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

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. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puget Sound
Puget Sound

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.