The end of Day 34, plus Day 35 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska
Day 34, 9-1-16, 4:00 PM, 72°F – Well, it was over. After 7,500+ feet of elevation gain in the past 31 hours, Lupe was back at the Lazy Mountain Recreation Site trailhead. Blisters and a pulled muscle in the front right leg, suffered yesterday while coming down Pepper Peak, caused SPHP to hobble slowly onto the parking lot behind her.
Make that almost over. A tall, lanky, young guy immediately struck up a conversation. Both Lupe and SPHP just wanted to go the remaining 50 feet to the G6 and sit/lay down. Instead this complete stranger launched into a monologue about mountains and trails. He talked with a strange accent, or maybe a lisp, and seemed kind of, well – “off”, somehow.
Remind you of anyone, SPHP?
Oh, please! Silence, wisecracking Dingo of mine!
Actually the friendly stranger’s conversation would normally have been of great interest. He was a wealth of knowledge about Alaska, and what there was to do outdoors around here. Moreover, he was eager to share his experiences.
Where had he been for the last 3 weeks? Off or not, any other time SPHP would have enjoyed talking to him for hours, but not now. Not his fault, but his timing was atrocious. No need for his insight now. Lupe had just returned from Lazy Mountain (3,740 ft.), the last mountain she would climb in Alaska in 2016. Recuperation at the G6 was priority one.
After a seeming eternity, a brief lull came in the one-sided conversation. SPHP used the opening to wish the stranger well, and encourage his speedy enjoyment of the Lazy Mountain trail. Off he went, happy as a clam. SPHP limped 50 feet and unlocked the G6. Lupe eagerly leaped in. Now it was over! No more climbing mountains in Alaska. Sad, tragic really, but paws, feet, legs, and lungs all advised getting over it. Wow, it did feel good to rest!
With the G6’s windows down on this beautiful, warm afternoon so Lupe could sniff the air, SPHP drove the few miles back to Palmer. Brief stops for groceries and gas. A trip to McDonald’s. Lupe ate only one bite of cheeseburger. Surprising, but she knew how she felt. She seemed cheerful and perfectly fine.
At long last, off with the boots. What a relief! So much better! In stocking feet, SPHP drove E out of Palmer on the Glenn Highway, marvelously equipped with cheeseburgers, fries and a Coke. Lupe panted happily, looking out the window at the splendid scenery of the Matanuska River valley going by. A relaxing, astonishingly beautiful evening drive was ahead. After 22 unforgettable days in Alaska, Lupe was starting for home.
In a sense, Lupe had already been going home for 5 days, ever since she left Grace Ridge (3,136 ft.), back near Homer on the Kenai Peninsula. So far, though, every day had been mostly filled with adventures. She hadn’t really gotten all that far. The Carolina Dog was still more than 3,000 miles from home in the Black Hills. Time to make tracks. 450 miles per day for the next week should about do it.
The return trip would be fabulous! Endless forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, sky and clouds. A road trip made in heaven. Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon and Alaska had been a huge success! Time to kick back and enjoy the road home. Lupe would still have a chance for a few adventures along the way, if they weren’t too long, and there would be plenty of stops to stretch, sniff the air, and admire the world.
Lupe’s first stop this evening was to see the Matanuska Glacier again. She’d had absolutely fabulous views of it earlier on her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation when she’d climbed Lion Head (3,185 ft.).
Lupe didn’t make it much beyond the Matanuska Glacier this evening, stopping near Gunsight Mountain (6,441 ft.) for the night. Gunsight Mountain was the highest peak in Alaska that Lupe had climbed. She had met Laura from Montana, and Luke Hall from Australia up there.
The best views from the highway near Gunsight Mountain were to the S. The peaks in that direction appeared to have fresh new-fallen snow.
Day 35, 9-2-16, Predawn, 32°F – Orion hung low in the E. The pale light of dawn hadn’t arrived yet, but there was a hint of it on the horizon. The North Star was high overhead. Northern lights, not a great display, but easily seen, streamed from the N toward the coming sun.
With the G6’s right headlight not working, it was still too early to leave the Gunsight Mountain area. Lupe and SPHP walked W along an abandoned stretch of the old Glenn Highway. Chilly out, but Lupe was in fine form, sniffing like mad among the bushes lining the old road. A mile, maybe a mile and a half later, it was time to turn around.
The were-puppy attacked SPHP! Once the were-puppy was fended off, the Carolina Dog showed off how fast and agile she was, racing up and down the road, running circles around SPHP. Ahh, to feel like that! So much energy and joy of living! Shrill Dingo barking filled the air for a couple of minutes before Lupe returned to sniffing.
On the way back to the G6, sunrise was on its way. Soon time to depart.
Heading E toward Glenn Allen, Mount Drum (12,010 ft.) came into view. Lupe hadn’t seen it before. When she’d first arrived in Alaska, the towering white monsters of the Wrangell Range were all shrouded by clouds. Now they basked in brilliant sunshine. Lupe saw them from various angles as SPHP followed the highway beyond Glenn Allen around to the Tok Cut-Off.
SPHP meant to stop at the same viewpoint overlooking the Copper River where Lupe had stopped before, but somehow missed it. The white monsters were far from the highway, but could be seen for many miles. After a while, though, they receded from view as the miles clicked by.
After all her many Alaskan adventures, Lupe was feeling pretty relaxed on this first full day of driving on her way home.E of Tok, Lupe crossed the Tanana River. She was happy to get out of the G6 to stretch her legs a bit.
With the majestic high peaks of the Wrangell Mountains now far behind, Lupe traveled through an area of lower hills, ridges and distant mountains. Fall was coming to Alaska, as Lupe was leaving. There were many hills with colorful displays of fall colors.
Lupe left Alaska, returning to Yukon Territory in Canada around 2 PM Alaska Time (3 PM Pacific Time). Soon she was seeing bigger mountains closer by again. She crossed the White River without stopping. A few weeks earlier, it had been wide and impressive, but now it was mostly dried up.
By the time Lupe reached the Donjek River, it was getting to be late afternoon. The Donjek was running low, too, but it seemed like a good time to get out of the G6 to stretch and walk around a bit. Lupe went for short walks on both sides of the scenic river, spending about 45 minutes in the area.
A little S of the Donjek River, a mountain with new snow on top caught SPHP’s fancy.
For the last 5 or 6 days Lupe had been in Alaska, the sky had been almost totally clear. However, there were quite a few clouds here in the Yukon. Near Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake, Lupe and SPHP drove through rain showers. Lupe saw a rainbow.
In Kluane National Park, Lupe and SPHP stopped again at the Tachal Dahl visitor center in the Slims River valley at the S end of Kluane Lake. The visitor center was closed. Not a soul was around. SPHP made use of one of the picnic tables to prepare dinner. Lupe was eager to help SPHP make the last can of beef stew and remaining cheese disappear, but she buried a cracker with her nose.
The mood had changed remarkably since Lupe had been here in early August. Back then, there had been activity. It hadn’t been crowded at all, but people had been around. The Alaska Highway had lots of traffic. The days were warm and bright, and the sun stayed up late. Dust had been blowing dramatically down the Slims River valley toward Kluane Lake.
Now there was new snow on the mountaintops. The air was chilly. The Slims River valley was still dry, but no dust blew. No one at all was around. Traffic on the Alaska Highway was only a trickle. The whole place felt deserted, like late fall with early winter knocking on the door. SPHP ate while watching two large herds of wild sheep high up on Sheep Mountain (6,400 ft.). Lupe sniffed around nearby.
Lupe was more than 500 miles from Palmer, Alaska now. She’d made her 450 miles for the day from where she’d left Gunsight Mountain this morning, so it was time to stop for the night. As the light of day faded much earlier than it had only 3.5 weeks ago, Lupe got to spend time playing and sniffing around the S shore of Kluane Lake once more.
One thing hadn’t changed. Beyond Kluane Lake, a line of mountains marched endlessly away to the N horizon toward the Arctic. The remote peaks were part of a vast wilderness only a little less mysterious than before, and as beautiful and romantic as ever.
Want more Lupe adventures? Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index. Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.