Part 2 of Day 5, plus Day 6 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond!
Reluctantly, Lupe left the huge old squirrel tree at the edge of the beautiful green glade. She quickly forgot about squirrels, sniffing her way NNE. The Carolina Dog came to a burned forest, passed through it, and entered another section of live forest where she crossed a dirt road. By the time she reached the W side of the Meadow Creek valley, Loop was back in burned out forest again.
After having a great time climbing nearby Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.) earlier in the day, Loop was on her way to Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.). The summit was now less than a mile to the NE. Unfortunately, the weather was deteriorating. Clouds were moving in. A sudden wind arose, and distant thunder could be heard. Better take cover, but where?
Glancing around, SPHP spotted a square recess in a big rock formation. The opening appeared to have a bit of an overhang. The recess was 70 feet higher up a moderately steep slope to the SW. Lupe could hide out there until this squall passed.
No other option was readily available. Loop and SPHP climbed the slope up to the square recess. The opening was large enough to accommodate both Lupe and SPHP, with sufficient overhanging rock to provide decent protection from rain or hail. Sweet!
While the American Dingo watched from the safety of the square recess in the rock, storm clouds swept across the sky from the SE. Only a small patch of blue sky remained to the N. Lupe saw a single bolt of lightning miles to the E. An eerie, angry buzzing or humming sound filled the whole valley. The peculiar noise went on and on.
The wind blowing among the dead trees must be making that strange sound! From here, Lupe could see nothing but burnt forest in Meadow Creek valley. On the other side of the valley, the entire SW face of Buffalo Peak had burned, too.
Thunder rumbled constantly. While Lupe waited for the storm to hit, SPHP had plenty of time to check maps and study the SW face of Buffalo Peak. The plan had been to go N up the Meadow Creek valley, gradually turning NE. When Lupe got high enough she would turn SE, approaching the mountain from the NW. The topo map seemed to suggest this would be the easiest way up.
However, the SW face of Buffalo Peak didn’t look all that bad. It appeared Lupe might be able to go right on up a long, wide slope between two large rock ridges. Above this wide chute, she would need to turn E to reach the top of the mountain, but that looked feasible from down here, too.
After a huge, suspenseful buildup, nothing happened. No hail, no rain – not even a drop. The distant thunder and the odd buzzing sound both faded away as storm clouds sailed off to the NW. Blue skies returned. Buffalo Peak was in sunshine. More than 40 minutes had gone by. This was her chance! Lupe had better get going!
The American Dingo headed NE down into the valley. She crossed Meadow Creek, which was only a small stream. Soon she reached the base of the long slope up the SW face of Buffalo Peak. Even from here, it didn’t look bad.
Lupe began climbing. The long chute was very wide, bordered by large rock formations on both sides. At first, Looper encountered quite a lot of deadfall timber. Higher up, less deadfall existed. The slope was steep, but not at all scary. Lupe traversed a mix of bare ground, scattered yellow flowers, and numerous small to medium-sized loose rocks.
The American Dingo made great progress, especially after SPHP got above the worst of the deadfall. Lupe made it up to the top of the long chute. She now needed to angle more to the E. What appeared to be Buffalo Peak’s summit was still a good 300 feet higher. Getting up there looked somewhat more complicated from here than it had appeared from below. However, Lupe was able to gain elevation traveling ENE below a high ridge of rock.
Shortly after reaching the upper end of the SW chute, it became clear another squall was on the way. More clouds were approaching rapidly, blown in on a strong SE breeze. No lightning was seen, but initially faint thunder grew steadily louder. Time to seek refuge again!
A great many large rocks were in the area, but places to hide beneath an overhang were scarce. Lupe and SPHP scouted out possibilities with increasing urgency. A couple of tight spots were all that could be found. SPHP stuffed the backpack beneath a small overhang. Loop and SPHP jammed together into a different barely large enough space under a big rock nearby.
Wind blew. Thunder rumbled, but no lighting was seen. A series of threatening clouds raced by. From the cramped space, SPHP had a glimpse of wild-looking clouds and blue sky far to the S.
Ho hum. Dullsville. Lupe had gotten used to this routine. She dozed on SPHP’s lap, waiting for the squall to pass.
Eventually, the distant blue sky to the S appeared to be heading this way. Once again, not a drop of rain, despite all the sound and fury! When thunder could no longer be heard, and sunshine reached Squaw Mountain 1.5 miles away, Lupe and SPHP clambered out from under the boulder.
Another 30 minutes had been lost. The summit of Buffalo Peak was still 200 feet higher. Lupe resumed her ascent.
Within 10 minutes, the American Dingo had scrambled up enough boulders to reach a large amphitheater where the ground sloped toward the NW. The amphitheater contained burnt trees, quite a few large low rocks, and a fair amount of bare earth with little vegetation. Around the perimeter were 3 large ridges of rock, with openings to the SW and NW.
Of the 3 high points on the rocky ridges around the amphitheater, the lowest was clearly the one to the SW. From below, the one to the SE had appeared to be the mountain’s summit. However, from the amphitheater it looked fairly certain the large ridge to the N was actually highest.
Lupe went to check out the SE ridge first, in case part of it was hidden from view. The possibility that the true summit was over here hadn’t been completely ruled out yet. As soon as Loop got up on top, though, it was clear this was not the true summit. Nevertheless, the views were awesome!
From the high point on the SE ridge, the true summit of Buffalo Peak was clearly seen off to the NNW. Lupe had to get over there to claim her peakbagging success. Off Lupe went. A scramble up from the SE was easily accomplished. The mighty Carolina Dog stood at the very top of Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.)!
A plastic jar tucked next to the two highest rocks on the mountain contained a registry. Six people ranging from 10 to 64 years old had made the trek up Buffalo Peak and started the registry on Memorial Day, 2013. Since then, only one other person had signed in on 7-12-16. Naturally, Lupe’s name got added.
It was a good thing Lupe made it to the top of Buffalo Peak when she did. Before long, the weather was deteriorating again. The entire sky grew dark. Distant peaks disappeared in a soft, gray haze. Nearby peaks could still be seen clearly, except when wisps of fog streamed by on the relentless SE breeze. Thunder roared threats from afar.
SPHP started down first. At the top of Buffalo Peak, Lupe stood alone in the wind waiting for the signal to come.
The signal was given. Lupe bounded down. Now it was a race against the storm! She scrambled down to the amphitheater of dead trees, crossed it heading S, and started descending the mountain’s SW slope. Loop hadn’t lost much elevation before it was necessary to hide again.
Another overhanging rock was found to squeeze in beneath. This time there was room for the backpack, too. Lupe and SPHP waited. No blue sky could be seen, only a light band of weird yellow sky on the SW horizon. The wind picked up. Sprinkles of rain dashed against the rocks.
Thunder echoed closer than before, but Lupe remained calm. She dozed while SPHP stroked her warm fur and soft ears. It rained harder. Water began dripping into Lupe’s refuge, ultimately becoming a steady stream. The Carolina Dog curled up on SPHP’s lap, comfortable and dry, while SPHP sat on increasingly muddy ground.
Half an hour passed with no changes. How long was this going to go on? The Carolina Dog might be fine here, but SPHP was not looking forward to a long night crammed under a rock. That was what it would come down to if the storm didn’t let up. Getting drenched didn’t seem like a good plan either. Better stay as dry as possible. No reasonable choice other than to wait it out.
An hour went by. It began to hail. Nothing major. Pea-sized hailstones ricocheted off nearby rocks. A few struck stinging glancing blows, but did no real damage. Fun, fun!
After 10 minutes, the hail let up. It had been the storm’s last hurrah. A SE breeze remained, but now the sky was clearing again. Not a moment too soon, either. The sun was getting low. Better make tracks. Lupe and SPHP set off down Buffalo Peak, retracing the Carolina Dog’s earlier route up.
The sun was still up when Lupe reached the top of the long, wide SW chute leading down to the Meadow Creek valley. By the time she reached the worst of the deadfall timber at the lower end of the slope, sunlight remained only high up on Squaw Mountain.
Puppy, ho! Onward! No time to lose. Lupe crossed Meadow Creek again, and turned S. As twilight weakened, she passed through the burnt forest and reached the live forest. A dark, shady gloom prevailed. Lupe kept going. Across the dirt road, out of the gloom, and into another burnt forest.
Little light remained by the time Lupe made it back to the gnarled old squirrel tree. The tent and sleeping bags hung in it were only slightly damp. At least that had worked. In almost total darkness, SPHP pitched Lupe’s “tiny house” beneath a starry sky. What a day it had been! Sweet success! Lupe had managed to climb both Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.) and Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.).
Once safely inside her “tiny house”, Lupe was ravenous. She gobbled down her Alpo, before curling up on her red sleeping bag. In no time, she was out like a light. (End of Day 5)
It was a cold night. The wind blew for hours, yet the American Dingo hardly stirred. When she did, SPHP kept wrapping the red sleeping bag over her for warmth. She must have snoozed well, much better than SPHP. When dawn arrived, Loopster was ready for action. She demanded to be let out!
No problem. Loop wouldn’t run off, not with a giant squirrel tree right outside. SPHP unzipped the tent door. Out she went. An excited yipping and yapping commenced immediately. The squirrel tree hadn’t failed her. An annoyed squirrel scolded the Carolina Dog for rudely breaking the early peace and tranquility of the new day. The scolding only egged her on.
The excitement finally died down and became an occasional thing. SPHP dozed fitfully for another 2 hours, checking on Looper every so often. She was always there, waiting and watching beneath the huge squirrel tree.
The sun was well up by the time SPHP managed to spring back to life. A stroll out in the sunny green glade to take off the morning chill was in order. The warm sunlight felt good.
The original plan had been for Lupe to climb Buffalo Peak today, but she’d already done it. Fortunately, there was something else fun to do on the way back to the G6. Looper could climb Twin Peaks (9,280 ft.) again. Twin Peaks was the mountain Lupe had climbed a year ago where she’d first spotted Squaw Mountain and Buffalo Peak.
Lupe stood guard at the base of the squirrel tree while SPHP packed everything up. When all was ready, Loop had to leave the squirrels in peace. She didn’t mind. By now she was ready for more exploring. She crossed the green glade heading S and entered the forest.
It was 2 miles back to the minor pass S of the big rock formation close to where Lupe had left Twin Peaks Trail No. 618 yesterday. On the way, Loop stayed W of the route she had taken to Squaw Mountain. Much of the time she was in forest, but a brighter, more open forest than she’d been in before.
Loop made it back to the minor pass. SPHP ditched the tent and sleeping bags near some rocks. The Twin Peaks summit was only 0.5 mile S from here. Lupe crossed Twin Peaks Trail No. 618 and took off into the forest again, starting her ascent. At first, she had only the forest and deadfall timber to contend with. Higher up, she reached rock formations, much steeper ground, and even some snow.
The Carolina Dog came to a rocky high point SPHP recognized from last year. As she continued higher, the mountain seemed more and more familiar. For the most part, Lupe took a more direct route straight up from the N this time. She didn’t scramble up onto the same NW ridge she had approached from last year until very near the summit.
On the way up the N slope, the NW ridge protected Loopster from the weather. Upon attaining the summit, however, she was exposed to the full force of a gale blowing out of the SW. Puffy white clouds floated swiftly by. The sky was mostly blue, and the day sunny, but it wasn’t warm or relaxing up here.
Lupe detested the wind. She stood on the summit long enough for a short photo session. After that, SPHP could gaze at the views without her. Loop hid down in a grassy slot between some of the highest rocks where she was at least partly sheltered from the relentless, stiff breeze. The American Dingo had some sense, even if SPHP did not.
The views from Twin Peaks were fabulous! Seeing them again was great fun, especially looking over at Squaw Mountain and Buffalo Peak now that Lupe had been to both. While Lupe hid out, SPHP endured the gale a little longer.
It was a shame it was so windy up on Twin Peaks, but SPHP was glad Lupe had returned. Still, 20 minutes of this gale, and even SPHP was ready to retreat. Lupe was more than happy to start the descent. She definitely preferred roaming the forest to the conditions at the top.
Looper returned to the minor pass N of Twin Peaks. SPHP retrieved the tent and sleeping bags. Together, Lupe and SPHP started E back down Twin Peaks Trail No. 618.
At 2:19 PM, Loop arrived back at the trailhead. After a bite to eat, both Lupe and SPHP were overcome with weariness. Adventuring can take it out of you! Nothing wrong with taking a nap, is there?
Naptime lasted nearly 3 hours. When she awoke, Lupe’s adventures in the Laramie Mountains were about over for now. During the last 6 days, she’d had peakbagging successes and failures, spent countless hours sniffing and exploring, seen many beautiful things, and even faced some dangers. As wonderful as it had all been, the moment had come to move on.
On the way back to Douglas, Lupe rode with her head out the window of the G6, barking vigorously and happily at everything she saw along the way. SPHP stopped at several scenic spots. The SW wind still blew hard, but that didn’t detract from the beautiful western scenery.
Upon reaching Douglas, WY, Lupe and SPHP headed W on I-25. A side trip S to Ayer’s Natural Bridge ended in disappointment. A sign said the park closes at 5 PM, and it was more than an hour later than that. Didn’t matter. The sign also said no pets allowed. Oh, well.
Lupe was happy anyway, barking at the buffalo she saw from the G6 in a big field along the gravel road.
Back at I-25, SPHP drove W. Bright-eyed Lupe rode up even with the dash, comfy on her pile of pillows and blankets. With the Laramie Mountains to the S, and high plains to the N, the sinking sun shone upon her eager face. Loop was on the road to adventure once more! Tomorrow she’d be in unexplored territory beyond the Laramie Range.
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