Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 98 – The Northern Hills Day of Deterioration (10-2-14)

About 5 miles SW of Lead in the northern Black Hills, SPHP found a spot to park the G6 (9:59 AM, 45°F).  Lupe started Expedition No. 98 along the E side of USFS Road No. 194 a short distance N of Hwy 85.  The skies were blue, the air was calm, and the cool morning air felt good.  The forecast called for a high in the low 60’s °F (although at lower elevations) with an outside chance (20%) of rain.

Deer Mountain (6,652 ft.), site of a local downhill ski resort, was only 0.5 mile away.  Lupe and SPHP followed No. 194 N gaining elevation, but soon left the road to turn NE and head up through the forest toward the summit.  The climb was moderately steep, but not terribly long.  The day had hardly started when Lupe and SPHP arrived on top of Deer Mountain.

Lupe arrives at the chair lift on top of Deer Mountain.
Lupe arrives at the chair lift on top of Deer Mountain.
There was quite a view to the NE toward the town of Lead, SD from the top of Deer Mountain. The view might be particularly impressive when conditions are all white and right for skiing. Since Carolina Dogs hardly ever go skiing, Lupe was happier with this beautiful, sunny morning. The only thing disappointing about Deer Mountain to Lupe was that there weren't any deer. However, she did see a jackrabbit. Lupe now thinks of Deer Mountain as Jackrabbit Mountain.
There was quite a view to the NE toward the town of Lead, SD from the top of Deer Mountain. The view might be particularly impressive when conditions are all white and right for skiing. Since Carolina Dogs hardly ever go skiing, Lupe was happier with this beautiful, sunny morning. The only thing disappointing about Deer Mountain to Lupe was that there weren’t any deer. However, she did see a jackrabbit. Lupe now thinks of Deer Mountain as Jackrabbit Mountain.
Although Deer Mountain at 6,652 ft. is a pretty high peak for the Black Hills, Terry Peak 2 miles to the N is even higher at 7,064 ft. Photo looks N.
Although Deer Mountain at 6,652 ft. is a pretty high peak for the Black Hills, Terry Peak 2 miles to the N is even higher at 7,064 ft. Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP left Deer Mountain heading N back down to USFS Road No. 194.  Terry Peak (7,064 ft.), site of another downhill ski resort just 2 miles N of Deer Mountain, was Lupe’s next peakbagging goal.

Lupe on the N slopes of Deer Mountain with Terry Peak in the background. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the N slopes of Deer Mountain with Terry Peak in the background. Photo looks N.
Terry Peak using the telephoto lens.
Terry Peak using the telephoto lens.

Lupe and SPHP followed No. 194 almost all the way up to the top of Terry Peak.  It would have been possible to drive up, although the road did deteriorate some toward the end.

Looking SSE from USFS Road No. 194 a little below the summit of Terry Peak. Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) is the pointy peak on the L. Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) is on the far horizon near the center. Deer Mountain is the rounded hill in the foreground on the R.
Looking SSE from USFS Road No. 194 a little below the summit of Terry Peak. Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) is the pointy peak on the L. Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) is on the far horizon near the center. Deer Mountain is the rounded hill in the foreground on the R.

The top of Terry Peak is cluttered with assorted towers, metal buildings, and power lines.  The ski facilities are a bit lower down toward the NE.  An apparently abandoned lookout tower sits at the very summit.  A huge observation deck with 2 different stairways up to it crowned the entire building.

The lookout tower’s appearance was suffering from a lack of maintenance, but there wasn’t anything wrong with the views from the platform on top!

Lupe up on top of the Terry Peak lookout tower. Photo looks S.
Lupe up on top of the Terry Peak lookout tower. Photo looks S.
Low gray clouds were starting to pass over the Terry Peak lookout tower while Lupe was up on the observation deck. It became quite windy and cool as each cloud sailed by overhead. This photo looks WNW. The long distant ridge on the R is part of the Black Hills in Wyoming known as the Bear Lodge Mountains.
Low gray clouds were starting to pass over the Terry Peak lookout tower while Lupe was up on the observation deck. It became quite windy and cool as each cloud sailed by overhead. This photo looks WNW. The long distant ridge on the R is part of the Black Hills in Wyoming known as the Bear Lodge Mountains.
Looking N at the Terry Peak lookout tower after Lupe came down off the viewing platform. Some of the clouds were starting to look pretty dark.
Looking N at the Terry Peak lookout tower after Lupe came down off the viewing platform. Some of the clouds were starting to look pretty dark.

Lupe and SPHP enjoyed 360° views from the huge observation deck.  Lupe and SPHP lingered up there for a while, but the weather started to deteriorate.  The skies had been mostly clear earlier in the morning, but now puffy white clouds were sailing by.  Some of them were pretty big.  Each cloud brought a cold wind with it.  The sky started to darken.  The clouds kept getting bigger and grayer.

Lupe wanted to get down out of the wind.  SPHP finally agreed.  Lupe and SPHP left the observation deck, and wandered over to the base of a tall tower to the N for a look at a couple of Lupe’s next peakbagging goals without towers in the way.

Foley Mountain hardly even looks like a hill looking down from Terry Peak. The top of Foley Mountain was in the trees beyond and to the R of the white building near the center of this photo. Photo looks NNW.
Foley Mountain hardly even looks like a hill looking down from Terry Peak. The top of Foley Mountain was in the trees beyond and to the R of the white building near the center of this photo. Photo looks NNW.
Bald Mountain at least looked like a hill from Terry Peak. It is the rounded hill with all the dead trees on it just R of center in the foreground. The hill beyond it is Mount Theodore Roosevelt (5,680 ft.). Photo looks NE.
Bald Mountain at least looked like a hill from Terry Peak. It is the rounded hill with all the dead trees on it just R of center in the foreground. The hill beyond it is Mount Theodore Roosevelt (5,680 ft.). Photo looks NE.

SPHP had originally planned for Lupe to head down the N slope of Terry Peak to Foley Mountain (6,640 ft.), but there appeared to be a lot of private property in the area.  The weather continued to deteriorate, too.  Maybe it was best not to get too far from the G6.

Lupe and SPHP returned to USFS Road No. 194, and followed it all the way back to the G6 (1:24 PM, 54°F).  Along the way, Lupe was pelted a number of time with crusty, round snow granules.  None of these snow showers lasted very long, and there was no accumulation.  The snow granules all melted as they hit the ground.

SPHP had been gathering Lupe Treasures along No. 194.  After depositing them in the trunk of the G6 for future recycling, Lupe and SPHP got in and headed NW on Hwy 85 to Nevada Gulch Road.  SPHP drove all the way up to the Barefoot Resort, which had been visible from Terry Peak.

The Barefoot Resort seemed to be quite close to the top of Foley Mountain.  SPHP found an empty parking lot behind a long, low building and parked the G6 (1:41 PM, 45°F).  Almost as soon as Lupe and SPHP left the car, someone started shooting guns close by.  Lupe bolted back into the safety of the G6.  Fortunately, the gunfire didn’t last long.  After a few minutes of silence, SPHP managed to persuade the doubtful Dingo to come back out.

The long building seemed to be abandoned.  Although there was a nice big gravel parking lot behind it, when Lupe and SPHP went around to the front to get a look at Terry Peak, the yard was nothing but thistles and tall weeds.  There was a pretty good close-up view of Terry Peak from the NNW, though.

Terry Peak from the NNW.
Terry Peak from the NNW.

Lupe and SPHP went back behind the building.  A gravel road headed uphill going N out of the parking lot into the forest.  After about 100 yards, the road ended near more buildings.  There was still slightly higher ground to the N, so Lupe left the road and went on through the forest.

After about 5 minutes, Lupe reached a fairly big rock outcropping.  This appeared to be the summit of Foley Mountain.  Lupe and SPHP scrambled up easily enough.  From up on top, it was clear that this rock formation was, indeed, the summit.  A 3″ diameter capped pipe stuck up out of the ground at the very highest point.  Lupe got up next to it to claim her 3rd peakbagging success of the day.

Lupe at the summit of Foley Mountain. The summit area was all forested, so there weren't any views.
Lupe at the summit of Foley Mountain. The summit area was all forested, so there weren’t any views.

Since the top of Foley Mountain was all forested, there weren’t any clear views.  There was little reason for Lupe and SPHP to linger.  After peering between the trees as much as possible, it was time to go.  Lupe scrambled back down off the rock formation.  Within 10 minutes, she was back at the G6 (2:16 PM, 44°F).

Lupe on her way down the rock formation at the top of Foley Mountain. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on her way down the rock formation at the top of Foley Mountain. Photo looks NE.

By now the sky was overcast.  A chill breeze blew.  Lupe still had a 4th peakbagging goal, Bald Mountain (6,617 ft.).  Bald Mountain was only a mile to the E, but Wharf Resources had gold mining operations between Bald Mountain and Foley Mountain.  SPHP would have to drive to a better access point.  Along the way, Lupe and SPHP stopped at a pullout along Nevada Gulch Road with a good view of Bald Mountain.

Bald Mountain from a pullout near Foley Mountain along Nevada Gulch Road. Photo looks E.
Bald Mountain from a pullout near Foley Mountain along Nevada Gulch Road. Photo looks E.

SPHP had to drive quite a distance down Nevada Gulch Road to find a decent place to park the G6.  Lupe and SPHP started back up Nevada Gulch Road on paw and foot.  It wasn’t too far to a side road with a sign for Lost Miner’s Lodge.  After a short trek along this side road, Lupe turned N climbing up the forested S slope of Bald Mountain.  Lupe crossed a couple more roads along the way, but they appeared to be seldom, if ever, used.

The drive down Nevada Gulch Road had lost a lot of elevation.  Lupe had to gain over 850 feet to reach the summit of Bald Mountain.  As Lupe neared the top of the mountain, the terrain started to level out.  Meanwhile, snow showers started in again.  This time they were heavier and lasted longer than the ones after Lupe left Terry Peak.  There still wasn’t any accumulation, however.

Finally, Lupe reached the top of Bald Mountain.  It really hadn’t been a bad climb.  Although traffic could be heard from down on Nevada Gulch Road, Bald Mountain still seemed much wilder than anywhere else Lupe had been this day.  Quite a few trees on the summit had fallen over, killed by mountain pine bark beetles.  Consequently, it was possible to get a bit of a view in some directions.

Lupe on top of Bald Mountain. She collected a lot of burrs in her tail on the way up! Photo looks NE.
Lupe on top of Bald Mountain. She collected a lot of burrs in her tail on the way up! Photo looks NE.
Lupe seems to have thought of something absolutely hilarious, but she didn't let SPHP in on the joke.
Lupe seems to have thought of something absolutely hilarious, but she didn’t let SPHP in on the joke.
The top of Bald Mountain also featured a 3" diameter pipe. This pipe was taller than the one on Foley Mountain, painted white, and uncapped. Photo looks SW toward Terry Peak.
The top of Bald Mountain also featured a 3″ diameter pipe. This pipe was taller than the one on Foley Mountain, painted white, and uncapped. Photo looks SW toward Terry Peak.

The summit area on Bald Mountain was large and flat.  It was hard to tell where the exact highest point might be.  Lupe found a pipe sticking up out of the ground.  Just like on Foley Mountain, the pipe seemed to be at about the highest point around.

The views from Bald Mountain weren’t the greatest.  Too many trees were still standing.  Pretty soon, it was time to leave.  Lupe and SPHP started back down the S slope again.

Lupe shortly after starting back down the S slope of Bald Mountain. Photo looks S.
Lupe shortly after starting back down the S slope of Bald Mountain. Photo looks S.

The snow showers held off while Lupe was up on top of Bald Mountain, but shortly after she started back down, the snow started in again.  This time the snow showers persisted much longer.  The ground started to turn white.

As Lupe lost elevation, though, the snow turned to rain.  Lupe was cold and soaking wet by the time she got back to the G6 (4:33 PM, 39°F).  SPHP turned on the heater full blast, and put a jacket over Lupe to help her warm up.

The burrs in Lupe’s tail must have been bugging her.  As SPHP drove to Lead, Lupe started tearing burrs out of her fur with her teeth.  SPHP found a place to park in Lead, and commenced to help Lupe get rid of the pesky burrs.  Lupe had a few hundred burrs in her fur, so it took quite a while.  By the time de-burring operations were over, the windows of the G6 were all fogged up.  De-fogging operations began.

It was still raining.  Lupe and SPHP stopped by a Subway in Lead.  After sharing a sandwich, despite the conditions, Lupe and SPHP made a quick trip up one more mountain.  It was cold, windy and snowing hard when Lupe left the G6 at 5:45 PM (32°F).  The mountaintop wasn’t far away, but by the time Lupe reached it, blizzard conditions had set in.

Snow was piling up fast.  The wind absolutely howled.  Fog and developing darkness made it hard to see, especially while being pelted by the driven snow.  Lupe flattened her soft ears and posed for one last peakbagging photo.  Lupe and SPHP were both freezing.  A mad dash back to the G6 ensued (6:16 PM, 32°F).

Well, Loopster, that was quite a day!  Five peaks climbed!  Think we will call this one the Northern Hills Day of Deterioration!

A cold, sodden Carolina Dog stared back at SPHP.  Think I’ll just call you nuts!Lupe on Green Mountain, 10-214Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.