beach and seen the endless expanse of the open ocean.

Lupe and Lanis at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park. Lupe had never seen the broad expanse of the open ocean before.
Lupe and Lanis at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park. Lupe had never seen the broad expanse of the open ocean before.
Near the high tide line were numerous dead tree trunks, bleached white by the sun and sea.
Near the high tide line were numerous dead tree trunks, bleached white by the sun and sea.

Lupe stayed up on the beach.  She was a little afraid of the waves.  Even though the waves were quite small for the ocean, they were bigger than any waves she had ever seen before.  Lupe got close to the ocean, but she didn’t go in it at all.  She retreated ahead of each incoming wave.  She enjoyed trotting along the wet sand, and sniffing all the very strange scents.  To Lupe, Rialto Beach was a very beautiful, but also a very strange and exotic place.

Lanis became engrossed with shells, rocks and creatures he was finding on the beach, or in tidal pools.  Lupe and SPHP continued N alone, thoroughly enjoying the stroll next to the Pacific Ocean.  Rialto Beach was the farthest W that Lupe had ever been.  She had reached the North American continent’s edge.  She could go no further W.

Pacific Ocean from Rialto Beach.
Pacific Ocean from Rialto Beach.

Pacific Ocean from Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park, WA 8-22-12Lupe couldn’t go any farther N, either.  As Lupe and SPHP approached a towering upright rock near the shore, suddenly a park ranger came running up.  Lupe couldn’t be here.  Lupe and SPHP had transgressed by crossing Ellen Creek.  Lupe was almost all the way to Split Rock, which just wasn’t allowed.

As it turned out, Ellen Creek was just a little trickle of water coming out of the sand 10 feet from the ocean.  Upstream, it had disappeared underground long before reaching the beach.  The ranger wasn’t upset; she said Ellen Creek is 20 feet wide in the spring, but there was a drought going on.  Now that it was late August, Ellen Creek had almost completely dried up.  The ranger wasn’t surprised SPHP had missed it, but Lupe still had to go back.

Split Rock at Rialto Beach, where the park ranger said Lupe couldn't be. Lupe and SPHP had to turn back.
Split Rock at Rialto Beach, where the park ranger said Lupe couldn’t be. Lupe and SPHP had to turn back.

Reluctantly, Lupe and SPHP returned S looking for Lanis.  Lanis was still busy looking at rocks and crab shells, but he was ready to go when Lupe found him.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Rialto Beach, and headed back to Forks for Subway sandwiches and ice cream bars.  Lupe liked both, but clearly favored the ice cream.

SPHP thought it would be fun to take Lupe to the Hoh Rain Forest.  SE of Forks, off Hwy 101, is a turn to the E on Upper Hoh Road.  Upper Hoh Road enters Olympic National Park, and ends at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.

It made no sense, though, to pay the park entrance fee, just so Lupe could sit in the Element.  SPHP came up with the bright idea of taking a different road to South Fork campground, instead.  South Fork campground isn’t in Olympic National Park, but is pretty close to it.  In fact, it’s not even very far from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.  Lupe could probably experience the Hoh Rain Forest just as easily at South Fork, and avoid the dog restrictions.

The turn to South Fork campground was a little farther S on Hwy 101, past the turn for Upper Hoh Road.  The South Fork road wasn’t bad, although it was narrow and winding.  After a while, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP found themselves high up on a mountainside.  The little road went on and on.  This couldn’t be right!  South Fork campground was supposed to be down on the South Fork of the Hoh River, not up on a mountain.

Some miles back, the road had divided.  SPHP must have told Lanis to take the wrong fork.  There was nothing to do, but turn around.  It wasn’t going to be easy up here.  Lanis slowly, and very carefully, turned the Element around on the narrow road.  Success!  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went back down the mountain the way they had come up.

This time, Lanis took the other fork in the road.  Sure enough, it eventually led to South Fork campground, but the road went on even farther from there.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went all the way to the end of the road.  At the end was a place that looked like some kind of small defunct rock quarry.

Lanis and the Element at the sort of rock quarry place at the end of the road beyond South Fork campground. So, now what?
Lanis and the Element at the sort of rock quarry place at the end of the road beyond South Fork campground. So, now what?

Lanis, Lupe and SPHP got out of the Element.  Hmm.  No one else was around.  Was this a trailhead?  There didn’t seem to be any trail.  The rock quarry, if that was what it ever was, didn’t look too promising.  It was surrounded by forest, but the forest didn’t look like anything special.  The forest back at Klahowya campground, where Lupe had spent the previous evening, looked much more like a rain forest than this did.

SPHP didn’t give up.  Looking around, SPHP spied what looked like an old abandoned road or trail heading into the forest.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP set off to explore it.  They didn’t get far.  A stream coming down the mountain had washed out, and completely exposed, a giant culvert.  A 50-100 foot wide section of the mountainside had collapsed, too, taking the trail with it.  The trail did continue beyond the huge gap, but there was no reasonable way forward to get to it.

So, that was it.  The whole Hoh Rain Forest episode was just another of SPHP’s adventure fiascoes.  A lot of time had been lost winding around on little roads to get nowhere.  Even SPHP was ready to give up.  Lupe came all this way to see the ocean, not a bunch of trees!  There were trees back home, different types, but they were still trees.  It was time to return to the Pacific Ocean!

Back at Hwy 101 again, Lanis turned S.  Hwy 101 curved SW, and followed the Hoh River.  At the coast, Hwy 101 curved S again.  The highway was now at some height above the ocean, but not far from it.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped at a parking lot for Beach 4.  A trail led down a steep little hillside to the ocean.

This was what Lupe had come all the way to the West Coast for!  Beach 4 was marvelous.  Lanis, SPHP, and even Lupe went wading in the Pacific Ocean.  For a few minutes, the cold water felt good.  Then it was time to warm paws and feet up again on the dry sand.  Back and forth, in and out of the sea, again and again.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP wandered N along the beach.  Waves crashed against rocks sending spray from the collisions skyward.  The sea, the sea, the beautiful sea!

Lupe and Lanis at Beach 4.
Lupe and Lanis at Beach 4.
Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula.
Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula.
At Beach 4, Lupe went wading in the Pacific Ocean for the very first time.
At Beach 4, Lupe went wading in the Pacific Ocean for the very first time.

Lupe wading at Beach 4, Pacific Ocean, Olympic Peninsula, WA 8-22-12

Full of deep meaning and profound significance, this what-cha-ma-call-it was at Beach 4. SPHP suspects it may have been built by a tribe of modern Lanis.
Full of deep meaning and profound significance, this what-cha-ma-call-it was at Beach 4. SPHP suspects it may have been built by a tribe of modern Lanis.

The Oregon coast has a reputation for the most beautiful scenery along the Pacific Ocean in the lower 48 states, but Washington state’s Beach 4, where she waded in the sea for the first time, was a place of wonder for Lupe.  Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP lingered at Beach 4 enjoying the beauty of the ocean, as the sun began slipping from the sky.

And that’s where this post leaves them, until another post by and by.Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula, WA 8-22-12Lupe at Beach 4, Olympic Peninsula, WA 8-22-12

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, WY Expedition No. 104 – Inyan Kara Mountain (11-9-14)

Snow was in the forecast.  An approaching winter storm was supposed to hit tomorrow and dump half a foot of snow on the Black Hills.  The next 10 days weren’t expected to get above freezing.  Today was supposed to be nice, though, with highs in the 50’s.  Last chance, for a while at least, for Lupe to go on a Black Hills Expedition!

Lupe’s peakbagging goal for Expedition No. 104 was a rather unusual Black Hills mountain – Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.).  Inyan Kara is part of a line of forested ridges and hills in eastern Wyoming separated from the main body of the Black Hills in South Dakota by 5-10 miles of grasslands used mostly for ranching.  Like Devil’s Tower (5,112 ft.) in NE Wyoming and Bear Butte (4,433 ft.) near Sturgis, South Dakota, Inyan Kara was considered sacred by the Lakota Sioux.  General George Armstrong Custer is purported to have visited Inyan Kara on July 23, 1874.

Inyan Kara sits on roughly 2 square miles of the Black Hills National Forest completely surrounded by privately held ranch lands.  To even reach the national forest land, Lupe would need permission from the ranchers.  Lupe and SPHP had tried once before to get permission, way back on Black Hills Expedition No. 91 on 6-1-14, but had arrived at the ranch headquarters to find no one at home except the dog.

Lupe SE of Inyan Kara Mountain. Would she get permission from the local ranchers to cross their property to reach it?
Lupe SE of Inyan Kara Mountain. Would she get permission from the local ranchers to cross their property to reach it?
Inyan Kara from the SE. Although Inyan Kara is on roughly 2 square miles of Black Hills National Forest, the mountain is surrounded by privately held ranchlands.
Inyan Kara from the SE. Although Inyan Kara is on roughly 2 square miles of Black Hills National Forest, the mountain is surrounded by privately held ranchlands.
The road to the headquarters of Douglas and Sheila Hunter's ranch E of the mountain.
The road to the headquarters of Douglas and Sheila Hunter’s ranch E of the mountain.

This time Lupe and SPHP were in luck!  Lupe arrived at the headquarters of Douglas and Sheila Hunter’s ranch just E of Inyan Kara to find Mr. Hunter and a couple of helpers in his front yard busy loading a vehicle on a trailer.  Mr. Hunter’s dog, Bear, was very interested in meeting Lupe, but Lupe just growled.

Despite Lupe’s less than cordial reaction to Bear, Mr. Hunter kindly and readily granted Lupe and SPHP permission to cross his ranch to access Inyan Kara.  Mr. Hunter directed SPHP where to park the G6.  By 10:15 AM (50°F), Lupe and SPHP were on their way.

Lupe and SPHP started out going W on a continuation of the dirt road that led to, and also went on by, the Hunter Ranch headquarters.  Lupe passed some old buildings near a tiny, mucky creek, and soon afterward came to a junction with another road.  Lupe and SPHP turned N on this other road, but left it before long to start climbing through the fields directly toward SE-facing cliffs on Inyan Kara.  On the way up, Lupe and SPHP ducked under a fence, thereby leaving the Hunter ranch and entering the Black Hills National Forest.

Lupe and SPHP turned N to avoid the cliffs.  Lupe still angled slightly up the slope to gain elevation slowly, but steadily.  She was approaching the forest on the E side of Inyan Kara.  Once in the forest, Lupe and SPHP continued N working gradually up the ridge to the W.  When the top of the ridge became visible between the pines, Lupe and SPHP turned W and climbed directly up the steep slope to the crest of the ridge.  Lupe could now see the igneous summit of Inyan Kara to the WNW.

Lupe reaches the crest of the ridge. The summit of Inyan Kara is seen beyond her to the WNW.
Lupe reaches the crest of the ridge. The summit of Inyan Kara is seen beyond her to the WNW.
The summit of Inyan Kara is basalt, an igneous rock. The basalt was forced up into overlaying sedimentary rocks as magma, which cooled and solidified. The sedimentary rocks at the top have since eroded away. Vertical columns can be seen in the basalt. A more famous and clearer example of similar geology can be found at Devil's Tower about 27 miles NW of Sundance, WY.
The summit of Inyan Kara is comprised of igneous rock.  Magma was forced up into overlaying sedimentary rock layers, but never erupted.  Instead, it cooled and solidified. The sedimentary rocks at the top have since eroded away. Vertical columns can be seen on the mountainside. A more famous and clearer example of similar geology can be found at Devil’s Tower, about 27 miles NW of Sundance, WY.

Lupe on the ESE ridge of Inyan Kara, 11-9-14Inyan Kara is an interesting mountain.  It is shaped rather like a distorted horseshoe, with the opening of the horseshoe NE of the summit and facing N.  A long ridge starts rising from the NE end of the horseshoe, and makes a big sweeping curve clear around to the E and then S of the summit, ultimately going clear over to the SW.  This long ridge gains elevation rapidly at first, but much more slowly as it progresses SW.

The S and SW portions of the sweeping ridge are quite high.  Close to the SW end, there is a significant saddle where some elevation must be lost going NE to approach a shorter, but higher ridge leading to the actual summit.  This N ridge is characterized by large igneous rock formations, but is easily climbed.  Several smaller saddles must be navigated while heading N along the summit ridge.

The N ridge angles NE shortly before reaching the top of Inyan Kara.  The summit and nearby areas form the NW end of the horseshoe.  Between the N and S ridges, a deep forested valley comprises the center of the horseshoe.

Lupe had reached the top of the lower sweeping ridge ESE of the summit.  The easiest way to reach the top of the mountain was to just follow the ridge as it swept around to the S and then SW.  From there, Lupe could traverse the saddle over to the higher N ridge and continue on to Inyan Kara’s summit.

The ridge was all forested and fairly narrow most of the way to the saddle, but it was never narrow enough to be a problem.  Deadfall timber sometimes partially blocked the way for SPHP.  It was only bad in one small area toward the SSW.  As Lupe progressed around the ridge, there were a few places with great views to the SE, S or SW.

Lupe on the S ridge of Inyan Kara. Photo looks SSE. The high ridge on the horizon seen above her head in this photo is the Sweetwater Mountain (6,440 ft.) high point.
Lupe on the S ridge of Inyan Kara. Photo looks SSE. The high ridge on the horizon seen above her head in this photo is the Sweetwater Mountain (6,440 ft.) high point.
Looking NNE at the Inyan Kara summit ridge from the lower S ridge.
Looking NNE at the Inyan Kara summit ridge from the lower S ridge.
Looking SSW from the S ridge.
Looking SSW from the S ridge.

Lupe and SPHP followed the S ridge around to the SW.  Lupe continued W far enough to make certain she had reached the highest part of the S ridge.  She then headed NE down into the saddle on her way to the N ridge leading up to the summit.  Lupe could have started NE down into the saddle a bit sooner, and she wouldn’t have lost quite as much elevation.  It still didn’t take her long to cross the broad forested saddle to reach the N ridge.

The most interesting part of Lupe’s climb up Inyan Kara started upon reaching the N ridge.  There were big rock formations.  The rocks were tan or pinkish orange, and had little steps or contours in them.  Lupe quickly climbed up to a high point at least as high as any spot along the S ridge.  From here, she could see the Inyan Kara summit off to the NNE.

The rest of the way to the summit was a bit tricky.  It involved some exploration and occasional back-tracking to find the easiest route.  In general, it proved best to stay to the NW side of the N ridge until getting quite close to the summit, since there were places that ended in cliffs to the SE.

The top of Inyan Kara is an open rocky ridge from which there are grand views in most directions.  Although it hadn’t been windy on the way up, there was a steady, cold wind out of the SW when Lupe reached the summit.  With the darkly overcast sky and stiff breeze, it was beginning to look like the forecast snow storm might well be on its way.  Lupe wasn’t going to get to enjoy the views for very long.

Lupe reaches the top of Inyan Kara! She didn't like the strong, cold breeze coming from behind her. The dark sky did look like the expected snow storm might be on its way. Photo looks SW.
Lupe reaches the top of Inyan Kara! She didn’t like the strong, cold breeze coming from behind her. The dark sky did look like the expected snow storm might be on its way. Photo looks SW.
Looking SSE from the Inyan Kara summit toward Sweetwater Mountain, the high ridge on the far horizon.
Looking SSE from the Inyan Kara summit toward Sweetwater Mountain, the high ridge on the far horizon.
Looking NW from Inyan Kara. The circular USGS benchmark is on the ground in front of Lupe.
Looking NW from Inyan Kara. The circular USGS benchmark is on the ground in front of Lupe.

Right away, SPHP noticed a USGS benchmark out in the open just 10 or 12 feet E of the summit. SPHP was disappointed that it didn’t even say Inyan Kara on it.  While SPHP was looking at the USGS benchmark, Lupe was sniffing curiously around a big juniper bush just 8 feet N of the summit. Upon investigation, stuffed inside the bush SPHP found a broken Tupperware container inside a couple of Ziploc bags.  It was all held in place inside the bush by several rocks placed on top.

USGS benchmark on Inyan Kara.
USGS benchmark on Inyan Kara.
Lupe not enjoying the wind by the juniper bush. The registry log was hidden inside this bush 8 feet N of the summit.
Lupe not enjoying the wind by the juniper bush. The registry log was hidden inside this bush 8 feet N of the summit.

Inside the broken Tupperware container was a pen and notebook that serves as a registry log.  There were also other papers relating to a wedding, a funeral service and other events that had been held on top of Inyan Kara.  The registry went back to 2008 and contained quite a few names.  Some of the individuals had climbed Inyan Kara multiple times, with one claiming to have made 6 ascents.

SPHP would have liked to spend more time reading the registry, but the wind made reading for very long unpleasant.  It was difficult to hold the pages open and still without tearing them.  SPHP entered Lupe’s name in the registry log, before putting it all back together and stuffing everything securely in the bush.

Despite the wind, Lupe and SPHP lingered up on Inyan Kara for a while to enjoy the views.  Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild, and then huddled inside SPHP’s jacket to stay warm.  SPHP ate an apple and a big carrot.  For the Black Hills, the views were tremendous.  Far below and all around Inyan Kara was open ranch land, dotted here and there with forested hills and ridges.

On the N horizon, Lupe could see Missouri Buttes (5,374 ft.), Devil’s Tower, and Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.)Cement Ridge (6,674 ft.) was off to the NE.  Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) and the main body of the Black Hills were in view to the E.  Sweetwater Mountain was SSE.  Very far to the W are the Bighorn Mountains, which are easily seen from Inyan Kara on a clear day when the light is right.  However, SPHP could only barely make out one small portion of the southern Bighorns on this overcast day.

When it was time to go, Lupe and SPHP took the same route back along the N ridge going SSW and then down into the saddle area between the N and S ridges.  Instead of going on to retrace Lupe’s route along the S ridge, Lupe and SPHP ventured E down into the steep, deep forested valley between the ridges – the middle of the Inyan Kara horseshoe.

Lupe on her way down Inyan Kara. Photo looks N.
Lupe on her way down Inyan Kara. Photo looks N.

Lupe followed the valley all the way down to its exit onto the prairie NE of the Inyan Kara summit (the open end of the horseshoe).  There was no trail at all in the upper portion of the valley, and only a faint one in the lower part, until Lupe reached a jeep trail near a couple of old rusting water tanks near the valley’s N end.

The trek down through the central valley proved to take much more time than the S ridge route.  Except at the upper and lower ends, the valley is V-shaped nearly all the way.  Even the very bottom was steep, rough ground.  In places it was choked with deadfall timber killed by pine bark beetles, making the going very slow.

The valley did provide Lupe complete protection from the cold wind.  About the only other advantage was a tiny intermittent trickle of a stream where Lupe could get a drink.  Not much of an advantage when SPHP was porting water anyway.  While the valley was fun to explore once, Lupe and SPHP definitely recommend the S ridge route instead for the splendid views, shorter hike, and easier terrain!

Once Lupe emerged from Inyan Kara’s horseshoe, she followed the jeep trail around the E side of the mountain.  There were forests near the E ridge, but most of the time Lupe was out on the open range.  The jeep trail led right back to the Hunter ranch headquarters.

Lupe arrived at the G6 at 4:24 PM (51°F).  No one was around except Bear, who was standing on the front porch.  Bear whined when he saw Lupe.  Bear still wanted to play, but the tired Carolina Dog showed no interest, dashing the lonely ranch dog’s hopes.

Sunset leaving the Hunter ranch.
Sunset leaving the Hunter ranch.

Inyan Kara Mountain is about 4 miles W of Hwy 585 in NE Wyoming between Sundance and Four Corners.  Turn W on County Road No. 198 about 15 miles S of Sundance.  Follow it about 1.5 miles W.  A sharp turn N on a dirt road eventually leads 2.5 miles NW to a fork in the road.  The Douglas and Sheila Hunter ranch headquarters is a short distance down the right fork.  Courtesy and respect for the landowner’s rights will go a long way toward securing permission to access Inyan Kara.

For more information on the interesting history of Inyan Kara, click here.

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

Klahowya Campground, the Sol Duc River & the Battle with Big Paw, Olympic Peninsula, Washington (8-21-12)

Day 14 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Lupe’s day began uneventfully enough.  She woke up on a soft bed at a motel in Tacoma.  Before checking out, SPHP gave her a bath.  Afterwards, Lupe and SPHP spent part of the morning at the same park where Lupe had played Frisbee the evening before.  Next was a boring stop at a laundromat.  When the clothes were all clean, the interesting part of the day began.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Tacoma on Hwy 16, and headed for the Olympic Peninsula.

It had been sunny and warm out in Tacoma, but by the time Lupe was crossing the Hood Canal on Hwy 104, the sky was overcast.  After a while, a light mist began, but it was intermittent and didn’t amount to much.  The Olympic Peninsula is mountainous, but between the clouds and the tall forest that lined both sides of the highway, there wasn’t much to be seen.

From the Port Angeles vicinity, there were views of the ocean off to the NE.  SPHP had been looking forward to taking Hwy 112 W along the N shore of the Olympic Peninsula, but Hwy 112 was closed due to road construction.  Instead, Hwy 101 took Lupe into the N end of Olympic National Park.  After Yellowstone and Glacier, Lanis and SPHP now knew better than to bother stopping anywhere in a U.S. National Park.  Dingoes just weren’t allowed in the backcountry.

Lupe, though, knew this place was different.  For here, in the towering old rain forests of the misty mountains, is the home of a creature from a forgotten age.  Seldom spoken of by American Dingoes and Carolina Dogs, and even then just in low growls and whines, is a race of ancestral Dingoes known only as Big Paw!  U.S. National Park or not, no human has ever been able to find, capture or record Big Paw.

Hwy 101 left Olympic National Park and entered the Olympic National Forest.  In the national forest, Lupe would be less restricted.  Lanis and SPHP started looking for a place to camp, and soon arrived at the Klahowya campground.  Klahowya campground was in a forest full of ferns and moss.  It had a real jungle look to it.  There were plenty of open sites in the campground, too, some of them next to the Sol Duc river.

Lupe's campsite at the Klahowya campground in the Olympic National Forest looked like a real jungle.
Lupe’s campsite at the Klahowya campground in the Olympic National Forest looked like a real jungle.

Lanis and SPHP selected a site, and set up Lupe’s tiny house.  Lupe was still sitting in the Honda Element.  She wasn’t so sure about things.  What if Big Paw was lurking somewhere out there?

Lupe in the safety of Lanis' Honda Element, but still on the alert for Big Paw!
Lupe in the safety of Lanis’ Honda Element, but still on the alert for Big Paw!

Eventually, Lupe came out of the Element to inspect the campsite.  Klahowya campground really was a very impressive place.  Lupe’s tiny house was set up in a jungle setting unlike any place Lupe had ever camped before.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took a short walk through the jungle down to the Sol Duc river.

From the size of the exposed rocky riverbed, it was easy to see that even though there was a fair amount of water in the Sol Duc now, normally it was a much larger river.  However, a dry spell and the late August season meant the river was quite low.   Lupe sniffed around in the bushes and young trees growing near the rocky riverbed.  She was having a good time exploring.

The Element parked in the Klahowya CG.
The Element parked in the Klahowya CG.

Element and tent at Klahowya CG, WA 8-21-12

Lupe's tiny house at Klahowya CG.
Lupe’s tiny house at Klahowya CG.
Lupe arrives to inspect the campsite.
Lupe arrives to inspect the campsite.

After spending a little time down along the Sol Duc river; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned to the campsite for a picnic.  When the meal was done, Lanis and SPHP thought it might be fun to find a trail.  Everyone got back into the Element.  Lanis drove back to Hwy 101, and turned W.  In just a few miles, there was a side road to the N that looked promising.

The side road wound around in the woods.  It emerged from the forest at a large clearing where there were some old abandoned buildings.  The road went past the buildings, and soon ended at a trailhead.  No other vehicles were there.  Lanis parked the Element.  A very wide, level trail led Lupe, Lanis and SPHP into a dense forest.  Perhaps 30 – 50 feet down a steep embankment to the right, flowed the Sol Duc river.

The wide level trail. It turned out this trail was an old roadbed mostly hidden beneath the leaves of the undergrowth on both sides of the apparent trail.
The wide level trail. It turned out this trail was an old roadbed mostly hidden beneath the leaves of the undergrowth on both sides of the apparent trail.

After a little while, SPHP realized the wide trail was actually an abandoned road.  Under the leaves on the trail was a layer of pavement, occasionally exposed at the edges where the where the old road was starting to crumble away.  From the left, small streams trickled down a mountainside.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP came to a single track trail that led up the mountain.  A sign said it led to Snider Peak, elevation 3,055 ft.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took the single track trail, although how far it was to Snider Peak, no one knew.  The trail switch-backed up the mountainside until it was out of view of the abandoned road below.  Although the trail was in seemingly good condition, no one else at all appeared.  Lupe was having fun exploring the forest, but Lanis and SPHP eventually decided Lupe had gone far enough.  It was time to return.

Back down at the old abandoned road, it was still early enough out so Lupe, Lanis and SPHP continued farther along the abandoned road instead of returning to the Element.  Through the trees were glimpses of the Sol Duc river down the embankment on the right, which was steeper and higher here than before.  The river was now 50 – 100 feet below the road.

The river curved away from the old road, and the road began to climb through an exceptionally shady and gloomy portion of the forest.  At the top of the rise, the road leveled out at the edge of a clearing.  On the opposite side of the clearing was a decaying old mobile home, and some dilapidated outbuildings.  No one was around, but a flag was flying – a black flag with the skull and crossbones on it.  Lupe had come to a pirate hideout!

Lanis and SPHP didn’t think it wise to tangle with pirates, and retreated back through the gloomy forest down the wide trail to the bend in the Sol Duc river.  There was no sign of pursuing pirates, but the hair on Lupe’s haunches was up.  She was staring down the abandoned road ahead.  On the side of the trail opposite the river, up on the mountainside, a dark form was moving at high speed through the trees – and coming closer.

Lupe growled deeply.  Suddenly, out of the forest and onto the abandoned road ahead, leaped the approaching menace.

It was huge, as tall as either Lanis or SPHP!  Its long, shaggy fur was mostly dark gray with silver streaks, but where Lupe sports a beautiful white vest on her chest, the creature had a vest of ebony.  A huge curly tail arched high over its back.  The creature’s large soft ears were flattened against its head.  Its gray eyes glowed with a distinctly reddish hue.  Saliva dripped from its fangs and gigantic pink tongue.  Big Paw!

With a low, snarling growl, Big Paw bounded to the attack!  There was no escape.  Lanis and SPHP faced certain doom.  A brown and white flash streaked toward Big Paw.  It was Lupe, barking wildly!  Big Paw paused to consider this noisy, tiny Carolina Dog for only a moment.  Big Paw lunged at Lupe, but she was too fast.

Lupe circled around and around Big Paw, biting his heels and harassing him.  Big Paw snapped at her again and again.  At times Lupe dashed into the trees to get away, with Big Paw hot on her tail.  Lupe barely escaped.  Once, Big Paw was so close, his slavering jaws snapped shut on the upper end of her tail, ripping her fur there away.

Lupe darted between the trees like lightning.  Big Paw crashed into several of them trying to catch her.  Finally, Big Paw hit one of the trees so hard, it leaned and then plummeted down to the Sol Duc river below.  As its roots tore away from under the old abandoned road, a big chunk of the road gave way.  It too, went crashing down into the Sol Duc river.  Lupe and Big Paw almost fell with it, but both managed to scramble back away from the crumbling bank.

Lupe was panting hard.  She had put up a valiant fight, but Big Paw was too fast and strong.  Only Lupe’s agility was saving her, but her energy was fading with each daring escape from Big Paw’s jaws.  Finally Big Paw had her cornered.  He snarled and lunged, but Lupe lunged first.  Her fangs sank into Big Paw’s neck.  She clamped her jaws shut, and hung on tightly.

Blood streaked Big Paw’s fur.  He howled with rage and pain.  Big Paw shook his head violently, but the little Carolina Dog dangling from his neck refused to let go.  Big Paw couldn’t shake himself free of Lupe!

Big Paw took off into the forest, retreating back up Snider Peak, howling in pain the entire time.  Lupe hung on.  For how long she didn’t know.  It seemed like an eternity, but may have been for just a minute or two, if that.  Big Paw made a mighty leap over a giant old tree trunk laying horizontal on the forest floor.  As he did, Lupe crashed into the tree trunk, smashed between Big Paw and giant tree.  She lost her grip and fell dazed to the ground.

When Lupe woke up, Big Paw was gone.  She was alone in the terrifying forest.  Big Paw might return hunting her at any moment!  Suddenly, she heard voices rising faintly up the mountainside.  Lanis and SPHP were calling her, and looking for her.  Lupe staggered to her paws, and took off running down the mountain.

Soon Lupe was back with Lanis and SPHP.  Both shouted with joy at seeing her alive.  They petted her, and hugged her, and kept congratulating her on her most stupendous victory ever in all of American Dingo or Carolina Dog history!  SPHP promised her endless treats, steak and ice cream.  Lanis said he had captured her entire battle with Big Paw on film.  She was going to be rich and famous!

Hmm? Did I doze off? Was I dreaming? Uh, yeah guys, you just go ahead and sleep in the tiny house without me. Think I want to stay here in the Honda Element tonight. Mind locking the doors for me, Lanis, before you turn in? In fact, leave me the keys if you would, please! And maybe pull the blankie back over my head before you go?
Hmm? Did I doze off? Was I dreaming? Uh, yeah guys, you just go ahead and sleep in the tiny house without me. Think I want to stay here in the Honda Element tonight. Mind locking the doors for me, Lanis, before you turn in? In fact, leave me the keys if you would, please! And maybe pull the blankie back over my head before you go?

It doesn’t happen often in that distant land of mist, but on the night of the full moon, when the wind is right and blows the clouds clear away from the mountains, as the pale light filters through the ancient rain forest, if you go to the old abandoned road above the bank of the Sol Duc river, and follow it to the start of the single track trail to Snider Peak, then there the Dingoes say, you can still hear Big Paw howling with rage far up the mountain.

And, if you continue on in the moonlight, on the abandoned old road, you will come to a wide open view of a curve in the Sol Duc river where the road and forested bank caved in during the Battle of Big Paw.  But unless you are looking for trouble, don’t continue on the road up to the pirate hideout, or worse yet, go up the single track trail to Snider Peak.

And, if you ever meet Lupe, the American Dingo, you will know why the fur on the top of the tip of her curly tail is missing to this day.Klahowya CG, Olympic NF, WA 8-21-12

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

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 105 – Silver Mountain (11-22-14)

On November 10, 2014, 8″ of new snow fell at Lupe’s house.  The weather turned very cold for more than a week with highs in the 10-12°F range and subzero lows every night.  Another 4″ of snow fell.  Lupe was bored waiting for it all to end.  She stared out the window for hours, repeatedly sighing and putting her head down, then checking again a little bit later to see if anything had changed.  Nope.

Finally it did warm up.  A few days came when the highs got clear up into the 40’s or even 50’s.  The snow started melting fast.  Saturday the 22nd was Lupe’s big chance to get out on an expedition.  The next day it was supposed to turn cold again.  When Lupe realized SPHP was getting the backpack ready to go, she was one enthusiastic Carolina Dog!

By 9:04 AM (43°F), Lupe was eagerly leaping out of the G6.  The G6 was parked at a little side road just W of Boulder Hill Road (USFS Road No. 358) about 0.5 mile N of Hwy 16.  Lupe was about 0.75 miles S of Boulder Hill (5,331 ft.), and 0.5 mile NE of Silver Mountain (5,405 ft.).  Lupe wasn’t going to Boulder Hill today.  Instead, the plan was for her to go to Silver Mountain, and then on to Calumet Ridge (5,601 ft.) another 2.5 miles to the W.

Lupe and SPHP started out heading W on the little unmarked side road.  There was still about 6″ of snow here.  Glimpses of Silver Mountain could be seen between the trees to the SW.  Lupe and SPHP soon left the road to start climbing toward it.

Lupe didn’t have to go too far from the road to leave the forest.  She entered an open area where there was quite a bit of deadfall timber around.  These trees hadn’t been killed by pine bark beetles.  Almost all of Silver Mountain burned in the August, 2002 Battle Creek fire.  Between the snow and the deadfall timber, the going was rather slow.

When Lupe started hearing gunfire off to the W, things got even slower.  Lupe wanted to stop and hide.  She kept begging SPHP to stop, trying to block the way forward by standing on her hind legs and leaning her front paws on SPHP.  It took some doing, but SPHP finally persuaded her to keep going.  Lupe soon reached the top of a little ridge.  Ahead was a small snowy valley.  Silver Mountain loomed just beyond it.

Lupe sits on a stump up on the first little ridge she reached on her way up Silver Mountain. Photo looks SW at Silver Mountain.
Lupe sits on a stump up on the first little ridge she reached on her way up Silver Mountain. Photo looks SW at Silver Mountain.

To avoid losing too much elevation, Lupe and SPHP went W along the ridgeline for a little way.  Near the upper end of the small snowy valley, Lupe turned SW again to head directly for Silver Mountain.  She lost a little elevation traversing the valley, but once across started regaining it quickly.

A band of live pines that had escaped the 2002 Battle Creek fire was still standing on the upper NE slopes of Silver Mountain.  As Lupe got closer, SPHP realized the trees were swaying in the wind.  It wasn’t windy at all down where Lupe and SPHP were, but apparently a strong wind had kicked up out of the SW.  The higher Lupe climbed, the less protection the mountain gave her.  By the time Lupe was out on the open ground up above the band of trees, the wind was just a gale.  The strongest gusts were enough to make SPHP stumble on the rocky ground.

There were two separate rock formations up ahead in the summit area.  One was to the E, and the other to the W.  Lupe and SPHP were coming up between them.  The E rock formation looked to be the highest.  SPHP hoped it was.  The W formation looked harder to climb.  SPHP didn’t want to have to waste time searching around for an easy way up to the top in this hurricane.  No way Lupe would want to either.

Lupe and SPHP headed for the E rock formation.  Very close to it, Lupe passed by a crude 4-sided structure made out of small logs.  It was too poorly built to have ever been a real cabin.  It looked more like an elaborate kid’s fort.  Lupe didn’t even bother investigating it.  Gunfire was still continuing sporadically to the W.  She stuck close to SPHP.

Approaching the E rock formation from the NW.
Approaching the E rock formation from the NW.

The E rock formation proved to be an easy little scramble.  The wind was very strong, though.  It really felt cold up on top.  Even Lupe was shivering a little.  SPHP sat down on the highest rocks and faced NE away from the wind.  Lupe curled up on SPHP’s lap.  She huddled together with SPHP in SPHP’s jacket to warm up.  Protected from the wind in the jacket, snuggled up with SPHP, Lupe seemed happy and reassured.  She was content to lay there warming up and gazing at the view.

There were a few low bushes at the top of the E rock formation, but no trees to block the views in any direction.  Lupe and SPHP could see way out onto the plains E of the Black Hills.  Boulder Hill was off to the NNE.  Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) was off to the SW.  Calumet Ridge, Lupe’s next peakbagging goal of the day, was off to the W.

Lupe on top of Silver Mountain. Photo looks SW toward Harney Peak. Hwy 16 is seen below.
Lupe on top of Silver Mountain. Photo looks SW toward Harney Peak. Hwy 16 is seen below.
St. Elmo Peak (6,458 ft.) is the high point on the horizon on the R.
St. Elmo Peak (6,458 ft.) is the high point on the horizon on the R.

Lupe on Silver Mountain, 11-22-14One good thing.  It was easy to see from here that the W rock formation wasn’t as high as the E one.  Lupe wouldn’t have to climb it.  Lupe was already on the true summit of Silver Mountain!

Looking toward the W rock formation from the E one. The E rock formation where Lupe is was clearly higher. Lupe wouldn't have to bother climbing the W one. She already had her peakbagging success! Calumet Ridge is seen in the distance. Photo looks W.
Looking toward the W rock formation from the E one. The E rock formation where Lupe is was clearly higher. Lupe wouldn’t have to bother climbing the W one. She already had her peakbagging success! Calumet Ridge is seen in the distance. Photo looks W.

The views were great, but there was no sense staying up in the cold wind all day.  Besides, Lupe still had her Calumet Ridge peakbagging goal ahead of her.  Lupe and SPHP climbed down to the saddle area between the E and W rock formations.  A little W of the “fort” there was a big rock.  SPHP got Lupe up on it for a photo of Boulder Hill behind her.  Lupe was having to look directly into the fierce SW wind.  She refused to open her eyes.  Oh, well!

Lupe kept her eyes shut facing into the strong SW wind. Boulder Hill is the highest point seen beyond her R of Center. Photo looks NNE.
Lupe kept her eyes shut facing into the strong SW wind. Boulder Hill is the highest point seen beyond her R of Center. Photo looks NNE.

Lupe and SPHP went over close to the W rock formation, and then began following it NW down the ridgeline.  Lupe was on her way to Calumet Ridge.  She lost considerable elevation coming down Silver Mountain.  She was on exposed ground all the way, but the wind gradually diminished as she lost elevation.

Beyond the end of the W rock formation at the top of the mountain, Lupe passed by a series of other lower rock outcroppings along the way.  The last of the large rock formations was fairly flat, but still high enough to offer some views.  Lupe could still see Calumet Ridge and Mount Warner (5,889 ft.).

Calumet Ridge is seen beyond Lupe. Photo looks W from the NW slope of Silver Mountain.
Calumet Ridge is seen beyond Lupe. Photo looks W from the NW slope of Silver Mountain.
Mount Warner is the high point at the center. Photo looks WSW.
Mount Warner is the high point at the center. Photo looks WSW.

As Lupe continued NW losing elevation, the wind was weaker.  That was a good thing, except that she could hear the gunfire coming from the W even better now.  Lupe started becoming more and more anxious again.

Part of the burn area NW of Silver Mountain. Photo looks NW.
Part of the burn area NW of Silver Mountain. Photo looks NW.

Lupe made it beyond the burn area NW of Silver Mountain.  She entered the forest again heading W.  She came to a hillside where she could see USFS Road No. 366 just below.  No. 366 went N/S, and Lupe would have to cross it to continue on to Calumet Ridge.  Lupe was just E of the saddle at the highest point on the road.

But Lupe wasn’t going any farther.  She was a nervous wreck.  Volleys of 10 shots or more kept coming.  She was much closer to them now than at Silver Mountain.  Gunfire was heard to the W, SW and NW.  At first SPHP had thought hunters were the source.  The truth was, people were just out for some target practice, which is why the gunfire went on and on.  It sounded like a war was in progress.

For a few minutes, SPHP stopped and looked at the maps.  There was certainly time for Lupe to get to Calumet Ridge, and it was a very nice day out of the wind.  SPHP ate some carrot sticks and pondered.  Lupe wanted to hide right here until the coast was clear.  The problem was, the coast wasn’t going to clear until it got too dark for target practice.

Lupe normally loves all of her Black Hills explorations, but she wasn’t having any fun now.  She was convinced there was mortal danger all around.  Her worries were unfounded, but there was no way to convincingly convey that to her.  No reason to make her suffer.  Time to turn around.  Lupe would make it to Calumet Ridge another day, when target practice wasn’t in such vogue.

Lupe wasn’t relieved of her fears until she was back over to the E side of the NW ridge coming down from Silver Mountain.  When she reached the G6 (12:09 PM, 50°F), she hopped right in ASAP!  Turns out there are worse things than being bored – like fearing for your life!

It had been a very short Black Hills expedition, barely 3 hours, but Lupe did climb Silver Mountain.  About half an hour after Lupe got home, Guille showed up unexpectedly.  She brought a lot of food with her, including a beautiful big ham.  Lupe and SPHP gorged on ham.  Life was good.

SPHP was certain Lupe was completely stuffed when she started taking pieces of ham out to the back yard to bury them for future feasts.  Carolina Dogs think ahead, you know!Calumet Ridge from the NW slopes of Silver Mountain, 11-22-14Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Seattle & Puget Sound, Washington (8-20-12)

Day 13 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Today, Lupe was going to see the ocean for the first time ever!  Well, not the broad expanse of the open sea, but she was at least going to see Puget Sound in Seattle.  Lupe was nearly to Seattle already!

First things first, though.  Lupe’s day started with a visit to a dog park along the Cedar River in Renton, WA just to get some exercise and sniff the morning air.  The dog park turned out to be long and narrow, as it followed the Cedar River.  There wasn’t any access to the river itself, which flowed down in a steep narrow gorge.  A bike path went through the park.  Lupe had to be careful.  Bikers whizzed silently by with some frequency.

Even though the dog park was in the city, it was cool, shady and not too crowded.  Trees and blackberry bushes grew along the bike path.  There were grassy areas where Lupe could run.  Lupe searched the trees for squirrels with some success.  In the meantime, Lanis and SPHP discussed where to go next.  Lanis was interested in seeing the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.

Seattle, WA - a different type of wilderness than Lupe is used to.
Seattle, WA – a different type of wilderness than Lupe is used to.

The Washington Park Arboretum covers 230 acres.  A wide variety of trees, bushes, flowers and plants of all types were growing in great profusion.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP wandered the pathways looking at the displays.  It wasn’t long before SPHP noticed that Lupe was stopping frequently to lick her left front paw.  On examination, there was a little round circle on her biggest pad.  Lupe had stepped on a blackberry thorn back at the dog park in Renton.

Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.
Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.

Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, WA 8-20-12

The Washington Park Arboretum had many beautiful plants and flowers.
The Washington Park Arboretum features many beautiful plants and flowers.

Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, WA 8-20-12Lupe’s sore paw put an end to touring the Washington Park Arboretum.  Lupe needed help getting that blackberry thorn out of her paw!  At a Safeway store, SPHP bought tweezers and a set of needles.  SPHP operated on Lupe’s paw.  Lupe was very cooperative.  She clearly understood that SPHP was trying to help her.  Unfortunately, at first SPHP didn’t seem to be making any progress removing the thorn.

Suddenly, with a little flick of the needle, the blackberry thorn popped out.  It came out all in one piece, leaving a small round hole in Lupe’s pad.  Her paw wasn’t sore anymore.  She quit licking it, and forgot all about it.  A few days later, when SPHP examined her paw, there was no sign of the hole where the thorn had been.

Once the painful blackberry thorn was removed, it was time to go see Puget Sound.  Lupe saw the ocean for the first time at Golden Gardens Park.

Lupe saw the ocean for the first time ever at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, where she had a great view of Puget Sound.
Lupe saw the ocean for the first time ever at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, where she had a great view of Puget Sound.
There was a nice beach at Golden Gardens Park, but no dogs were allowed on it. Lupe saw the ocean, but she didn't get to swim or wade in it, or even run along the beach.
There was a nice beach at Golden Gardens Park, but no dogs were allowed on it. Lupe saw the ocean, but she didn’t get to swim or wade in it, or even run along the beach.

Ravens were flying around looking for tidbits on the lawn near the parking area where the Element was parked.  Lanis became interested in feeding them.  The ravens seemed to like graham crackers.  Lanis’ flock of ravens grew rapidly.  Seagulls noticed the action and started joining in.

Ravens and seagulls wander the lawn near Lanis' Honda Element looking for tidbits.
Ravens and seagulls wander the lawn near Lanis’ Honda Element looking for tidbits.
Lanis started feeding the ravens graham crackers.
Lanis started feeding the ravens graham crackers.
Lanis' flock started growing rapidly.
Lanis’ flock started growing rapidly.

Seagull near Puget Sound, WA 8-20-12The decimation of Lanis’ graham cracker supply led to a loss of interest by his flock of followers, which soon abandoned him.  Although Lupe hadn’t been allowed on the beach, she had at least seen the ocean.  Lupe had to be content with that for the time being.  Maybe it was time to check out the Space Needle?

Lupe saw the Space Needle, but there wasn’t any open parking nearby.  Lanis was ambivalent about paying to go up in the Space Needle, anyway.  Carolina Dogs aren’t generally that interested architecture, although Lupe would have liked the view from the top.  SPHP was pretty certain the view would have been fabulous.  However, since Lupe probably would have been prohibited from going, and there didn’t seem to be any place to park the Element, Lanis drove on.

It had been 5 days since Lupe’s first experience with the luxury of motel life back in Bozeman, MT.  Lanis and SPHP both needed to get cleaned up, and were looking forward to soft beds again.  Lupe certainly wasn’t going to object!  Soon Lupe was checked into a motel in Tacoma.  Now that she had a better idea what to expect, Lupe acted like living in a motel was the most natural thing in the world.

In the evening, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went to a park.  There was a big pond, trees fully equipped with squirrels, and a very spacious lawn for Lupe to race around on.  The park was a popular place.  Lots of people and other dogs were around.  Lupe played Frisbee with Lanis and SPHP.  Sometimes Lupe invited herself to play Frisbee with other people when their Frisbees strayed conveniently close.  The sun set.  It grew dark.  Time to head back to the motel for a long luxurious snooze.

Puget Sound
Puget Sound

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 106 – Smith Mountain and Flag Mountain (11-28-14)

Black Friday.  The day after Thanksgiving.  The day everyone celebrates being totally over-stuffed with delicious turkey and all the trimmings by spending a fortune Christmas shopping online or at the mall.  Well, not quite everyone.  American Dingoes neglect their patriotic duty to keep the economy humming.  They prefer to go on adventures instead!

At 10:06 AM (50°F), SPHP parked the G6 at the Newton Lake (a pond, really) trailhead a few miles NW of Hill City just off Deerfield Road.  Time to start working off a few zillion calories!  The N end of Smith Mountain (5,897 ft.) was immediately to the W.  Lupe couldn’t just go W, though, to get there.  The Newton Fork of Spring Creek, too big to simply leap across, was in the way.

Lupe and SPHP crossed Deerfield Road and got on the Mickelson Trail heading WNW.  The trail was covered with 6″ of snow.  Lupe and SPHP trudged along, burning calories already.  The trail soon crossed Newton Creek at a very nice bridge.  0.5 mile after Lupe got on the trail, she was a little N of the N end of Smith Mountain.  Lupe and SPHP left the Mickelson Trail, climbed up the embankment to Deerfield Road, and crossed over to the S side of the highway.

Smith Mountain was the first of 3 peakbagging objectives Lupe had for the day.  The other two, Flag Mountain (5,896 ft.) and Campaign Hill (5,800 ft.), were both S of Smith Mountain.  Smith Mountain is a nearly mile long ridge running N/S.  Lupe and SPHP started climbing the slope at the N end of the ridge.  There was quite a lot of deadfall timber to work past, and snow everywhere, too.  By the time Lupe reached the first little saddle where she could see over to the W side of the mountain, the sun was so warm SPHP had to stop and take off a jacket.

Lupe gained the top of the ridge close to the highest point at the very N end of Smith Mountain.  If there had been fewer trees blocking the view, she would have gone to the very top of the N high point to take a look at Lowden Mountain (6,055 ft.) a mile to the N.  Instead, Lupe headed S along the ridge looking for the true summit of Smith Mountain.  She came to a couple of high spots definitely higher than the N high point.  SPHP thought the second one she came to was likely the true summit.

Lupe at the 2nd high point S of the northernmost high point on Smith Mountain.
Lupe at the 2nd high point S of the northernmost high point on Smith Mountain.

Lupe continued S along the Smith Mountain ridge.  This part of the forest had been thinned before the pine bark beetle infestation started.  There was far less deadfall timber to contend with.  The remaining trees were healthier.  More sunlight could reach the ground between them, so there wasn’t nearly as much snow around.  It was far easier to move along, and Lupe and SPHP caught better glimpses of the views to E.

The ridge started angling a little more to the SSE.  After having lost some elevation, Lupe was climbing again.  As Lupe went higher and higher, SPHP began to realize that Lupe hadn’t actually reached the true summit of Smith Mountain yet; it was still ahead.

Lupe didn’t have very far to go to reach it.  Soon she was sniffing around much bigger rock formations at the true summit of Smith Mountain.  The highest rocks were so huge, she couldn’t actually get up on top of them, but she climbed up almost as high.  SPHP lifted her up so she could put her front paws on the highest rock, just a foot or two below the very highest point, which was out of reach to the W.

Lupe at the true summit of Smith Mountain. She climbed higher than shown here, and SPHP lifted her up so her paws could touch the big rocks within just a foot or two of the very top. That was close enough! The American Dingo was claiming a peakbagging success! Dingoes are practical, not purists. Photo looks W.
Lupe at the true summit of Smith Mountain. She climbed higher than shown here, and SPHP lifted her up so her paws could touch the big rocks within just a foot or two of the very top. That was close enough! The American Dingo was claiming a peakbagging success! Dingoes are practical, not purists. Photo looks W.

From the true summit, Lupe and SPHP continued only a little way farther SSE along the ridge before turning more to the SSW to start losing elevation.  Lupe stayed high enough on the mountain to avoid a couple of draws that drained W.  Eventually the terrain sloped more to the SSW.  Lupe and SPHP headed down.

Suddenly there was the sound of gunfire!  Hunters were about.  Lupe was instantly alarmed.  She insisted on stopping.  SPHP found a dry spot.  Lupe and SPHP took a break just sitting on the pine needles on the forest floor.  Lupe wasn’t hungry, but SPHP ate a tangerine and a few carrot sticks.  The gunfire had come from quite some distance to the S or SW.

A little while after the gunfire ended, SPHP was ready to move on.  Reluctantly, Lupe tagged along close by.  Almost as soon as Lupe started off again, SPHP spotted a road ahead.  SPHP didn’t realize it at the time, but this was USFS Road No. 386.1B.  Lupe reached it at a bend at the NE corner of a big clearing.  She could follow the road W or S.  Lupe and SPHP headed S in the direction of Flag and Campaign mountains.  There was quite a bit of snow and ice gradually melting on the road.

Eventually, No. 386.1B began turning E to go around the S end of Smith Mountain.  Lupe left the road continuing S.  Before long, she reached a big field extending E/W down in the Patterson Creek valley.  Lupe crossed the field.  Patterson Creek meandered along the S side of the field.  It had plenty of water in it, and was flowing along quite nicely.  Fortunately, the creek was just small enough to leap over.  Both Lupe and SPHP made it across without difficulty.

Near the S side of Patterson Creek was a snowy road going E/W.  A quick check to the W revealed a dead end.  The road went farther E following the Patterson Creek valley downstream.  Lupe went just a little way E on the road, before turning S to start the climb up Flag Mountain.  There was quite a bit of snow on the ground here, and some deadfall timber, too.  Lupe succeeded in avoiding most of the snow and some of the deadfall timber by climbing up a little ridge approaching Flag Mountain from the NNE.

The last 200 feet of elevation gain up the N slope of Flag Mountain was different.  It was fairly steep, full of snow and choked with deadfall.  Lupe had lots of time to sniff around in the shattered forest while SPHP struggled up the mountain.  Meanwhile, the sunnier skies Lupe enjoyed earlier in the day disappeared.  A cold breeze started up out of the WNW.  The mood had turned a bit gloomy by the time Lupe and SPHP made it to the top of Flag Mountain.

The summit area was a little surprising.  It was as big as several houses, and mostly level.  The biggest part was toward the E where the ground was mostly grassy, with trees along the N and NE perimeters.  The very highest point was near the W end, where the summit was much rockier and narrower.  The rocks weren’t very large.  Lupe hopped up on top for a look around.  There were quite a few trees around, but she could see Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) to the SE.

Lupe reaches the summit of Flag Mountain. Photo looks SE toward Harney Peak.
Lupe reaches the summit of Flag Mountain. Photo looks SE toward Harney Peak.

Lupe on Flag Mountain, 11-28-14Lupe on Flag Mountain, 11-28-14The most wide open views from Flag Mountain were toward the E and S from the larger E portion of the summit area.  There were a few bushes, but no trees along the SE perimeter to block the view.  The most impressive view was SE toward Harney Peak, but Lupe also had a pretty good view off to the ENE toward Five Points (6,221 ft.).

Harney Peak from Flag Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Harney Peak from Flag Mountain. Photo looks SE.
Five Points is the wavy ridge on the R. Privately named False North Point is the pointy peak on the L. Looking ENE from Flag Mountain.
Five Points is the wavy ridge on the R. Privately named False North Point is the pointy peak on the L. Looking ENE from Flag Mountain.

Lupe had now climbed 2 of her 3 peakbagging goals for the day, Smith and Flag Mountains.  Her 3rd goal, Campaign Hill was supposed to be just 0.5 mile S of Flag Mountain, but at first glance, SPHP did not see it.  After looking more carefully from the SE edge of the Flag Mountain summit, SPHP saw the E end of a low forested hill to the S.  It seemed too low to be Campaign Hill, but after consulting the maps again, that had to be it.

Campaign Hill wasn’t very far away, but the S slope of Flag Mountain was too steep to go directly down that way.  SPHP got cold feet.  No, really, truly cold feet.  SPHP’s old boots leaked badly.  After tramping around for hours in melting snow, SPHP’s feet were totally sopping wet.  They had been that way essentially the whole day.  Now, standing around on Flag Mountain in the cold breeze, SPHP’s feet felt like they were freezing up.

The sun was low in the sky, but there were still a couple of hours left before sunset.  Lupe and SPHP hadn’t gone all that far as the crow flies, but it had taken a long time to get to Flag Mountain with all the snow and deadfall timber along the way.  It might take quite a while to get back, too.  SPHP needed to start moving to get the circulation going again.  Decision time.

Well, no sense risking frostbite.  Campaign Hill would still be there another day.  Lupe and SPHP started slowly back down the N slope of Flag Mountain through the snow and deadfall timber again.  Lupe went all the way back down the mountain to the Patterson Creek valley again.

Looking W up the Patterson Creek valley on the way back to the G6.
Looking W up the Patterson Creek valley on the way back to the G6.

Lupe and SPHP crossed Patterson Creek and went over to the N side of the field.  Since there was no need to climb Smith Mountain again, Lupe and SPHP followed the fence along the edge of the field heading W up the valley to see what was there.  The field branched out into two even bigger fields, one to the SW and one to the NW.  Two big spruce trees stood near an old abandoned cabin where the fields met.  It was a pretty spot.

This old abandoned cabin is about 1 mile SSW of Smith Mountain. Photo looks SSW.
This old abandoned cabin is about 1 mile SSW of Smith Mountain. Photo looks SSW.

Lupe continued along the NE edge of the field heading N along the fence line.  The field soon divided again.  One arm of it went off to the W.  The other arm turned and went N a long way.  SPHP could see a home way up toward the far N end.  The fields were probably private property.  Lupe and SPHP decided to angle NNE through the forest, hoping to find USFS Road No. 386.1B again somewhere W of Smith Mountain.

Lupe did find No. 386.1B again near the big clearing where she had first reached it earlier in the day on the way to Flag Mountain.  This time, Lupe followed No. 386.1B going N.  The road wound around a little, but most of the time made steady progress to the N.  Along the way, Lupe was exploring new territory W of Smith Mountain.  She saw deer and squirrels in the forest, so she was having some fun.

After a little while, SPHP saw an intersection up ahead.  As Lupe got close to the intersection, her fun suddenly ended.  A shot rang out very close by.  Hunters again!  This time much, much closer.  Lupe wanted to hide near a big tree close to the intersection.  SPHP complied.  Several more shots rang out.  SPHP knew Lupe wasn’t going anywhere until they stopped.

Ten minutes of silence went by.  SPHP headed for the intersection.  Lupe didn’t want to go, but was scared to be left behind.  The side road was marked No. 386.1F.  It went NNE and looked like a shortcut back to the G6 compared to No. 386.1B, which would take a very long way around to the NW.  From the intersection, SPHP saw the hunter’s pickup truck parked not too far away along No. 386.1F.

Another shot rang out.  Lupe and SPHP retreated SW to a big rock.  SPHP sat and looked at maps, while Lupe huddled as close as she could get.  The maps showed it would have been faster to take No. 386.1B around the E side of Smith Mountain from Patterson Creek.  Too late for that!  No. 386.1F was definitely a shortcut back to the G6 from here.  It would save at least a mile compared to staying on No. 386.1B.

After it had been quiet for a while again, Lupe and SPHP returned to the intersection and started NNE on No. 386.1F.  Within a few minutes, Lupe was past the hunter’s pickup truck.  The road was snowy and icy.  There were lots of tracks in the snow.  There must have been quite a few hunters.  Lupe saw a couple of them to the E higher up on Smith Mountain.  One waved.  SPHP waved back, but did not stop.  No more shots were heard.

No. 386.1F led down into a big draw NNW of Smith Mountain.  Lower down, the road became so choked with deadfall timber, Lupe and SPHP left it.  The mountain slopes seemed easier going than the road.  The sun set.  For just a few minutes, there was a beautifully colored sky to the SW.

It was 4:59 PM (41°F), and getting pretty dark by the time Lupe and SPHP reached the G6 again.  SPHP’s feet were still cold, but moving on the long march back had helped.  They weren’t as cold as they had been standing around on top of Flag Mountain.  Carolina Dogs have great circulation.  SPHP felt Lupe’s paws.  They were practically burning hot!  It felt good just holding them!  Lupe just grinned.

Sunset from down in the draw along USFS Road No. 386.1F near the NW end of Smith Mountain.
Sunset from down in the draw along USFS Road No. 386.1F near the NW end of Smith Mountain.

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

King’s Hill, Montana & Bald Mountain, Wyoming (9-7-16 & 9-8-16)

Days 40 & 41 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

Night, Unknown Hour, Pre-dawn on Day 40 – Cold out, but at least Lupe wasn’t going to get snowed in at the Canadian Rockies.  Last evening’s rain had stopped.  Stars glittered in the black night sky.  Back to sleep, if possible, no telling how many hours away dawn was.  Lupe wasn’t going anywhere until then, not with the G6’s burnt out R headlight.

Day 40, 6:55 AM, 33°F – Whatever happened to that bright morning sunshine SPHP had expected?  The clouds were back.  In places there was fog along Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  It hadn’t snowed down here, but mountains visible between the clouds were sporting a dusting of new snow.  The mood was more like the onset of winter than a day in early September.

Morning in the Canadian Rockies.

Sadly, Lupe was leaving.  Her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska was all but over.  She would have a couple more adventures on the way home, but they wouldn’t take long.

The miles flew by as Lupe watched the scenery from the comfort of the G6.  She saw the grandeur of the towering Canadian Rockies.  She passed by many a turn leading to fabulous adventures she’d had earlier on this Dingo Vacation or back in 2013 or 2014.  As Lupe left the glorious mountains, the sky started to clear and the sun came out.

Lupe wasn’t the least bit sad.  As far as she was concerned, the adventure was still on.  In fact, it was getting even better!  Ahead of her were more than 1,000 miles of farm and ranchlands.  That meant one thing to the Carolina Dog – an abundance of cows, horses, haystacks, suspicious barns and outbuildings to bark at while leaping from window to window in the G6!  Yes, it was going to be an exciting, busy, exhausting day!

And so it was.  Barking at cows and horses from the G6 is a sport Looper never tires of, nor loses interest in.  The unsuspecting cows and horses don’t have to do anything more than exist in order to egg her on.  Seldom are they even aware of her brief, shrill, distant presence.  Doesn’t matter a whit.  Loop barks all the harder.  The whole experience provides her with a sense of purpose, accomplishment and joy.

The only way to calm the energetic din, is to drive into a town or up into the mountains.  Even the mountains can be noisy, but rarely are there enough deer and squirrels present as substitutes to make the experience at all comparable to the pleasures to be had in cattle country.

SPHP was granted a break while driving through Calgary, and another later on in Great Falls, Montana.  In Great Falls, SPHP stopped to pick up fried chicken, potato wedges and Almond Joys.  For a while SE of Great Falls, the potato wedges and Almond Joys kept Lupe distracted.  By the time SPHP stopped at the Al Buck Memorial Park along Highway 89 N of the Little Belt Range, Lupe was too stuffed to share the fried chicken.

Day 40, 7:00 PM, 47°F – Lupe arrived at King’s Hill Pass on Hwy 89 in the Little Belt Mountains of W Central Montana very satisfied with how her day had gone.  The excitement of being in cattle country was temporarily over up here, but the sun would be above the horizon for a little while longer.  The American Dingo was still bursting with energy and eager for some exercise climbing King’s Hill (8,008 ft.).

From the pass, Lupe went SW through the forest until she reached USFS Road No. 487, which she followed for 0.75 mile going S along the W face of King’s Hill.  By the time No. 487 turned E, she was almost up to the S end of the huge, nearly level summit area.  Lupe went N along the wide summit ridge, as the last feeble rays of sunlight faded.

Lupe near the S end of the King’s Hill summit near sunset. The highest point on King’s Hill is toward the far end of this meadow. Photo looks NNW.

Lupe traveled NNW across the open ground until she reached the survey benchmark at the true summit near the N end of the mountain.  Although the sun was still above the horizon, clouds filtered the remaining sunlight to the point where it was hard to tell it was even present.  It certainly did nothing to cut the chill from the W wind sweeping over King’s Hill.

Off to the NNE, Lupe could see Big Baldy Mountain (9,177 ft.), the highest point in the Little Belt Range.  Big Baldy already had snow on top!

Off to the NNE, Lupe could see Big Baldy Mountain, the high point of the Little Belt Range. Big Baldy already had snow on top!
Big Baldy Mountain from King’s Hill. Photo looks NNE using the telephoto lens.

Up in the cold wind, late in the day after being cooped up in the G6 so long, the American Dingo started getting ideas.  Oh, no!  SPHP recognized that look.

Up in the cold wind on King’s Hill late in the day, Lupe started getting ideas. She stood motionless staring steadily at SPHP. In a flash, SPHP realized what was coming. The were-puppy was about to attack! Photo looks SSW.

Suddenly Lupe vanished.  In her place appeared the wild, ferocious were-puppy.  Without hesitation the were-puppy attacked SPHP!

After a few minutes of struggle, during which the were-puppy lunged and leaped at SPHP with snapping jaws, SPHP managed to fend off the were-puppy.  Lupe returned looking as innocent as she could be.

So, I take you adventuring not only to the Canadian Rockies, but way up to the Yukon and even Alaska, and this is what I get?

Why, whatever do you mean, SPHP?  Are you feeling well?

Sly dog!  Well, the wind was cold, and Lupe had made it to the top of King’s Hill.  The sun really would be down behind Porphyry Peak (8,192 ft.) soon.  No sense in sticking around waiting for the were-puppy to return.  Lupe and SPHP started S toward the road leading back down to the G6.

The lookout tower on Porphyry Peak stands silhouetted against the sky near sundown. Photo looks W.

Shots rang out.  Gunfire!  Hunters?  The same American Dingo which had presented itself as the bold, ferocious, wild and invincible were-puppy only minutes ago, now pleaded with SPHP for reassurance and assistance.

Help!  Help!  Hide me!  Save me!  Hold me!  Pet me!  Love me!  Carry me!  All of the above me!

Sheesh, such drama!  Come on Looper, you’ll be fine.  Just stick close by.  No harm will come to you.

As promised, Lupe returned safely to the G6, though shaken by her narrow escape (8:19 PM).  She leaped into the G6 immediately.  SPHP fed her Alpo and Taste of the Wild before putting her blankie over her.  Soon the were-puppy was snoring peacefully.  Outside, stars shone brilliantly accompanied by a half moon.

Day 41, First Light, 6:13 AM, 41°F – Lupe woke to the sound of rain and wind gusts.  A small storm was blowing through.  So much for any thought of climbing Porphyry Peak this morning.  SPHP had hatched a different plan already, anyway.  Look out cows, horses and haystacks, Lupe is on her way!

Lupe left the Little Belt Range behind.  S of White Sulphur Springs near the junction of Hwys 12 & 89, Lupe & SPHP got out of the G6 to take a look at the dramatic sky remaining in the aftermath of the storm front.

Lupe in W Central Montana along Hwy 89 near its junction with Hwy 12. The day started off with scattered small storms and wind. A little later on, the sky cleared off completely. Photo looks SE.
Dramatic clouds of a line of small storms boosted the scenic value of Lupe’s early drive through W central Montana. Photo looks SE along Hwy 89.

Cows, horses, haystacks!  Lupe had her fun.  Ahh, this was the life!  Another great day!

E of Lovell, Wyoming, Highway Alt 14 wound steeply up into the last big mountain range of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation.  Lupe was back in the Bighorns for the first time since she’d climbed Cloud Peak (13,167 ft.) back in July.  Her final peakbagging adventures of this Dingo Vacation would occur here.

A little after noon, on this cool breezy day, Lupe set out from the Bald Mountain campground for Bald Mountain (10,042 ft.) (12:09 PM, 56°F).

Lupe sets out for Bald Mountain. Photo looks SE.

The mostly bare, rounded mountain was an easy climb.  The only real obstacle was the SW wind, which blew harder and harder as Lupe gained elevation.  Carolina Dogs are not great fans of wind, but Loopster persevered.  There was nothing along the way to protect her from the wind, but on the other hand, the views were tremendous!

On the way up. The summit of Bald Mountain is ahead. Photo looks ESE from the S side of the W end of the mountain.
Looking SSE.
Looking SW.
Looking SSW.

Lupe reached the survey benchmark at the true summit.  The wind was worst here.  She didn’t like it, but the Carolina Dog stayed long enough for photos.  Lupe had been here before.  Twice in 2012, once in 2013.  More than 3 years had gone by since her last ascent.

The survey benchmark at the summit of Bald Mountain.
At the summit. Photo looks SSE.
Hwy Alt 14 is seen on the L. Hunt Mountain (10,162 ft.) is on the R. Photo looks SE.
Medicine Mountain (9,962 ft.) (L) from Bald Mountain. The round white dome on Medicine Mountain is part of an FAA air traffic control installation, and is often visible from great distances. Photo looks NW.
Looking WNW. Medicine Mountain on the R.
Lupe patiently endures the wind at the summit of Bald Mountain. Photo looks NNW.

Well, this was it.  Lupe had done it.  She had reached the summit of Bald Mountain.  Only one task remained – to go find the place of names, and make the necessary repairs.  Lupe’s name has been immmortalized in stone on Bald Mountain since July 11, 2013.

It had been more than 3 years since Lupe and SPHP were here last, but the place of names was found with relatively little difficulty.  Lupe waited in the wind for an hour, while SPHP fixed things up.  Finally, it was done.And that was that.  There was nothing left to do.  Enough of this wind!  Lupe and SPHP began the easy trek back to the G6 with a grand view of Medicine Mountain ahead.

Lupe about to start the return journey down to the G6. Bald Mountain CG where the G6 was parked is at the closest large clump of trees down on the R. Medicine Mountain is at Center. Photo looks NW.
Medicine Mountain using the telephoto lens.
About 1.25 miles beyond the summit of Medicine Mountain, is the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark. No details of the Medicine Wheel’s origins are known, other than that it was built by Native Americans. Considered a sacred site, visitors are allowed to visit the Medicine Wheel when not in use by Native Americans, but Lupe did not go there today.

The wind was still blowing when Lupe reached the G6 at the Bald Mountain campground (3:13 PM, 53°F), but not as strongly as up on the mountain.  She stayed in the area for more than an hour before heading E again on Highway Alt 14A toward Burgess Junction.

Later in the day, E of the magnificent Bighorn Range, Lupe resumed her happy duty watching for cows and horses to bark at along I90.  She kept it up as long as there was light to see by.  Yes, this really was the life, all these splendid days adventuring on and off the long road to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska and back, every minute spent with sweet Lupe!

Lupe coming down Bald Mountain.

After an adventure spanning 9,126 miles, 41 days & 40 nights, Lupe returned to her home in the Black Hills of South Dakota at 10:50 PM on 9-8-2016.  She had gone thousands of miles farther than she had ever been before, seen countless magnificent sights, and had wonderful adventures all the way up to the Yukon and far into Alaska.

In the Brooks Range of northern Alaska, Lupe went her last mile N reaching the confluence of the Dietrich River and a stream NW of Dillon Mountain.  From there she saw a mountain, farther N yet, privately designated the Mountain of the Midnight Sun.  Whether Lupe ever sees the Mountain of the Midnight Sun and adventures in Alaska again is, at this moment, part of the unknown, uncertain future.

So long as Lupe is alive and well, hope remains that some day the Dingo of the Midnight Sun will return to roam and play once more beneath the pale blue Arctic sky.

The dark blue Mountain of the Midnight Sun (R).

The Owl & The Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money, wrapped up in a five pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar,

“O lovely Pussy!  O Pussy, my love, what a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are, what a beautiful Pussy you are.”

Pussy said to the Owl “You elegant fowl, how charmingly sweet you sing.  O let us be married, too long we have tarried; but what shall we do for a ring?”

They sailed away for a year and a day, to the land where the Bong-tree grows, and there in a wood, a Piggy-wig stood, with a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose.  With a ring at the end of his nose.

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”  Said the Piggy, “I will.”

So they took it away, and were married next day by the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon.

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon.

They danced by the light of the moon.

 – Edward Lear, first published 1871Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.