Multnomah Falls, Oregon (8-27-12)

Day 20 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

After leaving the Oregon coast the previous afternoon; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had driven out of the rain, and made it as far as a motel on the E side of Portland near I-84 and some busy train tracks.  Trains rumbled by in the night, but the cheap motel was a real treat after many nights spent in Lupe’s tiny house or car camping in Lanis’ Honda Element.

In the morning; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP relaxed in the motel room in no real hurry to hit the road.  Lupe’s time on the West Coast was over, and she was headed home.  Lanis needed to get back to Indiana by September 1st, so Lupe was destined to spend much of the rest of her 2012 Dingo Vacation on the road.  Even so, there would still be time for at least a couple of adventures on the way.

It was still a cool morning, with blue sky and puffy white clouds, when Lupe, Lanis and SPHP finally got started heading E on I-84.  Lupe didn’t get very far before reaching Multnomah Falls, a beautiful, tall, thin waterfall spilling over the bluffs on the S side of the lush, green Columbia River Gorge.

The walkway to Multnomah Falls, Oregon from the parking lot along I-84.
The walkway to Multnomah Falls, Oregon from the parking lot along I-84.
Lupe and Lanis on their way to check out Multnomah Falls.
Lupe and Lanis on their way to check out Multnomah Falls.

Located right along I-84 in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is very accessible and a popular tourist stop.  The Multnomah Falls Lodge near the base of the falls offers lodging, a restaurant, and gift shop.  There were lots of people and a few other dogs around, when Lupe arrived to see the falls.

Multnomah Falls is actually two waterfalls.  The lower one is about 70 feet tall, but the upper falls, which is the main attraction, drops 540 feet.  A short paved trail goes up to several viewpoints, including Benson bridge, near the base of the upper falls.

The lower falls is beautiful as it drops into a large pool, but just doesn't get any respect compared to the much higher and more dramatic upper falls.
The lower falls is beautiful as it drops into a large pool, but just doesn’t get any respect compared to the much higher and more dramatic upper falls.
The Benson bridge over Multnomah creek is one of several excellent viewpoints for seeing the upper falls.
The Benson bridge over Multnomah creek is one of several excellent viewpoints for seeing the upper falls.
From Benson bridge, Multnomah Falls was so high, SPHP couldn't even get the entire falls in the photo.
From Benson bridge, Multnomah Falls was so high, SPHP couldn’t even get the entire falls in the photo.
Base of upper Multnomah Falls.
Base of upper Multnomah Falls.

After crossing Benson bridge, visitors may stop at another viewpoint very close to the base of the falls, or continue on a 1.1 mile paved trail all the way up to the top of Multnomah Falls.  Naturally, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took the trail.  There were plenty of people on the trail, but it wasn’t nearly so crowded as down below.

The trail went up a series of long switchbacks on a steep, densely forested slope.  Now and then there were glimpses of the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge between the trees.  The trail climbed almost all the way.  It eventually went over a little ridge before dropping down to follow Multnomah Creek to the brink of the falls.

Looking N across the Columbia River from the trail to the top of Multnomah Falls.
Looking N across the Columbia River from the trail to the top of Multnomah Falls.
Looking NE.
Looking NE.
Multnomah Creek a short distance above upper Multnomah Falls.
Multnomah Creek a short distance above upper Multnomah Falls.
Multnomah Creek as it reaches the brink of the upper falls.
Multnomah Creek as it reaches the brink of the upper falls.

There was a nice viewing platform along Multnomah Creek next to the brink of upper Multnomah Falls.  The view down the Columbia River Gorge to the W was fantastic.  Looking over the edge, Lupe could see Multnomah Falls plummet over 500 feet down to the pool at the base of the falls.

Lupe looking pretty happy at having made it up to this viewing platform at the top of Multnomah Falls.
Lupe looking pretty happy at having made it up to this viewing platform at the top of Multnomah Falls.
Looking W down the Columbia River Gorge from the viewing platform at the top of Multnomah Falls.
Looking W down the Columbia River Gorge from the viewing platform at the top of Multnomah Falls.
The view from the brink of upper Multnomah Falls.
The view from the brink of upper Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls was certainly worth seeing, but it was time for Lupe to start making tracks.  It was a long way home.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP enjoyed the easy stroll back down to the base of Multnomah Falls, and then headed for the Element.  Soon Lupe was traveling E on I-84 again.

By the time Lupe reached The Dalles, the lush, green Columbia River gorge was behind her.  The huge, blue Columbia River was still near I-84, but the surrounding green forests had given way to much drier looking country.  The clouds and pleasant cool weather were gone, too.  Temperatures soared beneath a cloudless sky.

It was already lunch time.  E of The Dalles, Lanis pulled off I-84 to stop by at a McDonald’s.  An old man was sheltering a little brown dog at the busy off ramp.  He held up a sign saying “Just Hungry”.  There was too much traffic to stop, but at the McDonald’s, Lanis and SPHP bought a couple of extra cheeseburgers and a chocolate sundae.  While Lanis was getting the burgers, SPHP searched around the Element to see what else could be scrounged up for the old man and his little doggie.

There really wasn’t too much to scrounge.  This late in Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation, most of the supplies were already used up.  For the old man, there was just some trail mix, an orange, almonds, and $9.00 in cash.  For his little brown doggie, SPHP found some Gravy Train, Canine Carry-Outs, a few other dog treats and a big rawhide stick.

On the way back to I-84, Lanis pulled the Element over at the side of the on ramp.  SPHP jumped out and ran across the busy intersection to the off ramp to deliver the cheeseburgers, chocolate sundae, and other meager assistance to the old man.  He was quite grateful.  He said he shared the same birthday with his little brown doggie, named Otis.  Otis was three years old.  The old man thanked SPHP, and said he and Otis would be OK.  That was about all SPHP learned about their situation, before running back to Lupe and Lanis waiting in the Element.

The farther E Lupe went, the hotter and drier it got.  I-84 eventually left the Columbia River and very gradually curved SE.  Lupe went over the Blue Mountains.  Looking at the maps late in the afternoon, SPHP thought it might be fun for Lupe to stay at the Farewell Bend State Recreation Area on the Snake River right across from Idaho.  Lanis turned off I-84 to drive through the campground.

The surrounding area looked like desert, but the campground featured lots of trees and reasonably green grass.  There were 90 RV sites, and about 30 tent sites.  All of the tent sites were far from the Snake River.  However, one of the RV loops sat on a small ridge a little distance away from the Snake.  These sites had the best views in the entire campground.  Every single one of them was vacant, except for a park ranger site.

In fact, almost all of the 120 total sites in the campground were vacant.  There were 5 sites occupied by park personnel, who currently outnumbered paying customers.  SPHP asked the ranger at the empty RV loop with the pleasant view of the Snake River, if it would be possible to rent one of the RV sites just for Lupe’s tiny house and pay the tenting rate of $18, instead of the $22 RV rate.

Nope!  Not possible.  Lupe could put up her tiny house at one of the RV sites, but despite the fact that it was late afternoon and the place was virtually deserted, and Lupe wouldn’t be using any of the RV amenities (dump station, electricity, etc.), SPHP would have to pay the full $22 for the site or go to the tenting area.  Oh, and by the way, there were all these rules for dogs in the park… blah, blah, blah.

The ranger was pleasant enough about it, but like so many in the Land of the Free these days, she was all about countless bureaucratic rules, regardless of the situation.  SPHP declined.  The ranger had a golf cart to drive around in enforcing the blizzard of rules.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP would be her only targets to micro-manage in the entire loop.  No way!  Lupe and SPHP would rather car camp, even if it meant disappointing Lanis.

Instead of taking a site; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went down for a brief exploration along the Snake River.  The edge of the river proved to be rather mucky and marshy.  The river was low this time of year.  On the mud, and among the reeds, flies swarmed around the rotten decaying carcasses of large dead carp.  Lupe was interested.  It really was time to get out of there!  Absolutely no more Dead Fish Dingo stunts permitted!  That was one rule both Lanis and SPHP were in full and complete agreement with!

Heading E on I-84 along through the Columbia River Gorge E of Multnomah Falls.
Heading E on I-84 along through the Columbia River Gorge E of Multnomah Falls.

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. 100 – Round Mountain, Peak 6740, Limestone Hill & Elliot Ridge (10-16-14)

Only yesterday it had been 80°F.  Now it was much cooler.  A cold front moved through overnight, and a fairly strong wind still blew out of the NW, but it wasn’t bad down here.  SPHP had just parked the G6 near the intersection of USFS Roads No. 422 and 284.1C (9:54 AM, 47°F).  Lupe was 0.33 mile N of Custer County Road No. 284, and 5 miles W of where “The Fort” used to be S of Crazy Horse on Hwy 385.  She was about to begin her 100th official Black Hills, SD Expedition!

Lupe and SPHP had an ambitious peakbagging day planned for Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 100.  Lupe was going to visit 4 mountains she had never been to before.  Her first goal was Round Mountain (6,600 ft.), the N end of which was only 0.5 mile to the W.  Lupe and SPHP headed W directly for the mountain.

Lupe started gaining elevation right away, slowly at first, but the mountain grew steadily steeper.  The area was all forested, but the forest had been thinned on the lower slopes.  Near the top, the forest was much thicker.  The climb was pretty easy, and soon Lupe arrived at a break in a line of small limestone cliffs near the N end of the mountain.  Lupe and SPHP quickly scrambled up on top.

Round Mountain’s summit ridge is about 0.20 mile long, and runs N/S.  The mountain is capped by a layer of limestone.  Small cliffs tend to form along the edges of the limestone cap.  The summit ridge is quite narrow at the N end, but wider toward the S.  Since Lupe and SPHP came up near the N end of the mountain, Lupe checked things out in that direction first.

At the N end of Round Mountain, the narrow limestone ridge ended in small cliffs on all three sides.  Pines hid most of the field of vision, but Lupe did get a partial look at Peak 6740 to the N.  It was windy and cold here.  Lupe didn’t stay long.  Lupe and SPHP went back to the little notch in the limestone cliffs to get out of the wind.  SPHP checked the topo map.  The true summit was supposed to be toward the S.

From the notch, it was easiest to just go S along the base of the W side of the cliffs until another break provided a way up on top again.  Lupe and SPHP continued S on the ridgeline.  For the most part, the forest blocked the views.  At least the forest was providing protection from the wind!  Occasionally Lupe could see distant peaks SPHP recognized to the E.  All that could be seen to the W was a high forested ridge less than a mile away.

The stroll along the top of the ridgeline was easy and almost level.  Lupe gained elevation slowly.  She passed over the true summit of Round Mountain, but continued on a little farther to the cliffs at the S end.  Lupe found the best views from Round Mountain here.  From on high, she could see a very long way S.

Lupe reaches the S end of Round Mountain. The big view here was easily the best from anywhere on the mountain. Photo looks S.
Lupe reaches the S end of Round Mountain. The big view here was easily the best from anywhere on the mountain. Photo looks S.

After checking out the view, Lupe and SPHP went N back to the true summit.  The summit area was very flat and hidden in the forest.  A small patch of exposed limestone seemed to be close to the highest point around.  Lupe posed for a photo.  Round Mountain was her first peakbagging success of Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 100!

Lupe at the summit of Round Mountain. Photo looks N.
Lupe at the summit of Round Mountain. Photo looks N.

Before leaving Round Mountain, Lupe and SPHP returned to the very N end of the summit ridge once again.  Lupe posed uncomfortably on the rocks in the cold wind.  As soon as her photo op was over, she was anxious to leave!  Lupe and SPHP went back to the notch, climbed down to the E, and turned N along the base of the limestone cliffs.  Soon Lupe was beyond them and on her way down the N slope of Round Mountain.

Lupe sits uncomfortably in the cold wind at the N end of Round Mountain. Her next peakbagging objective, Peak 6740, is the forested ridge seen to her L. Photo looks N.
Lupe sits uncomfortably in the cold wind at the N end of Round Mountain. Her next peakbagging objective, Peak 6740, is the forested ridge seen to her L. Photo looks N.
Looking back at the small limestone cliffs at the N end of Round Mountain. Photo looks SSW.
Looking back at the small limestone cliffs at the N end of Round Mountain. Photo looks SSW.

Lupe’s next peakbagging objective was Peak 6740, which Lupe had seen part of from the N end of Round Mountain.  Peak 6740 was less than a mile away.  As the terrain started leveling out, Lupe and SPHP crossed USFS Road No. 241.1C.  Continuing N a couple hundred yards, Lupe found another grassy road which must have intersected with No. 241.1C back to the SW.

Like at Round Mountain and many other western Black Hills peaks, a layer of limestone forms the top of Peak 6740.  As a result, there are cliffs along most edges.  On Peak 6740, the limestone is thicker and the cliffs are higher than at Round Mountain.  SPHP scanned the SE facing cliffs, hoping to see a break where Lupe could climb up.  There appeared to be a couple of possibilities, but the mountain looked pretty steep.  It was hard to tell if there was actually a realistic route up from the SE.

The grassy road Lupe had just reached went N along the lower E slopes of Peak 6740.  SPHP decided it might be best for Lupe to stay on the road.  Maybe there would be an easier way up from the N?  The road was almost level and an easy trek.  Very conveniently for Lupe and SPHP, it went past the E side of Peak 6740 and curved around to the N side.  The grassy road then started looping down to the NE toward Custer County Road No. 292, which could be seen not too far below.

By the time the grassy road turned NE, Lupe and SPHP could see a broad, thinly forested valley ahead.  It rose at a moderate pace toward the SE up to the top of the ridgeline on Peak 6740.  Lupe and SPHP left the road and started climbing.  Lupe was exposed to the NW wind here, but it was a much easier way up than anything SPHP had seen from the SE.

Lupe climbed up to the highest point at the N end of the ridge.  There were great views from the edge of the cliffs here!  Time for a break.  Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild.  She then spent her time sniffing through low juniper bushes with a great deal of interest, although what was so fascinating about them was not apparent to SPHP.  While Lupe was thusly entertained, SPHP ate an apple and enjoyed the scenery.

St. Elmo Peak (6,458 ft.) (L), Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) (Center), Thunderhead Mountain (6,567 ft.) (R where the Crazy Horse carving is), and Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) (highest point on the ridge seen above and just L of Crazy Horse). Photo looks NE from the cliffs of the NE prong of the Peak 6740 anchor.
St. Elmo Peak (6,458 ft.) (L), Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) (Center), Thunderhead Mountain (6,567 ft.) (R where the Crazy Horse carving is), and Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) (highest point on the ridge seen above and just L of Crazy Horse). Photo looks NE from the cliffs of the NE prong of the Peak 6740 anchor.
Lupe on the high cliffs at the end of the NE prong of the Peak 6740 anchor. She is distracted by something in the low juniper bushes off the L side of this photo. Photo looks N at Bear Mountain (7,166 ft.)
Lupe on the high cliffs at the end of the NE prong of the Peak 6740 anchor. She is distracted by something in the low juniper bushes off the L side of this photo. Photo looks N at Bear Mountain (7,166 ft.).

Peak 6740 has an unusual shape, rather like an anchor.  The bottom of the anchor is positioned to the SE.  The main shaft extends to the NW.  From the bottom of the anchor, prongs curve to the W and NE.  The topo map shows five particularly high spots on the mountain – two along the main shaft, one at the bottom of the anchor, and one near the end of each prong.  All of these high spots are connected by long broad ridges that are only marginally lower.

Lupe had reached the top of the ridge at the high spot near the end of Peak 6740’s NE prong.  However, it wasn’t clear if this was the true summit of Peak 6740, or not.  The high points are separated from each other by as much as 0.5 mile.  Due to the forest and the terrain, the high points aren’t all in view from one another.  The Peakbagger.com topo map shows the high points are very close to the same elevation.

To make certain Lupe reached the true summit, she was going to have to visit the other high spots on the mountain, too.  Lupe and SPHP left the NE prong heading for the SE high point near the bottom of the anchor.  Along the way, Lupe found there was a small break in the cliffs.  She really could have come up the mountain from the SE!  It would have been a much shorter and steeper route than the one she actually took by circling around to the N.

Round Mountain (Center) came back into view as Lupe headed toward the SE tip of the Peak 6740 anchor. Near this spot was a narrow break in the cliff wall which would have been a much shorter and steeper route up. Photo looks S.
Round Mountain (Center) came back into view as Lupe headed toward the SE tip of the Peak 6740 anchor. Near this spot was a narrow break in the cliff wall which would have been a much shorter and steeper route up. Photo looks S.

The cliffs at the very SE tip of the Peak 6740 anchor provided a great look back to the S at Round Mountain.

Lupe at the SE tip of Peak 6740. Photo looks S at Round Mountain.
Lupe at the SE tip of Peak 6740. Photo looks S at Round Mountain.

From the cliffs at the SE tip of Peak 6740, Lupe and SPHP went NW up a modest slope and found the closest high spot at the base of the anchor.  It seemed at least as high as the NE prong had been, and maybe a bit higher.  From here, SPHP could also see the high spot at the W prong.  It looked almost as high, but instead of going directly to the W prong, Lupe went NW to explore the main shaft of the Peak 6740 anchor.

Lupe found a small patch of exposed limestone here at the high spot near the SE bottom of the Peak 6740 anchor. Photo looks SE.
Lupe found a small patch of exposed limestone here at the high spot near the SE bottom of the Peak 6740 anchor. Photo looks SE.

The main shaft of the anchor was more heavily forested than the rest of the mountain.  At first, the terrain didn’t look promising.  Lupe started out losing elevation.  After 5 or 10 minutes, though, she came to two high spots along the way.  The first high spot was a flat, elevated limestone outcropping.  The second high spot was close enough to be seen ahead a bit farther to the NW.  It looked like a 5 foot high limestone rock.

When Lupe and SPHP got close to the second high spot, Lupe discovered that the rock was actually three pillars of limestone very close together, all about 5 feet high.  Lupe and SPHP continued NW beyond the limestone pillars until it became clear there wasn’t any higher ground ahead.  The forest had been thinned in this area, and Lupe could see the high point at the NE prong of the anchor.  It looked every bit as high as where Lupe and SPHP were, and probably higher.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the limestone pillars high point.  Lupe got up on top of one of the pillars for a photo.

Lupe up on the 3 pillars high point on Peak 6470. This is the high point at the NW end of the main shaft of the anchor.
Lupe up on the 3 pillars high point on Peak 6470. This is the high point at the NW end of the main shaft of the anchor.

SPHP peered through the forest out over a small valley back toward the W prong.  Even though Peakbagger.com marks the true summit of Peak 6740 at the middle of the main shaft of the anchor, the W prong looked higher than the high points along the main shaft.  Lupe had better visit the W prong, too!  It didn’t take Lupe all that long to get there.

Lupe at the high spot on the W prong of Peak 6740.
Lupe at the high spot on the W prong of Peak 6740.

By now, Lupe had been to all five of the high points on the Peak 6740 anchor.  Wherever the true summit was, she had been there.  If SPHP had to guess, the SE high spot at the bottom of the anchor was the true summit.  The W prong was a close second.  If Lupe thought differently, she didn’t say so.

It was time for Lupe to press on to her next peakbagging goal, Limestone Hill (6,620 ft.).  To get there, Lupe left the W prong of Peak 6740 taking a shortcut N down into a small valley.  She then climbed back up to the three pillars high point on Peak 6740.  She went a little farther NW, and then turned W following a lower ridge down through a dense forest of young trees.

Limestone Hill was only 0.33 mile away.  Lupe soon came to a shallow saddle where there was a jeep trail.  Lupe and SPHP followed the old jeep trail to a slight rise, which was the summit of Limestone Hill.  The summit area ended at a band of low limestone cliffs to the W.

Getting to Limestone Hill from Peak 6740 had been a snap!  SPHP took a break.  Lupe could have taken one, but she was too busy.  A chipmunk had taken refuge in a patch of low bushes at the edge of the cliff.  Lupe searched excitedly for it, but the chipmunk had all the advantages.  SPHP ate an apple and checked the maps.  Lupe’s final peakbagging objective for the day was Elliot Ridge (6,700 ft.), about 3 miles NW as the crow flies.

Lupe on Limestone Hill. The Bear Mountain quarry can be seen in the background. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on Limestone Hill. The Bear Mountain quarry can be seen in the background. Photo looks NW.

Lupe couldn’t go to Elliot Ridge as the crow flies, though.  Down in the broad open valleys to the W and N of Limestone Hill, the fields were all private property.  Lupe would have to go S to get around it.  Lupe and SPHP returned to the jeep trail and started following it SE.

The jeep trail turned out to be USFS Road No. 284.1I.  It wound around quite a bit to the W of Peak 6740, but eventually turned S and arrived at Custer County Road No. 284.  Lupe and SPHP followed it 0.25 mile W to its junction with the S end of USFS Road No. 291 (Ditch Creek Road).  As soon as Lupe and SPHP reached the junction, gunfire erupted off to the N.

Someone had started target practice up at the Bear Mountain quarry.  The plan had been to go N on No. 291, but Lupe would have to pass by quite close to the quarry.  Since Lupe hates the sound of gunfire, SPHP stopped to consult the maps.  Was there another way around to Elliot Ridge?

Yes, there was, but it wasn’t as direct.  Unfortunately, it was too late in the day to consider the long route.  SPHP encouraged Lupe to head N on No. 291.  Lupe did her best to convince SPHP deadly danger awaited.

Limestone Hill is pretty enough, but doesn't look all that high or impressive from USFS Road No. 291. Photo looks E.
Limestone Hill is pretty enough, but doesn’t look all that high or impressive from USFS Road No. 291. Photo looks E.

With Lupe constantly insisting it was wise to turn back, progress going N on USFS Road No. 291 was slow until a couple of squirrels and some free range cattle diverted Lupe’s attention from the gunfire.  Fortunately, target practice ended before too long.  Lupe was then happy to trot right along.

Lupe and SPHP reached the intersection with USFS Road No. 293, which goes NNE to Bear Mountain.  On the other side of No. 291, a jeep trail led W into the forest.  SPHP was eager to leave No. 291, and hoped the jeep trail would turn NW toward Elliot Ridge.  It soon turned SW instead.  Lupe and SPHP left the jeep trail heading NW through the forest.

It wasn’t far to a small valley.  USFS Road No. 472 was down there, but Lupe just crossed it and continued NW up onto the next ridge.  From the top, Lupe and SPHP could see the larger Bear Spring Creek valley.  The other side of the valley was all barren.  This area had burned in the Jasper Fire back in August, 2000.

The story is that back on August 8, 2000, a woman stopped along the highway a couple miles W of Jewel Cave National Monument to pee.  For some reason, she thought it would be a good idea to light a match and drop it on the ground.  Before departing, she watched as pine needles caught fire and the fire started to spread.  The resulting Jasper Fire burned 83,000 acres of the Black Hills.  Elliot Ridge is in the burn area.

Lupe and SPHP headed down to Bear Spring Creek.  SPHP was surprised to see it was still flowing this time of year.  Lupe a long cool drink from the tiny creek.  It was the only stream she had come to all day.  From the creek, Lupe and SPHP continued NW up the other side of the valley.  Partway up, Lupe came to a dirt road, which may have been USFS Road No. 469.1A.  Lupe and SPHP followed the road SW a short distance, but left it at its high point to turn NW again and keep climbing.

As Lupe gained elevation, she started coming to rock outcroppings at high points along the way.  It was slow going.  There were many dead tree trunks and branches laying on the ground, bleached by years in the sun.  Even though the area is all in the Black Hills National Forest, Lupe kept coming upon barbed wire fences, too.  Lupe finally reached the top of the ridge.  Despite the unbroken views, SPHP was uncertain which way Lupe needed to go to reach Elliot Ridge.

It was still windy and getting progressively cooler out.  SPHP consulted the maps, but the wind was a real pest.  SPHP finally concluded that Lupe was far enough N.  Elliot Ridge was off to the SW from here.  Lupe and SPHP headed SW staying on the highest ground possible.  Out in the open, Lupe saw several herds of deer, both mule deer and whitetails.  Of course, they also always saw Lupe and SPHP and bounded away.

Lupe on her way to Elliot Ridge. The hill ahead proved to be a false summit. Photo looks SW.
Lupe on her way to Elliot Ridge. The hill ahead proved to be a false summit. Photo looks SW.

The first big hill Lupe climbed heading SW proved to be a false summit, but the true summit of Elliot Ridge could be seen ahead from the top.  Lupe and SPHP continued on, and Lupe finally arrived at the summit of Elliot Ridge.

Lupe comes running back to SPHP from one of her explorations. The summit of Elliot Ridge is just ahead. Photo looks SSW.
Lupe comes running back to SPHP from one of her explorations. The summit of Elliot Ridge is just ahead. Photo looks SSW.

Elliot Ridge itself was not very beautiful with all the dead trees laying around.  The fire had certainly opened up the views, though.  In the cool wind, everything looked and felt stark and desolate.  Lupe could see far to the SW into Wyoming.  SPHP could even make out Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) very faintly on the farthest horizon.

Lupe seems quite pleased to have arrived at the summit of Elliot Ridge. Photo looks SE.
Lupe seems quite pleased to have arrived at the summit of Elliot Ridge. Photo looks SE.

Lupe and SPHP continued S from the summit of Elliot Ridge.  Lupe came to a series of minor high points as she followed the ridgeline.  As the sun started sinking in the W, the wind finally began to die down.  It was really beautiful out.  The sense of isolation was inspiring.  On the E side of the ridge, there was a great view of the S end of the Bear Springs Creek valley N of Custer Country Road No. 284.

Lupe somewhere S of the summit of Elliot Ridge as the day nears its end.
Lupe somewhere S of the summit of Elliot Ridge as the day nears its end.

SPHP hoped for a great sunset, but it didn’t develop.  Too many clouds moved in off to the W.  There was never more than just a little color that could be seen.  The world turned gray.Sunset from S end of Elliot Ridge, 10-16-14When the sun disappeared, Lupe and SPHP descended from the ridgeline heading SE down into the Bear Springs Creek valley.  Twilight was already well advanced by the time Lupe reached Custer Country Road No. 284 at the S end of the valley.  Lupe was still 5 or 6 miles from the G6.  Lupe and SPHP started trudging SE on No. 284.

It was dark out by the time Lupe had gone over a mile to the southernmost point on No. 284 where it turns NE.  A guy named Mitch came by in a pickup truck.  Mitch very kindly offered Lupe and SPHP a ride.  Lupe accepted immediately!  She thought a ride was a splendid idea!  She leaped way up into the big truck without the least bit of hesitation.

Mitch had a cabin somewhere farther W, but he was on his way E to his father’s ranch near Crazy Horse to get his hunting dog.  Mitch was a hunting guide, and had been out hunting coyotes.  The wind had ruined his calls, however, and the hunt had been unsuccessful.  Secretly, Lupe and SPHP were glad.  Lupe and SPHP are on the coyotes’ side.

SPHP asked to be dropped off at Round Mountain.  Mitch soon stopped the truck so Lupe and SPHP could get out.  As Mitch drove off, SPHP realized the drop off point didn’t look familiar.  The night was blacker than black.  SPHP couldn’t see anything – not the road, not a hand held in front of SPHP’s face, nothing except a few stars.  Good thing SPHP had brought the little flashlight!

Lupe was puzzled.  For 45 minutes, SPHP wandered repeatedly back and forth along the same stretch of No. 284 and a side road.  Which way was it to the G6?  Finally SPHP figured it out.  Lupe arrived back at the G6 at 8:26 PM (43°F).

It had been a long day.  Part of the night would have been long too, if Mitch hadn’t come along!  Expedition No. 100 had been a 4 mountain peakbagging success.  Time to head home for a big bowl of Alpo and a nice long snooze!Lupe S of Elliot Ridge, 10-16-14

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

The Devil’s Punchbowl, Beverly Beach & Moolack Beach, Oregon Coast (8-25-12 & 8-26-12)

Days 18 & 19 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

It was early when SPHP woke up.  Sleeping sitting up in Lanis’ Honda Element hadn’t been much fun.  Lupe was ready to get out, too.  Lupe and SPHP stretched their legs wandering around a little park near a bay of the ocean in Seaside, Oregon.  Well, just last night the little park had been near a bay of the ocean, but the ocean had disappeared!

Lupe and SPHP went down to a river that had been flowing into the ocean the evening before.  This time, SPHP made certain Lupe did NOT repeat her Dead Fish Dingo performance.  The river, which had been pretty wide the previous evening, was now only a tiny stream flowing over mud flats.  The entire bay the river had flowed into was now a mud flat, too.  The mud extended to the horizon.

The tide had gone out.  It had gone out so far, Lupe and SPHP couldn’t even see the ocean anymore!  It had followed the moon, and fled the scene.  Interesting.  Not the sort of thing one expects back in South Dakota, but no doubt an ordinary event for those used to living near the ocean.  It didn’t take Lupe and SPHP long to get bored staring at mud.  Lupe and SPHP left what was left of the river, and wandered through the rest of the little park.

The park was partially wooded with stands of trees separated by wide mowed pathways.  The previous evening, SPHP had seen a plaque on a rock back in the woods, but it had been too dark to read it.  Lupe and SPHP went to see what was written there.  The plaque said Lupe was at a 20 acre site dedicated to Rueben Snake, the 1st President of the American Indian Movement back in the early 1970’s.

Lupe and SPHP explored the most densely forested part of the park, and were surprised to find a grave.  A headstone indicated a Kathleen somebody, who had passed away in 2003, was buried there.   Finding a grave in a park also seemed rather odd, but it was the end of the oddities.  Lupe and SPHP returned to the Element.  Lanis was awake.

The plan for the day was to drive S along the Oregon coast as far as the Devil’s Punchbowl.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed S on Hwy 101.  It was a beautiful sunny morning and a lovely drive.  Sometimes the Pacific Ocean was in view.  Lupe’s home in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a very long way from any ocean, so seeing the Pacific was a rare treat.

The Pacific Ocean along the Oregon coast.
The Pacific Ocean along the Oregon coast.

Just a few miles before reaching the Devil’s Punchbowl, the sunny morning disappeared.  A dense fog bank rolled in, and the mood of the day changed completely.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went to see the Devil’s Punchbowl in the fog.

Fog rolled in just a few miles N of the Devil's Punchbowl, and changed the mood of the day completely.
Fog rolled in just a few miles N of the Devil’s Punchbowl, and changed the mood of the day completely.
The Devil's punchbowl seems to be a collapsed cave hollowed out by the sea. The sea washes in and out of the Punchbowl, with every wave. The Punchbowl is big enough to hold an awful lot of punch, especially since it would all leak out into the Pacific.
The Devil’s punchbowl seems to be a collapsed cave hollowed out by the sea. The sea washes in and out of the Punchbowl, with every wave. The Punchbowl is big enough to hold an awful lot of punch, especially since it would all leak out into the Pacific.

Devil's Punchbowl, Oregon 8-25-12Despite the fog, SPHP wanted to stay in the area.  One thing was for certain, neither Lanis nor SPHP wanted to spend another night sitting upright in the Element.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left the Devil’s Punchbowl to line up a place to set up Lupe’s tiny house.  The first place S of the Devil’s Punchbowl was Beverly Beach State Park.  There was a big forested campground there.  It looked pretty crowded with people, so it was probably a good idea to secure a campsite there right away.

There weren’t any vacancies.  Every site in the entire campground was occupied or reserved for the night.  Fortunately, a Mr. Toma came along while SPHP was still talking to the state park personnel.  He and his wife wanted to cancel their reservation and go elsewhere.  The park personnel refused to refund his prepaid reservation, but were perfectly fine with Mr. Toma making a separate deal with SPHP.

So, it all worked out great!  Mr. Toma and SPHP worked out a deal.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP couldn’t actually take possession of Mr. Toma’s reserved site until the current occupant vacated the site at 1:30 PM, but that was OK.  With a place to stay secured for the evening, it was time to go back to the Devil’s Punchbowl.  Lupe was going to check out the beach just to the S!

A long set of stairs led down to the beach from the parking lot near the Devil’s Punchbowl.  It was still foggy out.  Lupe still wasn’t too used to the ocean.  She explored the mysterious foggy beach cautiously, at first.

Lupe explores the mysterious foggy beach just S of the Devil's Punchbowl on the Oregon coast.
Lupe explores the mysterious foggy beach just S of the Devil’s Punchbowl on the Oregon coast.

Lupe at the Pacific Ocean just S of the Devil's Punchbowl, Oregon 8-25-12Before long, Lupe was got brave enough to go wading in the ocean.  She didn’t go very far, and retreated from each incoming wave, but she was getting her paws wet.  SPHP waded with her.  Even though it was late August, the water was pretty cold.  It seemed even colder than up at Beach 4 in Washington.  No wonder the people out trying to surfboard on pathetically small waves were all wearing wet suits!

Lupe grew brave enough to wade in the Pacific Ocean, but was careful to stay in shallow water.
Lupe grew brave enough to wade in the Pacific Ocean, but was careful to stay in shallow water.

Lupe really started having fun when someone brought a Dalmatian dog down to the beach.  The Dalmatian wanted to play, and Lupe was soon having a blast with her new friend!

Lupe had a blast playing on the beach with her new Dalmatian friend.
Lupe had a blast playing on the beach with her new Dalmatian friend.

At 1:30 PM; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned to Beverly Beach State Park to take possession of site F15, which was the site Mr. Toma had reserved.  Soon Lanis and SPHP had Lupe’s tiny house pitched.

By now the fog had dissipated, and it was sunny out.  Like SPHP, Lanis hadn’t slept well sitting up in the Element last night, either.  He wanted to take a nap in Lupe’s tiny house.  Lupe stayed with Lanis, while SPHP enjoyed the luxury of a hot shower at Beverly Beach State Park’s nice facility.

After SPHP emerged all crisp and clean from the shower, Lupe and SPHP took a walk around the campground while Lanis snoozed.  Lupe soon discovered it was possible to go directly from the campground under a Hwy 101 bridge on down to the ocean.  Lupe and SPHP had a great stroll along the Pacific, heading N back towards the Devil’s Punchbowl.  Lupe and SPHP had fun wading in and out of the water, watching the waves and seagulls, and hearing the roar of the ocean.

By the time Lupe was 3/4 of the way to the Devil’s Punchbowl, it was time to go back and check on Lanis.  Lanis hadn’t slept well, even in Lupe’s tiny house.  The campground was just too crowded and noisy in the middle of the afternoon.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP got in the Element and cruised S on Hwy 101.  At the first little town, Lanis and SPHP stopped to pick up some Chinese take-out.

After eating at a viewpoint over the Pacific, Lanis drove back to the Devil’s Punchbowl again.  SPHP was fine, but Lanis started feeling queasy.   He stayed in the Element while Lupe and SPHP went back down to the beach.  SPHP hoped to get some photos of a brilliant Pacific sunset, but it would be a while before then.  Lupe and SPHP played on the beach, wading in the water again, while heading S now toward Beverly Beach.

The beach where Lupe played between Devil's Punchbowl and Beverly Beach State Park. Photo looks S.
The beach where Lupe played between Devil’s Punchbowl and Beverly Beach State Park. Photo looks S.

Lupe came to some guys who were digging a big pit in the sand.  They were stacking up driftwood for a bonfire.  Eventually they tried lighting the bonfire, but it was slow to take.  Sometimes there were other dogs to go sniff with.  Lupe ran around having a great time.

The bonfire smokes before really getting going.
The bonfire smokes before really getting going.

Lupe discovered a new ocean beach sport!  She started racing along the beach at top speed beneath seagulls flying overhead.  She barked enthusiastically at them with her head tilted up to see where they were flying.  However, Lupe couldn’t really see where SHE was going doing this.

Sometimes the seagulls flew out over the ocean.  Often this caused an unsuspecting Lupe to dash at top speed smack into an ocean wave, from which a completely drenched and surprised Carolina Dog emerged a moment later.  Her spirits weren’t dampened, though.  Lupe was really beginning to like the ocean!

Having fun on the beach.
Having fun on the beach.

The brilliant red, orange and gold sunset SPHP was hoping for never developed.  Instead, it became clear the sun was going to sink into a cloud bank.  As the sun went down, everything was all silvery, black and white.  It was still a beautiful way to end the day.  Lupe and SPHP stayed on the beach until the sun was down.

Sunset near the Devil's Punchbowl on the Oregon Coast.
Sunset near the Devil’s Punchbowl on the Oregon Coast.

Sunset S of Devil's Punchbowl, Oregon 8-25-12Sunset at Devil's Punchbowl, Oregon 8-25-12The next morning, Lupe and SPHP were up early.  Lanis was finally sleeping soundly, so Lupe and SPHP slipped off back down to the beach to enjoy the ocean again.  This time Lupe and SPHP made it all the way to the end of the beach next to the Devil’s Punchbowl.

A couple with two Labrador retrievers were throwing tennis balls into the ocean for their dogs to retrieve.  Lupe stole a tennis ball to get into the game.  The Labs gave chase, but Lupe was much faster.  She zoomed around zig-zagging this way and that.  The Labs couldn’t catch her.

Eventually Lupe dropped the ball, and chased the Labs while they ran with it.  That game was too easy, though.  Lupe had no problem catching them.  The Labs wore out, and gave up on catching or escaping from Lupe.  They returned to retrieving tennis balls from the ocean, and the game was over.

SPHP and Lupe made the long trek back to Beverly Beach State Park to check on Lanis.  He was up and feeling much better.  There wasn’t really a plan yet for the rest of the day, so Lanis and Lupe packed up Lupe’s tiny house just to provide freedom of action.

After checking out of Beverly Beach State Park.  Lanis drove up to the Devil’s Punchbowl once again.  Right next to the Devil’s Punchbowl is Mo’s West restaurant, which was going to open up in just a few minutes at 11:00 AM.  Lanis wound up getting Mo’s Clam Chowder Bread Bowl, and SPHP got Mo’s World Famous Clam Chowder.  Both Lanis and SPHP really thought it was delicious!

Lupe had another opinion.  As it turns out, Carolina Dogs don’t like seafood.  At least they don’t like anything with clams in it.  Lupe wouldn’t touch the stuff.  Oh, well!  Lanis and SPHP were happy with that.  It just left more for them.

While Lanis and SPHP were enjoying the food from Mo’s, the weather outside the Element was deteriorating.  It had been kind of a dark and cloudy morning before, but now the wind started blowing and it started to mist.  Lanis played with his phone, SPHP watched the tide going out, and Lupe snoozed while waiting for the weather to improve again.

It didn’t.  It was a good thing Lanis and SPHP had packed up Lupe’s tiny house.  It wasn’t tenting weather any more.  SPHP began to realize the weather wasn’t going to improve.  It was time to leave the Pacific Ocean.  SPHP realized it might be a very long time before Lupe ever got to see the ocean again.  Despite the weather, before leaving, Lupe was going to get one more chance to enjoy the magnificent Pacific Ocean.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left the Devil’s Punchbowl for the last time.  Lanis drove a few miles S on Hwy 101 to Moolack Beach.  There was hardly anyone else on Moolack Beach.  The wind was blustery, and the waves were getting bigger.  The mist became rain.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went wading in the ocean and wandering along the shore.  The water felt colder than ever.

Lupe enjoyed her seagull chasing, and crashing into the big waves.  As it started to rain harder and the waves grew bigger, the beach started to feel like a remote and lonely place.  The power of the ocean grew.  Lupe ran far down the beach, until she was just a tiny brown speck next to the crashing waves.  SPHP began to get concerned for her.  The waves looked huge compared to the tiny Dingo.  SPHP yelled for Lupe to come back, even though she was so far away, even with big Dingo ears she couldn’t have heard SPHP over the roar of the ocean.

A minute or two later, the tiny brown and white speck started streaking toward SPHP.  She never stays away long, no matter how much fun she’s having.  SPHP realized Lupe was having her last run as a young doggie along the mighty ocean.  It was fun to watch her.  She arrived panting hard, soaking wet from ears to tail, with a gigantic grin on her face.  The ocean was soooo much fun!

SPHP was glad she had enjoyed it, but with the weather deteriorating, the ocean might get pretty dangerous, too.  It was raining harder all the time.  Time to leave the ocean.

So, reluctantly, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP said goodbye to the glorious Pacific Ocean.  As a young American Dingo, Lupe really had made it all the way to the West Coast on her 2012 Dingo Vacation!  She’d had marvelous adventures on the Washington and Oregon coasts she would always remember.  Now it was time to start heading home.

Lupe explores the mysterious foggy beach just S of the Devil's Punchbowl on the Oregon coast.

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. 101 – Zimmer Ridge & Peak 6600 (10-23-14)

Ever since SPHP ran across the site Peakbagger.com early in May, 2014, Lupe had been working on climbing all of the peaks she was able to on Peakbagger’s list of Black Hills 6500-foot Peaks.  By now, she had been on top of almost all of them.  Of course, the list contains a number of peaks Lupe will never be able to climb, because they are legally off limits or require climbing gear.

American Dingoes are purists.  If a mountain requires climbing gear, they don’t even try it.  They only bother to climb mountains they can summit completely unaided under their own power.  They never rely on ropes, or crampons, or snowshoes, or ice axes, etc.  At least that’s what American Dingoes claim.  In practice, Lupe has fudged at a few peaks by allowing SPHP to lift her up onto the highest rocks.

On this beautiful October day, Lupe was intent on reaching a couple of the few remaining climbable peaks on the Black Hills 6500-foot Peaks list that she hadn’t been to yet, Zimmer Ridge (6,600 ft.) and Peak 6600.  Both peaks are in the same general area 5-7 miles SW of Hill City.  Lupe would begin her quest on USFS Road No. 387.1, about 0.5 mile from Hwy 385 (10:37 AM, 54°F).

Lupe and SPHP started the day following No. 387.1 as it wound its way NW through a narrow canyon.  There was a creek near the road, which Lupe was glad to see, since it meant she could help herself to cold, clear water anytime she wished.  The maps show different names for this creek.  SPHP’s old USFS map show it as Whitehouse Creek.  The Peakbagger.com topo maps show it as White Horse Creek.

The canyon widened out into a bigger valley, as Lupe continued NW.  The road was wide and appeared to be built to county specs, which made it uninteresting.  After Lupe had gone a mile or more, the confusion about the creek’s name cleared up.  A little way ahead, Lupe saw a white horse standing with a few friends at the edge of the forest.  Lupe assured SPHP that this was the actual White Horse of White Horse Creek, which seemed logical enough.

Toward the S end of the valley between Zimmer Ridge and Peak 6600, the USFS map shows 160 acres of private property in the shape of an upside down and reversed “L”.  The horses Lupe was approaching were probably on that private land.  To stay on USFS land, Lupe left No. 387.1 angling NE up Zimmer Ridge.

Lupe’s route grew progressively steeper as Lupe climbed through a dense forest of young trees.  It had been sunny and warm down in the valley, but when Lupe and SPHP arrived up on the ridgeline, it was breezy and cool.  Lupe was close to the S end of the high ground on the summit ridge.  After a short break, Lupe went N looking for the summit.

Along the way, Lupe reached two false summits.  The second false summit provided the first real views in any direction.  Lupe could see to the SSE toward Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.).  She could also see the true summit of Zimmer Ridge.  It was still farther N along the ridge.

Lupe on the 2nd false summit she came to on Zimmer Ridge. The dead tree points just to the R of Sylvan Hill (Center). Photo looks SSE.
Lupe on the 2nd false summit she came to on Zimmer Ridge. The dead tree points just to the R of Sylvan Hill (Center). Photo looks SSE.

The ridgeline going over to the true summit was broad and fairly level.  It should have been an easy trek.  However, there was a lot of deadfall timber.  Several rocky spots and dense stands of thistles slowed SPHP down, too.  It took SPHP a while to get over to the true summit.  Lupe had plenty of time to sniff and explore.

Zimmer Ridge culminates in a couple clusters of boulders jutting up right next to each other at the true summit.  The highest rocks were all very nearly the same elevation.   Despite the purist intentions of the American Dingo, it was fudging time.  SPHP had to lift Lupe the last few feet to get her up on top.  She didn’t look all that comfortable perched high on Zimmer Ridge, but she did her best to act as if everything was just lovely.

Lupe acts as if its just grand up on the true summit of Zimmer Ridge, even though it looked like she had an uncomfortable perch. Photo looks W.
Lupe acts as if its just grand up on the true summit of Zimmer Ridge, even though it looked like she had an uncomfortable perch. Photo looks W.
High rocks of the other cluster of boulders at the summit of Zimmer Ridge. Photo looks E.
High rocks of the other cluster of boulders at the summit of Zimmer Ridge. Photo looks E.

SPHP was surprised to see that there was yet another high point on Zimmer Ridge about 0.33 mile to the NNE.  It looked almost the same elevation as the true summit.  SPHP had to consults the maps to make certain it wasn’t actually higher.  The maps showed that it was only 6,583 ft., or 17 feet lower.

Even though Lupe had already reached the summit, it seemed like a shame not to go on and finish her explorations of Zimmer Ridge all the way to the N high point.  The first part of the trek over there wasn’t bad, but as Lupe got closer, there were big rock formations to maneuver around.  The deadfall timber and thistles were bad, too.

The N high point was a better place to relax than the true summit.  Some flat ground provided a high perch with a great view to the N.  Lupe and SPHP took a break there.  After the break, Lupe finished her climb up a big rock pile to the top of the N high point.

Lupe on the high point at the N end of Zimmer Ridge. It is only 17 feet lower than the true summit. Photo looks SSW at the true summit.
Lupe on the high point at the N end of Zimmer Ridge. It is only 17 feet lower than the true summit. Photo looks SSW at the true summit.

With her explorations of Zimmer Ridge complete, it was time to start for Peak 6600, located 1.75 miles due W.  Lupe and SPHP left the N high point heading WNW down the mountain.  Lupe lost hundreds of feet of elevation, and arrived at USFS Road No. 387.1B a short distance NE of a saddle over to the next ridge.  Lupe and SPHP followed the road up to the saddle.

SPHP had intended to just cross the road, and follow the ridgeline NW until it swept around to the W to a point where Lupe could turn S to Peak 6600.  However, while Lupe might not be tired of the deadfall timber yet, SPHP was.  Even though Lupe would lose more elevation that would have to be regained, it seemed easier to just stay on No. 387.1B.

So, Lupe remained on No. 387.1B continuing SW from the saddle.  The road reached its low point where it turned NW to start gaining elevation again.  A small pond was shining in the sunlight near the bend.  Lupe was happy to see it.  She ran to the pond, plunked herself down in it and had a big drink.

The pond near the low point of USFS Road No. 387.1B. Lupe cooled off here and enjoyed a big drink, before continuing on her way to Peak 6600. Photo looks SW into the glare of the sun.
The pond near the low point of USFS Road No. 387.1B. Lupe cooled off here and enjoyed a big drink, before continuing on her way to Peak 6600. Photo looks SW into the glare of the sun.

Fully refreshed from her pond break, Lupe shook herself off and was ready to go again.  Lupe and SPHP followed No. 387.1B into the upper end of White Horse gulch.  The road went NW 0.75 mile, turned W and soon came to a turnaround loop.  Lupe was now at almost the same elevation as the ridge to the N.  From the turnaround loop, it was only a short trek off the road to get on the ridgeline for a look at the country on the other side.

SPHP went to take a look at the view, but Lupe never made it that far.  As Lupe approached, a gray and white rabbit suddenly dashed off and disappeared in the forest.  Lupe lost all interest in the view.  She preferred to sniff around excitedly trying to figure out where the bunny had gone.  As it turned out, the rabbit must have had prior experience working with a magician.  It had completely disappeared.

The road continued W beyond the turnaround loop, and climbed more steeply for a short distance up onto an even higher ridge.  Peak 6600 was now just 0.75 mile to the S.  Lupe and SPHP left the road to follow the ridgeline.   Lupe came to several places where there was a view back to the E toward Zimmer Ridge.

Lupe on her way to Peak 6600. Zimmer Ridge is seen in the distance. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe on her way to Peak 6600. Zimmer Ridge is seen in the distance. Photo looks ESE.

It was late afternoon by the time Lupe reached the top of Peak 6600.  The summit area features two high points enclosed by the 6600 foot contour on the topo map.  Lupe arrived at the E summit first.  Unfortunately, forest blocked the views.  Lupe got up on the highest rock at the E summit, and struck a rather dramatic Carolina Dog pose.

Lupe strikes a dramatic Carolina Dog pose on the E summit of Peak 6600. Photo looks SW.
Lupe strikes a dramatic Carolina Dog pose on the E summit of Peak 6600. Photo looks SW.

Lupe left the E summit to check out the W one.  It wasn’t very far away, but there was a huge amount of deadfall timber navigate through.  The effort was worth it.  A rocky ledge at the W summit provided good views off toward the high country in that direction.  Lupe and SPHP stopped here to take a break.  Lupe finished almost all of her Taste of the Wild.  SPHP ate the last apple.

Lupe on the rocky W summit of Peak 6600. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the rocky W summit of Peak 6600. Photo looks N.
Lupe checks out the view.
Lupe checks out the view.

The forest made it hard to tell for certain, but in SPHP’s opinion the E high point was the true summit of Peak 6600.  However, the views were better from the W one.  Lupe and SPHP lingered on the W summit of Peak 6600, watching the sun sink toward the horizon.

A hoped for colorful sunset didn’t pan out.  Lupe and SPHP left Peak 6600 heading S along the ridgeline.  SPHP wanted Lupe to stay up on the ridge as long as possible before turning E to head back down into White Horse Creek valley.  Lupe didn’t make it far, though.  There was too much deadfall timber up on the ridge.

At the low point of the first big saddle S of Peak 6600, Lupe and SPHP left the ridge and started down.  Lupe had to lose a lot of elevation before the deadfall diminished and the terrain started leveling out.  As twilight was fading, Lupe strayed onto private property somewhere along the way.

Although this was White Horse Creek valley, a very friendly black horse noticed Lupe and SPHP passing through the forest.  The most likely explanation in the horse’s view was that the Carolina Dog was bringing him a nice supply of fresh carrots to munch on.  It whinnied a greeting, and trotted jauntily toward Lupe looking forward to carrots and company.  Maybe Lupe was even bringing oats?

Lupe loves to bark furiously at cows and horses from the safety of the G6.  This was different.  Up close, the gigantic black horse approaching rapidly in the dark forest was quite unnerving for the American Dingo.  Lupe mistook the black horse’s cheerful whinnying as a threat.  The evil apparition was out to get her!  Lupe dashed off, without so much as a single bow-wow.

At 7:05 PM (38°F), Lupe and SPHP arrived back at the G6.  Lupe headed for home, content with her peakbagging successes.  Meanwhile, a disappointed black horse heaved a sigh and resigned itself to its dull diet of dry grass.  Some days it’s tough being a black horse in White Horse Creek valley.Lupe on Peak 6600, 10-23-14Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Mt. St. Helens, Dismal Nitch, & the Dead Fish Dingo, Washington (8-24-12)

Day 17 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

Once again, Lupe and SPHP were up before Lanis.  Lupe soon found the Loop Trail, which runs entirely around the Iron Creek campground, NE of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Iron Creek campground is located in an amazing mossy forest of huge Douglas firs.  Before it was time to head to Mt. St. Helens, Lupe and SPHP wanted to explore the Loop Trail, and see it all.

Iron Creek campground, Washington state.
Iron Creek campground, Washington state.

The trail was in good condition.  Lupe, as always, was an enthusiastic explorer.  She sniffed ferns, and jumped up on giant mossy logs laying on forest floor, using the logs as her own private green-cushioned Dingo trails.  If there were any squirrels, Lupe wasn’t finding them.  They may have been up in the stratosphere of the towering tree tops.

The N and NE sides of the Loop Trail went along a lovely blue river, the Cispus.  The water of the Cispus sparkled in the morning light.  Not far from the Cispus, on the W side of the Loop Trail, were signs next to two huge Douglas firs.  The little tree was 280 feet high, had an 8 foot diameter trunk, and was 600 years old.  The biggest one was 285 feet high, had an 8 foot 2 inch diameter trunk, and was also 600 years old.

These trees were already 80 years old when Columbus set sail for America!  It was hard to imagine they had been standing here all that time.  Both trees were still alive, and looked to be in good condition.  The forest was full of Douglas firs that looked almost as huge and ancient as these two.  Iron Creek campground was a pretty amazing place!

Lupe and SPHP completed their journey around the entire Loop Trail.  Lanis was up, when Lupe arrived back at her tiny house.  It was time to leave for Mt. St. Helens (8,333 ft.)!  A long, winding paved road took Lupe up through a dense forest to the E entrance of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Lanis parked the Element at the first overlook in the monument with a view toward Mt. St. Helens.

Lupe, sporting big soft Dingo ears, with Lanis at the first overlook in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Lupe, sporting big soft Dingo ears, with Lanis at the first overlook in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Mt. St. Helens is poking up in the distance. Yeah, thinking maybe Lanis would look better sporting big soft Dingo ears, too! They'd probably be useful for his music, too.
Mt. St. Helens is poking up in the distance. Yeah, thinking maybe Lanis would look better sporting big soft Dingo ears, too! They’d probably be useful for his music, too.
From the first viewpoint using a telephoto lens.
From the first viewpoint using a telephoto lens.

Lanis and SPHP started reading some plaques at the overlook showing pictures of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980.  Amazingly, the man who took those very photos, Gary Rosenquist, showed up while Lupe was at the overlook!

Gary Rosenquist, Lanis and Lupe. Gary had taken the photos of Mt. St. Helens' cataclysmic eruption on May 18, 1980 featured on the plaques Lanis and SPHP had been reading!
Gary Rosenquist, Lanis and Lupe. Gary had taken the photos of Mt. St. Helens’ cataclysmic eruption on May 18, 1980 featured on the plaques Lanis and SPHP had been reading!

Lupe got to meet Mr. Rosenquist.  Lanis and SPHP got to chat with him for a while about his experience photographing the Mt. St. Helens eruption, and then fleeing for his life from the falling ash.  Mr. Rosenquist said he still likes to visit Mt. St. Helens fairly frequently.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP continued on the road toward viewpoints closer to Mt. St. Helens.  From one of them, there were some great views of Spirit Lake.  The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was so powerful, it created a wave of water from Spirit Lake that went as high as 850 feet up the mountains on the N side of the lake.  Debris blocked the outlet to the lake, and the water level rose about 200 feet above its prior elevation.  The surface area of Spirit Lake is now about 2,200 acres compared to only 1,300 acres before.

Getting closer to Mt. St. Helens.
Getting closer to Mt. St. Helens.
Spirit Lake is N of Mt. St. Helens. The outlet from the lake was blocked by debris from the collapsed mountainside. The water level was stabilized by engineers at a level 200 feet higher than before the May, 1980 eruption.
Spirit Lake is N of Mt. St. Helens. The outlet from the lake was blocked by debris from the collapsed mountainside. The water level was stabilized by engineers at a level 200 feet higher than before the May, 1980 eruption.
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens stripped away 230 square miles of forest. Many thousands of trees were flung into Spirit Lake. More than 32 years later, thousands of tree trunks were still floating in giant mats on the lake.
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens stripped away 230 square miles of forest. Many thousands of trees were flung into Spirit Lake. More than 32 years later, thousands of tree trunks were still floating in giant mats on the lake.

The road ended at a final viewpoint, still quite a distance from the volcano.  From here it was possible to get a very good view of the huge debris flow extending down to Spirit Lake formed by the collapse of the former N slopes of Mt. St. Helens as the volcano erupted.

Shown here is the debris flow that blocked Spirit Lake at the part of the lake closest to the mountain.
Shown here is the debris flow that blocked Spirit Lake at the part of the lake closest to the mountain.
Mt. St. Helens as seen from the last viewpoint at the end of the road coming in from the E side of the national monument. The May 18, 1980 volcanic eruption reduced the elevation of Mt. St. Helen's summit from 9,677 feet to 8,363 feet when the N side of the mountain collapsed.
Mt. St. Helens as seen from the last viewpoint at the end of the road coming in from the E side of the national monument. The May 18, 1980 volcanic eruption reduced the elevation of Mt. St. Helen’s summit from 9,677 feet to 8,363 feet when the N side of the mountain collapsed.

At the last viewpoint, there was a set of stairs climbing up a steep hill above the parking area.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went up to the top of the hill for a better view.

From the hill, it was possible to get a better look not only at Mt. St. Helens, but also see Mt. Adams (12,276 ft.) and Mt. Hood (11,239 ft.) in the distance.  Lupe even got to see Mt. Rainier (14,411 ft.), after all, despite having missed seeing it due to cloud cover the day before.  The summit of Mt. Rainier was peaking up over the ridge beyond Spirit Lake.

Mt. St. Helens from the hill above the parking lot at the last viewpoint.
Mt. St. Helens from the hill above the parking lot at the last viewpoint.
Mt. Adams, seen here, is 34 miles E of Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Hood is 60 miles SSE. Lupe could see Mt. Hood, but it was too far away to show up well in a photograph under the prevailing light conditions while Lupe was near Mt. St. Helens.
Mt. Adams, seen here, is 34 miles E of Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Hood is 60 miles SSE. Lupe could see Mt. Hood, but it was too far away to show up well in a photograph.
Mt. Adams with the telephoto lens.
Mt. Adams with the telephoto lens.
Lupe did get to see the summit of Mt. Rainier after all! Here it is poking above the mountain ridges beyond Spirit Lake.
Lupe did get to see the summit of Mt. Rainier, after all! Here it is poking above the mountain ridges beyond Spirit Lake.

At the top of the hill above the final viewpoint, there was a trail leading one mile back to the best viewpoint over Spirit Lake.  The trail was high up on the side of the mountain facing Spirit Lake, so it was bound to be a very scenic path.  Lanis didn’t feel like taking the trail, but Lupe and SPHP did.

The one mile trail was very scenic, and did have great views of Spirit Lake, but at one point there was a stretch of trail a few hundred feet long that was a bit scary.  The trail was very narrow with cliffs directly above, and a very steep slope leading to more cliffs below.  Lupe and SPHP made it through easily enough, but it sure wouldn’t be a place to take little kids.

Lanis was waiting with the Element at the best Spirit Lake viewpoint along the road at the other end of the trail.  Lanis said there had been signs saying the trail was for experts or advanced hikers only.  SPHP had not noticed them.

Going back down the paved road heading back out of St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was interesting, too.  There were some pretty big drops off the side of the road, and no guardrails.

More concerning was that the road itself was cracking, and in many places had already slumped creating troughs in the road several feet deep.  The pavement was still smooth, these weren’t abrupt cracks, but after seeing a whole mountain that had collapsed, it was easy to envision a 50 or 100 foot section of the road failing, and plunging down the cliff!

Looking back at Mt. St. Helens as Lupe leaves the area.
Looking back at Mt. St. Helens as Lupe leaves the area.

Of course, nothing actually happened; the road did not fail.  (Some day it will!)  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Mt. St. Helens behind.

Lupe was heading back to the West Coast!  She traveled through the little towns of Cougar, Yale and Ariel on the way back to I-5.  She turned N on I-5, and then W on Hwy 4, which followed the N bank of the Columbia River.  Along Hwy 401, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped at Dismal Nitch, a cove along the Columbia River.

It was beautiful at Dismal Nitch!  The Columbia River is almost to the Pacific Ocean by the time it reaches Dismal Nitch.  The river was so wide, it was hard to tell if it was still even a river, or a bay of the ocean.  Seagulls were swirling around over the river.  The long bridge over to Astoria, on the Oregon side of the Columbia, could be seen just a few miles ahead.

Lupe & Lanis at Dismal Nitch on the N bank of the huge Columbia River, at this point almost as much ocean as river.
Lupe & Lanis at Dismal Nitch on the N bank of the huge Columbia River, at this point almost as much ocean as river.

Lupe & Lanis at Dismal Nitch, WA 8-24-12Lupe had just missed seeing Lewis & Clark!  Well, not quite “just” missed.  Lewis & Clark first reached Dismal Nitch on November 10, 1805, so Lupe was 206 years, 9 months and 14 days late.  It was a good thing, really.  Lewis & Clark had taken shelter here from a severe winter storm.  The storm forced them off the river for 6 days, causing them to miss their supply boat.  It was Captain William Clark who had named the place, calling it in his journals “that dismal little nitch”.

It was getting late enough in the day to start thinking about finding a place to camp.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Dismal Nitch, and continued W on Hwys 401 & 101 all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment.

Cape Disappointment is located at the very SW tip of Washington state on the N bank of the Columbia River.  It was named by a British fur trader, John Meares, who had been sailing S in search of trade and the Columbia.  On April 12, 1788, he sighted Cape Disappointment, but had to turn his ship around due to a storm, thereby failing to discover the mouth of the Columbia.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were also disappointed – the campground at the Lewis & Clark State Park was full.

Lupe saw the Pacific Ocean here, just N of Cape Disappointment in Lewis & Clark State Park, WA. Lupe was disappointed, too. The campground was full.
Lupe saw the Pacific Ocean here, just N of Cape Disappointment in Lewis & Clark State Park, WA. Lupe was disappointed, too. The campground was full.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP drove all around the general area, stopping at all the campgrounds.  Every one was full.  People were flocking to the area for some kind of big kite flying contest.  SPHP’s road atlas did show a “World Kite Museum & Hall of Fame” on the coast a little way N of Cape Disappointment State Park.  Well, no problem.  Lupe would just take the Astoria bridge over the Columbia River to Oregon, and find a place to stay over there.

When Lupe crossed the bridge, Oregon became the 6th Lupe state to join her Dingo Nation!  Unfortunately, the story was both different and the same in Oregon.  Just like in Washington, all the campgrounds were full.  So were all the motel rooms, except for a few luxury suites priced well beyond budget.  The reason was different, though.  People were flocking here for a big Mt. Hood to Seaside relay running event that was in progress.

Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP gave up finding a place to stay in Astoria.  Lanis drove S on Hwy 101 towards Seaside.  Suddenly, Lanis spotted a black lab on the very busy 4 lane highway.  The black lab was clearly lost.  He was running back and forth right on the highway looking at each car as it whizzed by, hoping to find his owner.  The poor black lab was doomed to cause an accident, and die within minutes doing this!

Lanis stopped the Element.  Lanis and SPHP intended to rescue the black lab, but time was of the essence.  Fortunately, someone else in a pickup truck also saw the dog’s plight, and stopped closer to where the dog had run to.  In just seconds, he had the dog safely in his truck.  The black lab was saved!

At Seaside, unsurprisingly, it soon became clear there were no campground vacancies here, either.  However, there was a little park right along the highway, and a large pullout parking lot for it.  The park had a big open field, with scattered stands of trees.  Beyond the field was a view of a bay of the ocean.  No tents allowed.  It wasn’t dark yet, but it soon would be.  Looked like car camping in the Element again.

As twilight was fading, SPHP and Lupe went for a walk through the park down to a little river flowing into the bay.  Very high, thick, coarse grass grew next to the river.  Lupe sniffed around in the grass forest, while SPHP gazed out over the river down to the ocean bay.  SPHP didn’t notice anything was wrong until getting into the Element for the night.

Within a few seconds, the Element just reeked.  The source of the stench was quickly identified as Lupe.  She must have found some dead fish along the shore of the river, and rolled in them.  Dogs, even Dingoes, sometimes love to roll in the nastiest, most awful things.  An instinctive way of hiding their scent from prey?  Well, it was true no sensible prey animal would likely suspect it was being added to the menu by an extraordinarily obnoxious dead fish.

Lupe was very happy curled up in the Element wearing her Eau-du-Dead Fish perfume, and wondered what all the fuss was about?  Lanis and SPHP were far less thrilled.  The smell was horrid and overwhelming.  Lanis refused to stay.  He took a sleeping bag outside, and tried to sleep on the ground next to the Element.  The air was much better, but the traffic roaring by on the highway did not bring sweet dreams.

After Lanis had suffered outside, and SPHP had suffered inside, for about an hour, neither could take it anymore.  Take your pick – traffic noise, or the stench of a Dead Fish Dingo – it was impossible to sleep.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went for a long walk in the darkness, just wandering around Seaside.

The walk helped.  By the time Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned to the Element, it had aired out somewhat.  Somehow, Lupe had, too.  She was still no rose garden, but the worst was clearly over.  For Lanis and SPHP, sleeping in the Element still wasn’t going to be a treat.  With the back loaded with gear, the front seats didn’t recline.  Sleeping in the Element always meant sleeping sitting up.

High up on her pile of blankets and pillows, Lupe curled up and drifted peacefully off to sleep, soothed by the aromatherapy of the hint of Eau-du-Dead Fish she was still wearing.

Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 102 – St. Elmo Peak & the Search for Peak 6733 (10-29-14)

The sign said “Enjoy Your Day, But Please Close the Gate, Cattle Summer Pasture in these Fields”.  Well, OK.  October 29th wasn’t really the time of year for summer pasture, and although mountain goats might like it, the steep forested slopes up ahead didn’t look like good pasture for cattle any time of year.  Nevertheless, Lupe and SPHP went through and closed the gate.

Lupe was just starting out on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 102.  She was only a couple of minutes from the G6, which SPHP had parked along a dirt road SSE of Hwy 385, about a half mile S of its junction with Hwy 87/89 (10:37 AM, 54°F).  Her first peakbagging objective for the day was St. Elmo Peak (6,458 ft.), less than a mile to the S.  Lupe would have to gain over 1,200 feet of elevation to get up on top.

Beyond the fence, Lupe and SPHP started climbing the rough remnant of a road up a steep gully.  The road became an overgrown trail, and then disappeared.  Lupe hadn’t gone too far when the terrain started leveling out.  She reached a small saddle NW of St. Elmo Peak.  Lupe and SPHP turned SE, and headed straight up the mountain.

Lupe came across a seldom used dirt road.  Brief explorations revealed that it was going to lose elevation no matter which direction Lupe might choose.  So, Lupe and SPHP abandoned the road to resume climbing.  Somewhat higher up, Lupe came to another road.  It went down to the S, but looked like it would gain elevation going N.  Lupe and SPHP followed it N.

Within 5 minutes, Lupe came to a wide spot where there were clear views off to the N and NE.  The road continued around to the N side of St. Elmo Peak, reaching its highest point at a closed gate.  Beyond the gate, the road was blocked by deadfall timber as it started downhill.  Once again, Lupe and SPHP resumed climbing straight up the mountain.

The climbing was now much tougher than before.  The forest was dead.  Countless pines lay shattered and scattered in every direction on the steep slope.  Thistles and low thorny bushes had grown in thick profusion amidst it all.  It took SPHP a long time to work up through the tangled mess.  Even Lupe wasn’t enjoying this much.  St. Elmo Peak itself was ugly, but there were great views to the N.

Finally, Lupe found a faint trail going up the mountain.  Even better, with only a few exceptions, someone had cleared the deadfall off the trail.  Lupe and SPHP started making much better progress.  There was still a good climb ahead, but it didn’t take much time.  The trail ended at a rock outcropping near the summit.  Lupe and SPHP scrambled up.

Lupe was now on a surprisingly large, and fairly level, block of granite.  To the E were cliffs and very steep slopes.  There were wonderful views from the NW all the way around to the NE and SE.  The view of Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) to the E was fabulous.  This big granite ledge at the N end of St. Elmo Peak was easily the best viewpoint on the mountain.

Lupe reaches the big granite viewing platform on top of St. Elmo Peak. She wasn't quite at the summit yet, but pretty close to it. Harney Peak (Center) is seen in the distance. Photo looks ESE.
Lupe reaches the big granite viewing platform on top of St. Elmo Peak. She wasn’t quite at the summit yet, but pretty close to it. Harney Peak (Center) is seen in the distance. Photo looks ESE.

Harney Peak from St. Elmo Peak, 10-29-14

Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) (L) and Little Devil's Tower (6,960 ft.) (R).
Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) (L) and Little Devil’s Tower (6,960 ft.) (R).

Whew, time for a break to enjoy the views and let lungs catch up!  Lupe and SPHP sat together on the big granite ledge.  Lupe had Taste of the Wild and water.  SPHP had water and carrots.  Lupe and SPHP watched smoke billowing up in the distance to the NNE from hills E of Hill City.

Smoke was billowing up from hills E of Hill City. Photo looks N.
Smoke was billowing up from hills E of Hill City. Photo looks N.

Although the granite ledge was the best viewpoint, Lupe hadn’t quite reached the summit of St. Elmo Peak yet.  The true summit was to the S, hidden by a mixed forest of pines and young aspen.  After a few minutes spent recovering from the climb, Lupe and SPHP went S to find it.

The true summit was very close by.  Although the forest hid a quite a few boulders, it didn’t take Lupe long to find the highest one.  She leaped on top to claim her St. Elmo Peak peakbagging success!

Lupe on the true summit of St. Elmo Peak! Photo looks ENE.
Lupe on the true summit of St. Elmo Peak! Photo looks ENE.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the big granite ledge.  Lupe agreed to pose for a few more photos.  The smoke E of Hill City looked like it was spreading.

Zimmer Ridge (6,600 ft.) is seen beyond Lupe. Photo looks NW.
Zimmer Ridge (6,600 ft.) is seen beyond Lupe. Photo looks NW.
Zimmer Ridge.
Zimmer Ridge.
The smoke E of Hill City looked like it was still spreading.
The smoke E of Hill City looked like it was still spreading.

Lupe had made it to the top of St. Elmo Peak, but the longest and hardest part of Expedition No. 102 was still ahead of her.  She was just getting started!  Her next peakbagging goal was Peak 6733, which was still 3 miles to the S.  It was time for Lupe to get going.  Lupe and SPHP left the granite ledge, and headed back down the faint trail.

It turned out that the faint trail led all the way down to the wide spot on the upper road back where Lupe and SPHP had first started seeing views to the N.  SPHP hadn’t noticed the faint trail here before.  Lupe and SPHP got on the road and headed S.  It lost elevation steadily at a modest pace.  The road turned SW staying on the NW side of a long ridge coming down from St. Elmo Peak.

Eventually, the road curved W.  When it turned NW, it was time to look for a new route.  Walking over to the edge of a small rise, SPHP saw another road below to the SW.  It looked like it was heading SE for Bear Gulch, exactly where Lupe needed to go.  Lupe and SPHP left the upper road and headed down the slope.

The lower road was better than the one Lupe had left up above.  Lupe was very happy to find a creek running near it.  She laid down in the water to cool off and get a drink.  Lupe and SPHP went SE, and soon came to a fork in the road.  One fork continued to the ESE following the creek upstream into a narrow, densely forested part of the canyon.  That road was marked USFS Road No. 302.1F.

The other road was not marked.  It crossed the stream, and headed S gaining elevation along the W side of a big field.  Lupe took the unmarked road.  She gained a fair amount of elevation, and came to a side road marked as USFS Road No. 302.1H.  It went E, and looked like it was going to go around the N end of a ridge to the SE.  Lupe’s objective, Peak 6733, was 2 miles farther S along this same ridge.

SPHP thought about getting up on the N end of the ridge, but didn’t.  Instead, Lupe and SPHP followed No. 302.1H all the way around the N end over to the E side.  There, it turned out that No. 302.1H was absolutely choked with deadfall.  SPHP was optimistic that it would end soon.  Wrong!  The deadfall went on and on.  Lupe could get through it OK, but it was taking SPHP literally hours per mile.

Looking NE back at St. Elmo Peak from USFS Road No. 302.1H at the N end of the ridge that Peak 6733 is part of 2 miles farther S.
Looking NE back at St. Elmo Peak from USFS Road No. 302.1H at the N end of the ridge that Peak 6733 is part of 2 miles farther S.

The struggle through the deadfall was exhausting.  Finally, No. 302.1H climbed fairly high up on the E side of the ridge.  The deadfall lessened and Lupe reached a small clearing.  Lupe and SPHP left the road to climb directly up to the top of the ridgeline.  It had taken so long to get here, SPHP wasn’t certain if Peak 6733 was still to the S or back to the N.  The top of the ridge was forested, so it was hard to tell.

It turned out the deadfall had slowed progress down even more than SPHP thought.  After a little scouting around, it was clear that the highest ground along the ridgeline was still farther S.  Peak 6733 had to be in that direction.  Lupe and SPHP trekked S following the ridgeline.  Lupe came to a series of successively higher points along the way.  Each time she got to the top of one, another even higher one appeared ahead.

There was plenty of deadfall timber up on the ridgeline.  It wasn’t as bad as back down on No. 302.1H, but it was certainly enough to make the going much slower than it should have been.  Several times, SPHP thought Lupe had reached the top of Peak 6733, only to quickly realize she hadn’t.  The sun was starting to sink toward the horizon.  Lupe was running out of time to reach Peak 6733.

Thunderhead Mountain (6,567 ft.), where the Crazy Horse memorial carving is located, came into view to the SW.  Lupe had to be getting close to Peak 6733.  Up ahead, another high point came into view.  This one was noticeably higher and steeper than the other high points Lupe had reached.  SPHP’s hopes rose again that this might be Peak 6733.

By the time Lupe and SPHP arrived at the top, it was only half an hour before sunset.  SPHP was already concerned with how Lupe was going to get back to the G6.  It was far too late in the day to even consider returning through the massive tangle of deadfall.  After checking out this high point, Lupe would have to try to find a way W to Hwy 385 before it got dark.

The top of this final high point had several high rock outcroppings of about equal elevation strung out along the E side of the ridge.  There was another rocky high point off to the W, but the forest made it difficult to tell which of all these points was the true summit.  Lupe would have to visit all of them.

A quick trek over to the W revealed that the rocks on the E side of the ridge were clearly higher.  Crazy Horse looked pretty close by to the SW.  Lupe returned to the high rock outcroppings on the E side of the ridge, exploring them all one by one.  There was a lovely carpet of kinnikinnick growing in the saddle area between the E and W sides of the ridge.

Looking NNE back at St. Elmo Peak (L) from the high rocks on the E side of the ridge at the last high point Lupe climbed on her search for Peak 6733.
Looking NNE back at St. Elmo Peak (L) from the high rocks on the E side of the ridge at the last high point Lupe climbed on her search for Peak 6733.
Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) from the last high point. Photo looks E.
Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) from the last high point. Photo looks E.
Lupe on the kinnikinnick carpet in the saddle area. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on the kinnikinnick carpet in the saddle area. Photo looks NE.

Near the S end of the E side of the ridge, Lupe found the highest rocks of all at this high point.  Lupe and SPHP managed to get up on the summit, which was a somewhat precarious rock only a foot or two wide.  Lupe posed for a summit photo.  It had to be a close up.  There wasn’t any room for separation.

Lupe on the summit of the final high point of the day. SPHP had to lean back to get all of Lupe in the picture. Success, but it still wasn't clear if this was Peak 6733 or not!
Lupe on the summit of the final high point of the day. SPHP had to lean back to get all of Lupe in the picture. Success, but it still wasn’t clear if this was Peak 6733 or not!
Nearing sunset at the summit.
Nearing sunset at the summit.
Crazy Horse on Thunderhead Mountain taken from the summit.
Crazy Horse on Thunderhead Mountain taken from the summit.

From the S end of the high point, Lupe could see a big saddle to the SSE.  Beyond it was an even higher mountain than the one she was on.  She could see that it was part of the ridge that swept around to the E, and then back N over to Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) at its highest point.  If Lupe wasn’t already on the summit of Peak 6733, then that next mountain to the SSE had to be it.

The easiest way down off this high point was to go back to the N.  From there, Lupe and SPHP went E down off the ridge.  Lupe turned SSE, cutting through a field where the terrain wasn’t too steep.  Arriving at the saddle between the two high points, Lupe discovered a road with a gate.  The road wasn’t marked in either direction.

For a couple of minutes, SPHP considered going on to climb the higher peak to the SSE.  There was a good chance it was the real Peak 6733.  There really wasn’t time, though.  Lupe might make it up there while it was still light out, but it would be completely dark by the time Lupe could even get back to the saddle.  SPHP didn’t even know what return route Lupe should take from here, only that she couldn’t go back the way she’d come.

Nope, Lupe had to skip that peak to the SSE.  Just forget about it!  The best bet was to get a move on, and try to find a way W to Hwy 385.  If Lupe could get to Hwy 385, she should be able to find the Mickelson Trail.  Even in darkness, she could safely and easily follow the Mickelson Trail back to a point close to the G6.

So, Lupe and SPHP followed the road going SSW over the W side of the ridge.  As Lupe searched for a way to Hwy 385, she saw Crazy Horse in the early twilight.

Crazy Horse

P1050625Lupe eventually found Hwy 385, but not until well after dark.  Lupe and SPHP followed the Mickelson Trail N.  The wind blew.  Clouds swept by.  It rained lightly.  The sky cleared.  Half a moon and myriad stars shone above.  Far below the bridges, Tenderfoot Creek rippled along in the otherwise silent night.  For many  miles, the American Dingo trotted ahead on the long trail home.  (9:00 PM, 44°F)

It wasn’t until the next day, when SPHP had a chance to look carefully at the photos taken on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 102 and compare them to the maps, that SPHP knew for certain whether Lupe had climbed Peak 6733, or not.  She had not.  The final high point that Lupe reached was High Point 6634, about 0.625 mile to the NNW.

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Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula & Iron Creek Campground, Washington (8-23-12)

Day 16 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

After Lupe’s first day at the Pacific Ocean on the Washington coast, when she had visited both Rialto Beach and Beach 4; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had ended up camping near the end of the day at Lake Quinault.  Lake Quinault is a fairly large lake some distance inland from the ocean.  The lake is partly sandwiched between the Quinault Indian Reservation, and the south border of Olympic National Park.

The SE side of Lake Quinault is in the Olympic National Forest.  Lupe had spent the night with Lanis and SPHP in her tiny house at the Falls Creek campground.  In the morning, Lupe and SPHP were up before Lanis.  Lupe and SPHP started out the day sharing the remaining corned beef hash left over from the previous evening.  SPHP then did some camp chores.  Lanis still wasn’t up by the time they were done, so Lupe and SPHP used the opportunity to do a bit of exploring.

Naturally, the first thing to go look at was Lake Quinault itself.  Lupe and SPHP followed a trail through the heavily forested campground down to the lake.  Soon Lupe arrived near a beach where people could rent kayaks or canoes.

Lake Quinault. Photo looks NNE.
Lake Quinault. Photo looks NNE.
A pontoon boat went by. Photo looks W.
A pontoon boat went by. Photo looks W.
Kayakers on Lake Quinault.
Kayakers on Lake Quinault.

From the beach, a broad park-like lawn led up a hill to the Lake Quinault Lodge.  Near the lodge were bushes featuring striking large flower clusters.  The flower clusters came in either light blue or lavender.  Lupe and SPHP had never seen flowers like these before.  SPHP had no idea what kind of flowers these were, but they were really pretty.

Lake Quinault Lodge.
Lake Quinault Lodge.
Large flower clusters like these bloomed in impressive profusion near Lake Quinault Lodge. Some of the bushes had light blue flowers, like those shown here, others had lavender blossoms.
Large flower clusters like these bloomed in impressive profusion near Lake Quinault Lodge. Some of the bushes had light blue flowers, like those shown here, others had lavender blossoms.

Flowers near Lake Quinault, Olypmic Peninsula, WA 8-23-12Across the main road going by the Lake Quinault Lodge, Lupe and SPHP found a trail.  There was a great deal of heavy undergrowth on both sides of the first part of the trail, almost as if it was lined by hedges.  To Lupe, the trail was kind of like a path in a maze.  The undergrowth was so dense, she couldn’t leave the trail, and so tall, she couldn’t see over it.

At first, the trail switch-backed repeatedly up a hillside.  Farther on, the trail leveled out.  Lupe passed a couple of small waterfalls.  The trail then entered what signs said was a cedar bog.  The bog wasn’t very wet, due to drought and the late August season, but it was full of moss and ferns.  Tall cedar trees shaded most of the area.

Lupe came to a point where there was a sign that indicated she had come 1.7 miles from the road.  The trail went on, and Lupe and SPHP would have liked to explore further, but it was probably time to be getting back to see if Lanis was up.

When Lupe reached the road again, instead of going past Lake Quinault Lodge, she took a different trail through Falls Creek campground back to her tiny house.  On the way, Lupe and SPHP saw some pretty neat campsites.  The best one was close to a beautiful pool of water at the base of a small waterfall.  Other campsites were near a creek.  There were some interesting footbridges crossing the creek, too.

This awesome forested trail went right through the Falls Creek campground near Lake Quinault.
This awesome forested trail went right through the Falls Creek campground near Lake Quinault.
Footbridge in the Falls Creek campground.
Footbridge in the Falls Creek campground.
This sweet little waterfall and clear pool were right next to one of the campsites in the Falls Creek campground at Lake Quinault.
This sweet little waterfall and clear pool were right next to one of the campsites in the Falls Creek campground at Lake Quinault.

Lanis was up, when Lupe and SPHP returned.  He was ready to continue his duties as Lupe’s chauffeur!  SPHP was glad that Lupe had gotten to see Lake Quinault and go to the cedar bog.  It wouldn’t have been right to leave this pretty place without having a look around.  As it was, though, more adventures were awaiting Lupe elsewhere.  SPHP planned to take Lupe to see Mt. Rainier next!

As soon as everything was packed back up in the Honda Element; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed out.  Lupe went S to Hoquiam, and then turned E.  By the time she reached Olympia, the capitol of Washington state, she had almost completely circumnavigated the Olympic Peninsula since leaving Tacoma just 2 days before.

While Lupe was traveling from Seattle on the way to Tacoma a few days ago, SPHP had spotted Mt. Rainier in the distance.  The snow-capped peak had looked huge and most impressive.  SPHP wanted Lupe to get to see it.  From Olympia; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed ESE on a series of small highways all the way to Elbe.

Lupe didn’t get to see Mt. Rainier.  A big cloud bank hung over the area where Mt. Rainier was supposed to be.  It was disappointing, to say the least.  The small town of Elbe was as close to Mt. Rainier as Lupe got.  SPHP had Lanis just turn S at Elbe, instead of continuing on to Mt. Rainier National Park.  Since Lupe wasn’t going to get to see Mt. Rainier, SPHP at least had another destination in mind.

By the time Lupe, Lanis and SPHP reached the Iron Creek campground S of Randle, Lanis had done a lot of chauffeuring.  It was getting late in the day, and time to stop.  The campground was large and had a lot of loops.  There were quite a few open campsites.  Lanis and SPHP were able to find an open site well away from other campers.

Lupe’s tiny house was soon set up in a forest different from any others she had visited so far.  Iron Creek campground is situated in a forest of Douglas firs.  A few of the trees were ancient and gigantic.  In some places, huge ferns grew on the forest floor.  Moss was everywhere, and clung to everything.  In the fading light; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP explored around a little bit near Lupe’s tiny house.  This place was going to be worth seeing more of in the morning!

Iron Creek campground, Washington state.
Iron Creek campground, Washington state.

Iron Creek CG, NE of Mt. St. Helens, WA 8-23-12It was Lanis that suggested making a campfire.  In all the camping Lupe had done, SPHP had rarely, if ever, made a campfire for her.  Tonight it happened.

After dinner, Lupe lay beneath the picnic table watching the flickering flames light up the deep darkening forest.  Lanis and SPHP chatted, and played cards.  Who knows what thoughts went through the American Dingo’s mind, as darkness closed in on the dying embers in that primeval place?Iron Creek Campground, NE of Mt. St. Helens, WA 8-23-12

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 103 – Peak 6733 (11-6-14)

Back on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 102 on 10-29-14, Lupe had approached from the N to successfully climb St. Elmo Peak (6,458 ft.), but despite a valiant effort, she failed to reach Peak 6733.  Huge amounts of deadfall timber had choked the way.  It slowed SPHP down so much that Lupe ran out of daylight before reaching Peak 6733, although she did make it as far as Peak 6634 just 0.5 mile to the NNW.

On this beautiful warm morning in early November, SPHP had a new plan of attack for Lupe.  She would climb Sylvan Hill (7,000 ft.) and then follow the ridge around the S end of the valley to the W until she got to Peak 6733.  Trekking along this high ridge might be quite an adventure.  SPHP wasn’t certain how rugged it would be, but there could be some scenic and difficult to navigate large granite formations along the way.

Lupe didn’t get to find out.  At least 2 miles from where SPHP had intended to park the G6, Hwy 87/89 was barricaded.  The road was closed!  SPHP had never seen this part of Hwy 87/89 closed before, but it was now.  Well, what’s new?  Adventures often require flexible planning.  USFS Road No. 352 left Hwy 87/89 heading W right in front of the barricade.  Time to see where it would lead.

SPHP expected No. 352 would head SW toward Peak 6733, and it did, but not until after it went NW first.  About 0.75 mile from Hwy 87/89, No. 352 entered the NE end of the long valley between Sylvan Hill and Peak 6733, where the road divided.  USFS Road No. 352.1B went W.  A sign said “Private Drive”.

Lupe needed to go S, anyway, and No. 352 continued in that direction.  Just a little past the fork in the road, SPHP parked the G6 along No. 352 (9:14 AM, 47°F).  The immediately surrounding terrain was nice and level.  The forest had been thinned and cleaned up.  It looked almost like a park.  Lupe was less than 0.5 mile S of St. Elmo Peak.  She would start her trek to Peak 6733 from here.

St. Elmo Peak from USFS Road No. 352. Photo looks N.
St. Elmo Peak from USFS Road No. 352. Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP headed S along No. 352.  With the change in starting points, SPHP had abandoned all thoughts of having Lupe climb Sylvan Hill, at least not before she climbed Peak 6733.  Instead, she was going to follow the road to the S end of the valley, get up on the ridge, and go directly for Peak 6733.

No. 352 gained elevation at a steady, moderate pace.  Within about 10 minutes, Lupe came to a green metal gate.  No vehicles could get past this point, so it was just as well that the G6 was parked back where it was.  Lupe and SPHP went around the gate and continued S, climbing steadily all the time.

The S end of the valley was less than 3 miles away.  SPHP expected the road would gain elevation nearly all the way, but when Lupe was a little over halfway there, suddenly No. 352 turned SW and started losing elevation rapidly.  The road went clear down to the bottom of the valley, where there was a junction with USFS Road No. 352.2A.  No. 352.2A headed back to the NW following a little stream down Bear Gulch.

The route No. 352.2A took looked grassy and inviting, but was headed the wrong way.  Lupe did go check out the stream for a big, cold drink before she was ready to leave this nice, secluded spot.

Lupe cools down in the merry little stream flowing down Bear Gulch.
Lupe cools down in the merry little stream flowing down Bear Gulch.

Lupe and SPHP got back on No. 352.  The valley narrowed a great deal just to the S, with towering rock formations on both sides.  The road led between them, following the creek upstream.

Once beyond the rock formations, Lupe was in the upper end of Bear Gulch.  Here the valley widened out considerably.  Much of the floor of the valley was a big grassy meadow.  This hidden area, protected on all sides by high forested ridges, seemed like it would be a popular place for deer to graze, but Lupe saw none.

No. 352 continued S along the E side of the big meadow.  Looking over at the big ridge to the W, SPHP saw a high point that was probably Peak 6634, the farthest point S Lupe had reached up on that ridge on Expedition No. 102.  It was hard to be certain, though.

Part of the big meadow in upper Bear Gulch. Peak 6634, the high point farthest S that Lupe reached along the ridge on Expedition No. 102, may be the one on the L.
Part of the big meadow in upper Bear Gulch. Peak 6634, the high point farthest S that Lupe reached along the ridge on Expedition No. 102, may be the one on the L.

Lupe came to a junction with USFS Road No. 352.2B.  It headed W across the meadow and disappeared into the forest.  Lupe and SPHP stayed on No. 352.  Soon another road, which was likely USFS Road No. 352.2D, branched off heading E.  Lupe was getting close to the S end of the valley.  She came to more little roads branching off in various directions.

SPHP was hoping to find USFS Road No. 352.2C, which should go SW before turning sharply to climb NNW up to a saddle on the ridge between Peak 6733 and Peak 6634.  When Lupe reached a road going SW, SPHP took it.  Soon unmarked roads were branching off of it in all directions.  Clearly, this wasn’t No. 352.2C.  The road continued SW deteriorating rapidly.  Before long, it disappeared entirely.  Lupe and SPHP were left climbing steeply straight up the ridge at the far SSW end of the valley.

Lupe reached the top of the ridge.  There would have been some great views to the N and S, but the forest was too thick to see much.  It looked like there might be a considerably higher point off to the SE hidden by the trees.  Another less prominent high point was close by to the WNW.  Peak 6733 had to be somewhere NW of there.

Down in the valley, No. 352 had been almost entirely free of any deadfall timber.  Up here on the high ridge, there was plenty of it.  Lupe explored while SPHP worked slowly along the ridgeline, picking a way through the deadfall.  There were frequent granite outcroppings along the way, and occasionally some pretty good views toward St. Elmo Peak or Sylvan Hill.

Lupe and SPHP went up and down following the ridgeline from one granite outcropping to the next.  Some of them were large enough to force SPHP around them.  Others were easily traversed.  Gradually the ridgeline curved to the NNW.  Peak 6733 came into view.  There was a considerable drop from the last high point Lupe went over down into the saddle leading to Peak 6733.  On the way down, Lupe found the only really clear look at Peak 6733 ahead.

Peak 6733 lies ahead! Photo looks NNW.
Peak 6733 lies ahead! Photo looks NNW.
Lupe and SPHP climbed directly up this SSE spine of Peak 6733.
Lupe and SPHP climbed directly up this SSE spine of Peak 6733.

There was a lot of deadfall timber and several big granite outcroppings on the way up the SSE spine of Peak 6733, but Lupe and SPHP made it up the mountain.  At the very top was a large steep granite formation.  SPHP had to climb slowly and carefully up the last dozen feet, lift Lupe up on top, and then crawl up there, too.

The summit was surprising.  A narrow band of granite a few feet wide, and all about the same elevation, snaked around for 20 or 30 feet.  There were sheer, but not particularly high drop offs on both sides.  Still, they were plenty high enough so one really should take care not to fall off.  Lupe was fine up there, but SPHP crawled along the granite path looking for a more secure place.

Lupe up on the narrow ridge of granite on top of Peak 6733. Photo looks WNW.
Lupe up on the narrow ridge of granite on top of Peak 6733. Photo looks WNW.
Lupe relaxes enjoying her Peak 6733 peakbagging success! Photo looks SW.
Lupe relaxes enjoying her Peak 6733 peakbagging success! Photo looks SW.

Somewhat surprisingly, SPHP only had to crawl along the granite for ten feet or so before it became evident that there was a small patch of level ground nearby to the NW.  It was almost as high as the summit.  SPHP scrambled over there, and got off the granite.

Now both Lupe and SPHP could relax and enjoy the views.  SPHP sat on the ground petting Lupe and taking a break.  Water and Taste of the Wild for Lupe.  Water and a golden apple for SPHP.  After eating, it was time for a few photos from seldom visited Peak 6733.

St. Elmo Peak (L) looks a lot smaller from Peak 6733! Photo looks N.
St. Elmo Peak (L) looks a lot smaller from Peak 6733! Photo looks N.
Sylvan Hill (Center) from Peak 6733. Photo looks NE.
Sylvan Hill (Center) from Peak 6733. Photo looks NE.

Thunderhead Mountain (6,567 ft.), only 0.75 mile to the W, presented the most interesting view from Peak 6733.  Lupe had a great view of the rarely seen E side of the Crazy Horse memorial carving on Thunderhead Mountain.  The Crazy Horse carving has been in progress for decades, and is still far from being finished, but remains a popular tourist attraction in the Black Hills.

From Peak 6733, Lupe had this great view of the Crazy Horse carving on Thunderhead Mountain. The Crazy Horse memorial is a popular Black Hills tourist attraction, but most tourists normally see it from the other side. Photo looks W.
From Peak 6733, Lupe had this great view of the Crazy Horse carving on Thunderhead Mountain. The Crazy Horse memorial is a popular Black Hills tourist attraction, but most tourists normally see it from the other side. Photo looks W.

When it was time to leave Peak 6733, Lupe took a different route back than the way she had come up.  Lupe and SPHP worked around the SW and then W sides of the large granite outcropping at the top of the mountain.  The route was a real tangle of deadfall timber and thistles, but eventually Lupe regained the ridgeline N of Peak 6733.  She fought through more deadfall going N along the ridge all the way to USFS Road No. 352.2C at the saddle just S of Peak 6634.

Getting to No. 352.2C brought relief from all the deadfall timber.  Lupe and SPHP followed the road as it wound down into the upper end of Bear Gulch to the E.  It eventually led to USFS Road No. 352.2B, which brought Lupe to No. 352.

There were still a couple of hours left before sundown.  If Lupe was going to climb Sylvan Hill, now was the time to do so.  SPHP dithered.  Lupe had been on Sylvan Hill once before almost 6 months ago.  She climbed it from a different direction on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 89 on 5-17-14.  The views were fantastic, but there had been a lot of deadfall timber to contend with along the summit ridge.

From upper Bear Gulch where Lupe was, it was over an 800 foot climb with no roads or trails.  Deadfall timber appeared to be strewn all over the steep ridge.  No doubt it would take a long time to reach the top, and another long time to get back down.  SPHP wanted to go, and Lupe was willing, but maybe it really wasn’t all that feasible even with several hours of daylight.  No sense getting stuck in the dark in a horrible tangled dead forest.

So instead of climbing Sylvan Hill, Lupe turned N on No. 352.  The road led her back between the big rock formations at the narrow part of the valley.  Lupe reached the merry creek bubbling along near USFS Road No. 352.2A.  It still looked inviting to explore the grassy valley along No. 352.2A.  So, Lupe did.  She eventually left No. 352.2A, and climbed up on some interesting granite formations where there was a nice view of St. Elmo Peak.

St. Elmo Peak from some granite formations down in Bear Gulch. Photo looks N.
St. Elmo Peak from some granite formations down in Bear Gulch. Photo looks N.

Lupe’s explorations of Bear Gulch led her to USFS Road No. 352.1D, which in turn took her back to No. 352.  At 3:58 PM (55°F), Lupe was back at the G6.  Despite having taken a relatively easy return route, it was only 30 minutes until sundown.  Maybe that decision not to climb Sylvan Hill had been the right one!

It seemed a bit strange to be leaving for home before the sun was even down.  Lupe was happy enough, though.  She stood gazing intently out the windows of the G6 looking for deer, cows, horses or anything else it might be fun to bark at.  She had a great day climbing Peak 6733, and wasn’t disappointed on the way home either!

Note: Starting on USFS Road No. 352, the easiest and most direct up Peak 6733 would have been to take No. 352.2B heading W in upper Bear Gulch.  No. 352.2B leads to No. 352.2C.  Don’t follow No. 352.2C all the way NNW up onto the ridge.  Instead, at the very S end of No. 352.2C, leave the road and climb SW up to the saddle on the ridgeline.  From the saddle turn NNW, and finish the climb up Peak 6733.

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