South Sawtooth Mountain, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-10-17)

Day 3 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond!

SPHP drove slowly.  Ahead Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.) was lit up by the early morning sunshine.  The E face of the mountain looked tough.  Not that it mattered now.  Yesterday Lupe had come close to reaching the top of the mountain from the SE and SW sides.  She hadn’t quite made it, though, and there wasn’t going to be another attempt today.

Eagle Peak in the early morning sunshine. Yesterday Lupe had nearly reached the top of the mountain, but failed to find a way up the last few tens of feet. She wasn’t going to make another attempt today. Photo looks WNW.

I hope we have better luck today at South Sawtooth, Loop.

SPHP spoke without much conviction.  Those contours on the topo map were as tight near the top of South Sawtooth Mountain (8,723 ft.) as they were at Eagle Peak.  Success was far from guaranteed.

Success was guaranteed at Prairie Dog Hill (6,400 ft.) a mile N of Esterbrook.  County Road No. 5 went practically right over the top of it.  Lupe sniffed her way through a nearly flat field.  Elevation gain to what seemed to be as much the high point as anywhere else was trivial, less than 10 feet.  Whoop-de-doo!  At least there was a bit of a view.

Lupe on Prairie Dog Hill, a trivial peakbagging accomplishment. It was so flat it was hardly even a hill. At least she had a distant view of Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) (L) and Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.) (R). Photo looks SW.

Although South Sawtooth Mountain is only 9 miles NNW of Eagle Peak as the crow flies, it was many times that far by road.  Lupe first had to go clear to Douglas, WY.  While in town, SPHP picked up a few supplies.  At very small Locomotive Park where the Douglas Railroad Interpretive Center is located, Lupe got to visit a very large Jackalope.

Lupe visits the giant Jackalope at Locomotive Park in Douglas, WY. Douglas is the Jackalope capital of the world!

Lupe was disappointed to find that the Jackalope was merely a statue, but as large as the Jackalope was, perhaps that was for the best.  In any case, the Carolina Dog was soon ready to move on.

The long drive out Hwy 91 SW of Douglas is one of SPHP’s favorites for gorgeous western scenery.  Lupe likes it for all the cows and horses to bark at along the way.  The highway eventually ends and turns to gravel.  Many more miles of dusty road eventually brought Lupe to the Curtis Gulch campground along La Bonte Creek.

SPHP parked the G6 near the campground entrance.  Lupe set out for South Sawtooth Mountain (10:36 AM, 68°F) heading SW on USFS Road No. 658.  On the way in, SPHP had seen a sign for Big Bear Canyon about 0.33 mile away.  Lupe soon reached this side road (USFS Road No. 657.01), which almost immediately led to a ford of La Bonte Creek.

Almost as soon as Lupe reached USFS Road No. 657.01 to Big Bear Canyon, the road led to this ford of La Bonte Creek. Photo looks SW.

The water was high this time of year.  Although the surface looked calm, La Bonte Creek was wide at the ford, and over Lupe’s head.  Upstream and downstream, the current was clearly strong.  American Dingoes like wading, not swimming, but SPHP knew Lupe could swim if necessary.  She ought to be able to manage this crossing.

Still, SPHP wasn’t thrilled to see the ford.  Only 3 days ago, SPHP had bought new boots for this Dingo Vacation, and they weren’t waterproof.  To keep from getting the new boots soaking wet, SPHP decided to take them off and wade the stream barefoot.  SPHP stuffed a sock inside each boot, laced them together, and draped a boot over the back of each shoulder with the knotted laces across the throat.

While Lupe watched from shore, SPHP waded into La Bonte Creek.  The current was fairly strong, and the water as much as thigh deep.  Rocks on the bottom were loose and sometimes slippery.  Concentration was required to maintain balance, but SPHP managed to get most of the way across uneventfully.

Was Lupe following?  Yes and no.  SPHP turned around to see the Carolina Dog still near the opposite shore.  She wanted to come, and had waded chest deep into La Bonte Creek, but was reluctant to go any deeper.

Lupe waded chest deep into La Bonte Creek, but was afraid to go any deeper.

Loopster was going to need some encouragement.  SPHP waded the rest of the way across, then turned around again to call to her.

Meanwhile, desperate not to be left behind, all on her own Lupe had decided to try crossing La Bonte Creek on the downstream side of the ford.  The water wasn’t as deep here, but the current was powerful.  SPHP was alarmed to see Lupe neck deep struggling to cross without being swept downstream.  Fortunately, her legs were just long enough for her paws to touch bottom.  Lupe clawed her way forward despite the current.

In a flash, Lupe was past the moment of danger.  She reached much shallower water, and came trotting across just fine.

Lupe trots the rest of the way across La Bonte Creek after clawing her way past a dangerous deeper part on the downstream side of the ford. Photo looks NE.

Glad that’s over with Loop!  Good girl!  You did great, but maybe we can find a safer way across on the way back?  Not looking forward to doing that again.

SPHP put socks and boots back on again.  The trek along USFS Road No. 657.01 resumed.  Lupe reached two more creek crossings in quick succession.

Lupe in lower Big Bear Canyon between creek crossings. The rocky mountain seen in the background is on the N side of La Bonte Canyon close to Curtis Gulch campground. Photo looks NE.

Fortunately, La Bonte Creek had already forked by the time these next stream crossings were reached.  Flow was less than half of what it had been at the first ford.  Lupe had no problems crossing now.  SPHP again crossed barefoot each time, the creek still being too large to leap over.

USFS Road No. 657.01 now went steadily SSE up Big Bear Canyon.  Lupe came to no more creek crossings for more than 0.5 mile.  When she did reach more crossings, the creek was considerably smaller than before.  SPHP could now leap across, avoiding the tedious necessity of removing the precious new boots each time.

The day was sunny and warm.  Lupe was now enjoying cooling off and getting drinks from the stream.

Lupe enjoys cooling off in the diminished stream on the way up Big Bear Canyon.

Big Bear Canyon was heavily forested most of the way.  Sometimes there were views of large rock formations hundreds of feet higher up along the E side of the canyon.  Farther on, high forested mountainsides were visible on the W side of the canyon, too.  Mostly though, the views were only of the forest along USFS Road No. 657.01.

Lupe on her way up Big Bear Canyon on USFS Road No. 657.01. Photo looks SSE.
About halfway up Big Bear Canyon, Lupe reached this pond. The creek flowed through it. Photo looks SW.

Lupe followed USFS Road No. 657.01 for more than 3 miles all the way up Big Bear Canyon.  The road gained elevation more quickly toward the end.  About the time the rate of climb began to diminish again, SPHP spotted a mountain off to the NE.  The view was partially obstructed by trees, but what could be seen was concerning.

Was that South Sawtooth Mountain?  If so, Lupe wasn’t likely to have much luck reaching the summit.  The rocky upper slopes looked nearly vertical.  Sigh.  Not another defeat!  Nothing to do, though, but carry on.  Maybe that wasn’t South Sawtooth, or there actually was a way up.  Hard to tell from here.  The mountain was still a couple miles away.

The terrain completely leveled out as the road left the upper end of Big Bear Canyon.  Lupe soon arrived at a 3 way junction.  A sign identified the road Lupe needed to take as Sawtooth Road.  On the topo map it was USFS Road No. 615, which started out heading ENE from here.

Lupe reaches a 3 way junction at the flat, forested saddle beyond the upper end of Big Bear Canyon. USFS Road No. 615, which Lupe would need to take partway to South Sawtooth, is seen winding away into the forest. Photo looks E.

Before taking No. 615 toward South Sawtooth, Lupe explored another road leading a short distance SW to USFS No. 610.  She passed a sunny meadow full of lupines along the way.

Lupe among the lupines.

Lupe went far enough to have some views of mountains off to the SW and NW before turning around.  She then returned to the first junction, and started along USFS Road No. 615.

Before long, No. 615 emerged from the forest.  The road began climbing steadily up a draw which was mostly meadow.  At the upper end of the draw, Lupe re-entered the forest.  The road wound around to the E and NE, but after a mile or so, turned N.  The topo map showed that right after reaching a crest, No. 615 would turn W and start losing elevation.  Ultimately it would dead end in a canyon.

Lupe reached the crest of USFS Road No. 615.  Time to leave the road!  Lupe and SPHP turned NE, and started climbing a heavily forested hillside.  Little could be seen except trees until Loop reached the top of a broad ridge.  Here there were big rocks and some open ground.  From one of the higher rocks, the American Dingo had a view of the mountain SPHP had seen earlier.

Yes, that was it.  That had to be South Sawtooth Mountain (8,723 ft.)!

From a rock on the broad ridge, Lupe catches sight of South Sawtooth Mountain! Photo looks N.
Lupe reaches the broad ridge at a perfect point! She had arrived up on the ridge just far enough NE to avoid having to go over High Point 8401, seen behind her. The open ground on the gently sloping ridge was easier to traverse than going through the forest. Photo looks SSW.

Up on the broad ridge, there was enough open ground to make travel much easier than in the dense forest Lupe had left behind.  Lupe and SPHP continued NE, skirting a series of rock formations along the NW side of the ridge.

Another large ridge could soon be seen.  It trended NW to join the ridge Lupe was on.  Beyond the junction, the combined ridge went N and narrowed somewhat.  Lupe came to a rock formation larger than any of the others she had passed to this point.  South Sawtooth Mountain was now less than a mile away.

Beyond the ridge junction, Lupe came to a larger rock formation (L of Center) than any of the others she’d been passing by. She got around the SW (L) side of this one. South Sawtooth Mountain is seen in the distance now less than a mile away. Photo looks N.

Beyond the first large rock formation, Lupe came to some beautiful open ground leading to a second, even grander rock formation.

Approaching the 2nd, even larger, rock formation (R). South Sawtooth Mountain is now on the L. Photo looks N.

From the W side of the second rock formation, Lupe had the best view of South Sawtooth Mountain she’d seen yet.  However, the sight caused SPHP to lose all hope that Lupe would succeed in reaching the top.  The mountain was simply too vertical and rough.  Most disappointing!

Maybe Lupe could still reach the top of the high point on the lower W ridge, though?  That looked easy enough.  At least the Carolina Dog had a new objective to pursue.  Who knew, maybe things would look different from up there?

At the second and largest rock formation Lupe reached on the ridge, she had her best view yet of South Sawtooth Mountain. The daunting S face crushed hopes that Lupe could reasonably expect to reach the top. The high point of the lower W ridge (L), became Lupe’s new reduced objective. Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP tried to get around the E side of the second rock formation, but a long wall of rock blocked the way.  Lupe was forced to retreat back to the W.  What could be seen of the rest of the ridge leading to South Sawtooth looked forbidding.  The ridge dropped sharply beyond this rock formation, before rising again and continuing N as an impossibly rough series of huge rock outcroppings.  No way!

A grassy opening was visible to the W down at the bottom of a valley about 150 feet lower than where Lupe was now.  Time to abandon the ridge.  Lupe and SPHP started W down a fairly steep forested slope.  As the ground began leveling out near the bottom, there was movement.  Instantly, Lupe dashed away in hot pursuit!

SPHP never had a clear view of what she was after.  Whatever it was had a huge lead, and bounded S through the forest at very high speed.  Loop never got anywhere close, and soon gave up.  SPHP got only tree-broken glimpses.  The creature was gray and bounded like a rabbit, but it was far, far larger than any rabbit.  Even Lupe was tiny by comparison.

A bear?  Are bears still found in the Laramie Mountains?  SPHP didn’t know.  Maybe.  Lupe returned with a huge grin on her face, panting hard.  That was fun!

So what was it, Loop?  A bear, or one of those giant jackalopes?

Lupe kept smiling, but didn’t say.  Hardly mattered now.  It was gone.  Puppy, ho!  Onward!

Lupe and SPHP reached the meadow at the bottom of the valley, crossed it to the W, and went over a small rise to another valley.  This valley was mostly forested, and looked like it would take Lupe up to the saddle between South Sawtooth Mountain and the high point on the ridge to the W.  Lupe turned N and began to climb.

Lupe on her way up the valley leading to the saddle between South Sawtooth Mountain (R) and the high point on the ridge to the W (L). Photo looks N.

Lupe made it up to the saddle with no problem at all.  The whole W face of South Sawtooth Mountain was now in view.  Unfortunately, no matter what route SPHP considered from here, there just didn’t appear to be a way for Lupe to reach the top.  She could have climbed somewhat higher, but every possible path to the summit looked blocked by boulders or vertical rock walls somewhere along the way.

Defeat again!  First at Eagle Peak, now here.  No use fretting about it.  The sky was clouding up.  Rain showers looked like a possibility in some directions.  If Lupe was going to reach the high point on the mountain’s W ridge, she had better get there before the weather deteriorated.

The W face of South Sawtooth Mountain. Although Lupe could have climbed partway up, SPHP couldn’t see any safe route to the top. There were too many large boulders and vertical rock walls. Photo looks E.

Piece of cake!  Lupe was soon up on the W shoulder of South Sawtooth Mountain.  A half acre of relatively flat ground contained two distinct high points.  They were so close to each other in elevation, Lupe would have to climb both to be certain she’d reached the highest one.

Before Lupe climbed up on either high point, she took a general look around at some of the views available from various other vantage points.

South Sawtooth Mountain from a rock on the W shoulder. Photo looks E.
Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) is seen beyond Lupe. Photo looks SE from the same rock.
Blacktail Peak (8,675 ft.) is the highest mountain seen straight up from Lupe’s head. Photo looks WSW.
View to the NW. Warbonnet Peak (9,414 ft.) is the high point on the horizon L of Center. Also on the horizon straight up from Lupe are Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.) (L) & Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.) (R).

Although not as good as they would have been if Lupe had been able to reach the summit of South Sawtooth Mountain, the views from the W shoulder were really quite nice.  Lupe could see a lot of territory from up here.

After looking around some, Lupe got up on top of the N high point first, since it seemed easiest.

Loop climbed up on top of the N high point of South Sawtooth Mountain’s W ridge first. Photo looks NW.
South Sawtooth Mountain from the N high point. Photo looks ESE.

The best views of Middle and North Sawtooth Mountains were from rocks near the N high point.  Though equally rugged, neither mountain was as high as South Sawtooth.  Even here on South Sawtooth Mountain’s W shoulder, Lupe was higher than either Middle or North Sawtooth.

Lupe had a great view of Middle Sawtooth (R) and North Sawtooth (L). Neither of them looked like anything Lupe could climb, but she was already higher than either one right here. Photo looks NE.
Middle Sawtooth Mountain (8,502 ft.). Photo looks NE with help from the telephoto lens.
North Sawtooth Mountain (8,306 ft.) (R). Photo looks NNE.
South Sawtooth Mountain (8,723 ft.) is the highest of the 3 Sawtooths in the area. Photo looks E.

Shortly after visiting the N high point, Lupe went and climbed the S one.  Even after being up on both, it wasn’t clear which was the highest.

Lupe completes her peakbagging for the day up on the S high point. Photo looks SSW.
South Sawtooth Mountain from the W ridge’s S high point. Photo looks E.
Another look from the S high point.
American Dingoes can occasionally be spotted in the Laramie Mountains of Wyoming.

Lupe and SPHP lingered up on South Sawtooth Mountain’s W Ridge for 30 or 40 minutes before starting back.  The plan was to retrace the same route, except Lupe would try to cut through the forest and find USFS Road No. 615 again without getting up on the broad ridge S of South Sawtooth Mountain.

 

High Point 8401 on South Sawtooth Mountain’s long S ridge is seen straight up from Lupe. She had followed the broad ridge from there over to the meadows seen on the L on the way to the mountain. On the way back S, she would stay down in the forest on the near (W) side of the same ridge. Photo looks S.

Loop left the W ridge going down to the saddle next to South Sawtooth Mountain.  She then turned S traveling down the same valley she had originally come up.  This valley would turn and take her too far W before long, so she soon had to make a jog to the E over a minor ridge into the next valley over.

Lupe starts back down the same valley she had come up on the way to South Sawtooth Mountain. She had a great time exploring the forest again. Photo looks SSE.

After losing considerable elevation, Lupe gradually started regaining some as she traveled S through the forest.  She was somewhere not too far W of the broad ridge she had reached N of High Point 8401 on the way to South Sawtooth, but it was hard to tell exactly where she was, or how much farther it might be to the road.

After a while, the terrain became a little rougher and rose more steeply.  Some things looked vaguely familiar.  Lupe continued S and eventually reached a meadow up on the ridgeline again.  Now it was possible to see that Lupe was only a little SW of High Point 8401.  That was good news!  It meant that USFS Road No. 615 was close by.

Lupe headed SW down a forested slope.  She soon reached No. 615.  Now all she had to do was follow the road back to No. 657.01, which would take her back down Big Bear Canyon.

Lupe finds USFS Road No. 615 again SW of High Point 8401. All she had to do now was follow this road back to No. 657.01, which would take her back down Big Bear Canyon. Photo looks S.

The sun had set and light was fading by the time Lupe made it all the way back down Big Bear Canyon.  She was now approaching the last big creek ford across La Bonte Creek.  As promised earlier, SPHP searched upstream of the ford for an easier place for Lupe to cross, but found nothing.  Lupe was going to have to brave the ford one more time.

Once again, SPHP went barefoot with boots tied together and dangling behind the neck.  Lupe wanted to cross the same downstream side of the ford where she had made it across before.  SPHP went with her to keep a better eye on how she was doing.  The water wasn’t as deep here as in the main part of the ford, but the current was far stronger.

Once again, it was alarming to see how close the Carolina Dog came to being swept downstream.  As Lupe fought and clawed her way across La Bonte Creek, barely able to hang on against the swift current, SPHP started having problems, too.  The creek bottom was covered with larger, slippery rocks here.  They weren’t visible in the dim light.  One of the rocks moved unexpectedly.

SPHP gyrated wildly trying to maintain balance.  The American Dingo had made it!  She stood safely on the opposite shore.  SPHP recovered and avoided a fall, but out of the corner of an eye saw something hit the water.  The new boots were bobbing away downstream!  In seconds, they vanished from view.

Gone for good.  Sheesh!

It was a good thing there wasn’t more gravel on USFS Road No. 658.  The 0.33 mile barefoot trek back to the G6 was slow and painful enough as it was.  Lupe ran back and forth on the road wondering what was wrong with SPHP?  She was hungry!  C’mon, hurry it up!  Stars were shining by the time Alpo was served.  (9:43 PM)

Although Lupe initially seemed tired out from the long trek to South Sawtooth Mountain, the Alpo soon revived her.  She couldn’t sleep.  SPHP finally let her out of the G6.  She sniffed around in the night for a while, then laid down on the ground near the G6.

For a long time the Carolina Dog stayed out there alone, bathed in moonlight beneath the starry sky, watching the dim forest and listening to the soothing sound of the flowing waters of boot-eating La Bonte Creek.

Sometime after midnight, a tuckered out Dingo finally snoozes peacefully in the G6 after her South Sawtooth Mountain adventure.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2017 Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Eagle Peak, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-9-17)

Day 2 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond!

Lupe shot out into the night.  No telling what hour it was.  No doubt it was late, very late.  Following a road to the top of Black Mountain (7,960 ft.) yesterday hadn’t been hard enough to wear the Carolina Dog out.  She was all stirred up about being on a Dingo Vacation again, and had been staring out of the G6 watching the dark forest for hours.  SPHP wasn’t all that sleepy, either.  May as well join Looper out there.

The night air was pleasantly cool.  Only a few stars could be seen through high, thin clouds.  The nearly full moon was so bright, no other light was necessary.  SPHP strolled S along USFS Road No. 633, while Lupe explored small fields nearby.  The flowing waters of Horseshoe Creek and Lupe’s sniffing made the only sounds breaking the silence.

Forty minutes later, Lupe was back at the G6.  She helped devour the rest of the leftover roasted chicken, then was finally able to fall asleep.  By the time SPHP woke up again, the sun was shining.  A surprisingly strong, cool breeze was blowing down the Horseshoe Creek valley.  Lupe and SPHP spent a little time down by the stream.  The sky clouded up.

Lupe by Horseshoe Creek. A surprisingly strong, cool breeze was coming down the valley. Photo looks S.

The wind was strong enough so making breakfast was going to be a bother.  SPHP decided to skip it.  The roasted chicken in the night could serve as breakfast.  Lupe was raring to go, anyway.  Onward!

SPHP drove toward Lupe’s next peakbagging destination, following USFS Road No. 633 back to Esterbrook.  From there Lupe enjoyed a scenic ride SW on Country Road No. 5.  A huge herd of beautiful cows appeared ahead right on the road!  Another cattle drive, or perhaps it was the same one Lupe had passed yesterday back at Prairie Dog Hill (6,400 ft.), was going on.  In any case, another enthusiastic barkfest was in order.

Once safely a few miles beyond the cattle, SPHP stopped the G6 near a big rock outcropping providing a great view of Lupe’s next challenge.  Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.) loomed to the S.

Eagle Peak from a hillside near County Road No. 5. Photo looks S.
Eagle Peak was Lupe’s next peakbagging challenge. With no roads or trails to follow, it would prove to be much harder than Black Mountain had been yesterday.
N face of Eagle Peak. Eagle Peak is nearly 4 miles W of Laramie Peak, the highest mountain of the Laramie Range.

By 10:23 AM (67°F), the G6 was parked only a mile NW of Eagle Peak near the 3-way intersection of County Roads No. 5 & 71, and USFS Road No. 671.  Lupe started out on No. 671, but quickly left it to follow a steep side road up an open slope.  When the side road turned NE to rejoin No. 671, Lupe left it as well, climbing SE up into the forest.

The forest was full of cheerful yellow flowers.

Soon after Lupe departed for Eagle Peak, she found herself climbing through a forest full of pretty yellow flowers.

The climb through the forest was fairly steep.  Lupe soon reached a high point where she could not advance any farther toward Eagle Peak.  Gah!  She was going to have to lose some of her newly gained elevation.  From high rocks, a flowery open saddle could be seen below to the SE.

Lupe ultimately lost 100+ feet of elevation working her way NE through thick forest and boulders before she came to a point where she could reach the open ground safely.  She then had to head S back up to the flowery saddle.  Not very efficient.

Lupe reaches the flowery saddle. Photo looks S.

Great job of route finding, SPHP!

Pshaw!  A minor setback.  Puppy, ho!  Onward!

From the flowery saddle, Lupe went SSW, skirting around the W side of another minor high point.  She then turned SE, and quickly arrived at the edge of a small valley.  A thickly forested hillside rose from the valley, climbing steeply toward the rocky upper NW face of Eagle Peak.

It looked like it might be possible to simply climb the NW face straight to the top of the mountain.  Then again, maybe not.  The rocky summit ridge was a long way up, still too far off to see details well.  The topo map seemed to indicate it might be easier to approach the mountain from the SW.

High up on the mountain toward the S, an area of burnt forest was visible.  Maybe Lupe should head toward that?

Beyond the flowery saddle, Lupe arrives at the edge of the small valley seen directly ahead. A thick forest rose steeply from the valley up the NW face of the mountain. The topo map seemed to suggest the easiest route to the summit might be from the SW, not the NW. For that reason, SPHP led Lupe toward the burnt area seen high up on the R (S). Photo looks SE.

SPHP led Lupe across the small valley, entering the forest.  Loop traveled SSE gaining elevation steadily.  The immediate goal now was to reach the burnt forest high up on Eagle Peak’s SW slope.  The Carolina Dog had a good time exploring the living forest, which went on for quite a long way.  She stopped for water and to relax a few times when SPHP needed a break.

Enjoying the forest somewhere on the lower NW slopes of Eagle Peak.
The living forest went on for what seemed like quite a long way as Lupe headed SSE. It was too thick to permit any views of how much progress she was making.

The living forest was nice and cool, but the morning’s clouds had mostly dissipated by the time Lupe reached the start of the burnt area.  The day was sunny, bright, and getting warmer.  Lupe could now see more of the territory higher up.  The view improved as Lupe continued climbing.  The top of the mountain was still hundreds of feet higher.

Looper enters the burnt area on Eagle Peak’s upper SW slopes. She had a somewhat better view of things from here, but the top of the mountain was still at least several hundred feet higher up. Photo looks ENE.

At first the burnt area was quite easy to navigate through, but as Lupe got higher up, she started encountering more deadfall, larger boulders, and some living trees as well that made progress increasingly difficult.  Lupe and SPHP turned ESE to climb more aggressively, but the terrain grew worse.  Finally, it became clear that the Carolina Dog was rapidly approaching the base of a nearly vertical wall of solid rock.

By now, Lupe wasn’t too far from the S end of the mountain.  SPHP had her head that way, looking for a break in the rock wall that would let her get up on top.  No dice.  The vertical rock wall was continuous.  Lupe finally reached the S end of it.  She was now quite high on Eagle Peak, and had a good view of the 2 mile long ridge far below leading SSW to Jack Squirrel Peak (8,942 ft.).

SPHP had hoped Loop would be able to follow that SSW ridge to climb Jack Squirrel Peak after summiting Eagle Peak, but that clearly wasn’t in the cards.  The ridge was way too rough.  Nearly all of it had burned, and there would be a ton of deadfall down there, too.  No way would there be time enough to navigate through all that!

At the S end of Eagle Peak, Lupe had a great view of the 2 mile long SSW ridge leading to Jack Squirrel Peak (8,942 ft.), seen in the distance. SPHP had hoped Lupe might be able to follow this ridge to tag the summit of Jack Squirrel Peak after climbing Eagle Peak. However, it was completely clear from here that was way too ambitious, and simply out of the question. Photo looks SSW.

Of course, there wasn’t much use in worrying about Jack Squirrel Peak yet, anyway.  Lupe still hadn’t found a way to the top of Eagle Peak.  A quick check of the topo map suggested that maybe she could go around the S end of the vertical rock wall and find a way up along the E side?

The rock wall was only a few feet thick at the S end.  Lupe could now see spruce trees growing in a corridor to the E.  The initial view was encouraging.  May as well try it!

Looking NNE back up at the vertical rock wall at the S end of Eagle Peak. Lupe had worked her way S to this point along the W (L) side of it without finding a way up, but maybe she could find a way up from the E (R) side? It was worth a shot!

Lupe and SPHP circled around the S end of the vertical rock wall over to the E side.  It was slow going amidst large boulders, and a mix of living trees and deadfall.  However, Lupe and SPHP both made it, and found there was indeed a channel of forested land rising steadily to the N on the E side.

For a short distance, Lupe stayed right along the E base of the vertical rock wall as she climbed N.  However, the wall rose higher to the N, too.  Lupe wasn’t making any apparent progress toward being able to get up onto it.

The terrain immediately below the wall became increasingly difficult.  Tightly packed spruce trees and boulders forced Lupe E away from the wall in order to make any progress at all.  Even over here, the going was far from easy.  Lupe was often down in cave-like spaces between boulders, while SPHP worked up and around them.  Once SPHP was up, the crafty American Dingo always found a way to bound higher, too.

As Lupe climbed, she reached the W side of another, somewhat smaller rock wall along the E side of the corridor leading higher.  After following this wall N up a short distance, several breaks appeared revealing large cliffs only a few feet away, and big views to the SE.  SPHP was glad when those gaps ended a little higher up, and the unnerving cliff views were walled off again.

Looking back at Jack Squirrel Peak from the corridor Lupe was following higher on the E side of the S end of Eagle Peak. Photo looks SSW.

Lupe kept climbing N, but the rock wall to the W continued to get higher, too.  If only she could scramble 30 or 40 feet up the wall, she would be on top, but there didn’t seem to be a way to do it.  Finally, SPHP spotted a route that might work.  If Lupe could reach a small green tree a little more than halfway up, the rest should be easy.  It looked feasible.

After climbing N almost as far as she could, it looked like Lupe could reach the top of this rock wall and Eagle Peak, if she could get to the small green tree seen here 25 feet above her. A crack in the rocks visible from some angles went SW from the little tree up what appeared to be an easy route the rest of the way to the top. Photo looks NW.

By the time SPHP spotted this possible route via the small green tree, Lupe was nearing a pass only a little farther N.  Maybe a more certain and easier way up would be visible N of the pass?  Should probably check that out first!  Hopes soared as Lupe approached the pass.

The view N from the pass was a colossal disappointment.  All that could be seen was a line of enormous cliffs extending along the entire E side of the mountain.  The continuous rock wall to the W offered not the slightest encouragement.  Forget that!

Lupe reaches the pass on the E side of Eagle Peak. The view was a colossal disappointment! All that could be seen farther N was an unbroken line of huge cliffs. Lupe didn’t stand the slightest chance of scaling the mountain from anywhere along in here. Photo looks N.

The American Dingo retreated S from the pass back down to the potential route via the little green tree.  It was Lupe’s last hope of reaching the summit from anywhere along this SE side of the mountain.

Lupe and SPHP went closer to investigate.  The truth was plain within only a few minutes.  No, there wasn’t any way Looper could get to that little green tree.  It was all an illusion.  The whole foray around the SE side of the mountain had been a huge waste of time and energy.

Lupe and SPHP returned from disappointment at the N pass on the E side of Eagle Peak for a closer look at this last possible route to the top from the SE end of the mountain. SPHP quickly concluded this route wasn’t going to work either. Lupe had no hope of reaching the little green tree seen at the upper R, which success entirely depended upon. Photo looks NNW.

No hope remained over here.  Lupe had to return to the W side of the mountain.  Slowly, slowly, Loop and SPHP worked S back down the channel E of the vertical rock wall.  Time ticked by.  Lupe and SPHP made it back to the S end of the mountain, and around to the W side.

The plan once again was to stay near the base of the vertical rock wall, and follow it N until a way up could be found.  SPHP was still optimistic Lupe would succeed over here, if she went far enough N.

Looking up once again at the vertical rock wall at the S end of Eagle Peak, as Lupe returned to the W side of it. Photo looks NNE.

Looper seemed happy and optimistic, too, but the slog N was painfully slow going.  This high up, there were plenty of obstacles on the W side of the mountain, too.  More giant boulders, more deadfall, more live trees.

On and on, yet no matter how high Lupe got, the top of the vertical rock wall was always out of reach.  Sometimes not terribly far out of reach, only 40 or 50 feet in some places, but out of reach nevertheless.  Frustration began setting in.  Wasn’t there any way up?

As if it was needed, a new worry appeared.  Off to the N was another long section of Eagle Peak’s summit ridge.  It was separated by a saddle from the S end of the mountain where Lupe had been trying to get up.  SPHP had tried to lead Lupe up the S end, partly because that was where the topo map showed the 9,167 ft. survey benchmark.  However, another look at the map showed that both the N and S ends of the mountain had sizable areas enclosed by the 9,160 ft. contour.

Maybe the true summit of Eagle Peak was actually over at the N section of the summit ridge, instead of at or near the S section’s survey benchmark?  Entirely possible.  Lupe’s first view from this high up over at the N section revealed 3 vertical prongs of rock grouped close together.  They looked high.  Maybe higher than anything over here?

As Lupe worked her way N beneath the vertical rock wall on the W side of Eagle Peak, a new worry appeared. Even farther N, a group of 3 vertical prongs of rock came into view. They looked very high. Was the true summit of Eagle Peak actually over there? SPHP couldn’t tell, but it was certainly possible. Photo looks N.
Soooo, SPHP, let me get this straight! After we’ve spent hours circling uselessly around as much of this big wretched S end of the mountain as possible, you now think maybe the summit is actually way over there?
Oh, don’t mind me! Think I’ll just lay on this comfy moss in the sun and laugh for a while.

Fine, fine, Loop, just peachy fine!  Have your little laugh, or big one if you like, but here’s the deal.  If we can get to the top of either the S section or the N section of the summit ridge, we are going to call it good enough for Dingo work.  You can then claim a peakbagging success on Eagle Peak and we can get out of here.  Unless, of course, it’s completely clear from up on top that the true summit is definitely at the other section?  What do you think?

OK, but I really think there’s no need to keep consulting your silly, misleading, inconclusive maps.  Maybe it’s time to consult a psychiatrist, instead!  You might get to the bottom of all this, if not the top.

Ha, ha!  So hilarious!  Come on, let’s get on with it.  Either way, success or defeat, I’m about done with Eagle Peak.

Oh, maybe you still do have a marble or two left!

Lupe came close to making it.  Twice she got within 20 feet or so of reaching the top of the vertical rock wall.  One route looked possible, but too exposed.  SPHP wouldn’t chance it.  The other appeared effectively blocked by a single boulder.

Twice Lupe nearly made it to the top of the big S section of Eagle Peak’s summit ridge. Here she’s only about 20 vertical feet from being there. So close, yet so incredibly far, too!

If she could have gotten up on that wall, SPHP believed Lupe would have had an easy stroll with only minor additional elevation gain required to reach Eagle Peak’s summit.  It never happened.  All hope of reaching the top of the mountain’s S section of the summit ridge disappeared when the N end of it ended in big cliffs.

Attention shifted to trying to get to the top of the N section of the ridge.  Unfortunately, the clearer view of it that Lupe had now was even more daunting than before.

Lupe would be approaching the 3 vertical prongs from the S where the steep rock offered little encouragement.  Worse yet, what could be seen of the top of the ridge farther N looked like a narrow string of rock knobs difficult and dangerous to traverse, even if it was possible to get up there somehow.  Towering cliffs were seen to the E, and it looked like there must be cliffs of lesser, unknown height to the W.

Nevertheless, staying toward the W, Lupe and SPHP headed down to the saddle leading to the N section of the summit ridge.  Lupe crossed the saddle and succeeded in regaining some elevation, but as expected, there was no way to the top from here.

Lupe nears the N section of Eagle Peak’s long summit ridge. Photo looks N.

It was still entirely possible Lupe might be able to reach the top of the N section of the summit ridge from the NW.  She had seen that much earlier in the day.  From here, though, even trying it would mean a big down climb, and then another search for a route up working N along the W side of the long ridgeline.  No way.  Not today.  SPHP was done.

Let’s get some photos from here Loop, and call it good.

Lupe barked happily!  She was ready to call it a day, too.

Looking back at the rock wall along the S half of Eagle Peak where Lupe and SPHP had spent most of the day trying and failing to reach the top. Photo looks SE.
Laramie Peak from between Eagle Peak’s N & S summit ridges. Photo looks E.
Another look at Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) from Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.). Photo looks E.
County Road No. 710 winds away to the SW.
Jack Squirrel Peak (8,942 ft.) with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks SSW.

On the way back down, Lupe passed through the burnt forest again.

Lupe roaming in the burnt forest near the start of the return trip down off the mountain. Photo looks SW.
Windy Peak (R of Center) from the upper W slopes of Eagle Peak. Photo looks NW.

SPHP made the mistake of leading Lupe N too soon.  She should have lost more elevation first.  This way the burnt forest went on and on.  Maybe it was just the sense of defeat, but what should have been a relatively easy trek back, seemed much longer and steeper than the way up had been.  When Lupe finally reached the live forest, it also seemed to go on forever.  The American Dingo turned W, plunging relentlessly down the mountain.  SPHP became afraid she was going to cliff out, but she didn’t.

Somewhere near the end, Lupe’s routes up and down crossed.  At last, the Carolina Dog emerged from the forest, reaching relatively level open ground near County Road No. 710.  The NW slope of Eagle Peak didn’t look all that daunting from down here.

Lupe W of Eagle Peak at the end of the day not far from County Road No. 710. Eagle Peak didn’t look all that daunting from down here. Photo looks E.

Oh, well!  What was done was done.  Que sera.  It was over.  Next time Lupe would just go straight on up that NW slope!  If there ever was a next time.  Defeat bred pessimism.

Lupe reached the G6 again at 6:52 PM (72°F).  Denied, after 8.5 hours on a mountain only a mile away, with less than 1,500 feet of elevation gain required to summit!  How was that even possible?  SPHP felt sunburnt, battered, bruised, scraped, and worn out.  The plucky American Dingo looked fine, but you could bet even she wouldn’t be taking any long moonlit strolls tonight!

SPHP drove around the N end of Eagle Peak heading E on USFS Road No. 671.  Lupe would spend the evening at a dispersed camping site off USFS Road No. 681 leading to Friend Park near Laramie Peak.

What a gorgeous evening!  On the way to No. 681, SPHP stopped briefly NE of the mountain to let Lupe out for another look.  Eagle Peak stood high and wonderful, its crown surrounded by an intriguing variety of cliffs and spires.  Lupe had nearly reached the top.  Almost, but not quite.  The lofty summit remained the domain of eagles, not dingoes.

Sometimes that’s the way it goes.

Lupe NE of Eagle Peak on the beautiful evening of 6-9-17.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2017 Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Mountain, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-8-17)

Day 1 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond

Nine months gone.  Practically an eternity!  Late in the evening, Lupe laid sad-faced and bored on the even sadder-looking old couch clawed up by 4 cats who no longer lived here.  Did she ever even think anymore about those glorious days of her last and greatest 2016 Dingo Vacation when she’d gone all the way to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska?

If so, you couldn’t tell it.  Of course, maybe she was thinking of those times, and how long ago and far away it all seemed was what was making her sad.  Loopster heaved a sigh, staring vacantly over the edge of the couch.  She looked like she had lost her last friend.

Forlorn Lupe.

She hadn’t, of course.  She’d been on lots of Black Hills expeditions full of adventures with SPHP over the last nine months.  Fun times, but not the same as hitting the open road for days on end spent exploring exciting, beautiful, distant lands.

While Loop moped on the couch, SPHP was not idle.  A warm, fragrant breeze stirred the air.  Late spring by the calendar.  Early summer by SPHP’s reckoning.

Better enjoy lounging around like that while you still can!

Lupe’s eyes shifted to watch SPHP busily checking equipment and supplies.  Her expression didn’t change.

You’ll see, soon enough!

Promises, promises.  Nothing fun happened.  Dullsville.

The next morning SPHP was up early.  Shower, breakfast, and then back and forth packing all this stuff into the G6.  Lupe began to realize something really was up.  A glimmer of hope in her eyes grew rapidly to increasing anticipation.

Mountain climbing season, Loopster!  It’s here!  You ready?

Was she ever!  Only a few hours later, Lupe was in Wyoming, whizzing along in the G6 headed for her first adventure of her first Dingo Vacation of 2017.  Had the mood ever changed from last night!  Looper was ready to let the good times roll!

Lupe returns to the great state of Wyoming at the start of her first Dingo Vacation of 2017. Oh yeah, this is gonna be good!

Lupe was headed for the Laramie Mountains in SE Wyoming.  Only 8 days into June, it was still weeks early to head up into some of the higher Wyoming ranges for mountain climbing, since there would still be too much snow on the peaks.  However, with the exception of Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.), the highest mountains of the Laramie Range top out only a little over 9,000 ft.  There might still be some snow around in early June, but not enough to be a problem.

By early afternoon, Lupe reached Douglas, Wyoming.  SPHP drove S from there on Hwy 94.  The highway eventually turned to gravel and became County Road No. 5.  A mile N of Esterbrook, SPHP had planned to let Lupe tag Prairie Dog Hill (6,400 ft.) as her first peak “climbed” in the Laramie Range this year.  It wasn’t even really a climb at all, since County Road No. 5 goes almost right over the high point.  Pathetically easy.

However, when Lupe arrived at Prairie Dog Hill, a cattle drive was in progress right on the road.  Lupe was almost out of her mind with delight!  She bounded from window to window of the G6 in a foaming-at-the-mouth barking frenzy.  She was eager to get out and help drive some cattle herself!  Not such a good idea.  The cowboys might have an issue with that.  SPHP drove on, turning E at Esterbrook on USFS Road No. 633.

No. 633 wound N & E for several miles.  Shortly after passing Esterbrook Campground, the road began to lose elevation and turned S.  Lupe’s first real peakbagging objective, Black Mountain (7,960 ft.), came into view.

Black Mountain (L) comes into view from USFS Road No. 633. Laramie Peak, the highest mountain of the Laramie Range is seen in the distance on the R. Photo looks SSW.
Black Mountain (Center) was Lupe’s first real peakbagging goal of her 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range & Beyond. Photo looks SSW.

Black Mountain was still 9 or 10 miles SSW from where it first came into view.  On the way there, Lupe stopped by Horseshoe Creek, which flowed right along USFS Road No. 633 for a couple of miles.

Lupe stops by scenic Horseshoe Creek on the way to Black Mountain. She would later spend the night at the pullout off USFS Road No. 633 seen beyond her.

Looking for USFS Road No. 667, SPHP turned off No. 633 at Camp Laramie Peak, a Boy Scout camp at Harris Park.  Lupe and SPHP made inquiry at the main office on how to find No. 667 to Black Mountain.

Lupe stopped at Camp Laramie Peak to inquire about how to find USFS Road No. 667 to Black Mountain. She was a good deal more enthusiastic about how this day was going than the boy outside the Boy Scout camp’s main office.

Camp Laramie Peak was just opening up for the summer season.  Councilors were already here, but the first Boy Scouts were just beginning to arrive.  Fortunately, an official was available who told SPHP that USFS Road No. 667 (unmarked) to Laramie Peak went right through the camp.  He pointed out a road that went S down a little hill.

The road would quickly deteriorate to a high-clearance proposition – it wasn’t going to be G6 friendly at all.  This was known in advance from the topo map where No. 667 was marked 4WD.  The intention all along had been to ditch the G6 somewhere, and follow the road on paw and foot.  Fortunately, SPHP was free to park the G6 at Camp Laramie Peak at a small parking area near the main office.

It turned out that USFS Road No. 667 (a 4WD road) to Black Mountain goes right through Camp Laramie Peak. The officials at the camp said SPHP was free to park the G6 at a small lot not far from the main office, so Lupe’s trek up Black Mountain started right here.

At 3:08 PM (79°F), Lupe and SPHP set off.  There had been one caveat mentioned at the office about taking USFS Road No. 667.  The road went through Boy Scout property for the first half mile or so.  Leaving the road was not permitted.  No trespassing on Boy Scout land!  Seemed like an odd demand from an organization dedicated in part to promoting the outdoors, but another official reiterated this rule as Lupe and SPHP ambled along the road through the camp.

Whatever, no problem.  SPHP adhered rigidly to this restriction.  The American Dingo, having spent most of the day cooped up in the G6, was somewhat less diligent.  Lupe had a fun time roaming and exploring the forest not too far from the road.

After dipping down through camp, No. 667 crossed a small stream and then began to wind W climbing steadily.   Bluebells were growing in profusion in the forests and fields.  It was a pretty day, a bit warm, and Lupe was off to a good start.  She was beyond forbidden Boy Scout territory in a jiffy.  A mile from camp, she arrived at a minor saddle near large rock formations.

Loopster among the bluebells.

About a mile from Camp Laramie Peak, Lupe reached these large rock formations at a minor saddle. Photo looks NNE.

Still hidden from view more than a mile N of the minor saddle was Peak 7320, another mountain SPHP hoped Lupe would get a chance to climb.  First things first, though!  The road turned due S from the saddle and climbed more steeply than before.  Lupe followed it, continuing toward Black Mountain.

No. 667 soon turned SW and leveled out for a little way.  Peak 7320 now came into view back to the N.  The mountain was capped by a huge knob of solid rock.  Lupe might not be able to get to the top, even if there was time enough later on for an attempt.

Peak 7320 from USFS Road No. 667 on the way to Black Mountain. Photo looks N.

Off to the SW, the summit of Black Mountain had come into view, too.  It was a little hard to recognize at first, but got easier to discern as Lupe continued along the road.  A fire lookout tower was perched way up on the highest rocks.

The summit of Black Mountain (far L) came into view here, but it was still so far off, it was hard to recognize at first. Photo looks SW.
Getting closer! The fire lookout tower on the summit (Center) is now discernable. Photo looks SW.
The fire lookout tower at the summit (R of Center) with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks SW.

No. 667 soon began to climb again fairly steeply.  Before long, it made one big jog to the NW before turning sharply S.  Once it made the turn, the road started leveling out.  Lupe was still gaining elevation, but at an easy pace.  The Carolina Dog now enjoyed a pleasant journey S to the summit along the big N ridge.

The views were increasingly beautiful!  Albany Peak (7720 ft.) could be seen to the SSE.  A little farther on, Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) came into view to the SW.

Albany Peak is seen straight up from Lupe on the L. Photo looks SE.
Laramie Peak, the highest mountain of the entire Laramie Range, comes into view. Photo looks SW.
Lupe traveling the big N ridge. The summit is in view, still a little way off. Photo looks S.

Lupe continued S along No. 667 until it curled around a big rock formation, and suddenly ended at the base of the massive stone knob the fire lookout station was perched on.  A steep metal stairway was the only way up.

Lupe arrives at the end of USFS Road No. 667. She did not like the steep stairway leading to the fire lookout station. Photo looks ESE.

The American Dingo didn’t like the look of those stairs!  She stayed at the bottom, while SPHP climbed the first longest section.  SPHP had to plead with her to follow.  She finally did come up, but not until SPHP was about ready to go down and get her.

A metal platform turned 90°, and led in a few feet to a 2nd shorter flight of stairs.  SPHP climbed this 2nd set, only to turn around and see Lupe running back down the 1st flight all the way to the bottom again.  SPHP returned to the top of the 1st flight to resume pleading and coaxing.  Looper finally relented.  This time she made it all the way to the fire lookout station to claim her peakbagging success!

Despite the long, scary metal stairway, Lupe makes it to the fire lookout station on Black Mountain (7,960 ft.) to claim her peakbagging success! Photo looks S.

The day had been warm and the air calm all the way up the mountain.  Even down at the base of the metal stairway, there hadn’t been much of a breeze.  However, up at the fire lookout tower, it was considerably cooler.  An annoyingly strong gusty wind was blowing out of the SSE.  The last bit of elevation gain had made a surprising difference!

It was so windy, Loopster wanted to take shelter in the lookout tower.  She was most disappointed that it was padlocked shut, and no one was around to let her in.  The views were splendid in every direction.  Somewhat reluctantly, the Carolina Dog cooperated with taking photos.  She preferred to spend her time on the N side of the tower out of the wind.

Lupe and SPHP made several forays around the tower to check out the views, returning frequently to the N side for breaks from the wind.

Of course, the most impressive view from Black Mountain was toward Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.), the highest mountain in the entire Laramie Range. Photo looks SW with help from the telephoto lens.
Looper checks out the view of Laramie Peak. Photo looks SSW.
The view to the N.
Another look to the N.
Albany Peak (7,720 ft.) (L) from Black Mountain. County Road No. 71 down in the Cottonwood Creek valley is seen in the foreground. Photo looks SSE.
Another look at Albany Peak a little later on with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks SE.
Haystack Peaks are seen in the foreground on the R. Beyond them in the distance is Bear Head Mountain (8,359 ft.). Photo looks SSW.
Another look SSW, this time with more help from the telephoto lens. Haystack Peaks are in the foreground. Bear Head Mountain in the distance.
Laramie Peak (R) dominates Haystack Peaks (L foreground) and Bear Head Mountain (L distant). Photo looks SW.
The view to the NW. USFS Road No. 667 is seen below.

Lupe spent a good 30 minutes up at the summit of Black Mountain (7,960 ft.).  Before leaving, the Carolina Dog and SPHP took a longer break out of the wind on the N side of the lookout tower.  Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild.  Then it was time for one last look at Laramie Peak from the top, and a final stroll around the lookout tower.

A last look at Laramie Peak from the Black Mountain fire lookout tower. Photo looks SW.
After half an hour up at the windy fire lookout tower on Black Mountain, Lupe waits on the sheltered N side of it for the signal from SPHP that it’s OK to start down and get out of the wind once and for all. Photo looks S.

In her eagerness to get out of the wind, Lupe showed no fear of the long metal stairway leading down to USFS Road No. 667.  She raced to the bottom in nothing flat.  It was still a little breezy back down at the road, but nothing compared to the gusty wind up at the tower.

SW of the lookout tower were some great viewpoints where Laramie Peak was on display.  Lupe took a little time to sniff around and explore this area.

Laramie Peak from SW of the lookout tower. Photo looks SW.
Looking NE back up at the fire lookout tower.

When Lupe was satisfied with her explorations of the summit area, she headed back N along USFS Road No. 667.  She would retrace her route up following the road all the way back to Camp Laramie Peak.

Bluebells on the way back.

Although SPHP had hoped Lupe would have time to take a crack at Peak 7320 on the way down, the sun was starting to get low.  Since it looked like there wouldn’t be sufficient daylight to summit and get back to the road before dark, Lupe never made the attempt.

Peak 7320 (Center) seen a little before sunset on the way down Black Mountain. Unfortunately, Lupe wouldn’t have enough daylight to climb it and find her way back to the road before dark. Photo looks N.

It was 9:11 PM (52 °F) when Lupe reached Camp Laramie Peak again.  In fading light, she was treated to a ride S in the G6 down the Cottonwood Creek valley on County Road No. 71.  SPHP wanted to check out potential access routes to Albany Peak.  Maybe Lupe could climb it tomorrow?

There proved to be numerous homes on private property along County Road No. 71.  “No Trespassing” signs were posted all over the place.  SPHP found one possible access point, but it wasn’t clear if this route went across private property or not.  From Black Mountain, Lupe had seen a very large rock formation at the top of Albany Peak.  Maybe she couldn’t even get to the top of the mountain, even if there was access?

Reluctantly, SPHP decided Lupe should skip Albany Peak, at least on this trip.  SPHP drove N again, as Lupe barked enthusiastically at antelope grazing in the fields at dusk.  It was dark by the time Lupe stopped at a pullout along USFS Road No. 633 near Horseshoe Creek for the night.

Sunset in the Laramie Range of Wyoming.

Only 24 hours ago, Lupe had been bored and despondent on the tattered old couch back home.  Yet today she’d had a blast traveling to Wyoming and climbing Black Mountain.  The lucky American Dingo’s summer of 2017 adventures had only just begun!

Laramie Peak from Black Mountain, 6-8-17

Links:

Laramie Peak, Wyoming (8-9-15)

2016 Laramie Mountains, Wyoming Adventure Index

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2017 Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Crazy Peak, Montana – On the Verge of EPIC with Mountaineer Jobe Wymore (7-22-17)

Day 15 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Wind River Range, Wyoming & Select Peaks in Montana

Dawn.  Lupe sat bright-eyed on SPHP’s lap listening to Morning Dew by the Grateful Dead.  She gazed intently out the window of Jobe’s silver Jeep Rubicon.  Jobe was expounding on Jerry Garcia’s musical talents as he drove.  Lupe listened politely as Jobe & SPHP chatted.  In truth, she was more interested in the possibility of seeing cows, deer, or squirrels along the 4WD road.

The sun was above the horizon by the time Jobe parked his Rubicon at a 6,900 foot elevation saddle on Crazy Peak’s SE ridge.  An old pickup truck was already parked nearby, but no one was around.  Good.  This was it!  Lupe’s big chance to climb Crazy Peak (11,209 ft.) with Jobe had arrived!  Crazy Peak wasn’t just any mountain.  With Crazy Peak done, Jobe would be on the verge of EPIC!

Sunrise from Crazy Peak’s SE Ridge.
Jobe leads the way as Lupe sets off for Crazy Peak. Photo looks WNW.

This opportunity to climb Crazy Peak with Jobe had been set in motion a couple of months ago.  While looking at the results of Jobe’s week long mid-May 2017 trip to the East Coast on Peakbagger.com, SPHP discovered Jobe was now very close to completing a huge peakbagging feat – one he had been working on for more than 20 years.  Jobe was only 2 peaks away from completing the EPIC List for all 50 US states!

Millions of people have enjoyed a hike to the top of the highest mountain in one or more US states.  In fact, it’s not that hard to reach the highest point in quite a few states.  However, only the truly dedicated ever seriously dream of climbing the highest mountain in all 50 states – in addition to the travel time and expense involved, that list contains some difficult peaks requiring equipment and technical climbing skills.  Yet those 50 highest peaks are only part of what we’re talking about here.  Jobe had already been to the top of the highest mountain in every state.  The EPIC List goes way beyond that.

Elevation is only one statistical measure of a mountain’s claim to grandeur.  There are others.  The EPIC list also considers Prominence and Isolation.  Prominence is a measure of the minimum elevation one would have to lose from a mountain’s summit to travel to a higher peak by any route, no matter how long, difficult or impractical.  Isolation measures how far away it is in a direct line to the closest higher mountain.

In 19 US states, the highest mountain is also the most prominent and has the most isolation.  The same mountain ranks 1st in all three categories.  However, in the other 31 states, 2 or 3 different peaks can claim to be either the highest, most prominent, most isolated, or some combination thereof.  Consequently, the EPIC List for the 50 US states includes not just 50, but 96 different peaks.

Only Bob Packard among all Peakbagger.com account holders has climbed all 96 peaks on the EPIC List.  Now Jobe was only 2 peaks away!  What caught SPHP’s eye was where those remaining unclimbed peaks were.  Both were in Montana, a state that borders South Dakota where Lupe lives.  Mount Cleveland (10,466 ft.) with 98.18 miles of isolation is the most isolated peak in Montana.  Located in the far NW part of the state in Glacier National Park, anti-Dingo regulations prevent Lupe from ever doing anything there.

The other summit Jobe was lacking was Crazy Peak (11,209 ft.).  With 5,709 ft. of prominence, Crazy Peak is the most prominent mountain in Montana.  Located in S central Montana in the Gallatin National Forest, it wasn’t nearly as far away as Mount Cleveland.

Crazy Peak has a spot on a lot of peakbagging lists, not just the EPIC list.  Early in 2017 SPHP had considered including Crazy Peak among the mountains Lupe might want to climb this summer.  A little research on Peakbagger.com had squelched that idea.  Every trip report was on the same ascent route, and most mentioned Class 4 terrain on the way to the summit.  SPHP didn’t know much about the rating system, but knew enough to realize that Lupe needed to stay far away from anything approaching Class 4.

Now a new idea crept into SPHP’s noggin.  Even if Lupe couldn’t climb Crazy Peak, wouldn’t it be fun to go there when Jobe with his superior skills climbed it?  Lupe and SPHP could still go partway up the mountain, and congratulate Jobe on his success when he returned from the summit on his way back down.  Lupe could still bask in her friend Jobe’s glory!

Well, maybe.  Lupe and SPHP didn’t really know Jobe very well.  In response to an email from Jobe, Lupe had scouted out conditions on Odakota Mountain (7,200 ft.) in the Black Hills back in late March of 2016 prior to a trip he was planning to western Nebraska and possibly South Dakota.  When Jobe subsequently arrived in the Black Hills on April 2nd, 2016, Lupe went with him to Odakota Mountain.

Lupe and SPHP had even followed Jobe all the way to the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska for an adventure down there that same day.  Jobe had treated Lupe very kindly the whole time.  When Lupe’s paws got sore, Jobe carried her to safety past the painful cactus that grew in profusion all over those desolate Nebraska hills.  Since then Jobe had occasionally stayed in touch via email.

Jobe was a great guy, but perhaps he had other plans for Crazy Peak with more experienced and capable climbers, or maybe he’d rather go solo than bother with a Carolina Dog?  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Didn’t hurt to ask.  On 5-23-17, SPHP sent Jobe an email.  When was Jobe planning on taking on Crazy and Cleveland?  Which would he tackle first?

A response came within a couple hours.  Jobe would likely take on Crazy Peak first.  The unique permitting process for climbing Mount Cleveland in Glacier National Park might cause an attempt on that peak to be delayed longer than Jobe would like.

On 5-25-17, SPHP sent another email.  This one popped the big question.  Lupe would be gone all of August, 2017, but if Jobe was planning on climbing Crazy Peak before then, would he mind if Loop and SPHP tagged along partway up?  Loop and SPHP had no delusions of reaching the top, and promised not to hold Jobe back from getting there himself.

Again came a quick response – an unexpected one.  All Jobe said was “Here’s some forwarded pics of Victor Zhou’s solo ascent of Crazy’s East Ridge from last summer.”  Eleven photos were attached.  SPHP got excited.  Those photos showed a big long ridge that got progressively rockier approaching Crazy’s summit.  The first part of the ridge was cake!  Lupe could get way higher on Crazy Peak than SPHP had thought.  Maybe she could even reach the summit!  It was hard to tell from the last few photos just what dangers might lurk among all that rock?

What was this, though, about an East Ridge route?  All the trip reports on Peakbagger.com mentioned coming up the W ridge.  Some mentioned going down the N ridge.  None of the reports or GPS tracks showed an attempt from the E.  Victor Zhou had climbed Crazy Peak on 7-20-16, but like most climbers, had not submitted a trip report or GPS track.  There were two E ridges, too.  One to the NE and one to the SE.  Which one did Victor climb?  After a look at the topo map, SPHP concluded Victor must have gone up the SE ridge.

SPHP fired off another email to Jobe expressing these thoughts.  Again Jobe responded quickly:

The route Victor climbed is unconventional and I have no idea why others haven’t climbed it with more regularity in the past.  It’s almost like everyone reads a particular trip report that mentions a specific route and that automatically becomes the only option?  The “normal” route is Class 4 where Victor’s is no more than Class 3 tops.  Might get a little sharp but not scary.  It’s definitely not the NE Ridge he ascended but I can ask him the definitive route (start location) and get back to ya.  He calls it the “East Ridge”.  If you want to meet and take a crack at it somewhere around July 22nd, I’m all in.

That’s all it took.  Crazy Peak was a go!

Now Lupe was really here!  Her chance to climb Crazy Peak with Jobe via Victor Zhou’s route had arrived!  Jobe led the way.  SPHP trailed behind, with Lupe bouncing back and forth between.  The first part of the trek was through forest.  Jobe headed WNW staying toward the S edge of the ridge.  Below was the deep canyon of the South Fork of Big Timber Creek.

An early glimpse to the SW down into the canyon of the South Fork of Big Timber Creek.

Progress through the forest was good.  A steady, but unremarkable climb.  After a little while, the forest began to give out.  Lupe and Jobe reached a minor high point where it was possible to get a good look at the first stretch of open terrain ahead.  Nothing fancy, or anything to be the least bit concerned about was in view, just a continuation of the steady climb minus trees.

The forest eventually gave out. From this minor high point Loopster has a good view of the open terrain ahead. Pretty easy to tell which way to go from here! Photo looks NW.
Jobe assesses the situation. The ridge on the R is also part of Crazy Peak’s massive SE ridge. The high point in view where the terrain converges is likely HP 8448. Photo looks NW.

Two “minor” sub-ridges, both part of Crazy Peak’s massive SE ridge converge near HP 8448.  (See the Peakbagger.com topo map.)  Lupe, Jobe and SPHP had been following the S one.  This caused no issues on the way up, but would be important to remember on the way down.

Jobe now beyond HP 8448. The terrain is still easy. Photo looks NW.
A better look from higher up at the South Fork of Big Timber Creek canyon. Photo looks SW.
Jobe leads the charge up. Lupe looking good not far behind.

Some distance beyond HP 8448, Jobe led Lupe and SPHP around to the N side of the ridge.  For a while, the terrain was a little easier here.  The slope down into the canyon to the N wasn’t as steep.  On the way to HP 9761, the summit of Crazy Peak came into view, still more than 2 miles to the WNW.

On the way to HP 9761, the summit of Crazy Peak came into view, still more than 2 miles to the WNW.
Jobe leads the way again after a stop to let SPHP catch up.

Even before the ridge became really rocky, SPHP was having a hard time keeping up with Jobe.  Lupe could easily enough, but the effects of the climbs of the past 2 days, and Lupe’s long adventures earlier in the Wind River Range were taking a toll on SPHP.  Though Jobe repeatedly stopped and waited, or went slowly for him, SPHP was falling farther and farther behind.

This came as no surprise.  Jobe is in far superior condition.  A mountaineer with tremendous experience and dedication to staying fit, he didn’t even look like he was trying.  Effortlessly, Jobe glided over terrain that SPHP trudged or stumbled through.  Jobe made it look so easy!  Meanwhile SPHP was having to stop repeatedly to catch breath.

The faithful American Dingo stuck mostly with SPHP as Jobe forged ahead.  SPHP’s slower pace gave her plenty of time to sniff around and relax.  She could even take short Dingo naps.

Lupe takes a little Dingo nap while SPHP pauses to catch breath. SPHP couldn’t go at the pace Jobe & Lupe were capable of, but so far, things were still looking good.

Despite falling behind, even SPHP was making reasonable progress.  Things were still looking good for reaching the summit of Crazy Peak!  The situation gradually changed, though, as the big ridge steadily narrowed and became rockier.

Getting closer, but as Lupe approached HP 9761, the ridge was already getting considerably narrower and rockier. Photo looks WNW.

By the time Looper made it to HP 9761, the ridge had narrowed down a lot.  Vegetation was nearly gone.  The ridgeline was rocky and uneven.  Both sides of the ridge were steep, and comprised of a lot of loose rock.  Here, the S side of the ridge wasn’t as bad as the N.

Jobe’s superior strength and stamina were now augmented by superior balance, too.  No contest at all now.  Jobe managed to simply walk the ridgeline in lots of places where SPHP felt compelled to down climb to get around rough spots.  That burned a lot of extra time.

The agreement all along had been that Jobe should not wait for SPHP.  While conditions were favorable, he really needed to get to the top of Crazy Peak.  Time to check this one off the EPIC List!  It would be great if Lupe and SPHP could get to the top, too, but there wasn’t the same degree of urgency.  Lupe could still try to summit a little later than Jobe.

As the ridge became more difficult for SPHP, Jobe surged ahead.  Lupe watched him go.  Of course, her best bet for getting to the top of Crazy Peak would have been to just go with Jobe.  Maybe she would have liked to, but she wouldn’t abandon SPHP.

Lupe watches as Jobe surges ahead. He’s now just a red spec on the ridge.
Lupe’s best bet for reaching the summit of Crazy Peak would have been to go with Jobe, but she wouldn’t abandon SPHP. She would still get there, if SPHP could make it.
Looking back. Here Lupe is past HP 9761 seen in the distance on the R. Photo looks E.

Looper and SPHP continued on, following Jobe who was getting farther and farther away.  Eventually Jobe paused at a high point and looked back, checking on Lupe’s progress.  For a moment he stood there, looking small, far away, and already much higher.

Jobe pauses and looks back to check on Lupe & SPHP a final time before disappearing from view. He was already a lot higher and quite a long way off. The telephoto lens makes Jobe look much closer than he really was. Photo looks WNW.

Jobe knew what he had to do.  A moment later, he was gone.  Lupe and SPHP were alone.  There was nothing else to do, but keep chugging along.

Lupe presses on, still optimistic, though Jobe has disappeared from view. Photo looks S.
Looking back down the SE ridge. HP 9761 in view. Photo looks SE.
A long way to go yet. That high point ahead isn’t even the summit. Photo looks WNW.
Looking SW.

Lupe was still making progress up Crazy Peak’s big SE ridge, but SPHP was frustrated with the pace.

Oh, Looper, I’m sorry, but maybe you should have gone with Jobe!

What!  Why?

I’m just too slow on this steep, loose stuff.  Our pace isn’t exactly scintillating, as you may have noticed.

Yes, but we’re getting there.  We’ll just keep going like we always do.

True.  So far so, good.  Nothing’s stopped us yet, but I’m afraid we’ll run out of time.  We can’t be coming back in the dark like we often do.  Jobe has a 14 hour drive back home after this.  He needs to hit the road so he can get back to work.  Besides, this doesn’t seem to be getting any easier and who knows how bad the terrain is up ahead?  Those last photos that Victor Zhou took looked questionable.  We might not even be able to get there.

So Jobe might not get to the top of Crazy Peak?  That would be terrible!

No, no.  Don’t worry about that.  Victor Zhou made it.  Jobe will make it, too.  But I’m not Victor or Jobe, not by a long shot.  I’m not saying we won’t get there, but it seems like we’ve already been at this quite a while, and there’s no sign we’re anywhere near the top yet.

Well, hurry it up then!

I’m coming, sweet puppy.  Lead on!

Lupe encourages SPHP up the next steep section. Photo looks WNW.

The summit of Crazy Peak had been out of view now for a while.  It was hard to tell how encouraged or discouraged one should be.  Lupe led the way up a couple of steep sections that went pretty well.  The rocks were larger and more stable here.  SPHP managed to make the climbs fairly rapidly.  Maybe there still was enough time for Lupe to reach the top of Crazy Peak?  Hope rekindled.  It sure looked like Lupe was getting high!

After a spurt up a couple of steep sections, hope was rekindled that Lupe would still have time to reach Crazy Peak’s summit. The views were already terrific! Photo looks SE back down the ridge.
Progress, but was it enough? Photo looks SE.

When the summit of Crazy Peak came into view again, it was a sobering sight.  Despite SPHP’s spurt, Lupe remained a long way from the top of the mountain.

When the summit of Crazy Peak (R) came back into view again, it was a sobering sight. Lupe was still a long way from the top. Photo looks WNW.

Ugh!  The summit’s still way over there, Looper.

Don’t give up!  We’re getting closer.

Yah, keep going, but seems like Jobe’s been gone quite a while now.  Sooner or later he’s going to reappear.  Probably sooner I would think, and we aren’t going to be close enough to justify continuing on then.

Jobe didn’t appear, though.  Lupe and SPHP carried on.  Unfortunately, the ridge was messier again.  SPHP kept down climbing to get around troublesome spots.  Slow, slow, slow!  Not good at all.

LOL, SPHP. We aren’t ever going to make it if you can’t stay up here! Lupe has a chuckle at SPHP’s endless down climbing.

Onward, bit by bit.  Time ticked by.  Though SPHP didn’t realize it then, the next big high point Lupe could see up ahead was 10,900+ feet.  The ridge was ragged, but Lupe could get there!  The summit would only be another 300 feet higher.

The high point on the L is 10,900+ feet, only 300 feet lower than Crazy Peak’s summit (seen beyond a little to the R). It looked like Lupe could at least get that far! Photo looks NW.

Pretty soon, though, a red dot appeared.  A red dot headed this way.  Jobe was returning!  Had he made it to the summit?  He’d been gone quite a long while – surely he’d made it?  What news would he bring?

A red dot appeared on the ridge ahead. Jobe was returning! Had he made it to the summit?

There’s Jobe, SPHP!

Yes, I see him, too.

Aren’t we going to go meet him?

No, let’s wait here Looper.  Jobe’s moving fast.  He’ll be here soon enough.  Let’s see what he has to say first.

Lupe and SPHP waited as Jobe worked his way back along the ridge.

A look through the telephoto lens at Jobe with Crazy Peak’s summit in the background. Photo looks NW.

As Jobe drew steadily nearer, SPHP took a few pictures of the views from this point Lupe had reached.  It wasn’t completely clear yet if she would be going any farther.

Crazy Lake is seen below from the point Lupe reached on Crazy Peak’s SE ridge. Photo looks W.
Big Timber Peak (10,795 ft.) (R) is connected to Crazy Peak by the sheer jagged ridge seen on the L. Probably the most challenging and technical route possible to Crazy Peak. No one goes that way. Photo looks N.
Looking back the way Lupe had come. Photo looks ESE.

Jobe arrived all smiles.  Success!  Yes, he’d made it to the top.  Crazy Peak was finally done.  Only Mount Cleveland was left to do on his 50 states EPIC List!  He graciously accepted congratulations from Lupe and SPHP.

Jobe returns all smiles! Yes, he’d made it to the top of Crazy Peak. Photo looks E.
The grand view from Crazy Peak’s summit. Photo by Jobe Wymore.
Jobe signed the Crazy Peak register. He had now completed the 50 US state most prominent peak list! Photo by Jobe Wymore.
Lupe and Jobe celebrate Jobe’s success. Photo looks E.

Surprisingly, Jobe had met 3 young women at the summit who came up from yet another route.  They’d camped overnight down at Crazy Lake, and had made a long trek on a steep, loose scree slope directly up the mountain.  They were concerned about the prospect of the impending rather scary trip back down to camp.  Jobe had spent some time talking to them, which was part of why he had been gone as long as he had.

So what was the rest of the route like?  Jobe said there were a few spots that were kind of sketchy with some exposure.  He’d gotten through just fine, though.  He wasn’t sure what SPHP might think, or how Lupe would fare.  A bit scary perhaps?  Jobe nodded his head indicating Lupe and SPHP were free to go on and take a crack at it.  Evidently he must have thought it was at least possible for Lupe to succeed.  It was very kind of him to be willing to wait.

First – two more key questions.  Jobe’s smart phone would have the answers.  What time was it, and what elevation had Lupe reached here?

Early afternoon.  Lupe is at 10,400 feet.

The summit of Crazy Peak looked a long way off.  (It was actually only a little over 0.5 mile away.)  Another 800 feet of elevation gain left, including some rough, sketchy territory with exposure ahead.  Most importantly, it was now afternoon.  Seven hours gone by already?  At the pace SPHP was going it would take Lupe another two hours to reach the top of the mountain.  By then it would be mid-afternoon.  That meant part of the return trip would be in darkness.

There had been plenty of time to think about things while Jobe was gone.  The terrain hadn’t stopped Lupe yet, but as much as SPHP would have liked for Lupe to succeed at climbing Crazy Peak, SPHP hesitated only a moment.

No, Jobe, we’ve timed out.  Let’s head down.

Right decision.  Lupe was happy.  Jobe was happy.  It was a relief to be going back down.  The day was a big success!  Jobe had made it to the top of Crazy Peak.  Lupe and SPHP had shared in the joy, and kept their promise not to delay him – at least not by too much.  Only Mount Cleveland to go!  Jobe indicated he might take on Mount Cleveland sometime in early August, only 2 or 3 weeks away.

Well before the sun went down, Lupe and SPHP were back in Jobe’s air-conditioned Jeep Rubicon, bouncing along comfortably.  Morning Dew and Terrapin Station by the Grateful Dead were playing.  Jobe resumed his enthusiastic dissertation on Jerry Garcia’s musical talents.  A good time, a really good time.

All too soon, Lupe was back at the G6, giving Jobe’s hand a final shake next to the Rubicon.

Pals Lupe and Jobe.
Lupe extends final congratulations to Jobe on his great success at Crazy Peak.

Brief good-byes and well wishes, then onward!  Jobe roared off in the Rubicon.  Minutes later, Lupe and SPHP were in the G6 going down the same dusty road.  Lupe resumed her usual watch for cows and horses to bark at.

After a fun day on Crazy Peak, Lupe resumes her watch for cows and horses to bark at.

SPHP soon stopped the G6 for a last look back.

Lupe’d had success climbing several nice peaks with Jobe on the previous two days.  Nevertheless, Crazy Peak (11,209 ft.) would always be the one that stood out from the others.  There it was, that long tantalizing SE ridge, forever leading skyward to the joyful moment when Lupe had stood with mountaineer and friend Jobe Wymore on the verge of EPIC!

Crazy Peak from the ENE.
Lupe and Jobe Wymore on the verge of EPIC. Crazy Peak, Montana – July 22, 2017.

Thanks to Victor Zhou for sharing the route on the SE ridge that Jobe used to summit Crazy Peak, and gave Lupe some hope of doing the same.

Epilogue

Although Lupe and SPHP were confident Jobe would be successful climbing Mount Cleveland in early August, 2017, Lupe wouldn’t know for certain how Jobe fared until she returned from her Summer of 2017 Dingo Vacation in September.

Lupe arrived home on 9-13-17, to find an email from Jobe waiting for her entitled “Mount Cleveland denial.  Weep, weep.”   Jobe had arrived at the National Park visitor center only to be turned away due to forest fires that had started only the evening before.  All backcountry permits via Goat Haunt had been cancelled.

So at the time of this post’s publication, Jobe remains on the verge of EPIC, only short Mount Cleveland from completing the 50 States of the USA EPIC List.  Of course, in due time Jobe will be back.  Lupe and SPHP wish him a speedy, successful and safe ascent! – 9-22-17

Links:

EPIC List – States of the USA (showing all peaks and dates of Jobe’s ascents)

EPIC List – States of the USA  (showing front runners with the most ascents)

To the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska with Mountaineer Jobe Wymore (4-2-16)

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2017 Wind River Range, Wyoming & Select Peaks in Montana Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Fremont Lake & Photographer’s Point, Wind River Range WY (8-29-12)

August 28-30, 2012, Days 21-23 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.

As soon as Lanis woke up; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP would hit the road again.  In the meantime, Lupe and SPHP took a little stroll.  For SPHP, it had been a restless night trying to sleep sitting up in the Element.  This car camping business was starting to get pretty old.  Lupe, of course, was always fresh as a daisy, since she could stretch out and relax on her mountain of pillows and blankets in the back of the Element.

Last night’s car camping was SPHP’s own fault for being so stubborn.  Lupe’s tiny house could have been set up back at the Farewell Bend State Recreation Area in Oregon.  Instead, SPHP got persnickety about bureaucracy and regulations, and had Lanis keep driving.  Lupe had made it as far as Boise, Idaho before stopping for the night.

Oh, well.  It didn’t matter now, the night was over.  On the bright side, SPHP had saved $18-22.  When Lupe and SPHP got back to the Element, a bleary-eyed Lanis was at least conscious.  He was soon pressed back into chauffer service driving SE on I-84.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left I-84 at Mountain Home taking Hwy 20.  Hwy 20 started out winding NE into the S end of a very dry looking mountain range.

The sky had been a little smoky in Boise, but along Hwy 20 the smoke was much thicker.  The smoke got denser and denser until it was like being in a fog.  Lanis started expecting to see the actual flames of a forest fire around any bend, but it didn’t happen.  Way back in the early days of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation, back at the Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming, the sky had been smoky then, too, but never this bad.  Apparently the fires in Idaho had been burning all this time.

Southern ID was hot, dry, barren and smoky. The skies weren't nearly so smoky, though, as Lupe started getting close to Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Southern ID was hot, dry, barren and smoky. The skies weren’t nearly so smoky, though, as Lupe started getting close to Craters of the Moon National Monument.

The skies were much clearer by the time Lupe reached Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped briefly near the visitor center.  Lanis went inside, and soon returned with the unsurprising news that Dingoes aren’t allowed on any of the trails.  Well, that was that!  Lupe made a few more stops at pullouts along Hwy 20 for photos, but she really didn’t get to do anything at Craters of the Moon.

Lava flow at Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Lava flow at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Craters of the Moon NM, ID 8-28-12Craters of the Moon NP, ID 8-28-12Lupe continued on.  Idaho remained hot and parched until Lupe reached Idaho Falls.  E of Idaho Falls on Hwy 26, the scenery improved steadily.  It was much greener here near the high mountains.  By early evening, Lupe reached the fabulous Wind River Range near Pinedale, Wyoming.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took Skyline Drive up to Elkhart Park for a look around.

From viewpoints along Skyline Drive, Lupe saw two big lakes, Half Moon Lake and Freemont Lake, formed by the retreat of large glaciers ages ago.  Near Elkhart Park was a pullout along the road with a sweeping view of the central portion of the mighty Wind River Range.  SPHP recognized Fremont Peak (13,745 ft.), one of many visible along the Continental Divide.

Half Moon Lake from Skyline Drive near Pinedale, WY 8-28-12
Half Moon Lake from Skyline Drive near Pinedale, WY 8-28-12
Half Moon Lake
Half Moon Lake
Fremont Lake near Pinedale, WY from Skyline Drive. Photo looks S. At 8 or 9 miles long, Freemont Lake is the largest of a series of a series of big lakes along the S side of the Wind River Range left behind by the retreat of large glaciers.
Fremont Lake near Pinedale, WY from Skyline Drive. Photo looks S. At 8 or 9 miles long, Freemont Lake is the largest of a series of a series of big lakes along the S side of the Wind River Range left behind by the retreat of large glaciers.
Lanis near Skyline Drive above Fremont Lake. Although the S end of the lake extends well out of the mountains, the N end of the lake is nestled in among them. This photo looks NNW.
Lanis near Skyline Drive above Fremont Lake. Although the S end of the lake extends well out of the mountains, the N end of the lake is nestled in among them. This photo looks NNW.
Looking W across Fremont Lake.
Looking W across Fremont Lake.
Looking N at the Wind River Range in Wyoming from a viewpoint along Skyline Drive near Elkhart Park.
Looking N at the Wind River Range in Wyoming from a viewpoint along Skyline Drive near Elkhart Park.
Freemont Peak along the Continental Divide from a viewpoint along Skyline Drive near Elkhart Park. Photo looks NE.
Freemont Peak along the Continental Divide from a viewpoint along Skyline Drive near Elkhart Park. Photo looks NE.

After going up to Elkhart Park and back down again, Lanis and SPHP pitched Lupe’s tiny house at the Fremont Lake campground.  The campsite was some distance away from the lake.  Lanis and SPHP feasted on sandwiches after a quick run in to Subway in Pinedale.  Both Lanis and SPHP were feeling pretty tired, and looking forward to a night stretched out in Lupe’s tiny house.

Lupe wasn’t tired, though.  She’d spent most of the last two days and nights cooped up in the Element.  Lupe was bursting with energy!  She was very happy to be out sniffing every tree and bush around.  She was finally getting to do Dingo stuff again!  With great enthusiasm, she raised a ruckus over each and every squirrel.  Slowly the sun went down.  Twilight faded.  The squirrels went to bed.  It still took a lot of persuading from SPHP to get Lupe into the tiny house and settled down for the night.

SPHP woke up.  It was still early.  Like dark out with the stars still shining early.  SPHP had no idea what time it was, but felt better.  Lupe was instantly awake, too.  Lupe and SPHP stole out of her tiny house and into the night.  Fifteen minutes later, Lupe and SPHP reached the dock down by the boat ramp.  Fremont Lake sits at around 7,400 feet elevation.  Overhead, the Milky Way was blazing in a cloudless night sky.  The brightest stars reflected clearly in the still lake.

To the E, SPHP saw Sagittarius, Venus and just a hint of light.  Dawn was coming.  The night sky was gorgeous, but it was probably best to get a little more sleep.  Lupe and SPHP returned to rejoin Lanis in Lupe’s tiny house.  Well, at least SPHP did.  Lupe had other ideas.  She wouldn’t go in the tent.  SPHP tried to rest while listening for the tinkling sound of Lupe’s tag as she sniffed around outside.

It worked for a little while.  Lupe was sniffing around out there pretty close to the tiny house.  As it grew lighter though, the squirrels started waking up.  Sniffing became growling.  Pretty soon the growling was barking.  Just occasionally at first, but the barking sprees lengthened.  SPHP had to get up, or Lupe would succeed in getting evicted from the campground.

Lanis was pretty played out.  After successive long days driving, he was just plain zonked.  It was light out now.  The sun came up and rose high in the sky.  Lanis snoozed on.  Lupe and SPHP made a couple more trips down to Fremont Lake.  There was a little beach near the dock and boat ramp.  Lupe went wading.  SPHP watched minnows swimming near the shore.

Fremont Lake, Wind River Range, WY
Fremont Lake, Wind River Range, WY
Lupe wades in Fremont Lake.
Lupe wades in Fremont Lake.

It was almost lunch time when Lanis finally regained consciousness.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP drove down to the Lakeside Lodge, Resort & Marina at the very S end of Fremont Lake.  The resort features a restaurant with both inside and outside dining available.  Next to Fremont Lake, there was a large deck with tables shaded by big umbrellas.  Beyond the lake was a gorgeous panoramic view of high peaks of the Wind River Range.

It was sort of busy.  The clientele looked upscale.  Lanis and SPHP were in rather disreputable condition.  There was an open table, though, at the far edge of the deck separated a little bit from the rest of the guests.  The wait staff was willing to serve mangy Lanis and SPHP.  Lupe was even allowed to rest on the deck at SPHP’s feet.  On Lupe’s entire 2012 Dingo Vacation, this was the only time Lupe, Lanis and SPHP actually got to eat at a restaurant.  It was wonderful!

Lanis and SPHP both ordered big burgers.  They were great!  SPHP stealthily slipped some burger down to Lupe.  Everyone was happy.  The scenery was magnificent.  It was a relaxing, beautiful time.

After the glorious lunch by Fremont Lake; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went into Pinedale for a little while.  SPHP hoped to find a good map of the mountains to look at.  There was a USFS map posted outside a forest service office near the grocery store.  SPHP studied it for a few minutes while Lanis was in the grocery store.  Lupe was on a leash right there with SPHP.

Lupe and SPHP were both about ready to leave, when an overly helpful ranger came along.   The ranger almost insisted that SPHP come inside for more information, and a cheerful lecture on a blizzard of federal rules certain to enhance any wilderness experience.

Rule No. 1, of course, was that Dingoes couldn’t come in the building.  Why just the other day, some Grand Poo-Bah supervisor from the District of Bureaucracy had sent out an email on the importance of never allowing a Dingo to set paw in any forest service building.

Lanis was waiting at the Element by the time Lupe and SPHP extracted themselves from all the helpful assistance.  At least SPHP had seen enough of the map to have a pretty good idea where to go.  Since the day was off to a rather late start, the best day hike without a map to bring along with was probably to take the well-traveled Pole Creek trail up at Elkhart Park.

Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went back up to Elkhart Park.  The trailhead was already at 9,350 feet elevation, so Lupe was going to get to see some pretty high country.  The Pole Creek trail started off heading SE as it went up the Pole Creek drainage.  The trail was wide and well-worn.  It gained elevation steadily, but at a moderate pace.

The area was almost all forested.  There were squirrels in the trees.  Lupe got to run, and run, and run.  She had a fantastic time.  The trail eventually turned NE, and then gained elevation more slowly.  Lupe began to encounter clearings in the forest and little ponds.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP made it as far as Photographer’s Point (10,400 ft.).  There was a huge panoramic view to the N.

Lupe reaches Photographer's Point in the Wind River Range with muddy paws from wading in a pond.
Lupe reaches Photographer’s Point in the Wind River Range with muddy paws from wading in a pond.
Looking NW at the Wind River Range from Photographer's Point. Wow, there's a lot of rock out there!
Looking NW at the Wind River Range from Photographer’s Point. Wow, there’s a lot of rock out there!
Looking NE from Photographer's Point. Fremont Peak is on the R. The lake partially in view is probably Gorge Lake.
Looking NE from Photographer’s Point. Fremont Peak is on the R. The lake partially in view is probably Gorge Lake.

The inspiring view from Photographer’s Point just made SPHP want to go farther. There were lakes nearby that SPHP had seen earlier on the map posted outside the forest service office in Pinedale.  Lupe is always game to do more, but Lanis was ready to call it a day.  However, even though Lanis really did need to get back to Indiana very soon, he did agree to spend another day in the Wind Rivers.

So Lupe didn’t go any farther into the Wind River range than Photographer’s Point.  With an earlier start the next day, she could, though!  After spending some time admiring the sweeping views; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned along the Pole Creek trail.

The sun was getting low in a cloudless sky, by the time Lupe reached the Element again back at Elkhart Park .  A little while later, Lanis and SPHP crawled into sleeping bags in Lupe’s tiny house near Fremont Lake.  Lupe curled up for a snooze, too.  Tomorrow was going to be an even bigger day spent in the spectacular Wind River range!

After midnight, there was a sound that Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had rarely heard on Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation.  Raindrops on Lupe’s tiny house!  Not too many, but some.  SPHP took a look outside.  No stars in any direction.  The whole black sky must have been overcast.  Not good.  The tent was old, and had always leaked.  The raindrops came in little spurts.  No big deal, if it stayed like this.  Lupe, Lanis and SPHP tried to ignore it and go back to sleep.

For at least a couple of hours, the rain was sporadic and light.  Gradually the intensity was increasing, though.  Water started dripping inside Lupe’s tiny house.  SPHP remained hopeful that the rain would hold off until dawn, when it would be possible to get a good look at the sky and assess the outlook.  More rain came, harder too.  As the tent started leaking more, Lanis and SPHP sat up talking about what to do.  Stick it out and wait for dawn, or pack things up before everything got soaked?

Nature decided.  Suddenly there was a volley of intense rain, with big drops.  Lupe got hustled into the Element.  Lanis and SPHP scrambled to take down her tiny house for the last time.  Everything got pitched into the Element.  Very suddenly, Lupe’s grand 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast was over.

The rain became light and steady as Lupe left Pinedale and the Wind River range behind her.  On the way to Farson, the first light of dawn appeared and began spreading along the E horizon.  Before reaching Farson, Lanis drove out of the rain.  Back to the NW, clouds still hung over the Wind River range.  The rain showers were likely just local.  Lupe could probably have gone back, and spent another day exploring the Winds.

The decision had already been made, though.  On the 23rd day of her first ever Dingo Vacation, after more than 5,000 miles, 5 states, and 3 weeks of adventures, Lupe was going home.

Dawn in Wyoming, 8-30-12
Dawn in Wyoming, 8-30-12

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Multnomah Falls, Oregon (8-27-12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean

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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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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

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