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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Cirque of the Towers, Lonesome Lake, Skunk Knob & Jackass Pass, Wind River Range, WY (9-2-15)

Lupe was gone.  The bright-eyed, sharp-eared Wild Dingo of the Night had taken her place.  Stars blazed above while the Wild Dingo of the Night sniffed eagerly around this way and that in the darkness.  In and out of the tiny house, again and again.  Finally the Wild Dingo of the Night was gone for good.  Lupe snoozed on her red down sleeping bag.  SPHP could finally pass out, too.

Morning came.  Day 25 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation.  Lupe was camped in the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.  She had come over Jackass Pass from Big Sandy Lake the previous day.  There was lots to do and see!  Lupe and SPHP began the day by climbing up the valley just SW of Pingora Peak (11,884 ft.) to see Cirque Lake.

Lupe climbs up the side valley SW of Pingora Peak on her way to see Cirque Lake. This photo looks S back toward War Bonnet Peak (L) and Warrior Peaks (R).
Lupe climbs up the side valley SW of Pingora Peak on her way to see Cirque Lake. This photo looks S back toward War Bonnet Peak (12,369 ft.) (L) and Warrior Peaks (12,406 ft.) (R).
From L to R: Watch Tower, Block Tower, Sharks Nose & Overhanging Tower in the Cirque of the Towers.
From L to R: Watch Tower (12,326 ft.), Block Tower (12,210 ft.), Sharks Nose (12,229 ft.) & Overhanging Tower (12,164 ft.) in the Cirque of the Towers.
War Bonnet Peak (L) and Warrior Peaks (R). Photo looks S.
War Bonnet Peak (L) and Warrior Peaks (Center). Photo looks S.
Lupe reaches Cirque Lake. From L to R: Part of Watch Tower, Block Tower, Sharks Nose, & Overhanging Tower. Photo looks W.
Lupe reaches Cirque Lake. From L to R: Part of Watch Tower, Block Tower, Sharks Nose, & Overhanging Tower. Photo looks W.
Cirque Lake, Sharks Nose (L) & Overhanging Tower (R).
Cirque Lake, Sharks Nose (L) & Overhanging Tower (Center).
Looking S from near Cirque Lake in the Cirque of the Towers. Wind River Peak is the highest peak in the distance L of center.
Looking SSE from near Cirque Lake in the Cirque of the Towers. Wind River Peak (13,192 ft.) is the high most distant peak L of center.
Cirque Lake, Watch Tower (L) and Block Tower (R).
Watch Tower (L) and Block Tower (R) from Cirque Lake.
Wind River Peak is seen far away to the SE from Cirque Lake. The top of War Bonnet Peak juts up over the ridge.
Wind River Peak is seen far away to the SE from Cirque Lake. The top of War Bonnet Peak juts up over the ridge.
Wolfs Head from Cirque Lake. Photo looks N.
Wolfs Head (12,160 ft.) from Cirque Lake.  As Lupe climbed up the valley to Cirque Lake, she saw mountain climbers who had risen before dawn already way up on top of the scary narrow ridge between Pingora Peak and Wolfs Head.  Photo looks NNW.
Pingora Peak from near Cirque Lake. Photo looks NE.
Pingora Peak from near Cirque Lake.  Pingora Peak and other peaks in the Cirque of the Towers are popular with mountain climbers.  Lupe saw climbers on Pingora Peak and Wolf’s Head this day.  Mountain climbing can be dangerous, of course.  Only 5 days earlier, on August 28, 2015, two experienced climbers had fallen to their deaths from Pingora Peak.  Photo looks NE.
Lupe at Cirque Lake in the Cirque of the Towers. Overhanging Tower on L. Photo looks WNW.
Lupe squints in the sunshine at Cirque Lake in the Cirque of the Towers. Overhanging Tower on L. Photo looks WNW.

Lupe and SPHP took a short break up at Cirque Lake.  Lupe drank from the lake and had some Taste of the Wild.  SPHP watched mountain climbers way up on the ridge between Pingora Peak and Wolf’s Head.  They were shouting to each other, and apparently having a great time as they worked their way slowly toward Wolf’s Head.

Lupe and SPHP were quite content with the stunning views from Cirque Lake.  American Dingoes don’t go in for any sports that require ropes, except Tug-‘O-War.  SPHP feels the same way about it.  It’s both fun and scary enough just watching those daring souls who enjoy clinging to the face of some precipice.

Only the day before, on her way up the trail from Big Sandy Lake to Jackass Pass, Lupe had seen a climber coming down the trail who had been injured in a fall.  The climber had been limping along under his own power, but others in the party said he had a rather badly injured leg due to a 50 foot fall on Pingora Peak.  In his case, ropes and equipment had prevented a more disastrous outcome.

After shouts of joy and triumph were heard from the climbers now on top of Wolf’s Head, Lupe and SPHP left Cirque Lake and started back down into the main part of the Cirque of the Towers where Lupe’s tiny house was still set up.  Lupe’s next destination was the biggest waterfall in the Cirque of the Towers.

Lupe starts back down from Cirque Lake in the Cirque of the Towers. East Temple Peak is seen in the distance (far L). War Bonnet Peak (L) and Warrior Peaks (Center). Photo looks SSE.
Lupe starts back down from Cirque Lake in the Cirque of the Towers. East Temple Peak (12,600 ft.) is seen in the distance (far L). War Bonnet Peak (L) and Warrior Peaks (Center R). Photo looks SSE.
Lupe's "tiny house" (tent) is seen here as the dark spot to the L of the big trees in the lower right part of this photo.
Lupe’s “tiny house” (tent) is seen here as the dark spot to the L of the big trees in the lower right part of this photo.  Photo looks S.
Jackass Pass is the low ridge on the L. Wind River Peak is seen far in the distance beyond Haystack Mountain (Center). War Bonnet Peak (R). Lupe headed for the biggest waterfall in the Cirque of the Towers, which is not seen here, but is to the left of the small pond near the center of this photo.
Jackass Pass is the low ridge on the (L). Wind River Peak is seen far in the distance beyond Haystack Mountain (11,978 ft.) (Center). War Bonnet Peak (R). Lupe headed for the biggest waterfall in the Cirque of the Towers, which is not seen here, but is to the left of the small pond near the center of this photo.
Lupe reaches the largest waterfall in the Cirque of the Towers. Photo looks W.
Lupe reaches the largest waterfall in the Cirque of the Towers. Photo looks WSW.
Pylon Peak (R) in the Cirque of the Towers. Photo looks W.
Pylon Peak (12,378 ft.) (R) in the Cirque of the Towers. Photo looks W.

Waterfall in the Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range, WY 9-2-15War Bonnet Peak, Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range, WY 9-2-15The waterfall was gorgeous.  Lupe took a big refreshing drink, of course.  No trip to the Cirque of the Towers is complete without a side excursion down to Lonesome Lake to the E.  So Lonesome Lake was Lupe’s next destination.  SPHP also had plans for Lupe to complete one peakbagging goal, too.  After checking out Lonesome Lake, Lupe was going to climb up towering Skunk Knob (11,099 ft.)!

Looking NE from the waterfall at Lizard Head Peak. Skunk Knob, Lupe's peakbagging goal, is the high point of the rocky hill in the foreground on the (L). (Below the skyline)
Looking NE from the waterfall at Lizard Head Peak (12,842 ft.). Skunk Knob, Lupe’s peakbagging goal, is the high point of the rocky hill in the foreground on the (L). (Below the skyline)
Approaching Lonesome Lake. The summit of mighty Skunk Knob is right at the center of this photo. Texas Pass is the low point of the skyline toward the (L).
Approaching Lonesome Lake. The summit of mighty Skunk Knob is right at the center of this photo. Texas Pass is at the low point of the skyline toward the (L).
Watch Tower (L) and Pingora Peak (R) from Lonesome Lake.
Watch Tower (L) and Pingora Peak (R) from Lonesome Lake.
Watch Tower (L), Pingora Peak (Center) & Bollinger Peak (R) from Lonesome Lake. Photo looks W.
Watch Tower (L), Pingora Peak (Center) & Bollinger Peak (12,232 ft.) (R) from Lonesome Lake. Photo looks W.

Lupe certainly had one of the most gorgeous playgrounds a Carolina Dog ever had this day.  She spent the entire day absolutely surrounded by spectacular peaks.  She saw sparkling lakes and drank from cold, clear streams.  She searched for squirrels in shady green forests.  She explored long, twisting secret passages in jungles of tall bushes.  She climbed up high rocky hills and ridges.  All of the time she was busy having an epic wonderful day.

After reaching Lonesome Lake, Lupe crossed the North Popo Agie River where it leaves the E end of the lake.  She then headed W on a trail in the forest.  The trail paralleled the N shore of Lonesome Lake at some distance from it.  SPHP thought this trail would ultimately lead up to Texas Pass.  However, when the trail emerged from the forest out into some open ground close to Pingora Peak, it pretty much just disappeared.

There was still forested ground higher up.  Not knowing where else to look for the trail, Lupe and SPHP began climbing higher and entered the forest again, heading toward Texas Pass.

The North Popo Agie River flows E out of Lonesome Lake.
The North Popo Agie River flows E out of Lonesome Lake.
Pingora Peak from N of Lonesome Lake. Photo looks W.
Pingora Peak from N of Lonesome Lake. Photo looks W.
Lupe in the forest N of Lonesome Lake on the trail to Texas Pass. Photo looks WSW. Watch Tower is the high peak in the distance.
Lupe in the forest N of Lonesome Lake on the trail to Texas Pass. Photo looks WSW.
Mitchell Peak from Lonesome Lake. This mountain is named after Finis Mitchell, who climbed it 10 times. Photo looks SE.
Mitchell Peak from Lonesome Lake. This mountain is named after Finis Mitchell, who climbed it 10 times. Photo looks SE.
Jackass Pass (ridge on L), War Bonnet Peak (Center L), and Warrior Peaks (R) from Lonesome Lake. Photo looks S.
Jackass Pass (ridge on L), War Bonnet Peak (Center L), and Warrior Peaks (R) from Lonesome Lake. Photo looks S.
War Bonnet Peak (L) and Warrior Peaks (Center) from Lonesome Lake. Lupe's tiny house where she spent 2 nights is out of sight beyond the forested ridge on the right.
War Bonnet Peak (L) and Warrior Peaks (Center) from Lonesome Lake. Lupe’s tiny house where she spent 2 nights is out of sight beyond the forested ridge on the right.
The E face of Pingora Peak.
The E face of Pingora Peak.

Part way up through the forest, Lupe found a semblance of a trail heading up toward Texas Pass.  Lupe and SPHP followed it above tree line.  Once above tree line, Lupe left the trail and started climbing the open ground heading directly for Skunk Knob.  When Lupe reached the top, SPHP was surprised to find two other people already there.  They were quite friendly.

The two people were on a long backpacking trip and had come up from their camp down at Lizard Head Meadows.  They planned on climbing Mitchell Peak the next day, which is supposed to be a relatively easy scramble.  Lupe and SPHP wanted to climb Mitchell Peak, too, but there wasn’t going to be time.  The two backpackers were busy watching climbers up on the ridge between Pingora Peak and Wolf’s Head through binoculars.

The climbers were not the same ones Lupe and SPHP had seen earlier in the day in the same location.  The backpackers were concerned that these climbers were going rather slowly.  They needed to get to Wolf’s Head pretty soon, so they would have time to get safely back down before storms or darkness.

Now and then the climber’s shouts to one another could be heard, but SPHP couldn’t make out what they were saying.  No doubt with those big soft keen ears, Lupe knew, but she wasn’t providing any translations.

Success! Lupe reaches the top of Skunk Knob. Photo looks ESE toward Lizard Head meadows. Mitchell Peak on (R).
Success! Lupe reaches the top of Skunk Knob. Photo looks ESE toward Lizard Head Meadows. Mitchell Peak on (R).
Pingora Peak (Center), Wolf's Head (Center R in shadow) and Bollinger Peak (far R) from Skunk Knob.
Pingora Peak (Center), Wolf’s Head (Center R in shadow) and Bollinger Peak (far R) from Skunk Knob.  Photo looks WSW.
Looking N at Texas Pass from Skunk Knob.
Looking N at Texas Pass from Skunk Knob.
Mitchell Peak from Skunk Knob. Jackass Pass is on the (R). Photo looks SSE.
Mitchell Peak (12,482 ft.) from Skunk Knob. Jackass Pass is on the (R). Photo looks SSE.
The North Popo Agie River valley and Lizard Head meadows from Skunk Knob. Photo looks SE.
The North Popo Agie River valley and Lizard Head Meadows from Skunk Knob. Photo looks SE.
Don't even think about it, Loopster! Lupe astride Skunk Knob with Lizard Head Peak towering above. Photo looks NE.
Don’t even think about it, Loopster! Lupe astride Skunk Knob with Lizard Head Peak towering above. Skunk Knob was Lupe’s final peakbagging achievement of her great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation.  Photo looks NE.

SPHP chatted with the two backpackers on Skunk Knob.  They let SPHP look at the climbers nearing Wolf’s Head through their binoculars.  Lupe rested happily among the boulders.  Well, pretty happily, it was rather windy on Skunk Knob.  Wind is not a favorite with Lupe.  When SPHP finally finished the conversation with the backpackers, Lupe was ready to go.

Just NE of Skunk Knob is a deep cirque with an unnamed lake in it.  The way down to it looked pretty easy, so Lupe and SPHP headed down toward it.  Lupe didn’t get all the way down to the lake, but got pretty close to it before turning SSE and following the valley below the lake back down into the forest.

The unnamed lake in the cirque between Skunk Knob and Lizard Head Peak.
The unnamed lake in the cirque between Skunk Knob and Lizard Head Peak.

There was a stream in the valley that came down from the unnamed lake.  Lupe crossed it several times.  Eventually she left the stream to head through the forest.  SPHP was looking for Lonesome Lake.  Lupe was looking for squirrels.  She found a few, too.  There were even a few deer in the forest.

Lupe and SPHP emerged from the forest at the E end of Lonesome Lake right where the North Popo Agie River flows out of it.  Lupe and SPHP crossed the stream (easy rock hopping this time of year, but no bridge), and followed the trail to Jackass Pass for a little way near the shore of Lonesome Lake.

It looked like autumn was arriving today.  The fall colors looked stronger and brighter than they had just this morning.  Before leaving Lonesome Lake, it was time to stop and appreciate this view for a while longer.  SPHP and Lupe took a break near the shore.  Soon the very busy American Dingo was conked out among the pretty leaves.

Fall colors near Lonesome Lake along the trail to Jackass Pass.
Fall colors near Lonesome Lake along the trail to Jackass Pass.

Lupe near Lonesome Lake, Wind River Range, WY 9-2-15There was time left in the day to climb back up to Jackass Pass to see the Cirque of the Towers and Lonesome Lake from that splendid vantage point.  SPHP lost the trail going up there, and didn’t run into it again until nearing the pass.  Lupe didn’t care, she had fun in the forest.

Once again, it was quite windy up on Jackass Pass, but Lupe and SPHP had a stupendous view of nearly all the territory Lupe had explored on this fantastic day in the Wind River Range.

Wolf's Head (far L) and Pingora Peak (L) from Jackass Pass. It's easy to see from this photo that SPHP should have continued farther W (L)along the open area on the far side of Lonesome Lake before turning to climb up to Skunk Knob. Going farther W would have avoided the climb through the forest. Texas Pass and Skunk Knob are just to the right of this photo.
Wolf’s Head (far L) and Pingora Peak (L) from Jackass Pass. It’s easy to see from this photo that SPHP should have continued farther W (L)along the open area on the far side of Lonesome Lake before turning to climb up to Skunk Knob. Going a bit farther W would have avoided climbing through the forest. Texas Pass and Skunk Knob are just off to the right of this photo.
Looking W from Jackass Pass.
Looking NW from Jackass Pass.
Lupe braves the wind on Jackass Pass. Skunk Knob, which she had just climbed earlier in the day, is lined up to appear just under Texas Pass on the R side of this photo.
Lupe braves the wind on Jackass Pass. Skunk Knob, which she had just climbed earlier in the day, is lined up to appear just under Texas Pass on the R side of this photo.
East Temple Peak (L) and Temple Peak (R) using the telephoto lens from Jackass Pass. Photo looks SSE.
East Temple Peak (L) and Temple Peak (R) using the telephoto lens from Jackass Pass. Photo looks SSE.
Cirque of the Towers from Jackass Pass. Lupe would spend one more night here.
Cirque of the Towers from Jackass Pass. Lupe would spend one more night here.

Evening was coming on.  It was time to leave Jackass Pass and head once more down into the Cirque of the Towers to Lupe’s tiny house.  Her big day of exploring the Cirque of the Towers, Lonesome Lake, mighty Skunk Knob, and Jackass Pass was almost over.  So was her great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation.

Heading back to the tiny house in the Cirque of the Towers.
Heading back to the tiny house in the Cirque of the Towers.

There was still a surprising amount of daylight left when Lupe got back to her tiny house.  She rested a little bit, but not for long.  She spent the evening racing up and down the mountainsides.  It was simply amazing.

SPHP wasn’t racing up and down anything.  Instead, SPHP watched the sunlight retreat higher and higher up the mountain slopes.  For dramatic effect, every 20 or 30 minutes big boulders were sliding off long melting snowbanks on Warrior Peaks.  SPHP saw them go, and heard them crashing down on the rocks below.

Lupe returns to her tiny house in the Cirque of the Towers for a 2nd night.
Lupe returns to her tiny house in the Cirque of the Towers for a 2nd night.
"Well, that was a fun day! What we doing tonight, SPHP? Feel like running up and down mountainsides barking happily? No? Well, I do. Be back in a bit."
“Well, that was a fun day! What we doing tonight, SPHP? Feel like running up and down mountainsides barking happily? No? Well, I do. Be back in a bit.”
The last of the sunlight on War Bonnet and Warrior Peaks.
The last of the sunlight on War Bonnet and Warrior Peaks.

Even for high-spirited, fun-loving American Dingoes, all good things must come to an end.  Lupe’s first little backpacking trip enabling her to spend a whole day up at the Cirque of the Towers, Lonesome Lake, and Skunk Knob was a huge success, but except for the trip back, it was over.  Essentially, so was her great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation.

Lupe spent another restless, excited night in the Cirque of the Towers.  She and SPHP were up before dawn the next day (Day 26 of her 2015 Dingo Vacation) to head back out over Jackass Pass, down to Big Sandy Lake, and on to the G6.  The road trip back home (involving a lot of hard barking at hundreds, maybe thousands, of cows and horses along the way) began shortly after reaching the G6.  Lupe spent that evening at Guille’s in Casper, WY.

About 2:30 PM on 9-4-15 (Day 27 of her 2015 Dingo Vacation), Lupe arrived back home in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  She ran over to Dog Heaven at the neighbor’s, and was welcomed back with a big Milk Bone.  She raced back home with it to show SPHP what a smart, lucky and beloved Dingo she is.

This photo taken early on the morning of 9-3-15 as Lupe and SPHP were leaving the Cirque of the Towers to head home was the last photo SPHP took on Lupe's 2015 Dingo Vacation. What's in store for 2016? Lupe and SPHP are still working on that!
This photo, taken early on the morning of 9-3-15 as Lupe and SPHP were leaving the Cirque of the Towers to head home, was the last photo SPHP took on Lupe’s 2015 Dingo Vacation. What’s in store for 2016?  Rest assured Lupe and SPHP are cooking up something great!  Subscribe now for more (Mostly) True Dingo Adventures with Lupe in your future!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Big Sandy to Jackass Pass & Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range, WY (9-1-15)

August 31, 2015, Day 23 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation, was spent getting repositioned from Green River Lakes at the NW end of the Wind River Range down to the Big Sandy Trailhead at the SE end.  Early in the morning, Lupe and SPHP went down to take a look at Lower Green River Lake and Squaretop Mountain one last time.  There were three moose down there!  One was just a youngster.

Momma moose and calf near Lower Green River Lake, Wind River Range, WY
Momma moose and calf near Lower Green River Lake, Wind River Range, WY.  There was a 3rd moose, too, but it quickly disappeared into the forest.
Lupe and SPHP said good-bye to Green River Lakes and Squaretop Mountain early on 8-31-15.
Lupe and SPHP said good-bye to Green River Lakes and Squaretop Mountain early on 8-31-15.

Moose near Green River Lake, WY 8-31-15All three moose were soon out of sight in the forest.  Lupe has now seen 5 moose.  One in Canada during her 2014 Dingo Vacation, and four on her 2015 Dingo Vacation.

After a last fond look at Green River Lake and Squaretop Mountain (11,695 ft.), Lupe and SPHP made the long drive along the dusty and very washboardy road following the Green River back to pavement.  Lupe and SPHP stopped for a while in Pinedale, WY, and then continued on to the Big Sandy trailhead and campground.  This ultimately involved another long drive along another dusty and very washboardy road.

Starting in June, 1930, Finis Mitchell and his wife, Emma, ran a fishing camp at Mud Lake near the Big Sandy opening.  As a 4 year old child, Finis had arrived with his parents at the Wind River Range in April, 1906.  He spent much of his life in the Winds.  Lupe and SPHP went to check out the Big Sandy Lodge near Mud Lake.

The Big Sandy Lodge near Mud Lake.
Lupe at the Big Sandy Lodge near Mud Lake.
Mud Lake, Finis Mitchell's old base of operations for his fishing camp many years ago.
Lupe visits Mud Lake, Finis Mitchell’s old base of operations for his fishing camp many years ago.

The Big Sandy Lodge is not related in any way to Finis Mitchell’s old fishing camp, except that it is in the same location.  There is no electricity, and the lodge does not accept credit cards.  Meals are served in the main building for lodge guests only.  The lodge complex features very nice individual cabins.  The entire complex is located just S of Mud Lake.

After visiting Big Sandy Lodge and Mud Lake, Lupe and SPHP spent the rest of the day near the Big Sandy campground.  There were lots of cars at the very popular trailhead.  SPHP spent some time getting ready for Lupe’s big trip up to Jackass Pass and the Cirque of the Towers the next day.

On the first day of Lupe’s 2013 Dingo Vacation, she had spent a night out under the stars on top of Bald Mountain in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming.  Lupe had also been tenting on the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone and other places during her Dingo Vacations.  But Lupe had never before done what she was going to do the next morning.  She had never been on a backpacking trip.  This was going to be a very short one, just 3 days and 2 nights, but SPHP was pretty certain she would love it.

September 1, 2015 (Day 24 of Lupe’s 2015 Dingo Vacation) was bright and beautiful.  After breakfast at a picnic table, Lupe and SPHP set out on the trail to Big Sandy Lake, about 5 miles to the NE.  The first part of the trail was near Big Sandy Creek. Nearly all of the trail goes through forest.  Most of it gains elevation at a slow to moderate pace.  Lupe had fun exploring the forest, and occasionally barking at squirrels along the way.

Lupe near Big Sandy Creek on her way to Big Sandy Lake.
Lupe near Big Sandy Creek on her way to Big Sandy Lake.

Although some big mountains could be seen now and then, it didn’t really feel like Lupe was among them until she reached Big Sandy Lake.  At Big Sandy Lake there were towering mountains in every direction, except back the way Lupe had come from.  Lupe and SPHP stopped for a little break at Big Sandy Lake.

Lupe at Big Sandy Lake. Photo looks NE.
Lupe at Big Sandy Lake. Photo looks NE.

After the break, Lupe and SPHP continued along the trail on the NW side of Big Sandy Lake.  Several trails branch out from Big Sandy Lake.  Lupe and SPHP were looking for the trail to Jackass Pass, which leaves the area from the NW corner of the lake.  The trail to Jackass Pass had no signage at the intersection, but Lupe and SPHP found it without any trouble.

Haystack Mountain from Big Sandy Lake. Photo looks ESE.
Haystack Mountain (11,978 ft.) from Big Sandy Lake. Photo looks ESE.

Haystack Mountain from Big Sandy Lake, Wind River Range, WY 9-1-15

Schiestler Peak from Big Sandy Lake. Photo looks SSE.
Schiestler Peak (11,624 ft.) from Big Sandy Lake. Photo looks SSE.
Haystack Mountain (L), East Temple Peak (pointy mountain at center), Temple Peak (highest R of center in distance) from Big Sandy Lake.
Haystack Mountain (L), East Temple Peak (pointy mountain peeking up at center), and Temple Peak (highest R of center in distance) from Big Sandy Lake.

Although Lupe had gained some elevation in the 5 miles getting to Big Sandy Lake, the real climb began when she started heading N on the trail up toward Jackass Pass.  The trail went through forest at first, but the trees became progressively more stunted and scraggly, and the way became rockier as Lupe gained elevation.

War Bonnet Peak on the way too Jackass Pass. Photo looks NW.
War Bonnet Peak (12,369 ft.) on the way to Jackass Pass. Photo looks NW.
North Lake and War Bonnet Peak. Photo looks NW.
North Lake and War Bonnet Peak. Photo looks NW.
Lupe at North Lake. This lake was not named on SPHP's maps, but they did show North Creek going through it. Photo looks S.
Lupe at North Lake. This lake was not named on SPHP’s maps, but they did show North Creek going through it.  Sundance Pinnacle (11,054 ft.) is seen at R.  Photo looks S.

The trail to Jackass Pass went past two lakes.  In both cases, the trail gained a couple hundred feet of elevation to go around the E side of the lake, only to drop clear back down to lake level before continuing on to regain the lost elevation and more.  In some places it was possible to lose the trail among the rocks, but it wasn’t too hard to find it again.  Usually a Carolina Dog appeared on it before the search was even begun.

The first lake the trail came to was unnamed on SPHP’s maps, but a backpacker said it was North Lake.  This made sense, since the map did show North Creek heading down to Big Sandy Lake from it.  The second lake Lupe came to was Arrowhead Lake.

Lupe up high on the rocks E of Arrowhead Lake. Photo looks S back in the direction Lupe has been coming from. From left to right: Haystack Mountain, East Temple Peak, Temple Peak, Schiestler Peak.
Lupe up high on the rocks E of Arrowhead Lake. Photo looks S back in the direction Lupe has been coming from. From left to right: Haystack Mountain, East Temple Peak (12,600 ft.), Temple Peak (12,972 ft.), Schiestler Peak.

SPHP isn’t exactly sure where Jackass Pass is officially located.  Lupe got her first view of the Cirque of the Towers from the high point on the trail as it passed to the E of Arrowhead Lake.  Not too far ahead was another ridge of about the same elevation, which is probably technically Jackass Pass.

It was windy up high near Arrowhead Lake and Jackass Pass. Lupe took shelter near these big rocks and had a little rest.
It was windy up high near Arrowhead Lake and Jackass Pass. Lupe took shelter near these big rocks and had a little rest.
From the first high ridge E of Arrowhead Lake, Lupe gets her first view of the mighty Cirque of the Towers. Photo looks NW.
From the high ridge E of Arrowhead Lake, Lupe gets her first view of the mighty Cirque of the Towers. Photo looks NW.
The 2nd high ridge, which is probably the official location of Jackass Pass is seen ahead in the foreground. Photo looks N.
The 2nd high ridge, which SPHP believes is the official location of Jackass Pass, is seen ahead in the foreground. Photo looks N.
Jackass Pass dead ahead.
Jackass Pass dead ahead.
Lupe and the Cirque of the Towers. Two days later as Lupe headed back to the G6, SPHP met a backpacker on the way to Jackass Pass. The backpacker asked if it was worth the climb. SPHP's response was, "If you don't like what you see up there, you just don't like mountains. Try the ocean on your next vacation."
Lupe and the Cirque of the Towers. Two days later as Lupe headed back to the G6, SPHP met a backpacker on the way to Jackass Pass for the 1st time. The backpacker asked if it was worth the effort. SPHP’s response was, “If you don’t like what you see up there, you just don’t like mountains. Try the ocean on your next vacation.”

SPHP believes the 2nd ridge is really Jackass Pass.  To get to it, the trail dropped clear down almost to the level of Arrowhead Lake and then went back up again.  From the second ridge, there was a huge panoramic view encompassing the Cirque of the Towers, Pingora Peak (11,884 ft.), Lonesome Lake, Texas Pass and Lizard Head Peak (12,842 ft.).  Lupe and SPHP headed for the highest part of the ridge at Jackass Pass to take in the amazing scene.

Looking back at Arrowhead Lake just before Lupe climbed up to Jackass Pass. The main trail passes Arrowhead Lake over high ground to the L of this photo. There is an alternate route around the other side of the lake seen on the R. When Lupe left the Cirque of the Towers two days later, she took the route around the far (W) side of the lake. Lupe had no problem using it, but the area of large boulders seen at the far R side of the lake as shown in this photo slowed SPHP down tremendously. It would have been easier to just stick to the main trail.
Looking back at Arrowhead Lake just before Lupe climbed up to Jackass Pass. The main trail passes Arrowhead Lake to the E over high ground to the L of this photo. There is an alternate route around the other side of the lake seen on the R. When Lupe left the Cirque of the Towers two days later, she took the route around the W side of the lake. Lupe had no problems, but the area of large boulders (seen in this photo at the far R side of the lake) slowed SPHP down tremendously. It would have been easier to just stick to the main trail.
Lupe at Jackass Pass where she gets her first view of Lonesome Lake. Texas Pass is the low point in bright sunlight on the far ridge near the center of this photo. Photo looks N.
Lupe at Jackass Pass where she gets her first view of Lonesome Lake. Texas Pass is the low point in bright sunlight on the far ridge near the center of this photo. Photo looks N.
Pingora Peak and Lonesome Lake from Jackass Pass. Pingora Peak is the distinctive tall column of rock on the L.
Pingora Peak and Lonesome Lake from Jackass Pass. Pingora Peak is the distinctive tall column of rock on the L.  Photo looks NNW.
Pingora Peak (L), Lonesome Lake, and Texas Pass (R center) from Jackass Pass.
Pingora Peak (L), Lonesome Lake, and Texas Pass (R center) from Jackass Pass.  Photo looks N.
War Bonnet Peak from Jackass Pass.
War Bonnet Peak from Jackass Pass.  Lupe tries to take shelter from the wind.  Photo looks SW.
Lupe looks S from Jackass Pass back in the direction from which she came from Big Sandy Lake to get here. Sharp East Temple Peak is in the sunlight on the L. Temple Peak is the highest mountain in the distance. The lake is Arrowhead Lake. The trail to get to Jackass Pass came over the big rocky ridge shown to the L of Arrowhead Lake.
Lupe looks S from Jackass Pass back in the direction she came from to get here.  East Temple Peak is in the sunlight on the L. Temple Peak is the highest mountain in the distance. The lake is Arrowhead Lake. The trail to get to Jackass Pass came over the big rocky ridge shown to the L of Arrowhead Lake.
Cirque of the Towers from Jackass Pass. Near the center of this photo is a brown grassy area just below some big smooth light gray rock. SPHP pitched Lupe's "tiny house" (the tent) in this brown grassy area. Lupe spent the next two evenings and nights there. She loved it!
Cirque of the Towers from Jackass Pass. Near the center of this photo is a brown grassy area just below some big smooth light gray rock. SPHP pitched Lupe’s “tiny house” (the tent) in this brown grassy area. Lupe spent two evenings and nights there. She loved it!  Photo looks NW.

The views were tremendous, but it was really windy up at Jackass Pass.  Lupe tolerated SPHP hanging around up there looking at the scenery only so long.  She was ready to get out of the wind.  It was time to go pitch Lupe’s “tiny house” (the tent).  Lupe and SPHP crossed over the pass, and headed down into the glorious Cirque of the Towers.

Lupe exploring the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range, WY. Wolf's Head (L) and Pingora Peak (R).
Lupe exploring the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range, WY. Wolf’s Head (12,160 ft.) (L) and Pingora Peak (R).  Photo looks NNW.
Wolf's Head (Center) and Pingora Peak (R). Cirque Lake is out of sight to the L of the base of Wolf's Head. Lupe would go up to see Cirque Lake the next day.
Wolf’s Head (Center) and Pingora Peak (R). Cirque Lake is out of sight to the L of the base of Wolf’s Head. Lupe would go up to see Cirque Lake the next day.
Lupe near Pingora Peak in the Cirque of the Towers.
Lupe near Pingora Peak in the Cirque of the Towers.
Just as Squaretop Mountain is SPHP's favorite at the NW end of the Wind River Range, Pingora Peak is SPHP's favorite mountain at the SE end of the range. Both Mountains have distinctive shapes and are in outstanding settings.
Just as Squaretop Mountain is SPHP’s favorite at the NW end of the Wind River Range, Pingora Peak is SPHP’s favorite mountain at the SE end of the range. Both Mountains have distinctive shapes and are in outstanding settings.
Lizard Head Peak from the Cirque of the Towers.
Lizard Head Peak (12,842 ft.) from the Cirque of the Towers.  Photo looks NE.

Down in the Cirque of the Towers there was a little breeze, but nothing like the wind up at Jackass Pass.  Lupe and SPHP traversed much of the Cirque of the Towers to get to a grassy area close to the side valley up to Cirque Lake.  There SPHP pitched Lupe’s tiny house.

Years ago, SPHP had been to the Cirque of the Towers once before.  On that previous trip, which had been in early August, SPHP would have traded all of the food in the pack for a single can of bug spray.  The mosquitoes had been horrendous.  On this first day of September, though, there were none at all.  It was going to be a spectacular evening without any bugs.

Once the tiny house was up, Lupe and SPHP poked around exploring here and there near by, surrounded by magnificence in every direction.  Lupe was having a blast!  The evening couldn’t have been better or more fun, or could it?

Lupe by her tiny house in the Cirque of the Towers. Pingora Peak in the background.
Lupe by her tiny house in the Cirque of the Towers. Pingora Peak in the background.  Photo looks N.

When the light faded and the stars came out, SPHP went into the tiny house.  Lupe came into the tiny house, too, and laid down on her sleeping bag.  It had been a long day’s journey up to the Cirque of the Towers, and she was tired.  As she rested, though, it began to dawn on her – there wasn’t going to be any long trek back to the G6 this evening.  SPHP intended for her to stay right here in the Cirque of the Towers all night.

The American Dingo lifted her head up.  There was a sparkle in her eyes.  Lupe was gone.  The Wild Dingo of the Night was here.  It was going to be a long night!

War Bonnet Peak from Lupe's Tiny House in the Cirque of the Towers.
War Bonnet Peak from Lupe’s Tiny House in the Cirque of the Towers.  Photo looks SSE.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Green River Lakes, Squaretop Mountain & The Highline Trail to Beaver Park, Wind River Range, WY (8-30-15)

Near the end of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation, SPHP had to cut out of the plan some really terrific adventures.  There just wasn’t time enough left for Lupe to do them all.  The last of Lupe’s adventures she would actually get to complete would be in the fabulous Wind River Range of Wyoming.  The first of these adventures was for Lupe to travel the Highline Trail from Green River Lakes to Beaver Park near Squaretop Mountain.

After arriving at Lower Green River Lake the previous evening, Lupe started Day 22 of her 2015 Dingo Vacation ready to hit the Highline Trail.  She set out at 7:41 AM (52°F) under partly cloudy skies.  Lupe reached the Highline Trail by crossing a bridge over the Green River just downstream of where it leaves the lake.

Lupe on her way to the bridge crossing the Green River near the start of the Highline Trail.
Lupe on her way to the Highline Trail via this bridge over the Green River.

Once Lupe was across the bridge, the Highline Trail took her SSE paralleling the NE shore of Lower Green River Lake.  The trail stays well above the lakeshore for the entire 2 miles or so it takes to get to the far end of Lower Green River Lake.   The area along the trail is only sparsely forested, so there is a splendid view of Lower Green River Lake with Squaretop Mountain (11,695 ft.) looming in the distance almost the entire way.  The scene is one of SPHP’s very favorite mountain scenes anywhere.

Lupe near Lower Green River Lake. Squaretop Mountain is in the distance.
Lupe near Lower Green River Lake. Squaretop Mountain is in the distance.

Lower Green River Lake & Squaretop Mountain, WY 8-30-15Squaretop Mountain & Lower Green River Lake, WY 8-30-15

Lupe on the Highline Trail. The mountain on the left is White Rock.
Lupe on the Highline Trail. The mountain on the left is White Rock (11,284 ft.).

When Lupe got near the S end of Lower Green River Lake, the trail began to head down closer to lake level.  The bushes at the S end of the lake were already showing some fall colors.  Lupe crossed a bridge over Clear Creek coming down from Clear Lake to the E.  A couple of miles up the Clear Creek Trail there is a natural bridge where Clear Creek flows through a big hole in a mountain.  Lupe didn’t get to go there.  She continued on the Highline Trail on the way to Upper Green River Lake.

Approaching the S shore of Lower Green River Lake. The lower lake is the larger of the two Green River Lakes.
Approaching the S shore of Lower Green River Lake. The lower lake is the larger of the two Green River Lakes.  There is really little elevation difference between the upper and lower lakes.  The upper lake is at 7,968 feet, while the lower lake is at 7,961 feet.
Bushes beyond the S shore of Lower Green River Lake were already starting to exhibit some fall colors.
Bushes beyond the S shore of Lower Green River Lake were already starting to exhibit some fall colors.
Clear Creek flows down from the E to join the Green River between the Green River Lakes.
Clear Creek flows down from the E to join the Green River between the two Green River Lakes.  This photo was taken from the bridge across it along the Highline Trail.

The two Green River Lakes are less than a mile apart.  The area in between is flat.  Quite a bit of it is covered with bushes and tall grass.  A bridge crosses the Green River between the lakes.  Beyond the bridge on the W side of the valley are two trails.  One heads around the W shore of Lower Green River Lake, so that it is possible to make a complete loop around the lake.  The other heads SSW along the Porcupine Trail up to Porcupine Pass.

Lupe strikes an odd pose along the Green River between the upper and lower Green River Lakes.
Lupe strikes an odd pose along the Green River between the upper and lower Green River Lakes.  Is she scowling?  Tired of posing for photos already?

Lupe stayed on the E side of the river following the Highline Trail to Upper Green River Lake.  If anything, the view of Squaretop Mountain beyond the upper Green River Lake was even better than the one from the lower lake.  Lupe agreed not to look so stiff or scowl at the Upper Green River Lake.

Squaretop Mountain and Upper Green River Lake.
Squaretop Mountain and Upper Green River Lake.
Lupe goes wading in Upper Green River Lake.
Lupe goes wading in Upper Green River Lake.

Lupe at Upper Green River Lake, WY 8-30-15

Squaretop Mountain from Upper Green River Lake. The upper lake is only about 1 mile long and 0.25 mile wide, half the dimensions of the lower lake. The surface area is only 1/4 of the size of the lower lake.
Squaretop Mountain from Upper Green River Lake. The upper lake is only about 1 mile long and 0.25 mile wide, half the dimensions of the lower lake. The surface area is only 1/4 of the size of the lower lake.

The Highline Trail passes to the E of Upper Green River Lake.  It goes up and down well above the lake through a much denser forest than exists along the NE side of the lower lake.  There were fewer viewpoints along the way, but there were a few.

Lupe E of Upper Green River Lake. Photo looks SW.
Lupe E of Upper Green River Lake. Photo looks SW.
Squaretop Mountain and a view toward the S shore of the Upper Green River Lake from the Highline Trail.
Squaretop Mountain and a view toward the S shore of the Upper Green River Lake from the Highline Trail.

Squaretop Mountain lies 3 or 4 miles beyond the S shore of Upper Green River Lake.  The Highline Trail follows the Green River valley upstream passing to the E of Squaretop Mountain.  Sometimes the trail is close to the river, other times it is away from it up in the forest.  Although the trail goes up and down, there is little net elevation gain.  The views of Squaretop were more and more impressive as Lupe got closer.

Approaching Squaretop Mountain from the N. The Green River is shown here upstream of both Green River Lakes.
Approaching Squaretop Mountain from the N. The Green River is shown here upstream of both Green River Lakes.

Green River & Squaretop Mountain, WY 8-30-15Lupe and Squaretop Mountain, WY 8-30-15

SPHP has an old book called Wind River Trails.  It is the 3rd edition printed in 1979.  The book was written by Finis Mitchell, who moved with his parents in a mule-drawn wagon from Missouri to Wyoming in 1906, arriving at the Wind River Range on April 26th.  Finis Mitchell spent much of his life in the Winds.  Eventually he ran a fishing camp with his wife.  Although only 5 lakes in the Wind River Range had fish naturally, Finis Mitchell used milk cans and horses to pack in 2.5 million little trout and stock 314 lakes.

In Wind River Trails, Finis Mitchell describes a route up Squaretop Mountain from the E.  The route is supposed to be relatively easy.  Finis talks about taking a child as young as 4 years old up Squaretop (the child had to be handed up over a lot of ledges), and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops making the trip.  The route up leaves the Highline Trail at Beaver Park, about 5 miles S of Upper Green River Lakes.

Looking at Squaretop Mountain, SPHP got the feeling maybe a guy who spent his entire life in these mountains might have a different view of what was easy.  Maybe things would look different from Beaver Park.  If children could do it, certainly an American Dingo could.  There wouldn’t be time for it, though.  For Lupe and SPHP this was just a scouting trip.

Getting closer!
Getting closer!

Squaretop Mountain and the Green River, WY 8-30-15

Looking at some of the mountains W of the Green River before reaching Squaretop Mountain.
Looking at some of the mountains W of the Green River before reaching Squaretop Mountain.

Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15On a section of the Highline Trail passing through the forest, SPHP saw some rapids on the Green River down below.  There were some nice rocks and rock ledges along the bank of the river, so Lupe and SPHP went down to investigate.  The river had the beautiful color of rivers carrying glacial silt.  The rapids were very pretty.  There was a particularly handsome boulder out in the stream.

The handsome boulder at the rapids in the Green River near Squaretop Mountain.
The handsome boulder at the rapids in the Green River near Squaretop Mountain.
Lupe and the handsome boulder.
Lupe and the handsome boulder.

The Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15When Lupe ran down to the rapids, she waded in the stream to get a drink of water.  She climbed right out again just fine, but SPHP saw that her right rear paw was all bloody!  It took some persuading to get Lupe to lay down and let SPHP take a look.  It must have hurt, because Lupe didn’t want SPHP touching that paw.  SPHP had to be very gentle.

Her right rear dewclaw must have gotten caught on something.  Part of it had snapped off, and SPHP could see that it had been bleeding.  Nothing else looked injured, and the dewclaw did not look torn from the rest of her paw.  SPHP washed the blood off Lupe’s paw.  She licked it for a while.  After about 10 minutes she seemed to feel better about it.  She was ready to get up.

Lupe posed for some pictures along the beautiful Green River.  She waded a little bit in the cold water, which probably made her dewclaw feel better.  By the time Lupe left the rapids to return to the Highline Trail, she seemed to have already forgotten all about the injured dewclaw.

The American Dingo with a broken dewclaw bravely poses for pictures along the gorgeous Green River.
The American Dingo with a broken dewclaw bravely poses for pictures along the gorgeous Green River.

Lupe at the Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Lupe at the Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Beyond the rapids, the Highline Trail continued S passing to the E of Squaretop Mountain.  Lupe was starting to get close to Beaver Park.  She was looking for a footbridge across the Green River.  At the footbridge she would cross over to reach the upper end of Beaver Park.

Squaretop Mountain looms more than 3,000 feet above the Highline Trail.
Squaretop Mountain looms more than 3,000 feet above the Highline Trail.
A look at mountains to the SW upstream past Squaretop Mountain.
A look at mountains to the SW upstream past Squaretop Mountain.

Wind River Mountains from Green River, WY 8-30-15

A look back to the NW at Granite Mountain. Granite Mountain is just E of Squaretop Mountain, which was to the left of this photo.
A look back to the NW at Granite Peak (9,892 ft.). Granite Peak is just E of Squaretop Mountain, which was to the left of this photo.
Lupe reaches the footbridge across the Green River to the upper end of Beaver Park.
Lupe reaches the footbridge across the Green River to the upper end of Beaver Park.

Footbridge to Beaver Park, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15

Looking upstream (S) along the Green River from the bridge to Beaver Park.
Looking upstream (S) along the Green River from the bridge to Beaver Park.

When Lupe reached Beaver Park, she went out into the big field to take a look around.  It was certainly a beautiful spot.  SPHP saw no easy way up Squaretop Mountain from down in Beaver Park.  The first part of Finis Mitchell’s route required a climb of 1,000 feet from Beaver Park up to Granite Lake just SW of Granite Peak.

Lupe reaches Beaver Park in the Wind River Range. Granite Peak is on the left. Photo looks N.
Lupe reaches Beaver Park in the Wind River Range. Granite Peak is on the left. Photo looks N.
Beaver Park.
Beaver Park.

It would probably have been possible to get a much better look at the route up the ledges to Squaretop Mountain that Finis Mitchell talked about in Wind River Trails from Granite Lake.  Earlier in the day going to Granite Lake had seemed like a great idea, but by now the 1,000 foot climb seemed like too much work.

Besides, the American Dingo had an injured dewclaw!  It was probably best not to overdo it.  Never mind that the Dingo seemed to have forgotten all about it.  The trek to Beaver Park along the Highline Trail had been a pleasant one, with lots of fabulous scenery and without a ton of elevation gain or loss.  Why not just enjoy the day?  Lupe still had to go all the way back to the G6.

Lupe and SPHP went over to the Green River again and took a break.  Lupe had Taste of the Wild and water.  She relaxed on the bank above the river and grew a bit sleepy.  SPHP looked at maps.  There were dramatic high cliffs on the mountain on the other side of the river.  After a little while, the sky seemed to cloud up more.  The day grew darker.

Lupe kind of dozes along the bank of the Green River near the upper end of Beaver Park.
Lupe kind of dozes along the bank of the Green River near the upper end of Beaver Park.

Lupe at Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Lupe at Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15

High cliffs E of Beaver Park and the Green River.
High cliffs E of Beaver Park and the Green River.
Green River near Beaver Park. The sky started clouding up.
Green River near Beaver Park. The sky started clouding up.

Lupe had explored only a short segment of the Highline Trail coming to Beaver Park from Green River Lakes.  Backpackers doing the most popular through hike from Green River Lakes to Big Sandy reported estimated trip lengths of 7 to 9 days.  The entire trail is over 100 miles long, although portions beyond Green River Lakes and Big Sandy at either end are seldom used.

Lupe was only here for a day hike, though.  Beaver Park was about as far as Lupe and SPHP could go and still return in a day.  When it started to rain with tiny hailstones, Lupe and SPHP took refuge under tall pines near the Highline Trail.  It was time to think about heading back.  About the time the rain stopped, a forest ranger came along the trail from farther upstream.  This was an amazing thing in itself!

In all her many explorations and adventures, Lupe had never seen a forest ranger away from the pavement before.  This forest ranger was actually out in the forest, and doing what one thinks of as forest ranging.  SPHP talked to him.  His name was Chad.  Chad was quite friendly and full of information about the Wind River Range.  This was his 3rd year working in the Winds.

Chad said the Finis Mitchell route up Squaretop was rather hard to find, since some of the landmarks (like burnt areas in the forest) which Finis Mitchell used to describe the route had changed since Wind River Trails was written.  SPHP had been wondering if there wasn’t another easier route via the Porcupine Trail.  Chad confirmed that there was.  It was longer, though.  Chad had been up on Squaretop Mountain and knew what he was talking about.

After a fun chat with Chad, he needed to be moving along.  He was on his way up into high country near the Golden Lakes, and from there clear up to the glaciers beyond, to check on wildlife, hunters and climbers.  He would remain on the Highline Trail for a little while longer before looking for a place where he could leave the trail and climb up to Golden Lakes.

Lupe and SPHP followed Chad along the Highline Trail.  Despite carrying a huge, heavy pack, Chad was faster than SPHP.  Lupe and SPHP did catch up to him again several times when he stopped to chat to people along the trail.  The last time Lupe and SPHP reached him, he had stopped to have a sandwich before leaving the trail.  Chad very kindly gave Lupe some of his cheese sandwich.  (Dingoes love cheese!)

Lupe starts back across the bridge over the Green River leaving Beaver Park.
Lupe starts back across the bridge over the Green River leaving Beaver Park.
Looking back at Squaretop Mountain. Granite Peak is the comparatively small hill on the L.
Looking back at Squaretop Mountain. Granite Peak is the comparatively small forested hill in the sunlight on the L.
Lupe gets a bite of Chad's cheese sandwich at their last meeting. Chad was a real forest ranger - he actually spends his time in the mountains instead of at a desk.
Lupe gets a bite of Chad’s cheese sandwich at their last meeting. Chad was a real forest ranger – he actually spends his time patrolling in the mountains instead of sitting at a desk.  Chad was the first forest ranger Lupe ever saw actually patrolling in a forest.  He was a terrific, knowledgeable guy and in great shape, too.

On the way back, Lupe stayed on the Highline Trail until she was between the two Green River Lakes.  There she crossed the bridge over to the W side of the Green River.  Lupe headed for the intersection of the Porcupine Trail and Lakeside Trail.  To complete a loop around Lower Green River Lake, Lupe took the Lakeside Trail heading NNW near the W shore.

The Lakeside Trail was in forest much of the way.  There were only a few spots with open views from the trail on this side of the lake.  Most of the time, the Lakeside Trail stayed well above the shore.

An early evening view of Squaretop Mountain from Upper Green River Lake.
An early evening view of Squaretop Mountain from Upper Green River Lake.
The mountain NE of Lower Green River Lake from the Lakeside Trail. Photo looks NE.
The mountain NE of Lower Green River Lake from the Lakeside Trail. Photo looks NE.
Flat Top Mountain from the Lakeside Trail along Lower Green River Lake. Photo looks E.
Flat Top Mountain (11,823 ft.) from the Lakeside Trail along Lower Green River Lake. Photo looks E.
White Rock from the Lakeside Trail along Lower Green River Lake. White Rock is the mountain just E of Upper Green River Lake. Photo looks SSE.
White Rock from the Lakeside Trail along Lower Green River Lake. White Rock is the mountain just E of Upper Green River Lake. Photo looks SE.

It was 7:52 PM (66°F) when Lupe reached the G6 again.  After a glorious day along the Highline Trail to Beaver Park and back, she was ready for a whole can of Alpo before curling up with her blankie.  Maybe someday she will return to explore further along the Highline Trail, or take the Porcupine Trail and find the way up Squaretop Mountain.

What was for certain was that her final big adventure of her great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation would start the next day.  It would also take place in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Going to the Winds – Green River Lakes & Squaretop Mountain, WY (8-29-15)

After successfully climbing Wyoming Peak (11,378 ft.) the prior day, Day 21 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation was destined to be a bumpy one.  SPHP was determined NOT to take the same La Barge Creek Road (No. 315) out of the Wyoming Range that Lupe had taken into it.  There was no sense putting the G6 through that again.  SPHP checked the maps.  Heading for Big Piney looked like the shortest way out of the Wyoming Range.  Big Piney was also the closest to Lupe’s next destination – the fabulous Wind River Range.

Before 7:00 AM, Lupe and SPHP left the Wyoming Peak area driving S on Greys River road.  Lupe was very interested in a herd of 8 pronghorn antelope grazing in a valley.  More antelope could be seen up at the edge of the forest.  It was a gorgeous morning in the Wyoming Range.  A bit farther S, at a sign about the history of La Barge Meadow, SPHP stopped the G6 for a few minutes to let Lupe out to take a sniff of the morning air.History of La Barge Meadow, WY 8-29-15

Lupe visits La Barge Meadow in the Wyoming Range for a quick sniff of the cool morning air.
Lupe visits La Barge Meadow in the Wyoming Range for a quick sniff of the cool morning air.  Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP continued S from La Barge Meadow.  SPHP turned E on USFS Road No. 10128 where there was a sign indicating this road went to Big Piney.  No. 10128 was a good gravel road for a long way.  It went through some beautiful territory as it took Lupe down out of the Wyoming Range.  Part of the route was not so pretty, there were 5 miles of burnt forest along the way, too.

SPHP had hoped the experience with very rough dirt roads coming up La Barge Creek would not have to be repeated.  However, as Lupe continued E out of the Wyoming Range, as soon as the road left the Bridger National Forest to cross private land, it deteriorated significantly.  It wasn’t as bad as the 3 miles of crummy road coming up La Barge Creek, but made up for it by being twice as long – 6 miles of rocks, potholes, and big dips.

The road finally improved.  Lupe reached pavement on Hwy 350 about 10 miles W of Big Piney.  Two hours of bumping along on gravel and dirt roads finally came to an end, but there would be plenty more later in the day.  At Big Piney,  SPHP turned N on Hwy 189.  N of Big Piney there was a sign commemorating the Green River Rendezvous held annually from 1824 to 1840.  SPHP stopped to take a look.

This sign about the Green River Rendezvous held annually by fur traders from 1824 to 1840 was Just E of Hwy 189 N of Big Piney.
This sign about the Green River Rendezvous held annually by trappers and fur traders from 1824 to 1840 was Just E of Hwy 189 N of Big Piney.

The Green River was not in sight where the sign was, but there was a wooded area beyond the sign with a couple of dirt roads going back into it.  SPHP thought the dirt roads might lead to the river, so Lupe and SPHP took a walk back into the woods.  Pretty soon SPHP realized there were homes ahead.  Without ever finding the Green River, Lupe and SPHP went back to the G6.

At Pinedale, WY, Lupe and SPHP had a picnic at a city park on Pine Creek.  After the picnic, Lupe went wading in Pine Creek.  SPHP sat on a rock with feet dangling in the cool, clear water.  It felt really good.  Lupe curled up for a little nap in the tall grass along the shore.

The town of Pinedale lies just S of the heart of the Wind River range, which stretches over 100 miles in a NW/SE direction.  Gannet Peak, the highest mountain in Wyoming at 13,804 feet is in the Winds.  Of the 20 highest peaks in Wyoming, 19 are located in the Wind River range.  The single exception is the famous Grand Teton in the Teton range.

Lupe and SPHP left the city park to go see a few of the sights near Pinedale.  Lupe stopped by Half Moon Lake, one of a number of large lakes on the S side of the Wind River range left after the retreat of glaciers.  After wading in Pine Creek, Lupe didn’t seem inclined to go wading in Half Moon Lake, so Lupe and SPHP left to go check out the Fremont Lake campground.

Half Moon Lake near Pinedale, WY
Half Moon Lake near Pinedale, WY

The Fremont Lake campground was closed “until further notice”.  The gate was padlocked shut.  SPHP decided to take Lupe up Skyline Drive to Elkhart Park.  Lupe had been there once before near the end of her very first big Dingo Vacation in 2012.  Along Skyline Drive there are great views of Fremont Lake from high above.  Near the end of the road is a panoramic view of the highest and most rugged peaks of the central Wind River range.  At Elkhart Park are trails leading into the wilderness.

The road to Elkhart Park was blocked due to road construction.  A semi-truck carrying huge metal drainage pipes was being unloaded.  It looked like a long wait.  Another adventure got crossed off Lupe’s to do list.  She wasn’t going to wait around.

So Lupe and SPHP went back to Pinedale.  After a few errands there, Lupe headed W out of town on Hwy 191.  At Hwy 352, SPHP turned N.  Lupe was going to get a tour of the scenic Green River valley all the way to Green River Lakes at the NW end of the Wind River Range.  The paved road turned to gravel when it entered the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Lupe near the Green River shortly after it flows out of the Wind River range.
Lupe near the Green River shortly after it flows out of the Wind River range.

Green River, WY 8-29-15

The Green River starts high in the Wind River range. It flows out the NW end of the range and turns S to start its long journey to join the Colorado River.
The Green River starts high in the Wind River range. It flows out the NW end of the range and turns S to start its long journey to join the Colorado River.
Lupe had already seen the Green River much farther from its source on her 2015 Dingo Vacation. She crossed it near Dinosaur National Monument soon after entering Utah. She saw it again along the Little Hole Trail in Flaming Gorge.
Lupe had already seen the Green River much farther from its source on her 2015 Dingo Vacation. She crossed it near Dinosaur National Monument soon after entering Utah. She saw it again along the Little Hole Trail in Flaming Gorge.

The gravel road following the Green River into the Wind River range was long and very washboardy.  SPHP drove very slowly so the poor G6 wouldn’t end up just a bucket of bolts.  Huge pickup trucks, vans and SUV’s raced on by stirring up big clouds of dust.  The drive was gorgeous.  Slowly the Green River and road both curved around to the NE and then E.   When the river turned SE, SPHP knew Lupe was nearing her destination.

Finally, the mighty watchtower of the NW Wind River range, Squaretop Mountain (11,695 ft.), came into view.

Squaretop Mountain at the NW end of the Wind River range in Wyoming. Photo looks SE.
Squaretop Mountain at the NW end of the Wind River range in Wyoming. Photo looks SSE.

The washboardy road ended at Lower Green River Lake, the largest of two big lakes the Green River flows through as it leaves the Winds.  Lupe and SPHP left the G6 to go down to the beach.  The views of Squaretop Mountain looming beyond the Green River Lakes are among SPHP’s favorite mountain scenes anywhere.

Lower Green River Lake and Squaretop Mountain.
Lower Green River Lake and Squaretop Mountain.
Lupe hits the beach at Lower Green River Lake.
Lupe hits the beach at Lower Green River Lake.

Lupe at Lower Green River Lake, WY 8-29-15

Lost Eagle Peak (L), White Rock (Center), Squaretop Mountain (R) from Lower Green River Lake.
Lost Eagle Peak (11,838 ft.) (L), White Rock (11,284 ft.) (Center), and Squaretop Mountain (R) from Lower Green River Lake.

SPHP waded in the lake near the N shore.  The sand was coarse and loose.  Lupe didn’t want to get wet.  She played on the beach and explored the nearby vegetation.  SPHP threw a few sticks for her to chase, and played tug-of-war with her when she brought them back.  The American Dingo won every time in the end, but SPHP didn’t let it be too easy.

Lupe playing on the beach.
Lupe playing on the beach.

It was evening.  The sun was about to go down behind the mountains.  The long day bumping along so many gravel and dirt roads was ending.  Even the feisty Carolina Dog was getting a bit tired.  To the gentle sound of little waves lapping up against the lakeshore, Lupe laid down and went to sleep.Lupe asleep on the beach at Green River Lake, WY 8-29-15

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.