A post about August 9, 2015, Day 1 of Lupe’s grand Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation which took her to parts of Wyoming, Colorado and a new Lupe state – Utah!
Finally the long-delayed day for the start of Lupe’s grand Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation arrived! The trip had been postposed by the terrible injury Lupe suffered to her left front leg on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 135 to Peak 6820 & Crooks Tower (7,137 ft.) on 6-27-15. She had run straight into a downed 5-strand barbed wire fence in Trebor Draw and gotten all cut up. Thankfully, lead emergency veterinarian Dr. Erin Brown at the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital in Rapid City was available late that Saturday night to stitch up the gaping wound on Lupe’s leg.
Lupe had then spent a mostly very dull July and early August encouraged to do as little as possible while her leg was healing. Other than a trip to Cascade Falls on Xochitl’s birthday, nothing very fun had happened to the increasingly discouraged Dingo. So Lupe was surprised and hopeful, when SPHP got up a little after 4:00 AM on the morning of 8-9-15, and started loading the G6 with the small mountain of supplies that had been sitting in the living room.
Packing the G6 seemed to take a long time. SPHP kept remembering additional things that needed to be brought along or done before departure. Lupe, already perched up on her stack of supplies, pillows and blankets in the G6 began to wonder if anything was really going to happen or not.
It was nearly 10:00 AM, by the time SPHP backed the G6 out of the driveway. Although Lupe’s perch in the front passenger seat was arranged the way it normally was on Lupe’s prior vacations, at first Lupe didn’t seem to remember that this meant something great was about to happen. It was over a year since returning from her 2014 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies and Beartooth Mountains, a very long time to Lupe. She didn’t start getting excited until she was already on the highway and saw cows to bark at. She sprang into action with her usual deafening enthusiasm.
The sky was overcast in the Black Hills, but Lupe and SPHP drove into sunshine leaving the hills. At Mule Creek Junction in Wyoming, SPHP stopped long enough at the rest area to snap a quick photo of Lupe and the cloud still hanging over the Black Hills in the distance.
Lupe by-passed Lusk, WY by taking the more scenic Hwy 270 to Lance Creek and then S to Manville, WY. A few miles before reaching Manville, Lupe and SPHP stopped for a short break at some interesting rock formations.
From Manville, Lupe went to Douglas, WY and then S on Hwy 94. Hwy 94 turned into a gravel road well before reaching Esterbrook. Lupe was on her way to her first peakbagging goal of her Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation – Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.), the highest mountain in the Laramie Range.
Shortly before reaching Friend Park Campground, there was a left turn that led up a hill to the Friend Park Trailhead. Only 2 other vehicles were at the dusty trailhead when Lupe arrived. The owners of one vehicle returned while Lupe was still at the trailhead. They told SPHP they had gone quite a distance up the trail to Laramie Peak, but they had children with them and had to turn back before reaching the summit. There was a $5.00 fee required to hike the trail.
It was 4:02 PM when Lupe started up the Laramie Peak Trail. The trail goes through a pine forest nearly all the way to the summit. The first half mile or so on the way to Friend Creek was relatively flat, and may have even lost a little elevation. Although the area looked like it had been very dry recently, Lupe and SPHP were glad to see that Friend Creek still had pretty good flow in it.
Soon after crossing the bridge over Friend Creek, the trail started to climb steadily. Switchbacks helped to slow the rate of ascent to some degree, but the trail was fairly steep all the rest of the way up the mountain. Occasional very small streams crossed the trail, and at one more point the trail came near Friend Creek again. A sign said something about a waterfall, but there weren’t any notable falls apparent from the trail.
As Lupe gained elevation, now and then there were views of a high ridge to the NW. It wasn’t until well up on the mountain that some glimpses of a large valley to the SW came into view. Most of the time, the forest hid the views pretty effectively. About 3/4 of the way up, Lupe met a couple of women coming down the mountain with a little black and white dog named Decker.
Decker liked Lupe and didn’t want to leave when the women continued down the mountain after chatting briefly with SPHP. Lupe wasn’t terribly gracious. She didn’t want to be sniffed. Lupe growled at Decker. Decker wasn’t discouraged. The women had to come back up to retrieve Decker before they could continue on down. Decker and the two women were the only other party Lupe and SPHP encountered anywhere along the trail.
About 45 minutes before sunset, Lupe and SPHP finally reached the top of Laramie Peak. It was disappointing to see how much human junk was there. There were metal sheds, antennas, solar panels, wires and cables left behind from apparently abandoned communications systems. Fortunately there didn’t appear to be any broken glass, although there were a few boards with nails sticking out of them.
Fortunately the summit of Laramie Peak was very rocky and the forest did not extend up onto the rocks. The summit was pretty rugged. There were big rounded boulders of reddish rock at the very top. Lupe and SPHP worked around the various boulders and rock outcroppings exploring different parts of the summit area. Since there weren’t trees at the top, there were some really great views in most directions.
Lupe couldn’t get up to the very tippy-top of Laramie Peak, because the last couple of boulders at the top were just way too large for her to jump up onto. She did get very close though. Close enough for Dingo work to claim success! Lupe seemed very pleased to have climbed Laramie Peak, a considerable trek for the first mountain of her Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation with nearly 2,800 feet of elevation gain.
There was one structure up on Laramie Peak that looked very interesting. A short distance to the NW of the very summit was what appeared to be a viewing platform with a metal ladder leading up to it. The platform would have been a great place from which to take a look around. It would offer great views to the NW, a direction difficult to see from where Lupe and SPHP were.
Lupe started heading toward the viewing platform, but the way was full of really big boulders separated by equally big drops. With the sun due to set soon, SPHP decided it wasn’t going to be worth the effort to get over there. Even though the platform wasn’t very far away, there was no sense getting stranded away from the trail in the dark. The terrain was just too rough for that!
Lupe stayed up on top of Laramie Peak while the sun set. The view struck SPHP rather strangely. Around the mountain were still largely unspoiled scenes from the Old Wild West, conjuring up in the mind images of vast empty tracts of land where huge buffalo, deer and antelope herds roamed free. It couldn’t have looked much different during the days of Indians, tipis, cowboys, covered wagons, cavalry and forts. But those storied days, which still really aren’t all that long ago, will never return. They have passed into a history no one has any living memory of now.
Contrasting with the images of the Old Wild West was the debris on the mountain. Among it all, an abandoned American flag hung limply from an old antenna. Now and then the sun lit the flag up, as it fluttered briefly in a breeze, only to droop again as if it were exhausted. None of this stuff served any purpose any more. It was a monument to the wasteful despoiling of the natural world by humanity for temporary gain. It looked and felt like national decline and the end of the American dream.
About 1/3 of the way down, twilight had faded to the point where SPHP had to bring out the little flashlight. It was 10:54 PM when Lupe reached the G6 again.
In the middle of the night, Lupe finally seemed to understand that her great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation had really begun. She was all excited, and not the least bit sleepy. She ran around sniffing like a Dingo possessed in a huge dark field surrounded by even blacker forests. Stars blazed above her in a moonless sky.
At last, she was done. Lupe returned to SPHP. She fell asleep on SPHP’s lap. The night grew chilly. A warm Dingo felt good.Want more Lupe adventures? Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index. Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.