August 28-30, 2012, Days 21-23 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.
As soon as Lanis woke up; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP would hit the road again. In the meantime, Lupe and SPHP took a little stroll. For SPHP, it had been a restless night trying to sleep sitting up in the Element. This car camping business was starting to get pretty old. Lupe, of course, was always fresh as a daisy, since she could stretch out and relax on her mountain of pillows and blankets in the back of the Element.
Last night’s car camping was SPHP’s own fault for being so stubborn. Lupe’s tiny house could have been set up back at the Farewell Bend State Recreation Area in Oregon. Instead, SPHP got persnickety about bureaucracy and regulations, and had Lanis keep driving. Lupe had made it as far as Boise, Idaho before stopping for the night.
Oh, well. It didn’t matter now, the night was over. On the bright side, SPHP had saved $18-22. When Lupe and SPHP got back to the Element, a bleary-eyed Lanis was at least conscious. He was soon pressed back into chauffer service driving SE on I-84. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left I-84 at Mountain Home taking Hwy 20. Hwy 20 started out winding NE into the S end of a very dry looking mountain range.
The sky had been a little smoky in Boise, but along Hwy 20 the smoke was much thicker. The smoke got denser and denser until it was like being in a fog. Lanis started expecting to see the actual flames of a forest fire around any bend, but it didn’t happen. Way back in the early days of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation, back at the Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming, the sky had been smoky then, too, but never this bad. Apparently the fires in Idaho had been burning all this time.
The skies were much clearer by the time Lupe reached Craters of the Moon National Monument. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped briefly near the visitor center. Lanis went inside, and soon returned with the unsurprising news that Dingoes aren’t allowed on any of the trails. Well, that was that! Lupe made a few more stops at pullouts along Hwy 20 for photos, but she really didn’t get to do anything at Craters of the Moon.
Lupe continued on. Idaho remained hot and parched until Lupe reached Idaho Falls. E of Idaho Falls on Hwy 26, the scenery improved steadily. It was much greener here near the high mountains. By early evening, Lupe reached the fabulous Wind River Range near Pinedale, Wyoming. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took Skyline Drive up to Elkhart Park for a look around.
From viewpoints along Skyline Drive, Lupe saw two big lakes, Half Moon Lake and Freemont Lake, formed by the retreat of large glaciers ages ago. Near Elkhart Park was a pullout along the road with a sweeping view of the central portion of the mighty Wind River Range. SPHP recognized Fremont Peak (13,745 ft.), one of many visible along the Continental Divide.
After going up to Elkhart Park and back down again, Lanis and SPHP pitched Lupe’s tiny house at the Fremont Lake campground. The campsite was some distance away from the lake. Lanis and SPHP feasted on sandwiches after a quick run in to Subway in Pinedale. Both Lanis and SPHP were feeling pretty tired, and looking forward to a night stretched out in Lupe’s tiny house.
Lupe wasn’t tired, though. She’d spent most of the last two days and nights cooped up in the Element. Lupe was bursting with energy! She was very happy to be out sniffing every tree and bush around. She was finally getting to do Dingo stuff again! With great enthusiasm, she raised a ruckus over each and every squirrel. Slowly the sun went down. Twilight faded. The squirrels went to bed. It still took a lot of persuading from SPHP to get Lupe into the tiny house and settled down for the night.
SPHP woke up. It was still early. Like dark out with the stars still shining early. SPHP had no idea what time it was, but felt better. Lupe was instantly awake, too. Lupe and SPHP stole out of her tiny house and into the night. Fifteen minutes later, Lupe and SPHP reached the dock down by the boat ramp. Fremont Lake sits at around 7,400 feet elevation. Overhead, the Milky Way was blazing in a cloudless night sky. The brightest stars reflected clearly in the still lake.
To the E, SPHP saw Sagittarius, Venus and just a hint of light. Dawn was coming. The night sky was gorgeous, but it was probably best to get a little more sleep. Lupe and SPHP returned to rejoin Lanis in Lupe’s tiny house. Well, at least SPHP did. Lupe had other ideas. She wouldn’t go in the tent. SPHP tried to rest while listening for the tinkling sound of Lupe’s tag as she sniffed around outside.
It worked for a little while. Lupe was sniffing around out there pretty close to the tiny house. As it grew lighter though, the squirrels started waking up. Sniffing became growling. Pretty soon the growling was barking. Just occasionally at first, but the barking sprees lengthened. SPHP had to get up, or Lupe would succeed in getting evicted from the campground.
Lanis was pretty played out. After successive long days driving, he was just plain zonked. It was light out now. The sun came up and rose high in the sky. Lanis snoozed on. Lupe and SPHP made a couple more trips down to Fremont Lake. There was a little beach near the dock and boat ramp. Lupe went wading. SPHP watched minnows swimming near the shore.
It was almost lunch time when Lanis finally regained consciousness. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP drove down to the Lakeside Lodge, Resort & Marina at the very S end of Fremont Lake. The resort features a restaurant with both inside and outside dining available. Next to Fremont Lake, there was a large deck with tables shaded by big umbrellas. Beyond the lake was a gorgeous panoramic view of high peaks of the Wind River Range.
It was sort of busy. The clientele looked upscale. Lanis and SPHP were in rather disreputable condition. There was an open table, though, at the far edge of the deck separated a little bit from the rest of the guests. The wait staff was willing to serve mangy Lanis and SPHP. Lupe was even allowed to rest on the deck at SPHP’s feet. On Lupe’s entire 2012 Dingo Vacation, this was the only time Lupe, Lanis and SPHP actually got to eat at a restaurant. It was wonderful!
Lanis and SPHP both ordered big burgers. They were great! SPHP stealthily slipped some burger down to Lupe. Everyone was happy. The scenery was magnificent. It was a relaxing, beautiful time.
After the glorious lunch by Fremont Lake; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went into Pinedale for a little while. SPHP hoped to find a good map of the mountains to look at. There was a USFS map posted outside a forest service office near the grocery store. SPHP studied it for a few minutes while Lanis was in the grocery store. Lupe was on a leash right there with SPHP.
Lupe and SPHP were both about ready to leave, when an overly helpful ranger came along. The ranger almost insisted that SPHP come inside for more information, and a cheerful lecture on a blizzard of federal rules certain to enhance any wilderness experience.
Rule No. 1, of course, was that Dingoes couldn’t come in the building. Why just the other day, some Grand Poo-Bah supervisor from the District of Bureaucracy had sent out an email on the importance of never allowing a Dingo to set paw in any forest service building.
Lanis was waiting at the Element by the time Lupe and SPHP extracted themselves from all the helpful assistance. At least SPHP had seen enough of the map to have a pretty good idea where to go. Since the day was off to a rather late start, the best day hike without a map to bring along with was probably to take the well-traveled Pole Creek trail up at Elkhart Park.
Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went back up to Elkhart Park. The trailhead was already at 9,350 feet elevation, so Lupe was going to get to see some pretty high country. The Pole Creek trail started off heading SE as it went up the Pole Creek drainage. The trail was wide and well-worn. It gained elevation steadily, but at a moderate pace.
The area was almost all forested. There were squirrels in the trees. Lupe got to run, and run, and run. She had a fantastic time. The trail eventually turned NE, and then gained elevation more slowly. Lupe began to encounter clearings in the forest and little ponds. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP made it as far as Photographer’s Point (10,400 ft.). There was a huge panoramic view to the N.
The inspiring view from Photographer’s Point just made SPHP want to go farther. There were lakes nearby that SPHP had seen earlier on the map posted outside the forest service office in Pinedale. Lupe is always game to do more, but Lanis was ready to call it a day. However, even though Lanis really did need to get back to Indiana very soon, he did agree to spend another day in the Wind Rivers.
So Lupe didn’t go any farther into the Wind River range than Photographer’s Point. With an earlier start the next day, she could, though! After spending some time admiring the sweeping views; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP returned along the Pole Creek trail.
The sun was getting low in a cloudless sky, by the time Lupe reached the Element again back at Elkhart Park . A little while later, Lanis and SPHP crawled into sleeping bags in Lupe’s tiny house near Fremont Lake. Lupe curled up for a snooze, too. Tomorrow was going to be an even bigger day spent in the spectacular Wind River range!
After midnight, there was a sound that Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had rarely heard on Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation. Raindrops on Lupe’s tiny house! Not too many, but some. SPHP took a look outside. No stars in any direction. The whole black sky must have been overcast. Not good. The tent was old, and had always leaked. The raindrops came in little spurts. No big deal, if it stayed like this. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP tried to ignore it and go back to sleep.
For at least a couple of hours, the rain was sporadic and light. Gradually the intensity was increasing, though. Water started dripping inside Lupe’s tiny house. SPHP remained hopeful that the rain would hold off until dawn, when it would be possible to get a good look at the sky and assess the outlook. More rain came, harder too. As the tent started leaking more, Lanis and SPHP sat up talking about what to do. Stick it out and wait for dawn, or pack things up before everything got soaked?
Nature decided. Suddenly there was a volley of intense rain, with big drops. Lupe got hustled into the Element. Lanis and SPHP scrambled to take down her tiny house for the last time. Everything got pitched into the Element. Very suddenly, Lupe’s grand 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast was over.
The rain became light and steady as Lupe left Pinedale and the Wind River range behind her. On the way to Farson, the first light of dawn appeared and began spreading along the E horizon. Before reaching Farson, Lanis drove out of the rain. Back to the NW, clouds still hung over the Wind River range. The rain showers were likely just local. Lupe could probably have gone back, and spent another day exploring the Winds.
The decision had already been made, though. On the 23rd day of her first ever Dingo Vacation, after more than 5,000 miles, 5 states, and 3 weeks of adventures, Lupe was going home.