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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puget Sound
Puget Sound

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King’s Hill, Montana & Bald Mountain, Wyoming (9-7-16 & 9-8-16)

Days 40 & 41 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

Night, Unknown Hour, Pre-dawn on Day 40 – Cold out, but at least Lupe wasn’t going to get snowed in at the Canadian Rockies.  Last evening’s rain had stopped.  Stars glittered in the black night sky.  Back to sleep, if possible, no telling how many hours away dawn was.  Lupe wasn’t going anywhere until then, not with the G6’s burnt out R headlight.

Day 40, 6:55 AM, 33°F – Whatever happened to that bright morning sunshine SPHP had expected?  The clouds were back.  In places there was fog along Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  It hadn’t snowed down here, but mountains visible between the clouds were sporting a dusting of new snow.  The mood was more like the onset of winter than a day in early September.

Morning in the Canadian Rockies.

Sadly, Lupe was leaving.  Her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska was all but over.  She would have a couple more adventures on the way home, but they wouldn’t take long.

The miles flew by as Lupe watched the scenery from the comfort of the G6.  She saw the grandeur of the towering Canadian Rockies.  She passed by many a turn leading to fabulous adventures she’d had earlier on this Dingo Vacation or back in 2013 or 2014.  As Lupe left the glorious mountains, the sky started to clear and the sun came out.

Lupe wasn’t the least bit sad.  As far as she was concerned, the adventure was still on.  In fact, it was getting even better!  Ahead of her were more than 1,000 miles of farm and ranchlands.  That meant one thing to the Carolina Dog – an abundance of cows, horses, haystacks, suspicious barns and outbuildings to bark at while leaping from window to window in the G6!  Yes, it was going to be an exciting, busy, exhausting day!

And so it was.  Barking at cows and horses from the G6 is a sport Looper never tires of, nor loses interest in.  The unsuspecting cows and horses don’t have to do anything more than exist in order to egg her on.  Seldom are they even aware of her brief, shrill, distant presence.  Doesn’t matter a whit.  Loop barks all the harder.  The whole experience provides her with a sense of purpose, accomplishment and joy.

The only way to calm the energetic din, is to drive into a town or up into the mountains.  Even the mountains can be noisy, but rarely are there enough deer and squirrels present as substitutes to make the experience at all comparable to the pleasures to be had in cattle country.

SPHP was granted a break while driving through Calgary, and another later on in Great Falls, Montana.  In Great Falls, SPHP stopped to pick up fried chicken, potato wedges and Almond Joys.  For a while SE of Great Falls, the potato wedges and Almond Joys kept Lupe distracted.  By the time SPHP stopped at the Al Buck Memorial Park along Highway 89 N of the Little Belt Range, Lupe was too stuffed to share the fried chicken.

Day 40, 7:00 PM, 47°F – Lupe arrived at King’s Hill Pass on Hwy 89 in the Little Belt Mountains of W Central Montana very satisfied with how her day had gone.  The excitement of being in cattle country was temporarily over up here, but the sun would be above the horizon for a little while longer.  The American Dingo was still bursting with energy and eager for some exercise climbing King’s Hill (8,008 ft.).

From the pass, Lupe went SW through the forest until she reached USFS Road No. 487, which she followed for 0.75 mile going S along the W face of King’s Hill.  By the time No. 487 turned E, she was almost up to the S end of the huge, nearly level summit area.  Lupe went N along the wide summit ridge, as the last feeble rays of sunlight faded.

Lupe near the S end of the King’s Hill summit near sunset. The highest point on King’s Hill is toward the far end of this meadow. Photo looks NNW.

Lupe traveled NNW across the open ground until she reached the survey benchmark at the true summit near the N end of the mountain.  Although the sun was still above the horizon, clouds filtered the remaining sunlight to the point where it was hard to tell it was even present.  It certainly did nothing to cut the chill from the W wind sweeping over King’s Hill.

Off to the NNE, Lupe could see Big Baldy Mountain (9,177 ft.), the highest point in the Little Belt Range.  Big Baldy already had snow on top!

Off to the NNE, Lupe could see Big Baldy Mountain, the high point of the Little Belt Range. Big Baldy already had snow on top!
Big Baldy Mountain from King’s Hill. Photo looks NNE using the telephoto lens.

Up in the cold wind, late in the day after being cooped up in the G6 so long, the American Dingo started getting ideas.  Oh, no!  SPHP recognized that look.

Up in the cold wind on King’s Hill late in the day, Lupe started getting ideas. She stood motionless staring steadily at SPHP. In a flash, SPHP realized what was coming. The were-puppy was about to attack! Photo looks SSW.

Suddenly Lupe vanished.  In her place appeared the wild, ferocious were-puppy.  Without hesitation the were-puppy attacked SPHP!

After a few minutes of struggle, during which the were-puppy lunged and leaped at SPHP with snapping jaws, SPHP managed to fend off the were-puppy.  Lupe returned looking as innocent as she could be.

So, I take you adventuring not only to the Canadian Rockies, but way up to the Yukon and even Alaska, and this is what I get?

Why, whatever do you mean, SPHP?  Are you feeling well?

Sly dog!  Well, the wind was cold, and Lupe had made it to the top of King’s Hill.  The sun really would be down behind Porphyry Peak (8,192 ft.) soon.  No sense in sticking around waiting for the were-puppy to return.  Lupe and SPHP started S toward the road leading back down to the G6.

The lookout tower on Porphyry Peak stands silhouetted against the sky near sundown. Photo looks W.

Shots rang out.  Gunfire!  Hunters?  The same American Dingo which had presented itself as the bold, ferocious, wild and invincible were-puppy only minutes ago, now pleaded with SPHP for reassurance and assistance.

Help!  Help!  Hide me!  Save me!  Hold me!  Pet me!  Love me!  Carry me!  All of the above me!

Sheesh, such drama!  Come on Looper, you’ll be fine.  Just stick close by.  No harm will come to you.

As promised, Lupe returned safely to the G6, though shaken by her narrow escape (8:19 PM).  She leaped into the G6 immediately.  SPHP fed her Alpo and Taste of the Wild before putting her blankie over her.  Soon the were-puppy was snoring peacefully.  Outside, stars shone brilliantly accompanied by a half moon.

Day 41, First Light, 6:13 AM, 41°F – Lupe woke to the sound of rain and wind gusts.  A small storm was blowing through.  So much for any thought of climbing Porphyry Peak this morning.  SPHP had hatched a different plan already, anyway.  Look out cows, horses and haystacks, Lupe is on her way!

Lupe left the Little Belt Range behind.  S of White Sulphur Springs near the junction of Hwys 12 & 89, Lupe & SPHP got out of the G6 to take a look at the dramatic sky remaining in the aftermath of the storm front.

Lupe in W Central Montana along Hwy 89 near its junction with Hwy 12. The day started off with scattered small storms and wind. A little later on, the sky cleared off completely. Photo looks SE.
Dramatic clouds of a line of small storms boosted the scenic value of Lupe’s early drive through W central Montana. Photo looks SE along Hwy 89.

Cows, horses, haystacks!  Lupe had her fun.  Ahh, this was the life!  Another great day!

E of Lovell, Wyoming, Highway Alt 14 wound steeply up into the last big mountain range of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation.  Lupe was back in the Bighorns for the first time since she’d climbed Cloud Peak (13,167 ft.) back in July.  Her final peakbagging adventures of this Dingo Vacation would occur here.

A little after noon, on this cool breezy day, Lupe set out from the Bald Mountain campground for Bald Mountain (10,042 ft.) (12:09 PM, 56°F).

Lupe sets out for Bald Mountain. Photo looks SE.

The mostly bare, rounded mountain was an easy climb.  The only real obstacle was the SW wind, which blew harder and harder as Lupe gained elevation.  Carolina Dogs are not great fans of wind, but Loopster persevered.  There was nothing along the way to protect her from the wind, but on the other hand, the views were tremendous!

On the way up. The summit of Bald Mountain is ahead. Photo looks ESE from the S side of the W end of the mountain.
Looking SSE.
Looking SW.
Looking SSW.

Lupe reached the survey benchmark at the true summit.  The wind was worst here.  She didn’t like it, but the Carolina Dog stayed long enough for photos.  Lupe had been here before.  Twice in 2012, once in 2013.  More than 3 years had gone by since her last ascent.

The survey benchmark at the summit of Bald Mountain.
At the summit. Photo looks SSE.
Hwy Alt 14 is seen on the L. Hunt Mountain (10,162 ft.) is on the R. Photo looks SE.
Medicine Mountain (9,962 ft.) (L) from Bald Mountain. The round white dome on Medicine Mountain is part of an FAA air traffic control installation, and is often visible from great distances. Photo looks NW.
Looking WNW. Medicine Mountain on the R.
Lupe patiently endures the wind at the summit of Bald Mountain. Photo looks NNW.

Well, this was it.  Lupe had done it.  She had reached the summit of Bald Mountain.  Only one task remained – to go find the place of names, and make the necessary repairs.  Lupe’s name has been immmortalized in stone on Bald Mountain since July 11, 2013.

It had been more than 3 years since Lupe and SPHP were here last, but the place of names was found with relatively little difficulty.  Lupe waited in the wind for an hour, while SPHP fixed things up.  Finally, it was done.And that was that.  There was nothing left to do.  Enough of this wind!  Lupe and SPHP began the easy trek back to the G6 with a grand view of Medicine Mountain ahead.

Lupe about to start the return journey down to the G6. Bald Mountain CG where the G6 was parked is at the closest large clump of trees down on the R. Medicine Mountain is at Center. Photo looks NW.
Medicine Mountain using the telephoto lens.
About 1.25 miles beyond the summit of Medicine Mountain, is the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark. No details of the Medicine Wheel’s origins are known, other than that it was built by Native Americans. Considered a sacred site, visitors are allowed to visit the Medicine Wheel when not in use by Native Americans, but Lupe did not go there today.

The wind was still blowing when Lupe reached the G6 at the Bald Mountain campground (3:13 PM, 53°F), but not as strongly as up on the mountain.  She stayed in the area for more than an hour before heading E again on Highway Alt 14A toward Burgess Junction.

Later in the day, E of the magnificent Bighorn Range, Lupe resumed her happy duty watching for cows and horses to bark at along I90.  She kept it up as long as there was light to see by.  Yes, this really was the life, all these splendid days adventuring on and off the long road to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska and back, every minute spent with sweet Lupe!

Lupe coming down Bald Mountain.

After an adventure spanning 9,126 miles, 41 days & 40 nights, Lupe returned to her home in the Black Hills of South Dakota at 10:50 PM on 9-8-2016.  She had gone thousands of miles farther than she had ever been before, seen countless magnificent sights, and had wonderful adventures all the way up to the Yukon and far into Alaska.

In the Brooks Range of northern Alaska, Lupe went her last mile N reaching the confluence of the Dietrich River and a stream NW of Dillon Mountain.  From there she saw a mountain, farther N yet, privately designated the Mountain of the Midnight Sun.  Whether Lupe ever sees the Mountain of the Midnight Sun and adventures in Alaska again is, at this moment, part of the unknown, uncertain future.

So long as Lupe is alive and well, hope remains that some day the Dingo of the Midnight Sun will return to roam and play once more beneath the pale blue Arctic sky.

The dark blue Mountain of the Midnight Sun (R).

The Owl & The Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money, wrapped up in a five pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar,

“O lovely Pussy!  O Pussy, my love, what a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are, what a beautiful Pussy you are.”

Pussy said to the Owl “You elegant fowl, how charmingly sweet you sing.  O let us be married, too long we have tarried; but what shall we do for a ring?”

They sailed away for a year and a day, to the land where the Bong-tree grows, and there in a wood, a Piggy-wig stood, with a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose.  With a ring at the end of his nose.

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”  Said the Piggy, “I will.”

So they took it away, and were married next day by the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon.

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon.

They danced by the light of the moon.

 – Edward Lear, first published 1871Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

Parker Ridge & the Saskatchewan Glacier, Banff National Park, Canada (9-6-16)

Day 39 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

6:20 AM on this beautiful early September morning found Lupe already on the road, heading SE on Yellowhead Highway No. 16.  Ever since leaving Alaska, Lupe had made her 450 mile daily quota or a little more.  Today she didn’t need to go so far.  She could spent part of the day visiting some favorite places in the Canadian Rockies.

Lupe’s first stop came before mid-morning when she reached her favorite picnic ground in Jasper National Park.  For some unknown reason, there’s no signage for this great picnic area right along the E bank of the mighty Athabasca River.  It’s located 5 or 6 miles S of Athabasca Falls along the W side of Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.

The Athabasca River was much lower than Lupe had ever seen it before, but until today she had never been here this late in the season.  Previously, the river had always come right up to the bank at the edge of the picnic ground.  Now a wide expanse of riverbed was exposed beyond the bank.  Lupe went down to the riverbed, and trotted over rounded stones to the water’s edge.

Lupe had never seen the Athabasca River so low before. She went way out across exposed riverbed to this boulder. Photo looks upstream (SE).
Loop at the Athabasca River near her favorite picnic ground.

Every other time Lupe had seen the Athabasca River, it had been a light gray color, running high, and full of silt.  Now the river was a beautiful blue.

When the Athabasca River is running higher, it is a light gray color and full of silt. Today the river was running low and a beautiful blue. Photo looks downstream (NW).

Time for a late breakfast.  After checking out the river, Lupe returned to the picnic ground.  While SPHP heated up soup and Swiss Miss, Lupe had a fine time barking at squirrels in the trees.  When breakfast was ready, Lupe helped SPHP devour the soup.  She didn’t get any Swiss Miss.

Lupe got to spend nearly 2 hours at the picnic ground.  She took short walks through the forest along the river with SPHP, barked at squirrels, and returned to the Athabasca River.

Looking upstream again toward Mount Christie (10,236 ft.). Photo looks S.
Happy times at the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park! Mount Christie in the background. Lupe’s still keeping a sharp eye out for squirrels up in the trees on the riverbank. Photo looks S.

Late in the morning, another vehicle pulled in to the picnic ground.  No doubt more would be coming as lunch time approached.  Lupe and SPHP hit the road again.  Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 through the majestic Canadian Rockies is always a spectacular drive.

Lupe and SPHP enjoyed the scenery, passing by many gorgeous places Lupe had explored on her 2013 and 2014 Dingo Vacations.  Lupe didn’t stop again, however, until she reached the trailhead for Parker Ridge (7,612 ft.).  By now it was early afternoon, and the trailhead parking lot was packed.  SPHP had to wait for a parking spot to open up.

Parker Ridge is Lupe and SPHP’s favorite short day hike in the Canadian Rockies.  A well-traveled trail switchbacks up the side of the ridge.  On the other side is a tremendous view of the huge U-shaped valley carved long ago by the Saskatchewan Glacier.  The glacier can still be seen in the upper part of the valley flowing down from the Columbia Icefield.  The trail gains over 800 feet of elevation on its way to the ridgeline.

The Parker Ridge Trail was very busy, but the glorious view of the Saskatchewan Glacier from the other side of the ridge made dealing with the crowd totally worthwhile.

Once over the ridgeline, Lupe had fantastic views of the Saskatchewan Glacier. Photo looks SW.
The Saskatchewan Glacier from Parker Ridge. Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.

The way the terrain is configured, Lupe’s view of the Saskatchewan Glacier actually improved as she followed the trail on the other side of Parker Ridge away from the glacier.  More of the toe of the glacier could be seen from here.

The farther Lupe followed the trail away from the Saskatchewan Glacier, the more she could see of the glacier’s toe and the pond below it. Photo looks SW.
Looking W along Parker Ridge. On the other side of these mountains is Jasper National Park and another impressive glacier. The Athabasca Glacier can be seen from Icefields Parkway Hwy 93, but for a truly amazing view of it, Lupe recommends taking the trail to Wilcox Pass.
The Saskatchewan Glacier flows down from the Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in North America’s Rocky Mountains.

Saskatchewan Glacier from Parker Ridge using the telephoto lens. Photo looks SW.
An even closer look at the toe of the Saskatchewan Glacier through the telephoto lens.
Across the huge valley carved by the Saskatchewan Glacier, Lupe saw high peaks and impressive snowfields. Photo looks SSW.

Lupe followed the Parker Ridge trail far enough away from the Saskatchewan Glacier to where she could see its entire toe.

Lupe with a view of the entire toe of the Saskatchewan Glacier from Parker Ridge.
A close-up showing the entire toe of the glacier.

Several groups of people had gone this far along the trail, too.  Everyone was hanging around enjoying the glacier view.  After several minutes, Lupe realized people and Carolina Dogs weren’t the only ones interested in being here.  A mountain sheep wandered up the steep side of Parker Ridge from the valley below, likely more interested in finding something to eat than the grand view.

After all, mountain sheep are so used to splendid scenery they pretty much take it for granted.  A good meal can be harder to come by.

A mountain sheep wandered up to the Parker Ridge trail from the deep valley below. The sheep seemed used to people, but rather alarmed to be confronted with the presence of an American Dingo!
When the mountain sheep saw Lupe, it hesitated before coming any farther up. Lupe and the mountain sheep were both extremely interested in each other, but for different reasons.
For mountain sheep in the Canadian Rockies, spectacular scenery is easy to come by. Photo looks ESE from close to the end of the Parker Ridge trail.

For a few minutes, Lupe and the mountain sheep had a stare down.  Lupe was a very good American Dingo.  She did not bark or lunge at the sheep.  She wouldn’t have gotten anywhere anyway, since she was on her leash.

Lupe and the mountain sheep stared each other down for several minutes before the sheep decided it was safe to come farther on up Parker Ridge.

When Lupe didn’t do anything except stare in rapt attention, the mountain sheep decided maybe it was safe to come farther on up Parker Ridge.  It turned out this sheep was an advance scout.  Several more mountain sheep suddenly made their appearance.

The first mountain sheep was only a scout. When the scout decided it was OK to advance despite Lupe’s presence, the rest of the flock started appearing. Six sheep ultimately came into view.

A total of six mountain sheep came up onto Parker Ridge from below.  Lupe still didn’t bark, but the sight of all these mountain sheep wandering around nearby was almost more than she could bear.  The Carolina Dog was trembling with excitement from nose to tail.  She kept glancing up at SPHP pleading to be turned loose.  She was absolutely 110% certain fresh mutton would taste better than the soup she’d had for breakfast.

This situation wasn’t going to be sustainable.  To Lupe’s enormous disappointment, SPHP insisted that she head back away from the mountain sheep.  She was most reluctant to comply, but in the end, she had no choice.  Parker Ridge had certainly been an exciting adventure, but oh, how much better it might have been!

Lupe on Parker Ridge on the way back to the G6. Mount Wilcox (9,462 ft.) is in view at Center. To the R is Wilcox Pass, where there are tremendous views of the nearby Athabasca Glacier. Photo looks NW.

Lupe and SPHP returned to the G6 (3:48 PM, 48°F).  Lupe continued S on Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  Her biggest adventure for the day up on Parker Ridge was over, but she still had some fun ahead of her.  Overcome with drowsiness from the gorgeous, relaxing drive, SPHP eventually parked the G6 at Lupe’s favorite picnic ground in Banff National Park on the SE side of Bow Lake.

After an hour’s nap, Lupe got to go see wonderful Bow Lake.

Lupe at beautiful Bow Lake. Photo looks W from near the picnic ground.
The red roof of the Num Ti Jah Lodge is in view at the foot of Mount Jimmy Simpson (9,731 ft.) across Bow Lake. Photo looks NW.
Looking S along the shore.
On a path at the picnic ground. No one else was around. Lupe and SPHP had the whole place to themselves.

The picnic ground was completely deserted, even though it was dinnertime.  After a good look at Bow Lake, SPHP prepared dinner at a table near the shore.  At this late stage of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation, supplies were almost completely exhausted.  Lupe and SPHP shared the last of the soup and sardines.

Good thing Lupe was well on her way home!  Swiss Miss and tea was all that remained to sustain SPHP, though Lupe still had some Taste of the Wild and Alpo in reserve.

By the time this feast was over it was 7:00 PM, but there was still light in the sky.  Lupe and SPHP drove over to the Num Ti Jah Lodge at the N end of the lake.  Lupe went down to the shore and saw a curious thing.  A piece of wood was swimming around as if it were alive!

Near Num Ti Jah Lodge, Lupe saw a curious sight. A piece of wood was swimming around in Bow Lake as if it were alive!

Lupe had spotted a beaver!  The beaver paddled around near the shore completely unconcerned by Lupe’s presence.  Lupe wasn’t really certain why that piece of wood seemed so lively, but finally lost interest in it since it never came out of the water where it could be properly sniffed and inspected.

The beaver paid Lupe no attention. Since it never left the lake, Lupe eventually lost interest in it.
The beaver had a short stick it was gnawing the tender thin bark off of.
After a few minutes, the stick didn’t have much bark left. The beaver looked quite satisfied with this treat.
After a few minutes, the lively piece of wood (seen beyond Lupe) swam away. Photo looks SSE across Bow Lake. Part of the Crowfoot Glacier is in view R of Center beyond the opposite shore.
Lupe, the beaver, Bow Lake & the Crowfoot Glacier.

The beaver eventually swam away farther out into the lake.  Lupe never did figure out what made that floating piece of wood so much livelier than any other she’d ever encountered.

Off to the SW, part of Bow Glacier and Bow Glacier Falls were in view.  A trail that Lupe took once before on her Summer of 2013 Dingo Vacation goes all the way to the base of Bow Glacier Falls.  It would be dark long before Lupe could do that again, but there was still time to follow the trail partway along the N shore of Bow Lake.

Beyond Bow Lake, part of the Bow Glacier and Bow Glacier Falls were in view. Photo looks SW.
Bow Glacier & Bow Glacier Falls using the telephoto lens. Photo looks SW.
Too bad there wasn’t time to take the trail all the way to Bow Glacier Falls again, but it would be dark before Lupe could get there. It’s a great, easy, scenic hike with a good trail and very little elevation gain along the way. Lupe highly recommends it!
Num Ti Jah Lodge is at the N end of Bow Lake. The trail to Bow Glacier Falls starts here. Photo looks N.
This hefty, wooden bridge crosses a small creek entering Bow Lake near Num Ti Jah Lodge. Photo looks SSE.
Bow Glacier flows down from the Wapta Icefield. Another small lake exists out of sight below Bow Glacier above the falls. Neither the small upper lake, nor the glacier are visible from the base of Bow Glacier Falls. However, a distant view of both, plus part of the enormous Wapta Icefield can be seen from Cirque Peak (9,820 ft.). Photo looks SW.

Lupe and SPHP only took the trail to Bow Glacier Falls along the N shore of Bow Lake for 20 minutes.  Lupe hadn’t even made it to the end of the lake yet when the time came to turn around.  Darkness was coming, maybe rain, too.  The sky was clouding up.

Lupe on the trail to Bow Glacier Falls. She would have to turn around in another 10 minutes due to oncoming darkness. Crowfoot Mountain is on the L.
Clouds were rolling in and starting to hide the mountains. The sky looked increasingly like rain was a possibility. Photo looks SSW using the telephoto lens toward a peak S of Bow Glacier.
Bow Glacier & Bow Glacier Falls through the telephoto lens from the point of Lupe’s farthest advance along the trail.
The upper portion of Bow Glacier Falls with the telephoto lens cranked up.

On the way back to the Num Ti Jah Lodge, a gentle steady rain did start falling.  The lodge was lit up and looked inviting when Lupe returned.  The soggy Carolina Dog couldn’t go in, though.  She had to return to the G6.

Num Ti Jah Lodge was lit up and looked inviting when Lupe returned in the rain from the Bow Glacier Falls trail. The soggy Carolina Dog couldn’t go in, though. Back to the G6!

Around 8:30 PM, SPHP parked the G6 for the final time.  The steady rain was coming down harder.  The temperature was only 38°F.  Maybe Lupe was going to get snowed in overnight in the Canadian Rockies?  It sure seemed like a possibility.

Lupe had only made 250 miles today, but that was OK.  She’d spent a lovely day in the Canadian Rockies.  Maybe it wasn’t the most spectacular day she’d ever spent here, but she’d seen many beautiful sights, gone to some favorite places, and had several pleasant, relaxing outings.

Lupe’s only regret was that with supplies running desperately low, SPHP hadn’t allowed her to secure a great new supply of fresh mountain sheep mutton!

Sigh … Carolina Dogs try to be man’s best friend.  They really do.  Humans are hard to understand, though.  Sometimes they don’t have any sense at all.Note:  The Parker Ridge trailhead is located at a pullout right along the southbound side of Icefields Parkway Hwy 93 several miles S of Sunwapta Pass, the border between Banff & Jasper National Parks.

Links to related Lupe adventures:

Parker Ridge & the Saskatchewan Glacier, The Icefield Centre & the Athabasca Glacier (7-23-13)

Bow Lake & the Trail to Bow Glacier Falls (7-25-13)

Cirque Peak, Banff National Park, Canada (7-24-14)

Parker Ridge Trail, Banff National Park, Canada (7-29-14)

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

Teapot Mountain, British Columbia, Canada (9-5-16)

Day 38 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

Lupe’s morning started at 7:00 AM with a quick side trip into nearby Fort St. John for fuel for the G6.  Then it was back N a few miles to the turn SW onto Hwy 29 to Chetwynd.  Making that turn, Lupe left the Alaska Highway for the final time on her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation.

Hwy 29 was a beautiful drive.  For a while, the road followed a stretch of the Peace River valley.  However, that feeling of being in the truly far N, which Lupe had while in the Yukon and Alaska, was fading fast.  At Chetwynd, SPHP turned W on Hwy 97.  It would eventually turn S and take Lupe to Prince George.  This was still gorgeous, unspoiled territory, all wild, forested, and full of rivers and lakes, but Lupe saw no more snow-capped mountains, not even on the most distant horizon.

Nearly all day would be spent driving, but Lupe did have one adventure in store for her.  She was going to take the trail up Teapot Mountain, sometimes touted as one of the best day hikes of central interior British Columbia.  The trail isn’t long, only 0.9 mile (1.4 km).  It climbs an ancient steep-sided basaltic plug which survived the last ice age, while gaining 650 feet of elevation (200 meters).

The sky clouded up.  Light rain showers dampened the highway.  Miles rolled by.  Suddenly, ack!  Talus Road!  Wasn’t that it?  Yes, and SPHP had missed the turn.  Oh, well.  At least the sign had been spotted.  SPHP found a place to turn around.  A few minutes later, Lupe was turning W onto gravel Talus Road.

A kilometer later, SPHP missed the R turn onto Caine Creek Forestry Road, too.  The whole area seemed to be a maze of gravel roads, and the signage wasn’t great.  Nevertheless, after a brief exercise in futility, Lupe did make it back to Caine Creek Forestry Road, which wound around for 2 miles (3 km) before crossing a bridge over a creek connecting a couple of skinny, swampy lakes on either side.

As the road started curving L after crossing the bridge, a sign could be seen tucked back at the edge of the trees near a dirt side road on the R.  Nearby was enough parking space for several vehicles.  The sign said Teapot Mtn.  An arrow pointed into the forest along the side road.  Not another soul or vehicle was around, but this had to be the trailhead.

SPHP parked, and Lupe got out of the G6.  The sky was clearing a little again.  The sun was trying to break through.  On the way here, Lupe had seen densely forested Teapot Mountain a little to the W.  It didn’t look very big after all the mountains Lupe had seen on this Dingo Vacation.  The trip up Teapot Mountain (3,009 ft.) wouldn’t take long.

Lupe had plenty of time.  Why not take a look at the swampy lakes and the creek from the bridge, before going up the mountain?

Lupe at the trailhead. There was room to park maybe half a dozen vehicles nearby.
Lupe along Caines Creek Forestry Road near Teapot Mountain. Photo looks NNW at the larger of the two skinny, swampy lakes. The swampy lakes were actually part of the Crooked River, which flows N.

The water in the creek, which was actually the Crooked River, looked clean and clear.  From the smaller skinny lake, it flowed N under the bridge.  Both skinny lakes were part of the river system.  Lupe didn’t see any fish in the river, but no doubt there must be some.  The lakes had plenty of water and looked like great habitat.

In the 15 minutes Lupe spent sniffing around the Crooked River and the swampy lakes, 2 vehicles had arrived and parked at the Teapot Mountain trailhead.  Hikers were already somewhere on the trail ahead of her by the time Lupe started out.  The first part of the trail followed the side road, which curved NW as it led Lupe into the forest.  The side road dead-ended after only a few hundred feet.

Lupe on the short side road which served as the first part of the Teapot Mountain trail. The road curved NW as it led Lupe into the dense forest. Photo looks W.

Where the side road ended, a wide path strewn with leaves led off to the W toward Teapot Mountain.  Lupe hadn’t gained any elevation yet, but she was about to.  The path started climbing steadily, slowly at first, but it quickly became steep.

Lupe near the start of the path to Teapot Mountain after the side road dead-ended. The path started out level as shown here, but quickly became quite steep. Photo looks W.

The well worn trail was easy to follow, but soon became a real challenge for heart, lungs and legs.  It worked its way over to the SE face of Teapot Mountain, where it began to climb even more steeply heading almost straight up the mountain.

The dense, lush forest hid all views.  Many tree roots and rocks were exposed on the trail, which was hard packed.  This part of the Teapot Mountain trail must be very slick when wet, but it wasn’t bad as Lupe made her ascent.

Teapot Mountain hadn’t looked that big from below, but felt bigger with each step up.  The relentless steep rate of climb continued until Lupe reached a junction close to the top of the mountain.  Here, the trail divided.  Lupe could go L or R.  It didn’t really matter which way she went, since both directions were part of the circular loop trail around the upper rim of Teapot Mountain.  Lupe went R (N), hoping to catch a view of the Crooked River below.

Just because Lupe had reached the loop trail didn’t mean she could see anything.  The top of Teapot Mountain was as densely forested as all the rest of it was.  The trail had come up near the SE end of the mountain, at a part of the rim that proved to be a little lower than most of it.  The summit area contained within the loop trail was acres in size.  The interior terrain sloped gradually and unevenly up toward some unseen high point.

The loop trail was an easy, almost level stroll.  Lupe didn’t have to go very far N before she came to a break in the trees where she could see a long, skinny lake down along the Crooked River off to the NE.

Lupe could see one of the long, skinny lakes that was part of the Crooked River system from the loop trail. Photo looks NE.

On her way around the N rim of Teapot Mountain, Lupe came to no more viewpoints until she reached some cliffs at the NW end of the mountain.  Lupe could see a large shallow pond in a clearing far below.

From cliffs near the NW end of the loop trail, Lupe saw this shallow pond in a clearing below. Topo maps show that the top of Teapot Mountain is somewhat smaller than this pond. The loop trail around the perimeter really isn’t very long. Part of Jakes Lake, a much bigger body of water, is farther away on the L. Photo looks W.

From the cliffs at the NW viewpoint, Lupe didn’t have far to go to reach a big tan-colored rock formation at the SW end of the mountain.  Up until now, Lupe hadn’t seen anyone along the trail.  She found everyone here, congregated on the rock formation which offers the premier view from Teapot Mountain.

A friendly dog wanted to play with Lupe, but with cliffs so close by, the humans put a quick end to all the mad dashing and chasing around.  A wooden bench was nearby to the E.  Lupe got up on it for a look at the big view.  Summit Lake, which is quite large and has an interesting irregular shape, was the main attraction.  Lupe could see the N end of Summit Lake dotted with forested islands not too far away to the S.

From the SW viewpoint, Lupe could see Summit Lake dotted with forested islands. Photo looks S.
Summit Lake through the telephoto lens.

While everyone else remained congregated on the tan rock formation, Lupe and SPHP went off in search of the true summit of Teapot Mountain.  The highest point Lupe found was a nice mossy spot at the end of a very faint trail into the interior.  The summit wasn’t far from the SW viewpoint at all.

Lupe sits comfortably on the mossy spot at the true summit of Teapot Mountain. Photo looks N.

Lupe returned to the loop trail.  People were getting ready to depart.  Before long, Lupe had the premier viewpoint on Teapot Mountain all to herself.

Lupe conducts her initial investigation of the premier viewpoint on Teapot Mountain. She discovers a sign indicating she is 1 km from the trailhead (by the most direct route), and aptly enough, a teapot. Part of Jakes Lake is seen in the distance. Photo looks W.
So, SPHP, is it tea time? What kind of tea are we having? Did you bring any crumpets? …… Umm, heh, sorry Looper, I didn’t remember to bring any tea. Kind of short on crumpets, too, to tell the truth. Guess I wasn’t thinking.
Loopster astride the big tan rock formation, with Jakes Lake on the L. Photo looks W.

For a little while, Lupe and SPHP stayed together up on the tan rock formation enjoying the view of the lakes and forests of central British Columbia.  Before long voices were heard approaching from the E.  More hikers.  Time to go and let them enjoy this beautiful spot in peace.  Loop still had many miles to go today anyway.

Lupe saw more teapots placed on rocks and in trees along the S rim of Teapot Mountain as she completed the loop back to the trail down.  The clouds hadn’t so much as sprinkled any rain for a while.  On her way down, Lupe encountered several more groups of people who had decided to come up.  Apparently, Teapot Mountain really is quite a popular hike.

It was mid-afternoon by the time Lupe arrived back at the G6 (2:55 PM, 50°F) ready to resume the long drive S.  Teapot Mountain had been a pleasant break from being cooped up.  The whole trek had taken a little over 2 hours at a leisurely pace.

By evening, Lupe was far SE of Prince George near the small town of McBride.  Her day ended with a pleasant twilight stroll exploring a quiet park next to the Fraser River.  Up until her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation, Lupe had never been even this far N before in her whole life.  Tomorrow she would return to more familiar territory in Jasper and Banff National Parks in the fabulous Canadian Rockies!

Note: The L (W) turn off Highway 97 onto Talus Road is about 31 miles (50 km) N of Prince George.  Follow Talus Road 1 km to a R turn onto Caine Creek Forestry Road (poorly marked).  Follow Caine Creek Forestry Road 3.3 km.  The Teapot Mountain trailhead is at the start of the first side road to the R after crossing the bridge over Crooked River.Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

Leaving the Yukon & Northern British Columbia, Canada (9-3-16 & 9-4-16)

Days 36 & 37 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

Day 36, 9-3-16, 6:40 AM, 32°F – Time for Lupe’s last walk down to the shore to say farewell to Kluane Lake.  As soon as the G6 defogged, Lupe would be leaving.  Another 450 miles to go today.  By the end of the day, she would leave the Yukon and reach extreme northern British Columbia.

The huge lake was calm, the smoothest Lupe had ever seen it.  More exciting adventures remain for Lupe in Kluane National Park in this wild, remote corner of Yukon Territory, but not on this Dingo Vacation.  Who knew when, or if, Lupe would ever return to do them and see fabulous Kluane Lake again?  No matter.  It was time to go.

Last moments near fabulous Kluane Lake. Photo looks SW.

The sun wasn’t even above the horizon yet, as Lupe and SPHP started S in the G6, but would be illuminating the Kluane front range peaks of the Saint Elias mountains before long.

Yesterday evening, SPHP had seen Mount Decoeli (7,650 ft.) from afar.  Lupe climbed Mount Decoeli earlier on this Dingo Vacation.  What a tremendous adventure that had been!  Now Decoeli was sporting a cap of new snow.  The Alaska Highway would soon take Lupe only a few miles E of the mountain.  She wasn’t too many miles from Kluane Lake, before there it was, looking majestic, clean and white!

Lupe wasn’t too many miles away from Kluane Lake, when Mount Decoeli(L) came into view, now sporting a clean, white snowcap. Photo looks SE.
Mount Decoeli is the sharper peak on the L. Photo looks SE with a little help from the telephoto lens.

The Kluane front range mountains all looked even more impressive with snow on them, than when Lupe had been here in early August.  SPHP stopped frequently for photos.  These were the biggest, most gorgeous mountains Lupe would see all day!

Lupe enjoyed all the stops.  She didn’t mind posing for pictures.  Each stop was another chance, however brief, to explore fields and forests near the Alaska Highway.

Early light on the Kluane front range. The high point on the L is possibly Mount Cairnes (9,186 ft.). Photo looks SW.
Daybreak on Lupe’s last day in the Yukon.
Getting closer to Mount Decoeli (L). Photo looks SE.
Much closer now. Looking SW at Mount Decoeli.
Loop and Decoeli. She’d stood on top of the mountain earlier on this Dingo Vacation.
Mount Decoeli on the R. The white peak on the L in the distance is either Mount Archibald (8,491 ft.) or a peak very near it. Photo looks SW.
View along the Alaska Highway from E of Decoeli. Photo looks S in the general direction of Mount Martha Black (8,241 ft.) possibly one of the peaks seen here.
Come on! Let’s go! Lupe was ready to climb Decoeli(R) again! Sadly, there was no longer time for a repeat performance. Photo looks WSW.
Again looking S in the general direction of Mount Martha Black, likely pictured somewhere among these high peaks. The morning light on the tundra was amazing!
Mount Decoeli from the E.
Lupe in Yukon Territory still E of Mount Decoeli. Everything was ablaze with color in the early morning light! Photo looks SSW.
The Yukon was so beautiful, it was enough to make an American Dingo think about becoming a Yukon Dingo!

On the way to Haines Junction, SPHP decided Lupe ought to take the 14 mile (one way) detour S to have a look at King’s Throne (6,529 ft.) and Kathleen Lake.  King’s Throne was the first mountain Lupe had climbed in Kluane National Park, and another super adventure!  Maybe Lupe could get a great photo of King’s Throne covered with new snow and shining brightly in the morning light?

Lupe only got 10 miles S of Haines Junction, though, before it was apparent there wasn’t much point in going farther.  Clouds already screened King’s Throne from the sunlight, and more clouds were moving in fast.  From what could be seen, King’s Throne hadn’t received any of the recent new snow either, perhaps because it is lower than Decoeli.

Near Quill Creek, Lupe and SPHP turned around to head back N.  The mountains here were still in brilliant sunshine.  However, large clouds were moving in from the SE.  Lupe’s best bet was to enjoy these gorgeous mountains while they were still in view.  All the way back to Haines Junction, Lupe and SPHP stopped frequently to gaze upon the beautifully sunlit Kluane front range.

Lupe at Quill Creek, S of Haines Junction. Photo looks SW.
Looking up Quill Creek using the telephoto lens.
Although only a few miles N of King’s Throne, this distinctive pyramid-shaped mountain near Quill Creek was still in brilliant sunshine. King’s Throne was already cloaked in the gloom of a cloud bank. Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.
Lupe S of Haines Junction, but N of Quill Creek. The Kluane front range is in dazzling sunshine to the SW.
Crisp, clean peaks on the way back N to Haines Junction. Photo looks SW.
Another fantastic peak of the Kluane front range.
Snow certainly adds a great deal of grandeur to almost any peak. Gorgeous!

At Haines Junction, Lupe headed E on the Alaska Highway.  The dazzling splendor of the Kluane front range of the Saint Elias mountains receded in the rear view mirror.  Within a few minutes, the mountains disappeared entirely as Lupe entered a dense fog bank.

For miles SPHP drove slowly in the fog.  Lupe finally emerged from the fog bank, but the mood of the morning was different here.  The sky was overcast.  The dull, gray clouds weren’t dark or threatening, but the cheerful sunshine was gone.  Lupe snoozed as the miles rolled by.  E of Whitehorse, Lupe crossed the Yukon River again.  By now it was 11:15 AM, and even SPHP was drowsy.

Lupe and SPHP stopped at a rest area on the E bank of the Yukon River.  Even though it was practically the middle of the day, and the Alaska Highway was busy, SPHP took a nap.  An hour later, feeling better, it was time to press on.  Before leaving, Lupe was ready for a short stroll down to the river.

Lupe checks out the Yukon River one more time before continuing E. Lupe had crossed the Yukon River much farther N, too, back when she was on the Dalton Highway before crossing the Arctic Circle. Photo looks W.

The clouds were lighter and starting to break up as Lupe continued E on the Alaska Highway.  After a slow start in the morning, Lupe was behind schedule on reaching her mileage quota for the day.  She needed to keep rolling.  She was allowed fairly frequent short stops at rest areas, but other than that, Lupe had little to do but continue dozing or watch the scenery go by.

Forests were everywhere.  Lupe saw many lakes and streams.  Although Lupe saw lots of mountains, too, they weren’t nearly as large or rugged as the ones back at Kluane National Park.  Hours went by.  Finally, a cluster of higher, more impressive mountains appeared in the distance ahead.  They had a good dusting of snow and were quite beautiful.

After hours heading E on the Alaska Highway, a small range of more impressive snowy peaks came into view. Photo looks E.
SPHP has no idea what mountains these are, but driving the speed limit they were about 3 hours E of the Yukon River on the S side of the Alaska Highway. They looked like something Lupe could climb easily enough some day. The views from the top must be amazing. These mountains were the highest around for a long, long way!

On the way to the Yukon near the start of her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation, Lupe had traveled up the Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37).  This time, when she reached the junction, Lupe stayed on the Alaska Highway going E instead of turning S.  This was an alternate route home.  Lupe was going to see a lot of new territory!

The new territory featured forests.  Trees stretched from horizon to horizon.  Mile after mile.  Not that there hadn’t been plenty of vast forests before.  Here, though, there were hills, ridges, and deep river valleys, but no real mountains, not like Lupe was used to seeing up to this point.  Everything was forested.  Nothing was above treeline.

E of Watson Lake, the Alaska Highway left the Yukon for good.  Lupe was now back in far northern British Columbia.  The highway wound around near the Liard River valley.  In many places, the forest was clear cut for 50 to 100 feet and mowed on both sides of the highway.  The resulting miles long skinny clearings proved attractive to wildlife.

Lupe sprang to life when she realized there were animals out there!  She’d been mostly resting in the G6 for two whole days.  The American Dingo was bursting with energy and enthusiasm.  Time for the barkfest to end all barkfests!  Many buffalo, 3 bears, and 1 fox were all cause for ear-splitting excitement.

Lupe near the Liard River. E of Watson Lake, Lupe left the Yukon for good when the Alaska Highway entered far northern British Columbia. The highway wound SE in or close to the Liard River valley for many miles.
Oh, yeah! Buffalo roamed the narrow clear cut strips of land along the Alaska Highway E of Watson Lake. Lupe was beside herself with joy! She barked like a Dingo-possessed, watching eagerly for the next buffalo to appear as she cruised by in the G6. She was seldom disappointed for long. SPHP wondered where else these buffalo would ever find any open ground? Except along the highway, trees extended horizon to horizon.
Bears! Lupe saw three small black bears in addition to the buffalo. They were every bit as exciting as the buffalo! In all her time in the Yukon and Alaska, Lupe never saw a single bear. She did see a few black bears in British Columbia both on the way N and going home.

A little after 8 PM, with light fading fast, Lupe arrived at Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park(Note:  The 6.5 minute video on the front page of this link is worth watching.  Be sure to expand it!)  SPHP drove in at the entrance finding no one at the entry booth.  It was Saturday night and lots of people were around.  SPHP parked the G6, and Lupe was happy to get out.

The main attractions at Liard Hot Springs are a couple of hot water bathing pools along a flowing stream.  A wide boardwalk led off toward the hot springs.  Lots of people were coming and going on the boardwalk, so Lupe and SPHP took it, too.

The boardwalk went through a forested swamp.  It was far longer than SPHP expected – 700 meters!  Lupe did get to see the hot springs, although, sadly, it was already too dark for pictures.  A couple of wooden changing rooms were next to a deck overlooking the hot springs, which had significant flow.  A warm fog rose from the waters where bathers were enjoying soaking in two natural pools.

SPHP asked around how this all worked?  As it turned out, there is normally a seasonal day use fee ($5.00 adult, $3.00 child, $10.00 family) charged for park admission at the entry booth at the front gate.  A camping spot costs $26.00.  However, the entry booth closes at 8 PM, and no day use admission is collected after that.  Somewhat oddly, the gates close at 10 PM, after which no entry or exit is permitted.

Of course, Lupe couldn’t go in the hot springs, but there was still time for SPHP to enjoy them.  Back to the G6, where Lupe was sad and worried about being abandoned.  SPHP tried to cheer her up, promising to return before too long.

The changing rooms at the hot springs were rustic, with only benches and hooks.  No lockers, showers, restrooms or anything like that.  Not even electricity or any lights.  The upstream pool was too hot for SPHP, but the downstream pool was great.  Despite the excellent flow, the water cooled off quickly going downstream, so it was easy to choose the temperature zone that felt best.

Liard Hot Springs was totally awesome!  Where else can you relax in soothing warm (hot, if you like!) waters outdoors in the middle of a boreal spruce forest in a giant swamp?  SPHP soaked and chatted with people, who were mostly from Fort Nelson.

At 9:15 PM, someone came to announce the time, and that the park’s gates closed in 45 minutes at 10:00 PM.  SPHP soaked for 10 more minutes, then got out into the chilly night air to get changed and return to Lupe.  After a joyous reunion, Lupe and SPHP left the park at 9:48 PM with 12 minutes to spare.  Onward!  But only for a little way.  Lupe had already made 500 miles today.

Day 37, 9-4-16, 6:19 AM, 35°F – Beneath a bright blue sky with thin little clouds, Lupe was underway early.  She was in far northern British Columbia, only a little S of Liard Hot Springs.  The terrain rapidly became increasingly mountainous as Lupe headed SE on the Alaska Highway.  For a while, a long stretch of road construction slowed progress to a crawl.

The morning sky held promise of a beautiful day ahead.
The terrain grew more mountainous S of Liard Hot Springs. Lupe was approaching Muncho Lake Provincial Park.

The road construction ended, and progress resumed at a normal pace, but not for long.  Lupe soon entered Muncho Lake Provincial Park.

SPHP hadn’t done a bit of research during pre-Dingo Vacation planning on Muncho Lake, and it was a real surprise.  This was an area of unspoiled, remote snow-capped peaks.  The Alaska Highway went right through it all, and hugged the E shore of beautiful Muncho Lake for miles.  Lupe was thrilled to see more buffalo, and even another black bear.

Lupe’s day was off to a thrilling start with lots more buffalo near the Alaska Highway in Muncho Lake Provincial Park. She even saw another black bear.

Such beauty was cause for several stops.  Lupe was only too glad to get out of the G6, if even only for a short time.  Too bad Lupe’s time was so limited now.  Muncho Lake Provincial Park was surely worth exploring!

Lupe in gorgeous Muncho Lake Provincial Park. She was very happy to get out of the G6 to see the sights here, if only for a little while.
Looper at Muncho Lake.
Lupe at Muncho Lake with a splendid peak in the distance. Photo looks SSW.
Muncho Lake Provincial Park in far NE British Columbia.
Wow! Now we’re talking adventure! This float plane was parked near a lodge on the E shore of Muncho Lake. Lupe loves to bark at airplanes, and especially helicopters. Not sure how she might react to flying away in one? Photo looks NNW.
Hmmm. The more SPHP pondered this glorious peak, the more it looked like something Lupe might be able to climb. Maybe some day? Photo looks SSW.
Wonder if there’s a trail? SPHP will have to look into it.

S of Muncho Lake, the Alaska Highway lost elevation and entered the beautiful Toad River valley.  Although it was still early in the day, SPHP was overcome by drowsiness.  Lupe and SPHP wound up taking a nap at a pullout along the highway.  Nearly two hours slipped by before SPHP woke up again, feeling much revived.

However, Lupe hadn’t needed reviving.  By now she was so bored, she was desperate to get out of the G6.  For the next half hour she had a great time sniffing around a young forest near the pullout while SPHP picked up copious amounts of trash.  People!  Trash containers were provided right at the pullout, yet way too many people don’t bother using them.  Totally disgusting!

A little farther on, Lupe left Muncho Lake Provincial Park.  Before long she crossed a bridge over another wonderful stream, the Racing River.  SPHP parked the G6 again at a pullout near the bridge.  Lupe found an old road leading through the forest.  The primitive road paralleled the Racing River downstream for a little way.  Evidently this route is sometimes used for dispersed camping.  Lupe passed several old campfire sites before the road turned and ended at the river.

The Alaska Highway bridge over the Racing River. Photo looks SW.
The Racing River was this incredible icy blue color, and certainly lived up to its name. The river did race right along.
Lupe was in great spirits. She enjoyed her visit to the Racing River! After all, she’d found a squirrel to bark at in the forest nearby!

After 25 minutes near the Racing River, Lupe and SPHP continued on.  The Alaska Highway quickly left the Racing River valley, going around the N side of a mountain into another big valley.  The highway now followed the course of McDonald Creek upstream toward impressive white mountains.  Lupe was nearing Stone Mountain Provincial Park.

Shortly after entering Stone Mountain Provincial Park, Lupe saw something she had never seen before.  A small herd of caribou were trotting across an open field toward a forest!  By the time SPHP could stop and turn around, they had vanished into the trees.  The field the caribou had crossed was at quite an elevation above McDonald Creek, and offered a good lookout point toward the mountains.  Lupe and SPHP got out of the G6 to take a look.

As Lupe approached Stone Mountain Provincial Park, impressive white mountains were visible ahead.
Lupe at the edge of the big field where she had seen caribou for the first time ever only a few minutes ago. This viewpoint overlooks the McDonald Creek valley. Photo looks SE.
The McDonald Creek valley. Mount Saint George (7,402 ft.) is on the R. Photo looks SE.
Mount Saint George using the telephoto lens. Photo looks SE.
A tower is seen at far R on the N flank of Mount Saint George. A trail leads to the tower from the Summit Lake area. Photo looks SE.
A little farther S on the Alaska highway from where Lupe saw the caribou, she made another quick stop for this grand view of the McDonald Creek valley. Photo looks S.

After getting a little exercise and seeing the grand view of Mount Saint George (7,402 ft.) and the McDonald Creek valley from Caribou Point, Lupe and SPHP drove on.   The Alaska Highway turned NE and in only a few miles reached Summit Lake at the top of a pass.  At the NE end of Summit Lake were a campground and picnic area.  Lunch time!  Lupe and SPHP pulled into the picnic area.

Lupe at Summit Lake in Stone Mountain Provincial Park. Photo looks SW.
Looking SW over Summit Lake using the telephoto lens.

Soup, sardines and crackers were on the menu.  While SPHP was heating the soup up, Lupe found a new friend.  A big dog arrived to sniff and wag tails with her.  A young woman from Fort Nelson came over to retrieve Grommet, which was the big dog’s name.  She stayed chatting with SPHP while Lupe and Grommet did dog stuff – sniffing, playing and growling.

The friendly young woman mentioned a trailhead over on the opposite (N) side of the Alaska Highway.  When lunch was over, Lupe and SPHP went over to check out the trailhead.  A map showed a 2.5 km (one way) trail going to Summit Peak (6,611 ft.) on the N side of the Alaska Highway, and several other trails S of Summit Lake.

Looking up toward a couple of white peaks N of the Alaska Highway from Summit Lake. The high point on the L is likely Summit Peak (6,611 ft.).  Photo looks N.

It all looked very interesting, but Lupe didn’t have time to explore any trails.  In fact, it was 2 PM already.  Lupe hadn’t even gone 100 miles yet today!  Definitely time to get underway again.

E of Summit Lake, the Alaska Highway lost elevation again on the other side of the pass.  Soon Lupe was out of Stone Mountain Provincial Park, leaving the big, snowy peaks of the Muskwa Ranges behind.  At Fort Nelson, the Alaska Highway turned S again.  Off to the W, Lupe could still see high mountains with snow.  The highway got close to them at one point, but then veered away.

After a great morning and early afternoon, with lots of little hikes and scenic stops along the way, the rest of the afternoon and evening proved disappointing for the intrepid American Dingo.  She spent nearly all of her time stuck in the G6, traveling through the endless forest.  The road wound over and around high ridges.  Sometimes the Alaska Highway dropped down into big valleys to cross rivers, but it never took Lupe back to the high mountains.

Lupe spent much of the rest of the day in the G6 traveling S along the Alaska Highway. The road wound along high ridges, and sometimes went down into big valleys to cross rivers. Off to the W were high snowy mountains, but the road never took Lupe up into them again.

Lupe had few chances to get out of the G6 again, but by evening she did make her 450 miles for the day.  Most of northern British Columbia was now behind her.  That feeling Lupe’d had for most of the past month of being in the far N, in Arctic lands, was fast slipping away.

Lupe in NE British Columbia leaving the far N on her way home.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

Leaving Alaska & Lupe’s Return to Yukon Territory, Canada (9-1-16 & 9-2-16)

The end of Day 34, plus Day 35 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

Day 34, 9-1-16, 4:00 PM, 72°F – Well, it was over.  After 7,500+ feet of elevation gain in the past 31 hours, Lupe was back at the Lazy Mountain Recreation Site trailhead.  Blisters and a pulled muscle in the front right leg, suffered yesterday while coming down Pepper Peak, caused SPHP to hobble slowly onto the parking lot behind her.

Make that almost over.  A tall, lanky, young guy immediately struck up a conversation.  Both Lupe and SPHP just wanted to go the remaining 50 feet to the G6 and sit/lay down.  Instead this complete stranger launched into a monologue about mountains and trails.  He talked with a strange accent, or maybe a lisp, and seemed kind of, well – “off”, somehow.

Remind you of anyone, SPHP?

Oh, please!  Silence, wisecracking Dingo of mine!

Actually the friendly stranger’s conversation would normally have been of great interest.  He was a wealth of knowledge about Alaska, and what there was to do outdoors around here.  Moreover, he was eager to share his experiences.

Where had he been for the last 3 weeks?  Off or not, any other time SPHP would have enjoyed talking to him for hours, but not now.  Not his fault, but his timing was atrocious.  No need for his insight now.  Lupe had just returned from Lazy Mountain (3,740 ft.), the last mountain she would climb in Alaska in 2016.  Recuperation at the G6 was priority one.

After a seeming eternity, a brief lull came in the one-sided conversation.  SPHP used the opening to wish the stranger well, and encourage his speedy enjoyment of the Lazy Mountain trail.  Off he went, happy as a clam.  SPHP limped 50 feet and unlocked the G6.  Lupe eagerly leaped in.  Now it was over!  No more climbing mountains in Alaska.  Sad, tragic really, but paws, feet, legs, and lungs all advised getting over it.  Wow, it did feel good to rest!

With the G6’s windows down on this beautiful, warm afternoon so Lupe could sniff the air, SPHP drove the few miles back to Palmer.  Brief stops for groceries and gas.  A trip to McDonald’s.  Lupe ate only one bite of cheeseburger.  Surprising, but she knew how she felt.  She seemed cheerful and perfectly fine.

At long last, off with the boots.  What a relief!  So much better!  In stocking feet, SPHP drove E out of Palmer on the Glenn Highway, marvelously equipped with cheeseburgers, fries and a Coke.  Lupe panted happily, looking out the window at the splendid scenery of the Matanuska River valley going by.  A relaxing, astonishingly beautiful evening drive was ahead.  After 22 unforgettable days in Alaska, Lupe was starting for home.

In a sense, Lupe had already been going home for 5 days, ever since she left Grace Ridge (3,136 ft.), back near Homer on the Kenai Peninsula.  So far, though, every day had been mostly filled with adventures.  She hadn’t really gotten all that far.  The Carolina Dog was still more than 3,000 miles from home in the Black Hills.  Time to make tracks.  450 miles per day for the next week should about do it.

The return trip would be fabulous!  Endless forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, sky and clouds.  A road trip made in heaven.  Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon and Alaska had been a huge success!  Time to kick back and enjoy the road home.  Lupe would still have a chance for a few adventures along the way, if they weren’t too long, and there would be plenty of stops to stretch, sniff the air, and admire the world.

Lupe’s first stop this evening was to see the Matanuska Glacier again.  She’d had absolutely fabulous views of it earlier on her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation when she’d climbed Lion Head (3,185 ft.).

The Matanuska Glacier from the Glenn Highway (Alaska Route 1).
Lupe stops for a quick look at the Matanuska Glacier again. She’d had absolutely fabulous views of it earlier on her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation when she’d climbed nearby Lion Head (3,185 ft.). Photo looks S.
Snowy peaks near the Matanuska Glacier. Photo looks S using the telephoto lens.

Matanuska Glacier, Alaska

Lupe didn’t make it much beyond the Matanuska Glacier this evening, stopping near Gunsight Mountain (6,441 ft.) for the night.  Gunsight Mountain was the highest peak in Alaska that Lupe had climbed.  She had met Laura from Montana, and Luke Hall from Australia up there.

The best views from the highway near Gunsight Mountain were to the S.  The peaks in that direction appeared to have fresh new-fallen snow.

Looking S from the Gunsight Mountain area.
Last light.

Day 35, 9-2-16, Predawn, 32°F – Orion hung low in the E.  The pale light of dawn hadn’t arrived yet, but there was a hint of it on the horizon.  The North Star was high overhead.  Northern lights, not a great display, but easily seen, streamed from the N toward the coming sun.

With the G6’s right headlight not working, it was still too early to leave the Gunsight Mountain area.  Lupe and SPHP walked W along an abandoned stretch of the old Glenn Highway.  Chilly out, but Lupe was in fine form, sniffing like mad among the bushes lining the old road.  A mile, maybe a mile and a half later, it was time to turn around.

The were-puppy attacked SPHP!  Once the were-puppy was fended off, the Carolina Dog showed off how fast and agile she was, racing up and down the road, running circles around SPHP.  Ahh, to feel like that!  So much energy and joy of living!  Shrill Dingo barking filled the air for a couple of minutes before Lupe returned to sniffing.

On the way back to the G6, sunrise was on its way.  Soon time to depart.

Sunrise approaches.
Looking E from the Gunsight Mountain area on Lupe’s last morning in Alaska.
First light hits the peaks S of Gunsight Mountain. Photo looks S.

Heading E toward Glenn Allen, Mount Drum (12,010 ft.) came into view.  Lupe hadn’t seen it before.  When she’d first arrived in Alaska, the towering white monsters of the Wrangell Range were all shrouded by clouds.  Now they basked in brilliant sunshine.  Lupe saw them from various angles as SPHP followed the highway beyond Glenn Allen around to the Tok Cut-Off.

SPHP meant to stop at the same viewpoint overlooking the Copper River where Lupe had stopped before, but somehow missed it.  The white monsters were far from the highway, but could be seen for many miles.  After a while, though, they receded from view as the miles clicked by.

One of the white monsters of the Wrangell Range SE of Glenn Allen. SPHP didn’t know their names, but they were spectacular peaks covered in huge quantities of snow and ice.
One hell of a sledding hill! Kind of a rough ending, though.

After being in view for many miles as Lupe circled them to the N, the huge white Wrangell Mountains began to recede in the rear view mirror.

After all her many Alaskan adventures, Lupe was feeling pretty relaxed on this first full day of driving on her way home.E of Tok, Lupe crossed the Tanana River.  She was happy to get out of the G6 to stretch her legs a bit.

Lupe stretches her legs after crossing the Tanana River, which flows all the way NW to Fairbanks. The Tanana is ultimately a tributary of the Yukon River.
Lupe near the Alaskan Highway bridge over the Tanana River E of Tok. Photo looks downstream toward the NW.

With the majestic high peaks of the Wrangell Mountains now far behind, Lupe traveled through an area of lower hills, ridges and distant mountains.  Fall was coming to Alaska, as Lupe was leaving.  There were many hills with colorful displays of fall colors.

Lupe stops along the Alaska Highway for a photo with the fall colors.
A brilliant hillside.

Lupe left Alaska, returning to Yukon Territory in Canada around 2 PM Alaska Time (3 PM Pacific Time).  Soon she was seeing bigger mountains closer by again.  She crossed the White River without stopping.  A few weeks earlier, it had been wide and impressive, but now it was mostly dried up.

After Lupe left Alaska entering Yukon Territory, she began to see higher mountains near the Alaska Highway again.
Yukon Territory from the Alaska Highway.

By the time Lupe reached the Donjek River, it was getting to be late afternoon.  The Donjek was running low, too, but it seemed like a good time to get out of the G6 to stretch and walk around a bit.  Lupe went for short walks on both sides of the scenic river, spending about 45 minutes in the area.

Lupe near the NW bank of the mighty Donjek River. Of course, the river was running low this time of year. Photo looks SW.
The Donjek River is a major tributary of the White River. Both are part of the Yukon River’s drainage area.
Most of the Donjek was mud flats when Lupe was here, but the river must be gigantic during the spring runoff when the snow melts.
The beautiful mountains and impressive river bed of the Donjek invite exploration, but away from the Alaska Highway this is true wilderness.

The Alaska Highway bridge over the Donjek River. Although the mountains to the SW looked high, remote and dangerous, this one to the E looked like something Lupe could climb if she’d had enough time. Photo looks E.
Loopster on the mud flats of the Donjek. Photo looks W.
The Donjek has a braided floodplain. This was only one small channel. Love that big cloud boiling up over the far ridge!
Lupe on the SE bank of the Donjek now. There was more flow over here. Photo looks WSW.

Lupe’s time along the Donjek River was a wonderful break. The whole area was so beautiful and remote. Lupe and SPHP were lucky to be here to see it. There are still amazing places in the world far beyond casual exploration. The Donjek and White Rivers capture the imagination, but few ever glimpse more of them than Lupe was seeing from near the highway.

A little S of the Donjek River, a mountain with new snow on top caught SPHP’s fancy.

This striking mountain with new snow on it some miles S of the Donjek River caught SPHP’s fancy, and gave Lupe another opportunity to sniff around for a few minutes out of the G6.

For the last 5 or 6 days Lupe had been in Alaska, the sky had been almost totally clear.  However, there were quite a few clouds here in the Yukon.  Near Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake, Lupe and SPHP drove through rain showers.  Lupe saw a rainbow.

Rainbow near Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake.

In Kluane National Park, Lupe and SPHP stopped again at the Tachal Dahl visitor center in the Slims River valley at the S end of Kluane Lake.  The visitor center was closed.  Not a soul was around.  SPHP made use of one of the picnic tables to prepare dinner.  Lupe was eager to help SPHP make the last can of beef stew and remaining cheese disappear, but she buried a cracker with her nose.

The mood had changed remarkably since Lupe had been here in early August.  Back then, there had been activity.  It hadn’t been crowded at all, but people had been around.  The Alaska Highway had lots of traffic.  The days were warm and bright, and the sun stayed up late.  Dust had been blowing dramatically down the Slims River valley toward Kluane Lake.

Now there was new snow on the mountaintops.  The air was chilly.  The Slims River valley was still dry, but no dust blew.  No one at all was around.  Traffic on the Alaska Highway was only a trickle.  The whole place felt deserted, like late fall with early winter knocking on the door.  SPHP ate while watching two large herds of wild sheep high up on Sheep Mountain (6,400 ft.).  Lupe sniffed around nearby.

Lupe returns to the Slims River valley in Kluane National Park in the Yukon near the Tachal Dahl visitor center. The mood had changed since early August when Lupe had last been here. The mountains had new snow on them. A chill was in the air. Dust no longer blew down the still parched Slims River valley toward Kluane Lake. Photo looks SW.
Although it was only September 2nd, new snow on the mountains already hinted of the approach of another deadly cold, dark winter.

Lupe was more than 500 miles from Palmer, Alaska now.  She’d made her 450 miles for the day from where she’d left Gunsight Mountain this morning, so it was time to stop for the night.  As the light of day faded much earlier than it had only 3.5 weeks ago, Lupe got to spend time playing and sniffing around the S shore of Kluane Lake once more.

Lupe at the S shore of Kluane Lake. Photo looks W.

Sheep Mountain from Kluane Lake. Photo looks NW.
Kluane Lake
Lupe spent the rest of the evening playing and sniffing around the S shore.
A dramatic sky near evening’s end.

One thing hadn’t changed.  Beyond Kluane Lake, a line of mountains marched endlessly away to the N horizon toward the Arctic.  The remote peaks were part of a vast wilderness only a little less mysterious than before, and as beautiful and romantic as ever.

Looking N.

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