Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 221 – Peak 5800 & New Year’s Eve Peak (1-7-18)

Start – Intersection of Hwy 385 & USFS Road No. 710, 10:26 AM, 40°F

Lupe was late, a whole week late, but it wasn’t her fault.  She’d spent the last several days of 2017 in the Denver area visiting babies Felix and Owen, and having adventures with cousin Dusty.  The weather had been frigid, anyway, in the Black Hills.  It was still 5 below zero when Lupe returned home on New Year’s Eve 2017, and that was the high on New Year’s Day 2018.

Loop had climbed Peak 6046 for the first time on New Year’s Eve 2012 way back when she was barely 2 years old.  Since then, returning near the end of each year or the beginning of the next, had evolved into a tradition.  As far as the American Dingo and SPHP were concerned, Peak 6046 had become New Year’s Eve Peak (6,046 ft.).  Now, even though Lupe was a week late, returning to New Year’s Eve Peak seemed like a must for her first Black Hills, SD Expedition of 2018.

It’s odd that it would matter, but this year felt a bit different due to the later date.  SPHP decided to shake things up a bit.  Lupe would take a slightly different route from her favorite one in recent years.  Instead of following USFS Road No. 710 W up a valley N of Peak 5800, Lupe would start by climbing Peak 5800 instead.  She’d only been on Peak 5800 once before.  She’d climbed the mountain from the W after visiting New Year’s Eve Peak first on New Year’s Day 2016.

Lupe didn’t care what route SPHP wanted to try.  The Carolina Dog was just glad that it was finally warm enough to go out on an expedition in the hills!  So instead of taking USFS Road No. 710, SPHP had her skip the road entirely and head SW straight for Peak 5800.

Lupe starts out for Peak 5800 on her first Black Hills, SD Expedition of 2018! Photo looks WSW.

Despite the recent bitter cold temperatures, this part of the Black Hills hadn’t received much snow so far this winter.  Several inches blanketed the NE slopes of Peak 5800, but that was only half as much as Lupe was used to seeing in this area in recent years.

Without any definite route in mind, Lupe and SPHP wandered up the mountain.  Peak 5800 has two NE ridges.  Looper soon chanced upon on the one farthest S, which ultimately leads to the lower SE part of the big main summit ridge.  The Carolina Dog was in snowy forest most of the way up.  As she got higher, she started coming to rock formations, some of which provided decent viewpoints.

At one of the rock formations Lupe reached early in her ascent. The large patch of prairie below is known as the Bald Hills. Photo looks ENE.
Loopster had a good view of several mountains she was familiar with from this snowy ledge. Silver Mountain (5,405 ft.) is on the horizon at Center. Boulder Hill (5,331 ft.) is to the L. Part of frozen Sheridan Lake is straight up from Lupe’s head. The high point beyond the lake is Calumet Ridge (5,601 ft.). Photo looks SE.
Lupe astride a particularly rocky point on the way up Peak 5800‘s southernmost NE ridge. Photo looks SW.

Lupe reached the top of Peak 5800’s long, broad summit ridge near a high point close to its SE end.  This high point wasn’t the true summit, which was still some distance to the NW.  Since the broad ridge isn’t heavily forested, Loop already enjoyed some rather nice panoramas.

Loop on a handy Dingo display rock near the lower SE end of Peak 5800’s summit ridge. Black Elk Peak (7,231 ft.) (L) and Five Points (6,221 ft.) (R) are in view. Photo looks SSW.
Looking SE again. In the distance are Silver Mountain (Center), Boulder Hill (L) and Calumet Ridge (R, beyond Sheridan Lake).
A cheerful Dingo with a grand view of her Black Hills from Peak 5800 on the first expedition of 2018. What a glorious, huge dog park! Photo looks SW.
Lupe at the highest point at the SE end of Peak 5800’s summit ridge. The true summit is in view beyond her. New Year’s Eve Peak is the highest distant forested hill on the L. Photo looks NW.

After a look around from the SE end of the summit ridge, Looper sniffed her way NW to the true summit.  An easy 10 minute stroll and she was there.

Loopster reaches the true summit of Peak 5800! The Seth Bullock fire lookout tower is just visible on Scruton Mountain (5,922 ft.) (L). Photo looks NNW with some help from the telephoto lens.
The Seth Bullock fire lookout tower on Scruton Mountain (L) is easily seen in this photo. Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) is the pointy peak R of Center. Photo looks NNW with lots of help from the telephoto lens.
New Year’s Eve Peak (6,046 ft.) (Center) from Peak 5800. Scruton Mountain is at the far R. Photo looks NW.
Looking SE back along Peak 5800‘s broad summit ridge. Sheridan Lake is on the R.
Looking WSW from the summit of Peak 5800.

The sweeping views from Peak 5800 were actually grander than what Lupe would see from New Year’s Eve Peak, but Loop was still going on.  A chilly W breeze encouraged her not to linger too long at Peak 5800’s summit.  She left it heading W, and was soon picking her way down through boulders on the mountain’s W face.

Looking back at Peak 5800 after picking a way down through the boulders on the mountain’s W face. Photo looks E.

Once below the boulder field, Lupe and SPHP headed NW across rolling fields and hills.  This is a favorite area.  A fire had burned the forest here years ago.  Young pines now dot the landscape in some places, but most of the terrain is grassy.  Sharp rock formations exist scattered along the edge of high ground overlooking territory that slopes S down toward the Horse Creek valley.

Lupe on one of the sharp rock formations along the edge of the higher ground. Photo looks W.
Looking S. Black Elk Peak (L), Five Points (R) and False North Point (far R) are in view.

Approaching High Point 5917 from the SE, Lupe rejoined her usual route to New Year’s Eve Peak.  She turned W staying S of High Point 5917, and crossed a saddle leading to the SE end of New Year’s Eve Peak’s S ridge.  On the W side of the saddle she faced two steep snowy climbs in succession.  Neither was particularly long, but the first one was both longest and steepest.

Looper reached Pistol Point, a traditional stopping point on the way to New Year’s Eve Peak.  SPHP had named it Pistol Point after a large rock that looks like the handle of a big pistol jutting up out of the ground.  The Carolina Dog could see the top of New Year’s Eve Peak (6,046 ft.) from here.

Lupe on one of the large rocks in the Pistol Point area. The forested summit of New Year’s Eve Peak (Center) is seen beyond her. Photo looks NNW.
View to the W from Pistol Point. Pistol Point is the high point at the SE end of New Year Eve Peak‘s S ridge, and a favorite stopping point.
Looper stands next to the pistol handle at Pistol Point. Photo looks E.

After climbing around on the rocks checking out the views from Pistol Point, Lupe headed W.  She was already on New Year’s Eve Peak’s S ridge, which soon swept around to the N.  The ridge became narrower, rockier, and more heavily forested as Lupe continued on, before finally widening out again upon reaching New Year’s Eve Peak’s upper S slope.

A few more minutes and Lupe was there, standing atop the boulder at the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak (6,046 ft.).

Looper on New Year’s Eve Peak‘s summit boulder. This was her 5th ascent of the mountain. Photo looks WSW.
On top of New Year’s Eve Peak. A cairn can be seen behind Lupe. The cairn wasn’t here the first time Lupe climbed the mountain on 12-31-12. She had seen it for the first time on her 1-1-16 ascent. Photo looks N.

The first two times Lupe had climbed New Year’s Eve Peak, the summit area had all been heavily forested.  It had been hard to get much more than a glimpse of a view in any direction.  New Year’s Eve Peak used to have a shady, dark, gloomy feel to it, an atmosphere which fit in with being here alone at the end of a dying year.

Sometime during 2015, loggers had come.  When Lupe had arrived on New Year’s Day 2016, the S end of the summit area and part of the S slope below it had been cleared.  Lots of slash and dead logs had been left to stumble around upon.  The affected area was relatively small, but the logging created good, open views to the S and SE.  Ever since then, the summit has been brighter and cheerier.

Somehow Lupe and SPHP preferred it the old way, yet that didn’t mean there was any reason not to take a look around.

Looking SE from New Year’s Eve Peak. Calumet Ridge (5,601 ft.) (Center) is seen beyond Sheridan Lake. Silver Mountain (5,405 ft.) is on the L, and Boulder Hill (5,331 ft.) on the far L.

A chilly 20 mph W wind was blowing.  It had been 40°F when Lupe and SPHP left the G6 this morning.  It didn’t feel like the day had warmed up a bit since then.  Lupe and SPHP sat huddled together at the W edge of the summit facing the cold wind, pondering the beautiful winter scene, the passage of 2017, and start of 2018.

Looking WSW with some help from the telephoto lens.

Lupe munched on Taste of the Wild.  She had been eating snow, and didn’t want any water.  SPHP hadn’t brought anything else.

It’s funny what the mind is capable of.  Every other time Loop had been here, the mood had been melancholy, especially when she’d been here right on New Year’s Eve.  There was something psychologically depressing about watching the sun sink toward the horizon, and the light of day disappear for the last time on a year that had been part of the unknown future not so long ago.  A year now rapidly passing away never to be seen or experienced again.

The years when Loop had been here on New Year’s Day instead of right on New Year’s Eve, some of that sadness still lingered.  However, it was already being counterbalanced to a degree by the hope, brilliance and excitement of the new year just beginning.

Perhaps it was partially because Lupe was here earlier in the day today than on previous years, while the sun was still relatively high in the sky.  As the Carolina Dog and SPHP sat facing the cold wind, it no longer felt possible to truly mourn the passing of 2017.  Surprisingly, with only 2% of 2018 now history, the new year no longer seemed quite as completely bright and shiny as it had been a week ago, either.  The mind had already made the adjustment and moved on.

It only felt cold.  And like Lupe really had arrived late.  Not terribly late, but late.  It was good to be here, though, together again, on top of New Year’s Eve Peak peering out at the quiet, familiar wintry scene last gazed upon a little more than a year ago.  Loopster’s 2018 adventures were now underway.  That was a good thing.  2017 had been a fabulous year, and 2018 was still a 98% clean slate with many adventures to come.  Her annual pilgrimage to New Year’s Eve Peak complete, Lupe was ready to press on.

Puppy ho!  She was right, no sense sitting in the cold wind too long.  Lupe returned briefly to the summit boulder.

Loop on New Year’s Eve Peak‘s summit boulder once again. Photo looks N.

Even though this year’s experience wasn’t quite the same, coming here today had been better late than never.  Lupe and SPHP bid farewell to New Year’s Eve Peak, promising to return again, hopefully right when New Year’s Eve finally rolled around again many adventures from now.  Then Lupe led the way down the mountain’s S slope to retrace her route along the S ridge back to Pistol Point.

On a ledge early on the way down the S slope. Photo looks W.
At an opening along New Year’s Eve Peak‘s upper S slope. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe reaches the transition point between the S slope and S ridge. Photo looks S.
Peak 5800 (Center) from rocks near Pistol Point. Photo looks ESE.

It felt good to be moving again.  Lower down the W wind was demoted to a mere breeze.  The slanting afternoon sunlight highlighted details of the terrain.  Growing shadows added contrast.  All the way back to the G6, Lupe ran and played in a beautiful world.  2018 was finally off to a good start!  (3:42 PM, 33 °F)

Looking S from the S slopes of High Point 5917.
On USFS Road No. 710 taking the traditional route back to the G6. High Point 5917 is on the R. Photo looks W.

Related Links:

Black Hills SD, Expedition No. 187 – New Year’s Eve Peak (12-30-16)

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 150 – New Year’s Eve Peak & Peak 5800 (1-1-16)

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 112 – New Year’s Eve Peak (12-31-14)

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 187 – New Year’s Eve Peak (12-30-16)

A few miles S of Pactola Reservoir, SPHP parked the G6 at the junction of Hwy 385 and USFS Road No. 710 (11:55 AM, 50°F).  Lupe was early, a whole day early.  The weather dictated her timing.  It was 50°F out!  Tomorrow would be 15°F cooler, and New Year’s Day colder yet.  No sense waiting another day, only to suffer in the cold, when this afternoon was going to be so nice!

Lupe and SPHP set off following USFS Road No. 710.  At least 6″ of snow was down here in the shadow of Peak 5800.  The snowy road went W for nearly a mile up a long draw.  Other than a few animal tracks, the snow was pristine.  No one comes here this time of year.  Lupe ran sniffing around in the forest.

New Year’s Eve Peak (6,046 ft.) was Lupe’s destination.  The mountain’s name is a private one.  Officially, no name is shown on the maps.  Lupe was on her 4th trip to the mountain.  She had first climbed it on the last day of 2012, which was how it got it’s name.  Two years later, she returned on the last day of 2014.  Since then, climbing New Year’s Eve Peak on or close to the last day of each year has become a Lupe tradition.

The scenic part of the journey starts as USFS Road No. 710 reaches the upper end of the long draw, and enters a thin forest of tall pines.  The road starts to curve S here.  Soon there are views of open country ahead.

Lupe on USFS Road No. 710 as it reaches the thin forest of tall pines at the upper end of the draw. Here, the road begins to curve S. Photo looks W.

In only a few minutes, Lupe was beyond the thin forest of tall pines.  She followed No. 710 S for a little way into open country, then left the road to climb gradually up through a snowy field toward higher ground to the SW.  She reached a minor ridge from which she had nice views of white hills and valleys toward the S and W.

Lupe reaches the minor ridge SW of the tall, thin forest. Five Points (6,221 ft.) is the wavy ridge in the distance on the L. Photo looks SSW.
On the minor ridge. Photo looks SW.
From here, Lupe would pass over the hill seen on the R on her way to the higher hill on the L. The higher hill is privately known as Pistol Point. Photo looks WNW.

The vast majority of the Black Hills is thickly forested with Ponderosa pines.  One of the fun things about going to New Year’s Eve Peak is that Lupe gets to travel along quite a bit of high ground that burned in a forest fire years ago.  Consequently, there are open views along the route, which is unusual for most Black Hills territory.

From the minor ridge, Lupe headed for Pistol Point, the highest ground she would reach in the open territory on her way to New Year’s Eve Peak.  To get there, she skirted to the S of High Point 5917, crossed a saddle to the W, and made a steep double climb up to the end of the ridge that sweeps down to the S and then SE from New Year’s Eve Peak.  The high point at the end of this ridge is Pistol Point.

Lupe reaches the rock formations at Pistol Point. New Year’s Eve Peak is the high point seen in the distance beyond her. Photo looks NW.
Peak 5800 is the semi-bare high hill at Center. Lupe started her expedition from the valley to the N (L) of Peak 5800. Photo looks ESE from Pistol Point.
Looking W from Pistol Point. Lupe would continue on toward the closest small hill, then turn R (N) to follow the ridgeline to New Year’s Eve Peak.

From Pistol Point, Lupe lost a little elevation going W to the closest small hill, then turned N to follow the long ridge leading up to New Year’s Eve Peak.  This ridge is fairly narrow, with rock outcroppings and various small prominences along the way.  Lupe went over all of them, and started the final climb up New Year’s Eve Peak.

Lupe sits on a big rock she reached not too far below the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak. Photo looks NW.

Lupe reached the top of New Year’s Eve Peak.  She had returned to say good-bye to another year, even if she was a day early.  She hopped up on the highest rock on the mountain, near a small cairn.

Lupe reaches the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak to say good-bye to 2016. Photo looks W.
Looking WSW. The small summit cairn is in view.

The first two times Lupe had been to New Year’s Eve Peak, on the last day of both 2012 and 2014, the top of the mountain had all been heavily forested.  However, when she’d returned on New Year’s Day in 2016, there had been a big change.  The upper S slope of the mountain had been heavily logged.  Now there are good views toward the S.

After tagging the summit, Lupe went to take a look at Harney Peak (7,242 ft.), the highest mountain in South Dakota.

Lupe stands at the S end of the summit area on New Year’s Eve Peak. Harney Peak, the highest mountain in South Dakota is visible on the R. Two years ago, the area where Lupe is standing was heavily forested. Back then it was difficult to get even a glimpse of Harney Peak. Sometime in 2015, this part of the mountain was heavily logged. Photo looks S.

After a quick look at Harney Peak, it was time for a break.  Lupe went over to the W edge of the summit area.  Lupe and SPHP sat together for a while, contemplating the snowy view to the W.

Lupe perches on a rock at the W edge of the summit area. Lupe and SPHP took a break just below this rock. Photo looks W.
The snowy view Lupe and SPHP contemplated from New Year’s Eve Peak a day before 2016 drew to a close. Photo looks WNW.

The feeling wasn’t quite the same as when Lupe has been to New Year’s Eve Peak before.  After all, there was still one more day to go in 2016.  Somehow that one extra day still to come (due to 2016 being a Leap Year!) did seem to make a little difference.  There wasn’t yet quite that same sense of finality, even though 2016 had less than 34 hours left before drawing to a close.

Even so, it was a time to reflect on 2016, the fast fading year gone by.  Lupe’s 2016 had started right here on New Year’s Day.  She’d gone on 38 great Black Hills expeditions during the year.  She’d met mountaineer Jobe Wymore, and gone with him to the Wildcat Hills of Nebraska at the start of April.  She’d made a trip to the Laramie Mountains in late spring, and climbed Cloud Peak, the highest mountain in the Bighorn Range in Wyoming in July.

Lupe had even spent a day at Kabekona Lake in northern Minnesota in October.  And, of course, there had been her huge 41 day Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon and Alaska where she’d had so many excellent adventures.

Yes, Lupe had been one lucky Carolina Dog in 2016!  Sadly, now it was all over and done.

A cool N breeze was blowing.  The temperature had dropped considerably since Lupe had left the G6.  Off to the NW, dark clouds were on the far horizon, but were on their way.  Just like 2016, Lupe’s time on New Year’s Eve Peak was almost over.  Lupe went to see the views to the S again.

Harney Peak (R of Center) from New Year’s Eve Peak. Photo looks S.
Boulder Hill (5,331 ft.) is the knob on the L. Silver Mountain (5,405 ft.) is the bare hill at Center straight up from Lupe. Frozen Sheridan Lake is on the R, with Calumet Ridge (5,601 ft.) beyond it. Lupe had seen a mountain lion on Bluelead Mountain (5,170 ft.) near Calumet ridge on Leap Day 2016! Photo looks SE.
Boulder Hill(L) and Silver Mountain(R). Photo looks SE using the telephoto lens.
Harney Peak(R). Photo looks S using the telephoto lens.

Before leaving New Year’s Eve Peak, Lupe returned briefly to the summit.

Back on the summit. Photo looks N.

It was time to start back.  Lupe started down the mountain, retracing the route she had taken to New Year’s Eve Peak.

Lupe starts down New Year’s Eve Peak. She has barely left the summit here. Evidently, something was hiding among these rocks. Lupe clambered all over them, sniffing excitedly for 10 minutes before she was willing to give up the hunt. SPHP never saw whatever had caught her attention. Photo looks N.
Going down the S ridge. The ridge becomes much narrower and rockier than this a short distance farther ahead. In some places, Lupe encountered snow drifts 2 feet deep. Photo looks S.
Approaching Pistol Point. Pistol Point is another privately named location. The name comes from the rock near the top that looks like the handle of a pistol jammed into the ground. Photo looks E.
Lupe near the pistol handle rock that gave Pistol Point its name. Photo looks E.
Peak 5800 (Center) from Pistol Point. Photo looks E.

By the time Lupe reached Pistol Point again, the clouds that had been far off to the NW were moving in.  SPHP started to realize that Lupe might be treated to some fairly dramatic skies on the rest of the way back to the G6.  With the sun already quite low in the SW, Lupe’s next to the last sunset of 2016 might be pretty sweet!

The skies were becoming steadily more interesting as Lupe came down from Pistol Point. Harney Peak (Center) is in view beyond the snowy ridge. Photo looks S.
Another look.
Shadow moved over the land as dark clouds sped in from the NW. Off to the E, Peak 5800(L) was still in sunlight. Photo looks ESE.
The sun was getting low as the clouds moved in. Lupe and SPHP hoped for a colorful, dramatic sunset. Five Points is the wavy forested ridge in the distance on the L. Photo looks SW.
Due to a hole in the clouds, Lupe is briefly bathed in sunshine again. Photo looks NW toward High Point 5917.

Lupe reached the minor ridge SE of High Point 5917.  A colorful sunset seemed increasingly likely.  Instead of going straight back across the field to USFS Road No. 710, where it would be hard to see much of the sunset, Lupe and SPHP traveled E along the minor ridge, trying to keep the view to the SW in sight.

Harney Peak (Center) from the minor ridge as the sunlight fades. Photo looks S.

Lupe was near the top of a small hill mid-way between High Point 5917 and Peak 5800 when the next to the last sunset of 2016 reached its peak of perfection.  From this small hill, Lupe sends best wishes to all her fans for a very Happy New Year 2017 full of fun and exciting adventures of your own!  (5:06 PM, 28°F)

Lupe’s next to the last sunset of 2016. Photo looks SW.

Lupe wishes everyone a very Happy New Year 2017!

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 112 – New Year’s Eve Peak (12-31-14)

Two years ago, on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 41, Lupe and SPHP had climbed Peak 6046 for the first time on the last day of 2012.  Back then, SPHP had given the private name “New Year’s Eve Peak” to the mountain.  At the time, it had seemed like it might be fun to make a little tradition out of returning to New Year’s Eve Peak on the last day of each year.  Of course, outdoor traditions at the end of December would always be subject to the weather, but that was just going to have to be a given.  Some years, Lupe wouldn’t make it back.

Sure enough, Lupe didn’t make it back on the last day of 2013, but weather wasn’t the culprit.  On December 30th, Lupe’s “grandma” suffered a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke), and wound up in the hospital.

Now it was the morning of December 31st, 2014.  The morning was bright and frosty, very frosty – it had gotten down to -10°F overnight, way too cold for one of Lupe’s Black Hills, SD Expeditions.  Maybe Lupe was going to have to skip New Year’s Eve Peak in 2014, too?  The forecast held out some hope, though – it was supposed to get up into the low 30’s °F.

The forecast was accurate!  Things started warming up rapidly.  When it reached 30°F a bit before noon, it was time for Lupe to head out!  At 12:22 PM (30°F), SPHP parked the G6 on USFS Road No. 710 just off Hwy 385, about 3.5 miles S of the Pactola Reservoir dam.  Lupe was happy to be out in the hills again!  Lupe and SPHP started off following USFS Road No. 710 going W.

The road gradually climbed up through a small forested valley.  After more than half a mile, No. 710 started turning S, as it emerged from the valley onto more level, open ground.  Soon No. 710 turned SE, so Lupe and SPHP left it going SW instead.  Lupe was now out in an area that had burned years ago in a forest fire.  Just to the S, there was a low hilly ridge with rock outcroppings.  Lupe headed for it, and was rewarded with panoramic views of the snowy landscape.

Lupe reaches a high spot along the low, open hilly ridge. There were some pretty nice panoramic views from this area which had burned in a forest fire years ago. Photo looks W.
Lupe reaches a high spot along the low, open hilly ridge. There were some pretty nice panoramic views from this area which had burned in a forest fire years ago. Photo looks W.
Looking SE now at Peak 5800 (L) from the low hilly ridge. It was kind of chilly up here in the WNW breeze.
Looking SE now at Peak 5800 (L) from the low hilly ridge. It was kind of chilly up here in the WNW breeze.

Lupe followed the ridge heading WNW to stay up on the high ground, continuing to climb as she went.  She skirted along to the S of High Point 5917, then angled W to go down into a saddle between High Point 5917 and the next ridge.  It turned out there were two saddles, the first one being larger and deeper than the second one.

Another view back to the SE from farther WNW.
Another view back to the SE from farther WNW.

Instead of climbing up to the next ridge (Pistol Point), at the bottom of the second, smaller saddle, Lupe and SPHP turned NW heading directly for New Year’s Eve Peak, which was now only 0.33 mile away.  This route took Lupe into a rather snowy forest, with at least 6″ of snow on the ground compared to only 3″ or 4″ back out on the open ground.

The deeper snow didn’t seem to bother Lupe at all.  She lost some elevation as she went NW, but eventually reached a road.  The road was snowy too, but headed WNW up toward New Year’s Eve Peak.  A short distance S of the summit, the road curved around to the ENE.  Lupe and SPHP left the road to climb directly up the S slope of New Year’s Eve Peak.

Looking SW from the snowy SE slope of New Year's Eve Peak not far from the summit. A narrow gap in the forest provides a glimpse of distant blue mountains.
Looking SW from the snowy SE slope of New Year’s Eve Peak not far from the summit. A narrow gap in the forest provides a glimpse of distant blue mountains.

As Lupe neared the summit, she circled around a bit to make the final approach from the ESE.  It was an easy climb.  Before long, Lupe was perched up on the very highest rocks on top of New Year’s Eve Peak.  Two years after first climbing the mountain, Lupe was back to say good-bye to yet another year!

Lupe at the summit of New Year's Eve Peak on the last day of 2014. Photo looks W.
Lupe at the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak on the last day of 2014. Photo looks W.
Lupe at the summit of New Year's Eve Peak. A small cairn is visible next to her. Photo looks NE.
Lupe at the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak. A small cairn is visible next to her. Photo looks NE.

After a couple of photos of Lupe at the summit, Lupe and SPHP took a little break.  SPHP shared a chocolate-covered granola bar with Lupe.  Lupe made it clear she would be perfectly happy to complete the entire task of consuming it all on her own, but SPHP didn’t need quite THAT much help.

The summit of New Year’s Eve Peak was fairly heavily forested, so there wasn’t much of a view in most directions.  There were a couple of small openings in the forest, though, that provided a look off into the distance.  The best view was toward a succession of snowy blue hills off to the W.  Lupe and SPHP found a spot to sit down, huddled together against the cool breeze, to admire the view for a little while.

On the final afternoon of 2014, Lupe and SPHP sat together for a little while admiring this view of snowy blue mountains to the W from New Year's Eve Peak.
On the final afternoon of 2014, Lupe and SPHP sat together for a little while admiring this view of snowy blue mountains to the W from New Year’s Eve Peak.

Lupe had a great 2014.  This was her 39th Black Hills, SD Expedition of the year, in June she’d been on a luxurious Dingo Vacation to the Kabekona Lake cabin in Minnesota, she’d had a wonderful Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies and Beartooths, and she’d climbed Lonesome Mountain (11,399 ft.) in the Beartooths, the highest mountain she had ever been on.  Now, on a chilly, quiet afternoon, way up on shady, lonely New Year’s Eve Peak, 2014 was slipping away forever.

It was actually a pretty good way to end the year, but didn’t change the sad fact that 2014 was passing into history.  Lupe and SPHP would have liked to stay up on New Year’s Eve Peak until sunset, but sunset was still a couple of hours away.  It was chilly enough up at the summit now, and wouldn’t be any warmer by then.

When Lupe and SPHP finally started back down off New Year’s Eve Peak, Lupe took the same route back to the G6, with one exception.  Down in the forested draw just SSE of the summit, Lupe took a side road that went S out to a high rocky spot.  From this high rocky spot, there were some great open views from the NE around to the S and W.  SPHP later named the spot Pistol Point, for a large rock that looked like a pistol handle sticking up out of the ground.

Lupe on her way back to the G6 from New Year's Eve Peak. Here she is at Pistol Point. Photo looks ESE toward Peak 5800.
Lupe on her way back to the G6 from New Year’s Eve Peak. Here she is at Pistol Point. Photo looks ESE toward Peak 5800.
Looking NE at New Year's Eve Peak from Pistol Point.
Looking NE at New Year’s Eve Peak from Pistol Point.
The wavy ridge just L of center is Five Points (6,221 ft.). The high spot just to the R is privately named False North Point (6,130 ft.). Photo looks S from Pistol Point.
The wavy ridge just L of center is Five Points (6,221 ft.)  . The high spot just to the R is privately named False North Point (6,130 ft.). Photo looks S from Pistol Point.
Lupe sniffs around at Pistol Point. The "Pistol" is the oddly shaped rock at center, which to SPHP somewhat resembles the handle of a pistol thrust into the ground.
Lupe sniffs around at Pistol Point. The “Pistol” is the oddly shaped rock at center, which to SPHP somewhat resembles the handle of a pistol thrust into the ground.

It was 3:52 PM (24°F) by the time Lupe and SPHP made it back to the G6.  Lupe’s final Black Hills, SD Expedition of 2014 was over.  SPHP was glad that Lupe had made a trip to New Year’s Eve Peak a real tradition by returning to the mountain.

Back at home, 2014 stole away in the night.  2015 found SPHP snoozing with a tired, warm American Dingo.  Peacefully and comfortably, another big year for Lupe was just beginning.

The last long shadows of 2014 lengthen on USFS Road No. 710 near the end of the day. The only tracks in the snow were Lupe's and SPHP's.
The last long shadows of 2014 lengthen on USFS Road No. 710 near the end of the day. The only tracks in the snow were Lupe’s and SPHP’s.

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 150 – New Year’s Eve Peak & Peak 5800 (1-1-16)

At 10:41 AM, SPHP parked the G6 at the junction of USFS Road No. 710 and Hwy 385, just a few miles S of Pactola Reservoir in the central Black Hills.  Lupe was late, a whole day late.  A week or more of cold weather had lasted right on up through New Year’s Eve.  The cold had kept Lupe and SPHP from coming until now.

Today, however, was different.  It was New Year’s Day 2016!  The Black Hills were warming up.  Although the temperature would only gain another couple of degrees the rest of the day, it was already 38°F out.  Plenty warm for one of Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions, and a great way to start 2016 out!

Late though she was, Lupe started out trotting W along USFS Road No. 710.  Here in the shade of Peak 5800, there were 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground.  Lupe was really happy to be out on an adventure again.  Soon she was racing around through the snow off the road, sniffing madly as she went.  No. 710 climbed slowly and steadily up a little forested valley.  After nearly a mile, No. 710 started turning S as it emerged from the valley into more level and open ground.

Lupe and SPHP left No. 710 as it curled back to the SE.  Lupe went S up to the edge of some high hilly ground.  Much of this area had burned some time ago, and there were very few trees left.  Without the trees, there were some pretty nice views to the E, S & W.  Small outcroppings of jagged dark rocks, often standing on end, were exposed, and added interest to the scene.

Lupe in the barren hilly area after leaving USFS Road No. 710. Photo looks SW.
Lupe in the barren hilly area after leaving USFS Road No. 710. Photo looks SW.

Lupe was on her way to Peak 6046.  The first time Lupe and SPHP ever climbed Peak 6046 was back on New Year’s Eve 2012.  At the time, SPHP had privately designated Peak 6046 as New Year’s Eve Peak (6,046 ft.).  Lupe had returned on the last day of 2014, too.  So in both 2012 and 2014, Lupe and SPHP had watched the sun set on the last day of the year up on New Year’s Eve Peak.  It has become a little bit of a tradition.

The forested summit of New Year's Eve Peak barely pokes above the barren ridge on the R. Pistol Point is the highest barren hill at the center of the photo. Photo looks WNW.
The forested summit of New Year’s Eve Peak barely pokes above the barren ridge on the R. Pistol Point is the highest barren hill at the center of the photo. Photo looks WNW.

Even though the cold weather caused Lupe and SPHP to miss sunset on the last day of 2015 up on New Year’s Eve Peak, it still seemed appropriate to try to make up for it by showing up on New Year’s Day 2016.

Lupe at Pistol Point, privately named for the rock right behind Lupe that looks just a bit like the handle of a pistol jammed down into the ground. Pistol Point is at the S end of a ridge that comes sweeping down from New Year's Eve Peak to the SSE.
Lupe at Pistol Point, privately named for the rock right behind Lupe that looks just a bit like the handle of a pistol jammed down into the ground. Pistol Point is at the S end of a ridge that comes sweeping down from New Year’s Eve Peak to the SSE.

Lupe and SPHP wandered among the barren hills heading W towards Pistol Point.  Pistol Point is just a private name for the high point at the S end of a ridge that comes sweeping down to the SSE from New Year’s Eve Peak.  From Pistol Point, Lupe would just follow this ridge to reach the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak.

Looking NNW at New Year's Eve Peak from Pistol Point.
Looking NNW at New Year’s Eve Peak from Pistol Point.
Peak 5917 from Pistol Point. Photo looks ENE.
Peak 5917 from Pistol Point. Photo looks ENE.
Lupe on the ridge S of New Year's Eve Peak. The summit is the high point toward the R. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe on the ridge S of New Year’s Eve Peak. The summit is the high point toward the R. Photo looks NNW.

As Lupe and SPHP neared the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak, it became apparent that there had been changes since the last time Lupe was here a year and a day ago.  There had been a fair amount of logging done to thin the trees on the S side of the summit.  Although the logging hadn’t done a thing for the appearance of the local vicinity, SPHP anticipated it might have opened up the views quite a bit.

When Lupe arrived at the highest rock outcropping on New Year’s Eve Peak, she found that someone had placed a small cairn there.  With a lot of the trees gone from the S side of the summit area, the mountain looked and felt different.  The summit used to be in the gloomy dark shade of tall pines.  Now it was much more open and bright.  Nearby were sunny expansive views to the S.

It appeared that only a small part of the S side of the summit area had been logged.  In other directions, New Year’s Eve Peak looked pretty much the same.

Lupe on the summit of New Year's Eve Peak. This was her 3rd time on the mountain. Photo looks W.
Lupe on the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak. This was her 3rd time on the mountain. Photo looks W.
With so many trees gone from the S side of the summit area, there was a wide open view of Harney Peak (the high point on the far horizon just above Lupe's head). A year and a day ago, this photo wouldn't have been possible. Photo looks S.
With so many trees gone from the S side of the summit area, there was a wide open view of Harney Peak (the high point on the far horizon just above Lupe’s head). A year and a day ago, this photo wouldn’t have been possible. Photo looks S.
Harney Peak from New Year's Eve Peak. Five Points is the wavy ridge seen above Lupe's tail. Photo looks S.
Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) from New Year’s Eve Peak. Five Points (6,221 ft.) is the wavy ridge seen above Lupe’s tail. Photo looks S.
Lupe on the very summit of New Year's Eve Peak. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the very summit of New Year’s Eve Peak. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the highest rock outcropping on New Year's Eve Peak. The small cairn in front of her was new since the last day of 2014. Photo looks S and shows how few trees are left in that direction. At the end of 2014, the entire summit was heavily forested.
Lupe on the highest rock outcropping on New Year’s Eve Peak. The small cairn in front of her was new since the last day of 2014. Photo looks S and shows how few trees are left in that direction. At the end of 2014, the entire summit was heavily forested.
Looking W from New Year's Eve Peak.
Looking W from New Year’s Eve Peak.
Looking SE from New Year's Eve Peak with the telephoto lens. Shown are Boulder Hill (L), Silver Mountain (Center) and Calumet Ridge (R) beyond Sheridan Lake.
Looking SE from New Year’s Eve Peak with the telephoto lens. Shown are Boulder Hill (5,331 ft.) (L), Silver Mountain (5,405 ft.) (Center) and Calumet Ridge (5,601 ft.) (R) beyond Sheridan Lake.

After posing for pictures on New Year’s Eve Peak, Lupe had some Taste of the Wild.  SPHP ate an orange.  A chill breeze out of the N stirred up now and then.  New Year’s Eve Peak sure seemed different.

The change was partly due to the logging opening up the view, but mostly psychological.  Lupe and SPHP were here hours earlier in the day than in either 2012 or 2014.  Back then, Lupe had been here near sunset on the last day of the year.  The mood had been reflective, one of looking back at a year gone by – a year still alive and glowing, but about to disappear never to see the light of day again.  A year imminently fading into history.  New Year’s Eve Peak had been a lonely, remote, and faintly sad place.

Now, it was lighter and brighter out.  The fact that it was New Year’s Day instead of New Year’s Eve, created a mood of a new beginning, the start of something.  New Year 2016 was here, all shiny, new, full of promise and possibilities, none of which had been missed or wasted yet.  New Year’s Eve Peak was only the tiniest start of the journey to all the adventures in store for Lupe in 2016.

Lupe and SPHP did something they hadn’t had time to do on New Year’s Eve Peak before.  Lupe went to explore the N and E ridges.  The N ridge wasn’t very long.  It ended at a huge tangle of deadfall timber.  Beyond it, Lupe could see the Seth Bullock Lookout Tower on Scruton Mountain (5,922 ft.).  SPHP had wanted to get a good look at it, but with all the deadfall around, it was best to just get Lupe out of there.

It was a little longer trek, still under 10 minutes, over to the high point of the E ridge of New Year’s Eve Peak.  There was a much bigger rock outcropping there, but the highest point was clearly somewhat lower than the true summit Lupe had been to already.  Furthermore, the area was pretty heavily forested.  There weren’t views in any direction.

Even though Lupe hadn’t found anything of particular interest at either the N or E ridges of New Year’s Eve Peak, it was still fun to have explored the mountain a little better.  With the explorations complete, Lupe and SPHP returned to the S ridge to retrace Lupe’s route back toward the G6.  SPHP had one more peakbagging goal for Lupe that would alter part of that route – Peak 5800.

Lupe back at Pistol Point at the end of the S ridge from New Year's Eve Peak. Peak 5800, which Lupe would try to climb next, is the highest hill seen above Lupe. Photo looks E.
Lupe back at Pistol Point at the end of the S ridge from New Year’s Eve Peak. Peak 5800, which Lupe would try to climb next, is the highest hill seen above Lupe. Photo looks E.
Peak 5800 from Pistol Point using the telephoto lens.
Peak 5800 from Pistol Point using the telephoto lens.

On at least a couple of prior occasions, Lupe and SPHP have considered climbing Peak 5800.  SPHP remembers once standing with Lupe at the base of the rocky W face contemplating the climb.  It had been late on a dark gray day, though, with some snow already on the ground, and more light snow already swirling in the air.  It didn’t seem like a smart move at the time, so Lupe and SPHP had just returned to the G6.

Under the bright, cool, cloudless skies of New Year’s Day 2016, though, it looked like it should be possible to climb Peak 5800 without difficulty, if a reasonable route existed up the rocky W face.  After reaching Pistol Point again, Lupe and SPHP left the S ridge from New Year’s Eve Peak, and headed E toward Peak 5800, still retracing Lupe’s earlier route.

Getting closer to Peak 5800. Photo looks E.
Getting closer to Peak 5800. Photo looks E.

As Lupe started getting close to Peak 5800, she wandered a bit to the S, away from her earlier route.  She checked out views from some of the high points of the barren, rocky hills.  Back to the NW, the high forested ridge of New Year’s Eve Peak started to look small and far away.

Lupe poses on a rock on one of the barren hills for a photo looking WNW back at New Year's Eve Peak, the forested hill seen above her on the horizon.
Lupe poses on a rock on one of the barren hills for a photo looking WNW back at New Year’s Eve Peak, the forested hill seen above her on the horizon.

Lupe and SPHP continued E toward Peak 5800.  Suddenly Lupe saw something she very rarely sees out on her Black Hills Expeditions.  People!  Two people were near some rocks to the SE.  One of them had a rifle.  The other was just a boy.  They weren’t too far away.  Lupe stayed very close to SPHP.  The man and boy started moving toward Peak 5800.

About the only places Lupe and SPHP ever see people in the hills are highways and some major gravel roads, where they are plentiful.  Sometimes there are people on minor roads and ATV trails, but almost without exception, they are with some kind of vehicle – an ATV, a jeep, a motorcycle, something.  Only on a few of the major maintained trails does Lupe ever see anyone on foot – yet here were two people on foot at least a mile from any significant road or trail.

Lupe and SPHP followed the hunter and the boy toward Peak 5800, and soon caught up with them.  What were they hunting?  The man pointed down to a track in the snow.  Mountain lions.  They were hunting a big Tom that they knew had been here recently.  The track looked old, though.  It wasn’t very distinct.  The hunter knew the big cat could be very far away by now.

The boy seemed very impressed with the notion that lions were around here somewhere.  He was an outdoor kid, something pretty rare these days.  He talked in hushed tones about catching a 5 lb. monster trout in Pactola Lake just a few weeks ago.  He liked the looks of Lupe, but didn’t try to pet her.  Lupe just stood close to SPHP during the quiet conversation with the hunter and the boy.  She didn’t interrupt in any way.

By now, Lupe and SPHP were pretty close to Peak 5800.  The W face loomed almost directly ahead.  SPHP explained to the hunter that Lupe planned to climb the mountain and go down over the other side, where the G6 was parked close to Hwy 385.  The hunter and boy intended to stay here, W of Peak 5800.

Lupe and SPHP went on.  In just a few minutes, Lupe started the climb up the W face.  It was steep and quite rocky, with scratchy brambles clinging to the soil between the rocks.  There was always a good route up, though, and the climb wasn’t really all that far, just a couple hundred feet of elevation gain at most.

Lupe nearing the top of Peak 5800. Photo looks WNW back toward New Year's Eve Peak.
Lupe nearing the top of Peak 5800. Photo looks WNW back toward New Year’s Eve Peak.

Near the top, the mountain was suddenly much less steep.  The rest of the way was a pretty easy stroll.  At the highest point, a big, flat slab of rock tilted perhaps 20 degrees down toward the NW.  Lupe and SPHP clambered up on the rock to reach the summit of Peak 5800.

The sun was still up.  There might be an hour of daylight left before sunset.  The world looked very pretty in the slanting rays of the sun.  Lupe looked around.  If Peak 5800 was the home of mountain lions, they had all fled at the approach of a fearsome Carolina Dog, for no lions were to be seen anywhere.

Lupe reaches the summit of Peak 5800. New Year's Eve Peak is seen in the distance to the WNW on the L.
Lupe reaches the summit of Peak 5800. New Year’s Eve Peak is seen in the distance to the WNW on the L.
Lupe surveys the rest of the mountain from the top of Peak 5800. Nope, not seeing any mountain lions up here! Photo looks E.
Lupe surveys the rest of the mountain from the top of Peak 5800. Nope, not seeing any mountain lions up here! Photo looks E.
Looking SE along the Peak 5800 ridgeline from the summit. Lupe would soon go explore over to the far end of the ridge seen here.
Looking SE along the Peak 5800 ridgeline from the summit. Lupe would soon go explore over to the far end of the ridge seen here.

The top of Peak 5800 is a fairly broad and level ridgeline, most of which extends out to the SE from the true summit.  Lupe and SPHP explored as far as the highest point near the SE end just before the mountain begins to drop off much more steeply.

From a point a little N of the SE high point, Lupe and SPHP headed down the NE slopes of Peak 5800.  The heavily forested slope was steeper than expected, and a bit slippery in the snow, but not too much of a challenge.  Lupe sniffed around not finding so much as a squirrel, never mind a mountain lion, while SPHP slowly worked on down the mountain.

Lupe and SPHP reached the G6 again at 4:07 PM (32°F).  New Year 2016 was off to a great start, with Lupe’s 150th Black Hills, SD Expedition a success.  Nevertheless, it was a little sad that Lupe and SPHP hadn’t gotten to New Year’s Eve Peak in time for a proper final good-bye to 2015, a year in which Lupe had many glorious adventures.

With a little luck, Lupe and SPHP will return to New Year’s Eve Peak in time to say good-bye to 2016, but not until after many more long, daring and inspiring American Dingo adventures yet to come!

Looking NW along the ridgeline from the SE high point back toward the true summit of Peak 5800. New Year's Eve Peak is still seen in the distance toward the L.
Looking NW along the ridgeline from the SE high point back toward the true summit of Peak 5800. New Year’s Eve Peak is still seen in the distance toward the L.

Happy New Year 2016 to all from Lupe!  May your 2016 be full of fun adventures and dreams come true!

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