Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 187 – New Year’s Eve Peak (12-30-16)

A few miles S of Pactola Reservoir, SPHP parked the G6 at the junction of Hwy 385 and USFS Road No. 710 (11:55 AM, 50°F).  Lupe was early, a whole day early.  The weather dictated her timing.  It was 50°F out!  Tomorrow would be 15°F cooler, and New Year’s Day colder yet.  No sense waiting another day, only to suffer in the cold, when this afternoon was going to be so nice!

Lupe and SPHP set off following USFS Road No. 710.  At least 6″ of snow was down here in the shadow of Peak 5800.  The snowy road went W for nearly a mile up a long draw.  Other than a few animal tracks, the snow was pristine.  No one comes here this time of year.  Lupe ran sniffing around in the forest.

New Year’s Eve Peak (6,046 ft.) was Lupe’s destination.  The mountain’s name is a private one.  Officially, no name is shown on the maps.  Lupe was on her 4th trip to the mountain.  She had first climbed it on the last day of 2012, which was how it got it’s name.  Two years later, she returned on the last day of 2014.  Since then, climbing New Year’s Eve Peak on or close to the last day of each year has become a Lupe tradition.

The scenic part of the journey starts as USFS Road No. 710 reaches the upper end of the long draw, and enters a thin forest of tall pines.  The road starts to curve S here.  Soon there are views of open country ahead.

Lupe on USFS Road No. 710 as it reaches the thin forest of tall pines at the upper end of the draw. Here, the road begins to curve S. Photo looks W.

In only a few minutes, Lupe was beyond the thin forest of tall pines.  She followed No. 710 S for a little way into open country, then left the road to climb gradually up through a snowy field toward higher ground to the SW.  She reached a minor ridge from which she had nice views of white hills and valleys toward the S and W.

Lupe reaches the minor ridge SW of the tall, thin forest. Five Points (6,221 ft.) is the wavy ridge in the distance on the L. Photo looks SSW.
On the minor ridge. Photo looks SW.
From here, Lupe would pass over the hill seen on the R on her way to the higher hill on the L. The higher hill is privately known as Pistol Point. Photo looks WNW.

The vast majority of the Black Hills is thickly forested with Ponderosa pines.  One of the fun things about going to New Year’s Eve Peak is that Lupe gets to travel along quite a bit of high ground that burned in a forest fire years ago.  Consequently, there are open views along the route, which is unusual for most Black Hills territory.

From the minor ridge, Lupe headed for Pistol Point, the highest ground she would reach in the open territory on her way to New Year’s Eve Peak.  To get there, she skirted to the S of High Point 5917, crossed a saddle to the W, and made a steep double climb up to the end of the ridge that sweeps down to the S and then SE from New Year’s Eve Peak.  The high point at the end of this ridge is Pistol Point.

Lupe reaches the rock formations at Pistol Point. New Year’s Eve Peak is the high point seen in the distance beyond her. Photo looks NW.
Peak 5800 is the semi-bare high hill at Center. Lupe started her expedition from the valley to the N (L) of Peak 5800. Photo looks ESE from Pistol Point.
Looking W from Pistol Point. Lupe would continue on toward the closest small hill, then turn R (N) to follow the ridgeline to New Year’s Eve Peak.

From Pistol Point, Lupe lost a little elevation going W to the closest small hill, then turned N to follow the long ridge leading up to New Year’s Eve Peak.  This ridge is fairly narrow, with rock outcroppings and various small prominences along the way.  Lupe went over all of them, and started the final climb up New Year’s Eve Peak.

Lupe sits on a big rock she reached not too far below the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak. Photo looks NW.

Lupe reached the top of New Year’s Eve Peak.  She had returned to say good-bye to another year, even if she was a day early.  She hopped up on the highest rock on the mountain, near a small cairn.

Lupe reaches the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak to say good-bye to 2016. Photo looks W.
Looking WSW. The small summit cairn is in view.

The first two times Lupe had been to New Year’s Eve Peak, on the last day of both 2012 and 2014, the top of the mountain had all been heavily forested.  However, when she’d returned on New Year’s Day in 2016, there had been a big change.  The upper S slope of the mountain had been heavily logged.  Now there are good views toward the S.

After tagging the summit, Lupe went to take a look at Harney Peak (7,242 ft.), the highest mountain in South Dakota.

Lupe stands at the S end of the summit area on New Year’s Eve Peak. Harney Peak, the highest mountain in South Dakota is visible on the R. Two years ago, the area where Lupe is standing was heavily forested. Back then it was difficult to get even a glimpse of Harney Peak. Sometime in 2015, this part of the mountain was heavily logged. Photo looks S.

After a quick look at Harney Peak, it was time for a break.  Lupe went over to the W edge of the summit area.  Lupe and SPHP sat together for a while, contemplating the snowy view to the W.

Lupe perches on a rock at the W edge of the summit area. Lupe and SPHP took a break just below this rock. Photo looks W.
The snowy view Lupe and SPHP contemplated from New Year’s Eve Peak a day before 2016 drew to a close. Photo looks WNW.

The feeling wasn’t quite the same as when Lupe has been to New Year’s Eve Peak before.  After all, there was still one more day to go in 2016.  Somehow that one extra day still to come (due to 2016 being a Leap Year!) did seem to make a little difference.  There wasn’t yet quite that same sense of finality, even though 2016 had less than 34 hours left before drawing to a close.

Even so, it was a time to reflect on 2016, the fast fading year gone by.  Lupe’s 2016 had started right here on New Year’s Day.  She’d gone on 38 great Black Hills expeditions during the year.  She’d met mountaineer Jobe Wymore, and gone with him to the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska at the start of April.  She’d made a trip to the Laramie Mountains in late spring, and climbed Cloud Peak, the highest mountain in the Bighorn Range in Wyoming in July.

Lupe had even spent a day at Kabekona Lake in northern Minnesota in October.  And, of course, there had been her huge 41 day Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon and Alaska where she’d had so many excellent adventures.

Yes, Lupe had been one lucky Carolina Dog in 2016!  Sadly, now it was all over and done.

A cool N breeze was blowing.  The temperature had dropped considerably since Lupe had left the G6.  Off to the NW, dark clouds were on the far horizon, but were on their way.  Just like 2016, Lupe’s time on New Year’s Eve Peak was almost over.  Lupe went to see the views to the S again.

Harney Peak (R of Center) from New Year’s Eve Peak. Photo looks S.
Boulder Hill (5,331 ft.) is the knob on the L. Silver Mountain (5,405 ft.) is the bare hill at Center straight up from Lupe. Frozen Sheridan Lake is on the R, with Calumet Ridge (5,601 ft.) beyond it. Lupe had seen a mountain lion on Bluelead Mountain (5,170 ft.) near Calumet ridge on Leap Day 2016! Photo looks SE.
Boulder Hill(L) and Silver Mountain(R). Photo looks SE using the telephoto lens.
Harney Peak(R). Photo looks S using the telephoto lens.

Before leaving New Year’s Eve Peak, Lupe returned briefly to the summit.

Back on the summit. Photo looks N.

It was time to start back.  Lupe started down the mountain, retracing the route she had taken to New Year’s Eve Peak.

Lupe starts down New Year’s Eve Peak. She has barely left the summit here. Evidently, something was hiding among these rocks. Lupe clambered all over them, sniffing excitedly for 10 minutes before she was willing to give up the hunt. SPHP never saw whatever had caught her attention. Photo looks N.
Going down the S ridge. The ridge becomes much narrower and rockier than this a short distance farther ahead. In some places, Lupe encountered snow drifts 2 feet deep. Photo looks S.
Approaching Pistol Point. Pistol Point is another privately named location. The name comes from the rock near the top that looks like the handle of a pistol jammed into the ground. Photo looks E.
Lupe near the pistol handle rock that gave Pistol Point its name. Photo looks E.
Peak 5800 (Center) from Pistol Point. Photo looks E.

By the time Lupe reached Pistol Point again, the clouds that had been far off to the NW were moving in.  SPHP started to realize that Lupe might be treated to some fairly dramatic skies on the rest of the way back to the G6.  With the sun already quite low in the SW, Lupe’s next to the last sunset of 2016 might be pretty sweet!

The skies were becoming steadily more interesting as Lupe came down from Pistol Point. Harney Peak (Center) is in view beyond the snowy ridge. Photo looks S.
Another look.
Shadow moved over the land as dark clouds sped in from the NW. Off to the E, Peak 5800(L) was still in sunlight. Photo looks ESE.
The sun was getting low as the clouds moved in. Lupe and SPHP hoped for a colorful, dramatic sunset. Five Points is the wavy forested ridge in the distance on the L. Photo looks SW.
Due to a hole in the clouds, Lupe is briefly bathed in sunshine again. Photo looks NW toward High Point 5917.

Lupe reached the minor ridge SE of High Point 5917.  A colorful sunset seemed increasingly likely.  Instead of going straight back across the field to USFS Road No. 710, where it would be hard to see much of the sunset, Lupe and SPHP traveled E along the minor ridge, trying to keep the view to the SW in sight.

Harney Peak (Center) from the minor ridge as the sunlight fades. Photo looks S.

Lupe was near the top of a small hill mid-way between High Point 5917 and Peak 5800 when the next to the last sunset of 2016 reached its peak of perfection.  From this small hill, Lupe sends best wishes to all her fans for a very Happy New Year 2017 full of fun and exciting adventures of your own!  (5:06 PM, 28°F)

Lupe’s next to the last sunset of 2016. Photo looks SW.

Lupe wishes everyone a very Happy New Year 2017!

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *