Buffalo Peak & Twin Peaks in the Laramie Mountains of Wyoming (6-12-17 & 6-13-17)

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.

Lupe reaches the burned out forest in the Meadow Creek valley on her way to Buffalo Peak. Photo looks N.

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!

Lupe at the square recess in the rock where she would take shelter from the storm. Photo looks W.

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.

From her square recess in the rocks, Lupe could see the whole SW face of Buffalo Peak. SPHP thought she could probably climb the mountain from this direction, instead of circling around to the NW as originally planned. Photo looks NE.

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.

Lupe near the upper end of the long steep slope she climbed from the SW. From here, she gained elevation traveling ENE (R) through more complicated rocky terrain than expected. Photo looks N.

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.

As another squall approached, Lupe and SPHP searched for a place to take shelter. Lupe and SPHP wound up jammed together in the small space under the rock seen to the L of Lupe. Photo looks SSE.

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.

In cramped quarters under a large rock, Lupe dozes on SPHP’s lap, while waiting for the storm 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.

With skies starting to clear again, Lupe emerged from beneath the boulder she’s standing on to resume her ascent of Buffalo Peak. Photo looks NE.

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.

Lupe reaches the amphitheater near the top of Buffalo Peak. The true summit is unseen a short distance beyond the high rocks on the L. Photo looks N.

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!

Loop reaches the top of Buffalo Peak’s SE high point. This turned out not to be the true summit. Photo looks NE.
Retreating clouds make for a dramatic scene from Buffalo Peak’s SE high point. Photo looks NNE.
Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.) (Center) is the high burnt ridge to the R of Lupe. The much more distant high point seen above her rump is Warbonnet Peak (9,414 ft.). Photo looks SE.
The lower SW ridge is in view on the R. The territory Lupe had come up through to reach the amphitheater from the SW is seen on the R. Photo looks SW.
The summit of Buffalo Peak as seen from the SE high point. Photo looks NNW.

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.)!

Loop stands on the true summit of Buffalo Peak. Photo looks NW.
Lupe’s odd summit stance makes the situation look much more precarious than it actually was.
Looking N from the true summit.
Buffalo Peak’s SE high point is seen beyond Lupe. Squaw Mountain is the long, high burnt ridge even farther away. The plastic jar by the summit rock on the R contained a registry. Photo looks SSE.

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.

The Buffalo Peak registry had gotten off to a good start on Memorial Day, 2013, but had seen little use since then.

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.

Alone on Buffalo Peak waiting for the signal to follow SPHP down. Photo looks NW.

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.

Under the rock, waiting out the latest storm threat on the descent.

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.

A profusion of yellow wildflowers like these grew on the slopes of Buffalo Peak.

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.

The sun was still up as Lupe began her descent of the wide, SW chute leading to the Meadow Creek valley. Photo looks SW.

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.

Lupe next to her “tiny house” at the edge of the green glade. The huge squirrel tree is beyond her. Photo looks N.
In the warm sunshine of the green glade. Photo looks S.

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.

Back in 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.

On the way up Twin Peaks, Lupe reaches rockier territory and even some snow. Photo looks SSW.

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.

Lupe stands on the tip top rock on Twin Peaks (9,280 ft.) again for the first time in a year and 12 days. It was windy! Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.), which Lupe had climbed yesterday is seen on the L. Photo looks NE.
Part of Squaw Mountain (Center) is seen near Lupe’s forehead. Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.) is the barren rounded peak a little to the L. Photo looks NE.
Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) (Center) is the most distant high point. Warbonnet Peak (9,414 ft.) is the highest point closer by on the R. Photo looks SE.
A Carolina Dog leans into the stiff SW gale up on the summit of Twin Peaks. Photo looks E.
Loopster takes shelter from the roaring SW wind in the slot between Twin Peak’s summit rocks. The open end of the slot faces W, so the protection wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better than standing up on top of these same rocks. Photo looks E.

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.

Looking W. The very last part of Lupe’s ascent was from this direction.
It was especially fun seeing Buffalo Peak (L) and Squaw Mountain (R) from Twin Peaks again now that Lupe had climbed both! Photo looks NE.
The valley Lupe would travel through on her way back to the Twin Peaks trailhead is seen below. Squaw Mountain is on the L. Photo looks ENE.
Buck Peak (9,061 ft.) is the conical mountain at Center. Photo looks NNW.

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.

Heading down the N slope of Twin Peaks. Lupe much preferred the forest where she was sheltered from the wind. Finding hidden snowbanks like this one was an added bonus!

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.

Near Bear Rock along Cold Springs Road, Lupe faces into the sun and SW wind. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on her way back to Douglas, WY. She’s leaving behind adventures in some truly beautiful territory. Bear Rock (L), Squaw Mountain (Center) and Buffalo Peak (R). Photo looks SW.
Bear Rock seen through the telephoto lens. Photo looks SW.
A pronghorn antelope dashes away across the rolling high plains. Lupe loves watching antelope run!
Lupe stopped by the fancy entrance to the gorgeous Powderhorn Ranch. Buffalo Peak (Center) is in the distance. Photo looks SW.
The Powderhorn Ranch SW of Douglas, WY. Buffalo Peak (L) in the distance. Photo looks SW with help from the telephoto lens.

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.

Buffalo near the road to Ayer’s Natural Bridge.

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.

Links:

Part 1:  Squaw Mountain, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-12-13)

Twin Peaks, Laramie Mountains, Wyoming (6-1-16)

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2017 Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Squaw Mountain, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-12-17)

Day 5, Part 1, of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range in Wyoming & Beyond!

What a glorious day!  Spirits were soaring as Lupe and SPHP left the Twin Peaks trailhead on Trail No. 618 (7:14 AM, 59°F).  The lucky American Dingo was setting off on a 2-day trek to a couple of fabulous peaks she’d seen for the first time a year ago when she’d taken this same trail and climbed Twin Peaks (9,280 ft.).

A lucky American Dingo about to set off on Twin Peaks Trail No. 618 for a couple of beautiful peaks in the Laramie Range.

Trail No. 618 started off as an old jeep trail that headed W up a rise.  The E end of Lupe’s first peakbagging goal, Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.), was soon in sight ahead.

Squaw Mountain (Center) came into view shortly after Lupe left the trailhead. Photo looks NW.

Even though the summit of Squaw Mountain was less than 2 miles WNW of the trailhead, Lupe was going to have to travel a lot farther than that to get there.  According to the topo map, the easiest way up was from the NW.  The plan was to circle more than halfway around the mountain to approach it from those NW slopes.

Loop wasn’t the least bit worried about how far it was to Squaw Mountain.  She was just looking forward to a fun time exploring.  On this long day in early June, the Carolina Dog would have plenty of time to get to the top of the mountain.

The jeep trail passed over the small rise, then dipped down close to Roaring Fork Creek.  Lupe couldn’t resist going in for a cool drink.

Looper cools her paws off in Roaring Fork Creek.

Although there were a few muddy areas along Trail No. 618, it never did cross Roaring Fork Creek.  Instead, the trail went W up a deep, forested valley staying a little S of the creek.  After a mile or so, the jeep trail turned SW heading up a steep slope.  At the base of the slope, Trail No. 618 veered off to the R, becoming a single track going down a much smaller slope almost to the edge of Roaring Fork Creek again.

Lupe stayed on Trail No. 618, continuing W up the valley.  Now that the wider jeep trail had been left behind, it really did seem like Lupe was in a wilderness.

On Trail No. 618 after it left the much wider jeep trail behind. Now it really did seem like Lupe was in the wilderness!

Lupe knew what to expect, though.  She had been this far before.  Lupe continued along No. 618, which stayed relatively close to Roaring Fork Creek.

Before long, Lupe arrived at a fence with a sign saying “Please! Close the Gate”.  A year ago, SPHP hadn’t seen a gate to close, just the fence, which ended right over the trail next to some rocks.  Puzzled, Lupe and SPHP had climbed up onto the rocks to get around the end of the fence.

Not a thing had changed, but this time SPHP had a hunch.  Doh!  Yes, the entire fence across the trail was a gate.  It swung open without much effort.

How about that, Loop?  Learn something new every day!

Having a year to think about it helped, aye?  Glad you passed the intelligence test this time around, SPHP!

Just call me Einstein and keep going, smart-alecky Dingo.

Lupe on the rocks at the site of SPHP’s intelligence test success.

Eventually, Trail No. 618 moved farther away from Roaring Fork Creek and began to fade.  A few cairns helped show the way.  Sometimes sticks had been placed across what otherwise might have looked like the route.  The surest way of being certain Lupe was still on the trail was to watch for blazes on the trees.  Generally there were two blazes, a small upper one with a larger blaze below.

Trail No. 618 eventually began to fade. A few cairns like this one helped show the way.
Blazes on the trees, like the ones on the tree on the R, became the most reliable way of following seldom-used Trail No. 618.

About a mile after it became single track, Trail No. 618 angled SW leaving Roaring Fork Creek behind.  SPHP expected it to continue SW to a minor pass about 0.6 mile farther on.  A year ago, Lupe had followed this same trail to that pass.

However, after going SW for 0.25 mile, this time the trail turned SE and kept going that way.  Something was wrong.  SPHP kept expecting the trail to bend back around to the W, but it didn’t.  Hmmm.  SE was definitely the wrong way.

SPHP had been watching for, and caught a glimpse of, a tall rock formation that SPHP remembered was immediately N of the minor pass.  May as well head straight for it.  Lupe left whatever trail she was on, going W through the forest.  She soon came across another trail, which must have been No. 618, because it went the right way.

Lupe made it to the minor pass.

Lupe arrives at the minor pass. The tall rock formation just N of Trail No. 618 is in view. A year ago, Lupe had gone 0.5 mile S from here to climb Twin Peaks (9,280 ft.). This time she needed to go N around the W end of Squaw Mountain. Photo looks N.

A year ago, Lupe had gone S from here to climb Twin Peaks, the summit of which was only 0.5 mile away.  After a successful ascent, Lupe had come back down to this pass, crossed over No. 618, and proceeded N around the E side of the tall rock formation.  She’d gone quite a distance bushwhacking through forests and bogs, but had never made it to the W end of Squaw Mountain before she ran out of time and had to turn back.

Last year’s march through the forests and bogs had been intriguing, but maybe there was an easier way?  From up on Twin Peaks, Lupe and SPHP had seen large meadows in the valley W of this pass.  SPHP didn’t remember how far N they went, but looking for the meadows seemed like a good idea.

Lupe followed No. 618 going W over the minor pass.  The topo map showed the trail continuing W, but Lupe needed to start turning N.  Once she’d lost a little elevation, the Carolina Dog left No. 618 heading NW through the forest.  From here on, she wouldn’t have any roads or trails to follow the rest of the way up Squaw Mountain.

That suited Looper just fine.  American Dingoes love exploring off trail!  Lupe raced through the forest sniffing like a Dingo possessed.  She soon sniffed her way far enough NW to arrive at one of the big meadows she had seen a year ago from the top of Twin Peaks.

Lupe arrives at one of the big meadows she had seen a year ago from the summit of Twin Peaks. Photo looks SW.

The big meadow meant easy traveling, much easier than going through the forest.  SPHP had hoped the meadow would extend a long way N, but was disappointed to see it didn’t go much farther that way.  A short stroll brought Loop to the NE corner of the meadow.

Squaw Mountain wasn’t even in sight, but there was no other choice.  Without the slightest hesitation, Lupe plunged headlong back into the forest.  She traveled N or NNE through rolling terrain slowly gaining elevation along the way.

For close to a mile, there was no sign of Squaw Mountain.  Looper had never been here before, and it seemed like she had been wandering the forest for a long time.  Presently, though, she saw a creek to the E at the base of an embankment.  She scrambled down, leapt over the little creek, and found herself on the W side of another meadow of bright green grass.

To the ENE was another tall rock formation.  That had to be the W end of Squaw Mountain!  Lupe had just crossed Roaring Fork Creek, which was much smaller up here.  Hah!  Progress!

After a mile long trek through the forest, Lupe crossed Roaring Fork Creek and arrived at this meadow of bright green grass. The rock formation seen ahead is the W end of Squaw Mountain. Photo looks NE.

The meadow of bright green grass was only a few hundred feet wide, but extended NNE for a long way.  Perfect!  Just the direction Lupe needed to go from here.

Actually, it wasn’t so perfect.  The bright green meadow quickly proved to be mostly bog.  The ground was soft, wet and mucky.  Standing water was here, there and everywhere.  Not good!

SPHP led Lupe across the bog the shortest and driest way possible.  Back into the forest!  The forest on the E side of the bog was dense, but without much deadfall, so it wasn’t too bad to go through.  Lupe had a blast!  She thought this place was great.  She explored this way and that.  Whenever she felt like it, she wandered over into the bog for a drink.

Sniffing around in the dense forest somewhere between the W end of Squaw Mountain and the bog E of Roaring Fork Creek. Photo looks N, but the view was the essentially the same in all directions.
A very busy Carolina Dog passes by again. Loopster loved this place!

The dense forest was nearly level near the bog, but Lupe eventually got far enough N to where she needed to start angling NE.  Once she left the bog behind, the terrain started rising and became rougher.  Lupe continued on until she was NW of Squaw Mountain.

This was supposed to be the easiest side of the mountain to go up.  Lupe turned SE to begin her ascent, but soon faced a jumble of large boulders on a still densely forested and now much steeper slope.  Deadfall timber was more abundant here, too, creating more obstacles.  How tough was this going to get?  For a while, progress was slow.

After gaining a couple hundred feet, Lupe found the terrain wasn’t as steep as before.  Fewer large boulders were in the way.  The forest wasn’t as dense, either.  SPHP found it much easier to maneuver around.

The topo map showed there was no rush to reach Squaw Mountain’s main E/W ridgeline.  Reaching the top of it too far W meant Lupe would have to go over a couple of potentially rough high points.  The Carolina Dog would likely have an easier time angling gradually up the N side of the mountain traveling ESE.  If she could reach the ridgeline about halfway to the E, that should be perfect.  From there, it shouldn’t be too hard to get to the summit at the far E end.

Lupe went E for a little while climbing more slowly, and unexpectedly arrived at the edge of the living forest.  Ahead the entire forest had burned.  The vast majority of the dead trees were still standing.  The burnt forest wasn’t pretty, but it was certainly easier to see the terrain.  Loop didn’t care for the dead forest nearly as much as the living one, but it made the trek easier for SPHP.

Coming up from the NW, Lupe discovered that most of the forest on the N slopes of Squaw Mountain had burned. The American Dingo didn’t like the burnt forest as much as the living one, but it was easier for SPHP to traverse and see what was ahead. Photo looks ESE.

Lupe arrived at what seemed to be the ridgeline a little E of a tall rock formation.  There were a few live trees here.  The forest hadn’t burned at all on a nearby slope to the SE which rose steeply toward an unseen high point still far above where Lupe was.

Lupe near the base of the tall rock formation. This point seemed to be somewhere up on the main E/W ridge, but still too far W. A forested slope to the SE rose steeply to much higher terrain. Photo looks WNW.

A patch of ground E of the tall rock formation was level and not rocky.  Lupe was going to have to camp somewhere tonight.  Maybe this wasn’t such a bad place?  After pondering for a couple minutes, SPHP decided against leaving the tent and sleeping bags here.  It might be hard to find this place again, and it was still quite early in the day.

Lupe pushed on, continuing E or ESE through the burned forest.  She did not climb through the living forest leading to the much higher point to the SE.  Instead she stayed to the N until she was past it, trying to avoid gaining too much elevation too soon.

The American Dingo was still steadily gaining some elevation, though.  After a while, Looper was clearly getting quite high on the mountain.  Shortly before reaching the main summit ridge, Lupe found something that delighted her – snow!

Nearing Squaw Mountain’s summit ridge, Lupe was delighted to find these snow banks on the N side of more large rock formations.

Lupe did a little slipping, sliding and sledding on the soft, deliciously cold snowbanks.  No doubt it was refreshing.  Loop was clearly pleased with the experience and somewhat re-energized.

Squaw Mountain’s main E/W ridge wasn’t far off now.  Beyond the snowbanks, Lupe turned SE climbing more aggressively.  Reaching the ridge was easy, and she was soon there.

Lupe had reached the main ridge at a great point.  She was well past the high point she had skirted to the N.  It’s rocky summit was now in view a little off to the W.  Lupe had saved some unnecessary elevation gain by going around it.  Squaw Mountain’s true summit was still unseen somewhere off to the E, but the path to it looked open and easy.

The main ridge was level and several hundred feet wide here.  Toward the N, the trees had burned.  However, the S half of the ridge was all living forest.  This was a good place to take a break.  Lupe found a spot in the shade to lay down.  She had her usual fare of Taste of the Wild and water.  SPHP dropped the tent and sleeping bags.  This place would be easy enough to find again.  Maybe Lupe should camp here?

Loop takes a break in the shade up on Squaw Mountain’s main E/W ridge. Photo looks E in the direction of the still unseen summit.

When her break was over, Lupe traveled E along the broad ridge staying near, but not in, the living forest.  She soon came to a N/S running line of boulders.  Up ahead a much larger rock formation was in sight.  Was that the summit?  Lupe pressed on toward it.

Heading E along the main ridge, Lupe reaches a line of boulders. Beyond it, a much larger rock formation was in sight. Was that the summit? Photo looks ENE.

The Carolina Dog climbed a broad, thinly forested slope between the big rock formation and a smaller one to the S.  The high point she had seen from the line of boulders wasn’t the summit, but part of a ridge of solid rock that went even higher.  Lupe got up on the smaller rock formation for a better look.

A path led toward a wall of rock roughly 40 feet high.  The wall appeared to extend NW/SE across the entire main ridge.  The high point on the wall might well be Squaw Mountain’s summit, but was there even a way up onto it?  Who knew?

No one yet, but Lupe was about to find out!  She took the path leading to the wall of rock.

After coming up the slope on the L, Lupe got on this smaller rock formation for a better look at the 40 foot high rock wall ahead. A path led toward it. Lupe took the path to go see if she could find a way up. Photo looks NE.

The path ended at the base of the rock wall.  There was certainly no way up that Loop or SPHP could manage from here.  Lupe headed SE along the wall, looking for some sort of a break providing a route to the top.  She came to a place where a big knob of rock sat up on top of the wall.  It looked like there was a place right next to it where Lupe could scramble up with a little help from SPHP.

After following the rock wall SE, Lupe arrived here. If SPHP would give her a boost, it looked like she could get up on top of the wall right next to the large knob of rock seen on the R. Photo looks ENE.

Lupe climbed as high as she possibly could.  SPHP then gave her a boost up the last few feet.  She’d made it!  Lupe was up on the rock wall.  SPHP scrambled up after her.  A quick look around revealed a couple of surprises.

Lupe stands near the big knob on top of the rock wall. A couple of surprises were immediately evident up here. Photo looks SE.

First of all, SPHP had expected Lupe might be able to simply walk NW back along the top of the rock wall to the highest rocks to claim a peakbagging success.  She could go that way, alright, but Squaw Mountain’s summit wasn’t over there.  Lupe could now see the summit, but it was some distance away off to the ENE.  She still had farther to go.

You mean we still have to go way over there? …. Afraid so, Looper, looks like that’s the true summit of Squaw Mountain. Come on, it’s not that far. You’ll be there in a jiffy! Photo looks ENE.

The second surprise was that if Loop had only gone a little farther SE along the base of this rock wall, there was an opening where she could have easily gotten past it without having to climb up on top.  Oh, well!  At least that was news she could use on the way back.

There didn’t seem to be any reason to dilly dally around on the rock wall.  It was easy to get down off the NE side of it.  Once down, Lupe trotted through the forest heading ENE toward the summit.  She discovered a couple of fun things to do along the way.

She dug furiously at the base of a tree for several minutes.  She didn’t turn up anything, but the American Dingo left the freshly undermined tree looking quite cheerful.  Apparently, digging like that had been a good time.  Loop also found a few more small patches of snow.  They were melting fast, even in the shade.  Lupe availed herself of these opportunities to cool off again.

It really wasn’t that far from the rock wall to the true summit, only a few hundred yards.  A short, easy scramble up white rocks brought Lupe to the summit of Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.).  At the very top, a white rock about 3 feet high leaned at a steep angle.  Loop bounded up in a single leap.  Sweet success!

Lupe on the highest rock on Squaw Mountain. Another peakbagging success! Photo looks NE.

The trek up Squaw Mountain had been really fun!  The views at the top were rewarding, too.  A few trees existed around the summit area, but not enough to block the views.  By moving around a bit, it was possible to get a clear view in any desired direction.

Climbing Squaw Mountain had been fun! Lots of off-trail exploration and a few challenging spots, but nothing too difficult. Great views from the top, too! Photo looks NE.
Looking back along Squaw Mountain’s main ridge. The rock wall Lupe had climbed over from the other side is in view above her head. The big knob she had gotten up next to is seen on the L. Other lower high points along the main ridge are seen farther off to the R. Photo looks WSW.
Another look at Squaw Mountain’s main E/W ridge. Photo looks WSW with a bit of help from the telephoto lens.

A small wooden structure a couple feet NW of the summit rock had collapsed long ago by the looks of it.  There was some smooth wire around, too.  However, the one man-made thing SPHP hoped to find up here was nowhere to be seen.  A search for the Squaw Mountain survey benchmark yielded nothing.  Where was it?  The entire summit area was only 15′ x 10′.  It should have been easy to find.

Nope, nada.  SPHP eventually gave up the search.

The small collapsed wooden structure a couple feet NW of the summit rock is seen on the R. Photo looks W.
A short distance E of the true summit, Lupe stands on a rock shaped like an elongated chair. SPHP promptly dubbed it “the Dingo Throne“. The views from the Dingo Throne were fantastic! Photo looks ENE.
Still on the Dingo Throne, this time looking NW at Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.) (R).
Buffalo Peak was Lupe’s next peakbagging goal after Squaw Mountain. Looks like fun, doesn’t it? Photo looks NW.
Buffalo Peak (Center) is 1.5 miles NNW of Squaw Mountain.

After spending a little time gazing at the tremendous views, Lupe was ready for another break.  Even up here, the day was getting kind of hot for wearing a fur coat.  Loopster took shelter in the shade of a couple of small trees SE of the summit rock.  SPHP gave her water and Taste of the Wild again.  She would have preferred steak and ice cream, but at the top of a remote mountain in the Laramie Range, even an American Dingo has to take what she can get.

After dining, Lupe looked ready to doze off.  However, some pesky flies arrived and wouldn’t leave her alone.  She spent her time snapping instead of napping.  Meanwhile, SPHP went back to looking around.

A large bird swooped by.  No doubt some loyal reader of this blog will once again suggest the bird was both a vulture and an evil omen.  Fortunately, with all the snapping at flies going on, and SPHP apparently still conscious, the evil omen did not yet feel confident enough about the situation to drop in for a meal.

Lupe takes it easy in her fly-snapping spot.
A large bird swooped by. Fortunately for Lupe and SPHP, even if it was a vulture, it was premature in it’s thinking. Photo looks up.
A year ago, Lupe had also climbed Warbonnet Peak (9,414 ft.), the highest point seen L of Center. That had been a great adventure, too! Photo looks SSE.
Warbonnet Peak is the Converse County, Wyoming high point. Photo looks SSE with help from the telephoto lens.

A rare moment arrived.  SPHP had an idea!  Peering down among cracks between the rocks under the collapsed wooden structure, there it was!  The Squaw Mountain survey benchmark.  Hah!  SPHP had to wait until the angle of the sun illuminated it better before taking a photo.

The Squaw Mountain survey benchmark is hidden down in cracks between rocks beneath the collapsed wooden structure next to the summit rock. Photo looks down.

Lupe had been up at the summit of Squaw Mountain for half an hour now.  Unfortunately, the weather to the SW seemed to be deteriorating.  It looked like rain showers might move in from that direction.  Maybe it was time to think about moving on?

Loop was fine with that.  Snapping at flies had grown old.  Before leaving, though, she returned briefly to both her Dingo Throne and the true summit for a last look around.

Lupe back on her Dingo Throne for a final look around. Buffalo Peak is seen on the L. She would be headed there next! Photo looks NNW.
Looking N from the Dingo Throne.
Final moments on the summit rock. Photo looks ENE.

SPHP started down first.  Lupe waited for the signal to follow.

Waiting for the signal to come down. Photo looks N.

Still waiting at the same spot. Photo looks WNW.

From the summit, the rock wall Lupe had climbed up earlier had looked equally high.  A quick check of the topo map revealed that the highest part of the wall was also enclosed by the 9,280 foot contour.  So the rock wall was conceivably just as high or higher.  SPHP didn’t really believe the rock wall was higher, but she may as well tag this “W summit” on her way back, too.

Even including time spent frolicking in the snow again, it only took Looper 10 or 12 minutes to get back to the rock wall.

Ahh, so nice and cool!
Dingo ecstasy!

Coming from the E, it wasn’t hard to get up on the highest rocks of the rock wall.  In the short time it had taken to get here, though, clouds had spread across a large portion of the sky.  A cool breeze blew out of the SW.  Lupe better not stay up here long.

Lupe reaches the highest rocks of the rock wall. It had only taken 10 or 12 minutes to get here from the summit, but clouds had already spread over a large part of the sky. Warbonnet Peak is the high point at Center. Photo looks SSE.
Looking NE from the rock wall back toward the true summit. The sky was still mostly blue in this direction.
Looking W.
Looking E.

After a good look around from the top of the rock wall, Lupe circled down around to the SE, passing through the break in the wall she had discovered earlier.  With the weather clearly deteriorating, she made a beeline W back to the place where SPHP had left the tent and sleeping bags on Squaw Mountain’s main ridge.

Too bad the weather was threatening.  It would have been fun for Lupe to spend the night up here and get some sunset photos.  However, considering the situation, it seemed better to get down off the mountain.  SPHP grabbed all the gear.  Lupe left the main E/W ridge going NW down Squaw Mountain’s N slope.

Looper lost elevation faster than she’d gained it coming up.  She was somewhere N of where she’d been before, but she was still angling W, too.  It seemed to take a long time to get through the burned forest.  The sky became so threatening, it became prudent to look for a place to take shelter.  Widely scattered big raindrops started falling.  Lupe finally found a place to hide under a small overhanging rock formation.

The rain shower didn’t amount to anything.  It was over only a couple of minutes after Lupe took cover.  Figures.  When nothing further happened for another 10 minutes, the Carolina Dog went on.  Down, down, down, trying to go WNW now.  Lupe was aiming for relatively level ground SW of Buffalo Peak and the Meadow Creek valley.

Lupe finally reached the living, unburned forest.  She liked this better, but now it wasn’t possible to see much at all.  SPHP was surprised when Lupe came across a logging trail or some kind of road not long after reaching the living forest.  First she followed it SW, the direction where she ought to run into the bright green bog and Roaring Fork Creek again.  Before long, though, the road simply dead-ended.

Oh, well.  Other than to get re-oriented, there wasn’t much reason to return to the bog anyway.  May as well turn around and see where this road came from.  At first, it took Lupe NE, but soon began curving N, then NW, and finally clear around to the W.  N was fine.  NW was fine.  W into unexplored territory was not.  Lupe didn’t need to go any farther that way.

On the logging road somewhere NW of Squaw Mountain. Photo looks W.

Even so, the road was a nice luxury.  After all the bushwhacking, SPHP was reluctant to leave it.  Maybe it would curve back N again?  It did, but only for a short stretch, then it curved W again.  Gah!  Who knew where it went?  SPHP was about to abandon the road to head N when it briefly curved SW.  Ahead beyond a huge gnarled tree with 3 trunks was a sunlit meadow.  A squirrel chattered.  Lupe streaked over to bark at it.

An omen!  A good one, too!  To heck with buzzards and vultures!  Lupe needed a place to camp tonight, and a beautiful green meadow next to a giant squirrel tree would be perfect!

Lupe arrives at the beautiful green meadow. She needed a place to camp tonight. This secluded meadow fully equipped with a giant squirrel tree nearby was perfect! Photo looks SW.

The rain shower had passed on by.  Clouds remained in the sky, but the meadow was sunny and bright.  The sun was still high, looking like it would be up for another 5 or 6 hours.  Twilight would linger for another hour after that.  Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.) couldn’t be much more than a mile away to the NE.

Why wait until tomorrow?  Lupe had time.  The tent and sleeping bags could be left here.  In case it rained again, SPHP hung them up in the ancient squirrel tree.  Less surface area would be exposed to the sky that way.

Lupe wanted to linger at the old tree and watch squirrels.  For a few minutes, SPHP indulged her.  Then it was time for the next big thing.  Lupe and SPHP left the grand old squirrel tree heading N for Buffalo Peak.

(End of Part 1 of Day 5)Links:

Part 2: Buffalo Peak & Twin Peaks in the Laramie Mountains of Wyoming (6-12-17 & 6-13-17)

Twin Peaks, Laramie Mountains, Wyoming (6-1-16)

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Muddy Mountain, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-11-17)

Day 4 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond!

SPHP got the spare pair of Realtree shoes out of the trunk of the G6.  They were old and in bad shape.  SPHP muttered while putting them on.

Should have brought these along yesterday, and none of this would have happened!

None of what?

Oh, you know Loop, losing my new boots in La Bonte Creek.  The whole purpose of bringing these old Realtree shoes on this trip had been to use them as water shoes for creek crossings.  Instead, I forget all about them, then yesterday I manage to lose my brand new 3 day old boots in the creek while trying to be clever and keep them from getting wet.

Well, at least you still have shoes.  We’re still going mountain climbing, right?

Nope.  Blacktail Peak (8,675 ft.) is out.  Not going to risk these old shoes completely disintegrating on me, and having to saunter back barefoot again.  Besides, I’m no longer in any mood to ford La Bonte Creek.  It looks easy, but the water is too high.  You nearly got swept away yourself yesterday.  Twice!

So what are we going to do?

Get water at Curtis Gulch campground, then head for Casper so I can buy another pair of boots.  Don’t worry, you’ll have a riot barking at all those cows, horses, and antelope again on the way out of here.  Come on, let’s get going!

On the drive to Casper, SPHP realized Lupe actually could go mountain climbing today, just not to Blacktail Peak as originally planned.  S of Casper was the huge, long ridge of Casper Mountain (8,200 ft.).  Lupe had already been to the summit of Casper Mountain once before.  However, on the other side of Casper Mountain was another big ridge the American Dingo had never been to – Muddy Mountain  (8,300 ft.).

SPHP hadn’t expected Lupe would get to Muddy Mountain (8,300 ft.) so soon on this trip.  However, the unforeseen need for new boots was bringing her to the vicinity, so why not do it now?  She’d have plenty of time to visit the mountain this afternoon.

After new boots were procured, and lunch was consumed in Washington Park, Lupe and SPHP drove S over Casper Mountain on Casper Mountain Road.  The long, partially forested ridge of Muddy Mountain came into view.

The long, high ridge of Muddy Mountain comes into view from the S slope of Casper Mountain. Photo looks S.

SPHP had seen on the topo map that a road went all the way to the top of Muddy Mountain.  Driving to the summit wasn’t the plan, however.  Too easy.  So lame for a peakbagging Carolina Dog!  To enjoy the trek and get to really experience Muddy Mountain, Lupe would climb it from the low point in the valley between Casper and Muddy mountains.

This way, Lupe would get to enjoy a remote, lonely backroad trek up Muddy Mountain while gaining over 1,000 feet of elevation.  At least, that was what SPHP expected.  Reality was rather different.  Driving down the S slope of Casper Mountain, SPHP was surprised by how much traffic there was.  Casper Mountain Road turned to gravel and became Circle Drive, yet vehicles still passed by at regular intervals.

Not good.  The wind was blowing.  Getting a face full of dust every time a vehicle went by wasn’t the least bit appealing.  The gravel road was no minor backcountry lane, either.  Big, wide, and busy, it wasn’t a terribly charming place for a stroll.  Lupe was going to have to leave the road and wander up Muddy Mountain through the fields and forests, if this was going to be much fun.  No worries, though, that looked easy enough.

SPHP parked the G6 at the low point between the big ridges.  A few other vehicles were parked here, too, but no one was around.  Nearby, Circle Drive turned W, while Muddy Mountain Road continued S on up Muddy Mountain’s N slope.  As SPHP got everything ready to go, more vehicles streamed by raising clouds of dust (2:34 PM, 67°F).

Lupe and SPHP crossed over Muddy Mountain Road entering a giant green field full of purple lupines.  The sun was shining.  The lupines danced in a lively breeze.  Loopster took the lead, sniffing happily.  Her destination was 4 or 5 miles away, somewhere along the N rim of the long ridge.  Muddy Mountain was going to be fun after all!

NO, IT WASN’T!  That sound!  Lupe must have passed within 4 or 5 feet of where it was coming from.  She was scarcely 25 feet from Muddy Mountain Road when an angry buzzing started as she went by.  SPHP looked cautiously around for the deadly source.  Oh, yeah.  There it was, still rattling down in a small depression, ready to strike.  A fairly big one.

Lupe had scarcely started on her way up Muddy Mountain when she passed close by this fairly large rattlesnake hidden in a small depression.

Lupe was already a good 15 feet beyond the rattler.  She was fine.

Loopster!  STAY, SIT!  Don’t move!  Good girl!  Stay right there!

Lupe waits for SPHP to come and guide her safely back around the rattlesnake. Her trek up Muddy Mountain was over almost before it began. This was as far as she got, not much more than 40 feet from Muddy Mountain Road. Photo looks SE.

SPHP sounded so serious, Lupe obeyed instantly.

Umm, what’s up?  What’s wrong?

A rattlesnake, a pretty big one, you just went right by it.  This hike is over, sweetheart!  Wait there, I’ll lead you back around the evil serpent.  It’s poisonous and very dangerous, even for an American Dingo.

We’re not going to Muddy Mountain?

Yes, yes we are.  But suddenly I’ve been seized with a desire to drive every inch of the way to the top.  Easy, squeezy-like, and hopefully serpent-free.

Only 10 minutes after starting out, the Carolina Dog was back at the G6 (2:44 PM, 67°F).  A nice dusty drive clear to the top of Muddy Mountain ensued.  To SPHP’s great surprise, a campground was right at the summit, complete with a big deck overlooking the view to the N.  It turned out there was a fairly extensive trail system in the area, too.  No wonder the road was so busy!  The old topo map hadn’t shown all this.

Lupe and SPHP checked out the view of Casper Mountain from the observation deck.

Although not shown on the old topo maps, Lupe discovers Rim campground at the summit of Muddy Mountain. SPHP had expected Muddy Mountain to be lonely and remote. Instead it’s a popular spot!
Near Rim campground, right along the N rim of Muddy Mountain, is this big observation deck with a view of Casper Mountain to the N. Photo looks NNW.
Part of the huge Casper Mountain ridge as seen from the observation deck. (Summit not pictured to the L of this photo.) Photo looks NNW.
The observation deck was sunny and bright.

A couple of large rocks sat a short distance E of the observation deck.  They appeared to be the absolute highest point around.  The American Dingo strolled over for a super easy peakbagging success.  Peakbagging Muddy Mountain turned out to be scarcely any more effort than Prairie Dog Hill (6,400 ft.) had been yesterday.

Another cheap peakbagging success. Lupe stands on the natural summit of Muddy Mountain. Part of the observation deck is seen on the L. Photo looks NW.
Hey, it wasn’t a cheap peakbagging success! I braved a huge rattlesnake to get here!
Wildflowers near the summit rocks.

Checking out the view from the observation deck and tagging the summit hadn’t taken long.  Lupe still had one more task to perform up on Muddy Mountain, though.  She could go look for the Muddy Mountain survey benchmark.  The topo map showed it wasn’t actually at the summit, but at another slightly lower high point about 0.75 mile W.

SPHP drove over that way, parking the G6 along the road slightly E of where it seemed the survey benchmark ought to be.  Lupe hopped out.  She headed W exploring a narrow strip of open ground between the road and N rim of the mountain.  SPHP followed, nervously keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes, while searching for the benchmark.

As Lupe sniffed her way along, she came to a nice view to the WNW.

While searching for the Muddy Mountain survey benchmark, Lupe came to this pretty view to the WNW. Circle Drive is seen on the R.

Lupe went about 600 feet from the G6.  No sign of the survey benchmark.  The terrain was gradually dropping now, too.  The benchmark wouldn’t be any farther W than this.  Might as well turn around.

The Carolina Dog headed back E.  Again SPHP followed, trying to search more thoroughly.  Nothing.  Lupe arrived back at the G6.  Now what?  SPHP checked the topo map again.  It was possible the benchmark was a bit E of here.

SPHP had parked the G6 a little W of a few pine trees close to the N side of the road.  Beyond them to the E was a nearly level field rimmed by pines to the N.  The field, which was full of purple and yellow wildflowers, widened out to the E in the shape of a long triangle.  Better go look over there, too.

Lupe scarcely got past the first few pine trees when she found it!  The survey benchmark was right there, fixed in concrete, barely 50 feet from the G6 and only 10-12 feet N of the road.  Sweet!

This what you’re looking for SPHP? …… Oh, yeah! That’s it Looper. Good job!
The Muddy Mountain survey benchmark is only 10-12 feet N of the road about 0.75 mile W of Rim campground.

Well, that was that.  What now?  Maybe it would be fun to go take a look at the map of the trail system on Muddy Mountain.  The main trailhead was nearly 0.5 mile E at an intersection on the S side of the road.  Lupe was fine with going back to check it out, so SPHP drove over to the trailhead.  A large map was on display.

This map of the trail system on Muddy Mountain is on display at a trailhead on the S side of the road about 0.25 mile W of the turn for the Rim campground.

The trail system map revealed that Muddy Mountain Road made a big loop from here.  A little S of this trailhead was another campground, Lodgepole campground.  Several different trails offered a variety of possible loops between Lodgepole and Rim campgrounds.  The trails were all relatively easy.  None involved more than a couple hundred feet of elevation change, if that.

No doubt there was little danger, but that rattlesnake was still too fresh on SPHP’s mind.  Loop was going to skip any exploration of the Muddy Mountain trail system.  More challenging things would soon be in store for the Carolina Dog, anyway.  In the meantime, she could stop and look at some of the views from Muddy Mountain on the way back to Casper.

Loop along the N rim of Muddy Mountain on the way back to Casper. Photo looks NW.
At another rock along the N rim. Photo looks NE.
Checking out some rocks S of Muddy Mountain Road. Photo looks SW.
Rockin’ Muddy Mountain

On the way up Casper Mountain (8,200 ft.), Lupe stopped for a final look back at Muddy Mountain (8,300 ft.).  In the late afternoon sun, the views were beautiful.  Off to the SW, light rain showers were seen in the distance.  More mountains could be seen beyond the Laramie Range.

Lupe would eventually be headed that way, but not quite yet.

The lower W end of the long Muddy Mountain ridge is seen on the L. Beyond it are mountains of the Shirley Range. Photo looks SW.
A final look back at Muddy Mountain from Circle Drive on the lower S slopes of Casper Mountain. Photo looks SE.

In Casper, SPHP grabbed a couple of cheeseburgers.  Lupe shared in the cheeseburger feast on the drive E back to Douglas along I-25.  Day ended with a gorgeous evening drive once again SW of Douglas on Hwy 91.  Ahead Lupe could see where she would be adventuring next.

Tomorrow Lupe would try to climb both Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.) and Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.).  Hopefully it was going to be a fabulous day!

Approaching La Prele Reservoir on Hwy 91 SW of Douglas, WY. Photo looks WSW.
Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.) (slightly L of Center) and Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.) (R) come into view SW of La Prele Reservoir.
Loop on the way to her next adventure in the Laramie Range. Photo looks N.
Adventure dead ahead! Squaw Mountain (L) and Buffalo Peak (Center). Photo looks SW.
Squaw Mountain (L) and Buffalo Peak (R) from Cold Springs Road. Bear Rock in the foreground. Photo looks SW.

Lupe’s visit to Muddy Mountain hadn’t been long or hard, but it had been plenty exciting.  Too exciting, actually!

Muddy Mountain rattlesnake, Laramie Range of Wyoming 6-11-17

Links:

A Quick Trip to Casper, Wyoming (May 1-4, 2015)

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South Sawtooth Mountain, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-10-17)

Day 3 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond!

SPHP drove slowly.  Ahead Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.) was lit up by the early morning sunshine.  The E face of the mountain looked tough.  Not that it mattered now.  Yesterday Lupe had come close to reaching the top of the mountain from the SE and SW sides.  She hadn’t quite made it, though, and there wasn’t going to be another attempt today.

Eagle Peak in the early morning sunshine. Yesterday Lupe had nearly reached the top of the mountain, but failed to find a way up the last few tens of feet. She wasn’t going to make another attempt today. Photo looks WNW.

I hope we have better luck today at South Sawtooth, Loop.

SPHP spoke without much conviction.  Those contours on the topo map were as tight near the top of South Sawtooth Mountain (8,723 ft.) as they were at Eagle Peak.  Success was far from guaranteed.

Success was guaranteed at Prairie Dog Hill (6,400 ft.) a mile N of Esterbrook.  County Road No. 5 went practically right over the top of it.  Lupe sniffed her way through a nearly flat field.  Elevation gain to what seemed to be as much the high point as anywhere else was trivial, less than 10 feet.  Whoop-de-doo!  At least there was a bit of a view.

Lupe on Prairie Dog Hill, a trivial peakbagging accomplishment. It was so flat it was hardly even a hill. At least she had a distant view of Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) (L) and Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.) (R). Photo looks SW.

Although South Sawtooth Mountain is only 9 miles NNW of Eagle Peak as the crow flies, it was many times that far by road.  Lupe first had to go clear to Douglas, WY.  While in town, SPHP picked up a few supplies.  At very small Locomotive Park where the Douglas Railroad Interpretive Center is located, Lupe got to visit a very large Jackalope.

Lupe visits the giant Jackalope at Locomotive Park in Douglas, WY. Douglas is the Jackalope capital of the world!

Lupe was disappointed to find that the Jackalope was merely a statue, but as large as the Jackalope was, perhaps that was for the best.  In any case, the Carolina Dog was soon ready to move on.

The long drive out Hwy 91 SW of Douglas is one of SPHP’s favorites for gorgeous western scenery.  Lupe likes it for all the cows and horses to bark at along the way.  The highway eventually ends and turns to gravel.  Many more miles of dusty road eventually brought Lupe to the Curtis Gulch campground along La Bonte Creek.

SPHP parked the G6 near the campground entrance.  Lupe set out for South Sawtooth Mountain (10:36 AM, 68°F) heading SW on USFS Road No. 658.  On the way in, SPHP had seen a sign for Big Bear Canyon about 0.33 mile away.  Lupe soon reached this side road (USFS Road No. 657.01), which almost immediately led to a ford of La Bonte Creek.

Almost as soon as Lupe reached USFS Road No. 657.01 to Big Bear Canyon, the road led to this ford of La Bonte Creek. Photo looks SW.

The water was high this time of year.  Although the surface looked calm, La Bonte Creek was wide at the ford, and over Lupe’s head.  Upstream and downstream, the current was clearly strong.  American Dingoes like wading, not swimming, but SPHP knew Lupe could swim if necessary.  She ought to be able to manage this crossing.

Still, SPHP wasn’t thrilled to see the ford.  Only 3 days ago, SPHP had bought new boots for this Dingo Vacation, and they weren’t waterproof.  To keep from getting the new boots soaking wet, SPHP decided to take them off and wade the stream barefoot.  SPHP stuffed a sock inside each boot, laced them together, and draped a boot over the back of each shoulder with the knotted laces across the throat.

While Lupe watched from shore, SPHP waded into La Bonte Creek.  The current was fairly strong, and the water as much as thigh deep.  Rocks on the bottom were loose and sometimes slippery.  Concentration was required to maintain balance, but SPHP managed to get most of the way across uneventfully.

Was Lupe following?  Yes and no.  SPHP turned around to see the Carolina Dog still near the opposite shore.  She wanted to come, and had waded chest deep into La Bonte Creek, but was reluctant to go any deeper.

Lupe waded chest deep into La Bonte Creek, but was afraid to go any deeper.

Loopster was going to need some encouragement.  SPHP waded the rest of the way across, then turned around again to call to her.

Meanwhile, desperate not to be left behind, all on her own Lupe had decided to try crossing La Bonte Creek on the downstream side of the ford.  The water wasn’t as deep here, but the current was powerful.  SPHP was alarmed to see Lupe neck deep struggling to cross without being swept downstream.  Fortunately, her legs were just long enough for her paws to touch bottom.  Lupe clawed her way forward despite the current.

In a flash, Lupe was past the moment of danger.  She reached much shallower water, and came trotting across just fine.

Lupe trots the rest of the way across La Bonte Creek after clawing her way past a dangerous deeper part on the downstream side of the ford. Photo looks NE.

Glad that’s over with Loop!  Good girl!  You did great, but maybe we can find a safer way across on the way back?  Not looking forward to doing that again.

SPHP put socks and boots back on again.  The trek along USFS Road No. 657.01 resumed.  Lupe reached two more creek crossings in quick succession.

Lupe in lower Big Bear Canyon between creek crossings. The rocky mountain seen in the background is on the N side of La Bonte Canyon close to Curtis Gulch campground. Photo looks NE.

Fortunately, La Bonte Creek had already forked by the time these next stream crossings were reached.  Flow was less than half of what it had been at the first ford.  Lupe had no problems crossing now.  SPHP again crossed barefoot each time, the creek still being too large to leap over.

USFS Road No. 657.01 now went steadily SSE up Big Bear Canyon.  Lupe came to no more creek crossings for more than 0.5 mile.  When she did reach more crossings, the creek was considerably smaller than before.  SPHP could now leap across, avoiding the tedious necessity of removing the precious new boots each time.

The day was sunny and warm.  Lupe was now enjoying cooling off and getting drinks from the stream.

Lupe enjoys cooling off in the diminished stream on the way up Big Bear Canyon.

Big Bear Canyon was heavily forested most of the way.  Sometimes there were views of large rock formations hundreds of feet higher up along the E side of the canyon.  Farther on, high forested mountainsides were visible on the W side of the canyon, too.  Mostly though, the views were only of the forest along USFS Road No. 657.01.

Lupe on her way up Big Bear Canyon on USFS Road No. 657.01. Photo looks SSE.
About halfway up Big Bear Canyon, Lupe reached this pond. The creek flowed through it. Photo looks SW.

Lupe followed USFS Road No. 657.01 for more than 3 miles all the way up Big Bear Canyon.  The road gained elevation more quickly toward the end.  About the time the rate of climb began to diminish again, SPHP spotted a mountain off to the NE.  The view was partially obstructed by trees, but what could be seen was concerning.

Was that South Sawtooth Mountain?  If so, Lupe wasn’t likely to have much luck reaching the summit.  The rocky upper slopes looked nearly vertical.  Sigh.  Not another defeat!  Nothing to do, though, but carry on.  Maybe that wasn’t South Sawtooth, or there actually was a way up.  Hard to tell from here.  The mountain was still a couple miles away.

The terrain completely leveled out as the road left the upper end of Big Bear Canyon.  Lupe soon arrived at a 3 way junction.  A sign identified the road Lupe needed to take as Sawtooth Road.  On the topo map it was USFS Road No. 615, which started out heading ENE from here.

Lupe reaches a 3 way junction at the flat, forested saddle beyond the upper end of Big Bear Canyon. USFS Road No. 615, which Lupe would need to take partway to South Sawtooth, is seen winding away into the forest. Photo looks E.

Before taking No. 615 toward South Sawtooth, Lupe explored another road leading a short distance SW to USFS No. 610.  She passed a sunny meadow full of lupines along the way.

Lupe among the lupines.

Lupe went far enough to have some views of mountains off to the SW and NW before turning around.  She then returned to the first junction, and started along USFS Road No. 615.

Before long, No. 615 emerged from the forest.  The road began climbing steadily up a draw which was mostly meadow.  At the upper end of the draw, Lupe re-entered the forest.  The road wound around to the E and NE, but after a mile or so, turned N.  The topo map showed that right after reaching a crest, No. 615 would turn W and start losing elevation.  Ultimately it would dead end in a canyon.

Lupe reached the crest of USFS Road No. 615.  Time to leave the road!  Lupe and SPHP turned NE, and started climbing a heavily forested hillside.  Little could be seen except trees until Loop reached the top of a broad ridge.  Here there were big rocks and some open ground.  From one of the higher rocks, the American Dingo had a view of the mountain SPHP had seen earlier.

Yes, that was it.  That had to be South Sawtooth Mountain (8,723 ft.)!

From a rock on the broad ridge, Lupe catches sight of South Sawtooth Mountain! Photo looks N.
Lupe reaches the broad ridge at a perfect point! She had arrived up on the ridge just far enough NE to avoid having to go over High Point 8401, seen behind her. The open ground on the gently sloping ridge was easier to traverse than going through the forest. Photo looks SSW.

Up on the broad ridge, there was enough open ground to make travel much easier than in the dense forest Lupe had left behind.  Lupe and SPHP continued NE, skirting a series of rock formations along the NW side of the ridge.

Another large ridge could soon be seen.  It trended NW to join the ridge Lupe was on.  Beyond the junction, the combined ridge went N and narrowed somewhat.  Lupe came to a rock formation larger than any of the others she had passed to this point.  South Sawtooth Mountain was now less than a mile away.

Beyond the ridge junction, Lupe came to a larger rock formation (L of Center) than any of the others she’d been passing by. She got around the SW (L) side of this one. South Sawtooth Mountain is seen in the distance now less than a mile away. Photo looks N.

Beyond the first large rock formation, Lupe came to some beautiful open ground leading to a second, even grander rock formation.

Approaching the 2nd, even larger, rock formation (R). South Sawtooth Mountain is now on the L. Photo looks N.

From the W side of the second rock formation, Lupe had the best view of South Sawtooth Mountain she’d seen yet.  However, the sight caused SPHP to lose all hope that Lupe would succeed in reaching the top.  The mountain was simply too vertical and rough.  Most disappointing!

Maybe Lupe could still reach the top of the high point on the lower W ridge, though?  That looked easy enough.  At least the Carolina Dog had a new objective to pursue.  Who knew, maybe things would look different from up there?

At the second and largest rock formation Lupe reached on the ridge, she had her best view yet of South Sawtooth Mountain. The daunting S face crushed hopes that Lupe could reasonably expect to reach the top. The high point of the lower W ridge (L), became Lupe’s new reduced objective. Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP tried to get around the E side of the second rock formation, but a long wall of rock blocked the way.  Lupe was forced to retreat back to the W.  What could be seen of the rest of the ridge leading to South Sawtooth looked forbidding.  The ridge dropped sharply beyond this rock formation, before rising again and continuing N as an impossibly rough series of huge rock outcroppings.  No way!

A grassy opening was visible to the W down at the bottom of a valley about 150 feet lower than where Lupe was now.  Time to abandon the ridge.  Lupe and SPHP started W down a fairly steep forested slope.  As the ground began leveling out near the bottom, there was movement.  Instantly, Lupe dashed away in hot pursuit!

SPHP never had a clear view of what she was after.  Whatever it was had a huge lead, and bounded S through the forest at very high speed.  Loop never got anywhere close, and soon gave up.  SPHP got only tree-broken glimpses.  The creature was gray and bounded like a rabbit, but it was far, far larger than any rabbit.  Even Lupe was tiny by comparison.

A bear?  Are bears still found in the Laramie Mountains?  SPHP didn’t know.  Maybe.  Lupe returned with a huge grin on her face, panting hard.  That was fun!

So what was it, Loop?  A bear, or one of those giant jackalopes?

Lupe kept smiling, but didn’t say.  Hardly mattered now.  It was gone.  Puppy, ho!  Onward!

Lupe and SPHP reached the meadow at the bottom of the valley, crossed it to the W, and went over a small rise to another valley.  This valley was mostly forested, and looked like it would take Lupe up to the saddle between South Sawtooth Mountain and the high point on the ridge to the W.  Lupe turned N and began to climb.

Lupe on her way up the valley leading to the saddle between South Sawtooth Mountain (R) and the high point on the ridge to the W (L). Photo looks N.

Lupe made it up to the saddle with no problem at all.  The whole W face of South Sawtooth Mountain was now in view.  Unfortunately, no matter what route SPHP considered from here, there just didn’t appear to be a way for Lupe to reach the top.  She could have climbed somewhat higher, but every possible path to the summit looked blocked by boulders or vertical rock walls somewhere along the way.

Defeat again!  First at Eagle Peak, now here.  No use fretting about it.  The sky was clouding up.  Rain showers looked like a possibility in some directions.  If Lupe was going to reach the high point on the mountain’s W ridge, she had better get there before the weather deteriorated.

The W face of South Sawtooth Mountain. Although Lupe could have climbed partway up, SPHP couldn’t see any safe route to the top. There were too many large boulders and vertical rock walls. Photo looks E.

Piece of cake!  Lupe was soon up on the W shoulder of South Sawtooth Mountain.  A half acre of relatively flat ground contained two distinct high points.  They were so close to each other in elevation, Lupe would have to climb both to be certain she’d reached the highest one.

Before Lupe climbed up on either high point, she took a general look around at some of the views available from various other vantage points.

South Sawtooth Mountain from a rock on the W shoulder. Photo looks E.
Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) is seen beyond Lupe. Photo looks SE from the same rock.
Blacktail Peak (8,675 ft.) is the highest mountain seen straight up from Lupe’s head. Photo looks WSW.
View to the NW. Warbonnet Peak (9,414 ft.) is the high point on the horizon L of Center. Also on the horizon straight up from Lupe are Squaw Mountain (9,313 ft.) (L) & Buffalo Peak (9,387 ft.) (R).

Although not as good as they would have been if Lupe had been able to reach the summit of South Sawtooth Mountain, the views from the W shoulder were really quite nice.  Lupe could see a lot of territory from up here.

After looking around some, Lupe got up on top of the N high point first, since it seemed easiest.

Loop climbed up on top of the N high point of South Sawtooth Mountain’s W ridge first. Photo looks NW.
South Sawtooth Mountain from the N high point. Photo looks ESE.

The best views of Middle and North Sawtooth Mountains were from rocks near the N high point.  Though equally rugged, neither mountain was as high as South Sawtooth.  Even here on South Sawtooth Mountain’s W shoulder, Lupe was higher than either Middle or North Sawtooth.

Lupe had a great view of Middle Sawtooth (R) and North Sawtooth (L). Neither of them looked like anything Lupe could climb, but she was already higher than either one right here. Photo looks NE.
Middle Sawtooth Mountain (8,502 ft.). Photo looks NE with help from the telephoto lens.
North Sawtooth Mountain (8,306 ft.) (R). Photo looks NNE.
South Sawtooth Mountain (8,723 ft.) is the highest of the 3 Sawtooths in the area. Photo looks E.

Shortly after visiting the N high point, Lupe went and climbed the S one.  Even after being up on both, it wasn’t clear which was the highest.

Lupe completes her peakbagging for the day up on the S high point. Photo looks SSW.
South Sawtooth Mountain from the W ridge’s S high point. Photo looks E.
Another look from the S high point.
American Dingoes can occasionally be spotted in the Laramie Mountains of Wyoming.

Lupe and SPHP lingered up on South Sawtooth Mountain’s W Ridge for 30 or 40 minutes before starting back.  The plan was to retrace the same route, except Lupe would try to cut through the forest and find USFS Road No. 615 again without getting up on the broad ridge S of South Sawtooth Mountain.

 

High Point 8401 on South Sawtooth Mountain’s long S ridge is seen straight up from Lupe. She had followed the broad ridge from there over to the meadows seen on the L on the way to the mountain. On the way back S, she would stay down in the forest on the near (W) side of the same ridge. Photo looks S.

Loop left the W ridge going down to the saddle next to South Sawtooth Mountain.  She then turned S traveling down the same valley she had originally come up.  This valley would turn and take her too far W before long, so she soon had to make a jog to the E over a minor ridge into the next valley over.

Lupe starts back down the same valley she had come up on the way to South Sawtooth Mountain. She had a great time exploring the forest again. Photo looks SSE.

After losing considerable elevation, Lupe gradually started regaining some as she traveled S through the forest.  She was somewhere not too far W of the broad ridge she had reached N of High Point 8401 on the way to South Sawtooth, but it was hard to tell exactly where she was, or how much farther it might be to the road.

After a while, the terrain became a little rougher and rose more steeply.  Some things looked vaguely familiar.  Lupe continued S and eventually reached a meadow up on the ridgeline again.  Now it was possible to see that Lupe was only a little SW of High Point 8401.  That was good news!  It meant that USFS Road No. 615 was close by.

Lupe headed SW down a forested slope.  She soon reached No. 615.  Now all she had to do was follow the road back to No. 657.01, which would take her back down Big Bear Canyon.

Lupe finds USFS Road No. 615 again SW of High Point 8401. All she had to do now was follow this road back to No. 657.01, which would take her back down Big Bear Canyon. Photo looks S.

The sun had set and light was fading by the time Lupe made it all the way back down Big Bear Canyon.  She was now approaching the last big creek ford across La Bonte Creek.  As promised earlier, SPHP searched upstream of the ford for an easier place for Lupe to cross, but found nothing.  Lupe was going to have to brave the ford one more time.

Once again, SPHP went barefoot with boots tied together and dangling behind the neck.  Lupe wanted to cross the same downstream side of the ford where she had made it across before.  SPHP went with her to keep a better eye on how she was doing.  The water wasn’t as deep here as in the main part of the ford, but the current was far stronger.

Once again, it was alarming to see how close the Carolina Dog came to being swept downstream.  As Lupe fought and clawed her way across La Bonte Creek, barely able to hang on against the swift current, SPHP started having problems, too.  The creek bottom was covered with larger, slippery rocks here.  They weren’t visible in the dim light.  One of the rocks moved unexpectedly.

SPHP gyrated wildly trying to maintain balance.  The American Dingo had made it!  She stood safely on the opposite shore.  SPHP recovered and avoided a fall, but out of the corner of an eye saw something hit the water.  The new boots were bobbing away downstream!  In seconds, they vanished from view.

Gone for good.  Sheesh!

It was a good thing there wasn’t more gravel on USFS Road No. 658.  The 0.33 mile barefoot trek back to the G6 was slow and painful enough as it was.  Lupe ran back and forth on the road wondering what was wrong with SPHP?  She was hungry!  C’mon, hurry it up!  Stars were shining by the time Alpo was served.  (9:43 PM)

Although Lupe initially seemed tired out from the long trek to South Sawtooth Mountain, the Alpo soon revived her.  She couldn’t sleep.  SPHP finally let her out of the G6.  She sniffed around in the night for a while, then laid down on the ground near the G6.

For a long time the Carolina Dog stayed out there alone, bathed in moonlight beneath the starry sky, watching the dim forest and listening to the soothing sound of the flowing waters of boot-eating La Bonte Creek.

Sometime after midnight, a tuckered out Dingo finally snoozes peacefully in the G6 after her South Sawtooth Mountain adventure.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2017 Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Eagle Peak, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-9-17)

Day 2 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond!

Lupe shot out into the night.  No telling what hour it was.  No doubt it was late, very late.  Following a road to the top of Black Mountain (7,960 ft.) yesterday hadn’t been hard enough to wear the Carolina Dog out.  She was all stirred up about being on a Dingo Vacation again, and had been staring out of the G6 watching the dark forest for hours.  SPHP wasn’t all that sleepy, either.  May as well join Looper out there.

The night air was pleasantly cool.  Only a few stars could be seen through high, thin clouds.  The nearly full moon was so bright, no other light was necessary.  SPHP strolled S along USFS Road No. 633, while Lupe explored small fields nearby.  The flowing waters of Horseshoe Creek and Lupe’s sniffing made the only sounds breaking the silence.

Forty minutes later, Lupe was back at the G6.  She helped devour the rest of the leftover roasted chicken, then was finally able to fall asleep.  By the time SPHP woke up again, the sun was shining.  A surprisingly strong, cool breeze was blowing down the Horseshoe Creek valley.  Lupe and SPHP spent a little time down by the stream.  The sky clouded up.

Lupe by Horseshoe Creek. A surprisingly strong, cool breeze was coming down the valley. Photo looks S.

The wind was strong enough so making breakfast was going to be a bother.  SPHP decided to skip it.  The roasted chicken in the night could serve as breakfast.  Lupe was raring to go, anyway.  Onward!

SPHP drove toward Lupe’s next peakbagging destination, following USFS Road No. 633 back to Esterbrook.  From there Lupe enjoyed a scenic ride SW on Country Road No. 5.  A huge herd of beautiful cows appeared ahead right on the road!  Another cattle drive, or perhaps it was the same one Lupe had passed yesterday back at Prairie Dog Hill (6,400 ft.), was going on.  In any case, another enthusiastic barkfest was in order.

Once safely a few miles beyond the cattle, SPHP stopped the G6 near a big rock outcropping providing a great view of Lupe’s next challenge.  Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.) loomed to the S.

Eagle Peak from a hillside near County Road No. 5. Photo looks S.
Eagle Peak was Lupe’s next peakbagging challenge. With no roads or trails to follow, it would prove to be much harder than Black Mountain had been yesterday.
N face of Eagle Peak. Eagle Peak is nearly 4 miles W of Laramie Peak, the highest mountain of the Laramie Range.

By 10:23 AM (67°F), the G6 was parked only a mile NW of Eagle Peak near the 3-way intersection of County Roads No. 5 & 71, and USFS Road No. 671.  Lupe started out on No. 671, but quickly left it to follow a steep side road up an open slope.  When the side road turned NE to rejoin No. 671, Lupe left it as well, climbing SE up into the forest.

The forest was full of cheerful yellow flowers.

Soon after Lupe departed for Eagle Peak, she found herself climbing through a forest full of pretty yellow flowers.

The climb through the forest was fairly steep.  Lupe soon reached a high point where she could not advance any farther toward Eagle Peak.  Gah!  She was going to have to lose some of her newly gained elevation.  From high rocks, a flowery open saddle could be seen below to the SE.

Lupe ultimately lost 100+ feet of elevation working her way NE through thick forest and boulders before she came to a point where she could reach the open ground safely.  She then had to head S back up to the flowery saddle.  Not very efficient.

Lupe reaches the flowery saddle. Photo looks S.

Great job of route finding, SPHP!

Pshaw!  A minor setback.  Puppy, ho!  Onward!

From the flowery saddle, Lupe went SSW, skirting around the W side of another minor high point.  She then turned SE, and quickly arrived at the edge of a small valley.  A thickly forested hillside rose from the valley, climbing steeply toward the rocky upper NW face of Eagle Peak.

It looked like it might be possible to simply climb the NW face straight to the top of the mountain.  Then again, maybe not.  The rocky summit ridge was a long way up, still too far off to see details well.  The topo map seemed to indicate it might be easier to approach the mountain from the SW.

High up on the mountain toward the S, an area of burnt forest was visible.  Maybe Lupe should head toward that?

Beyond the flowery saddle, Lupe arrives at the edge of the small valley seen directly ahead. A thick forest rose steeply from the valley up the NW face of the mountain. The topo map seemed to suggest the easiest route to the summit might be from the SW, not the NW. For that reason, SPHP led Lupe toward the burnt area seen high up on the R (S). Photo looks SE.

SPHP led Lupe across the small valley, entering the forest.  Loop traveled SSE gaining elevation steadily.  The immediate goal now was to reach the burnt forest high up on Eagle Peak’s SW slope.  The Carolina Dog had a good time exploring the living forest, which went on for quite a long way.  She stopped for water and to relax a few times when SPHP needed a break.

Enjoying the forest somewhere on the lower NW slopes of Eagle Peak.
The living forest went on for what seemed like quite a long way as Lupe headed SSE. It was too thick to permit any views of how much progress she was making.

The living forest was nice and cool, but the morning’s clouds had mostly dissipated by the time Lupe reached the start of the burnt area.  The day was sunny, bright, and getting warmer.  Lupe could now see more of the territory higher up.  The view improved as Lupe continued climbing.  The top of the mountain was still hundreds of feet higher.

Looper enters the burnt area on Eagle Peak’s upper SW slopes. She had a somewhat better view of things from here, but the top of the mountain was still at least several hundred feet higher up. Photo looks ENE.

At first the burnt area was quite easy to navigate through, but as Lupe got higher up, she started encountering more deadfall, larger boulders, and some living trees as well that made progress increasingly difficult.  Lupe and SPHP turned ESE to climb more aggressively, but the terrain grew worse.  Finally, it became clear that the Carolina Dog was rapidly approaching the base of a nearly vertical wall of solid rock.

By now, Lupe wasn’t too far from the S end of the mountain.  SPHP had her head that way, looking for a break in the rock wall that would let her get up on top.  No dice.  The vertical rock wall was continuous.  Lupe finally reached the S end of it.  She was now quite high on Eagle Peak, and had a good view of the 2 mile long ridge far below leading SSW to Jack Squirrel Peak (8,942 ft.).

SPHP had hoped Loop would be able to follow that SSW ridge to climb Jack Squirrel Peak after summiting Eagle Peak, but that clearly wasn’t in the cards.  The ridge was way too rough.  Nearly all of it had burned, and there would be a ton of deadfall down there, too.  No way would there be time enough to navigate through all that!

At the S end of Eagle Peak, Lupe had a great view of the 2 mile long SSW ridge leading to Jack Squirrel Peak (8,942 ft.), seen in the distance. SPHP had hoped Lupe might be able to follow this ridge to tag the summit of Jack Squirrel Peak after climbing Eagle Peak. However, it was completely clear from here that was way too ambitious, and simply out of the question. Photo looks SSW.

Of course, there wasn’t much use in worrying about Jack Squirrel Peak yet, anyway.  Lupe still hadn’t found a way to the top of Eagle Peak.  A quick check of the topo map suggested that maybe she could go around the S end of the vertical rock wall and find a way up along the E side?

The rock wall was only a few feet thick at the S end.  Lupe could now see spruce trees growing in a corridor to the E.  The initial view was encouraging.  May as well try it!

Looking NNE back up at the vertical rock wall at the S end of Eagle Peak. Lupe had worked her way S to this point along the W (L) side of it without finding a way up, but maybe she could find a way up from the E (R) side? It was worth a shot!

Lupe and SPHP circled around the S end of the vertical rock wall over to the E side.  It was slow going amidst large boulders, and a mix of living trees and deadfall.  However, Lupe and SPHP both made it, and found there was indeed a channel of forested land rising steadily to the N on the E side.

For a short distance, Lupe stayed right along the E base of the vertical rock wall as she climbed N.  However, the wall rose higher to the N, too.  Lupe wasn’t making any apparent progress toward being able to get up onto it.

The terrain immediately below the wall became increasingly difficult.  Tightly packed spruce trees and boulders forced Lupe E away from the wall in order to make any progress at all.  Even over here, the going was far from easy.  Lupe was often down in cave-like spaces between boulders, while SPHP worked up and around them.  Once SPHP was up, the crafty American Dingo always found a way to bound higher, too.

As Lupe climbed, she reached the W side of another, somewhat smaller rock wall along the E side of the corridor leading higher.  After following this wall N up a short distance, several breaks appeared revealing large cliffs only a few feet away, and big views to the SE.  SPHP was glad when those gaps ended a little higher up, and the unnerving cliff views were walled off again.

Looking back at Jack Squirrel Peak from the corridor Lupe was following higher on the E side of the S end of Eagle Peak. Photo looks SSW.

Lupe kept climbing N, but the rock wall to the W continued to get higher, too.  If only she could scramble 30 or 40 feet up the wall, she would be on top, but there didn’t seem to be a way to do it.  Finally, SPHP spotted a route that might work.  If Lupe could reach a small green tree a little more than halfway up, the rest should be easy.  It looked feasible.

After climbing N almost as far as she could, it looked like Lupe could reach the top of this rock wall and Eagle Peak, if she could get to the small green tree seen here 25 feet above her. A crack in the rocks visible from some angles went SW from the little tree up what appeared to be an easy route the rest of the way to the top. Photo looks NW.

By the time SPHP spotted this possible route via the small green tree, Lupe was nearing a pass only a little farther N.  Maybe a more certain and easier way up would be visible N of the pass?  Should probably check that out first!  Hopes soared as Lupe approached the pass.

The view N from the pass was a colossal disappointment.  All that could be seen was a line of enormous cliffs extending along the entire E side of the mountain.  The continuous rock wall to the W offered not the slightest encouragement.  Forget that!

Lupe reaches the pass on the E side of Eagle Peak. The view was a colossal disappointment! All that could be seen farther N was an unbroken line of huge cliffs. Lupe didn’t stand the slightest chance of scaling the mountain from anywhere along in here. Photo looks N.

The American Dingo retreated S from the pass back down to the potential route via the little green tree.  It was Lupe’s last hope of reaching the summit from anywhere along this SE side of the mountain.

Lupe and SPHP went closer to investigate.  The truth was plain within only a few minutes.  No, there wasn’t any way Looper could get to that little green tree.  It was all an illusion.  The whole foray around the SE side of the mountain had been a huge waste of time and energy.

Lupe and SPHP returned from disappointment at the N pass on the E side of Eagle Peak for a closer look at this last possible route to the top from the SE end of the mountain. SPHP quickly concluded this route wasn’t going to work either. Lupe had no hope of reaching the little green tree seen at the upper R, which success entirely depended upon. Photo looks NNW.

No hope remained over here.  Lupe had to return to the W side of the mountain.  Slowly, slowly, Loop and SPHP worked S back down the channel E of the vertical rock wall.  Time ticked by.  Lupe and SPHP made it back to the S end of the mountain, and around to the W side.

The plan once again was to stay near the base of the vertical rock wall, and follow it N until a way up could be found.  SPHP was still optimistic Lupe would succeed over here, if she went far enough N.

Looking up once again at the vertical rock wall at the S end of Eagle Peak, as Lupe returned to the W side of it. Photo looks NNE.

Looper seemed happy and optimistic, too, but the slog N was painfully slow going.  This high up, there were plenty of obstacles on the W side of the mountain, too.  More giant boulders, more deadfall, more live trees.

On and on, yet no matter how high Lupe got, the top of the vertical rock wall was always out of reach.  Sometimes not terribly far out of reach, only 40 or 50 feet in some places, but out of reach nevertheless.  Frustration began setting in.  Wasn’t there any way up?

As if it was needed, a new worry appeared.  Off to the N was another long section of Eagle Peak’s summit ridge.  It was separated by a saddle from the S end of the mountain where Lupe had been trying to get up.  SPHP had tried to lead Lupe up the S end, partly because that was where the topo map showed the 9,167 ft. survey benchmark.  However, another look at the map showed that both the N and S ends of the mountain had sizable areas enclosed by the 9,160 ft. contour.

Maybe the true summit of Eagle Peak was actually over at the N section of the summit ridge, instead of at or near the S section’s survey benchmark?  Entirely possible.  Lupe’s first view from this high up over at the N section revealed 3 vertical prongs of rock grouped close together.  They looked high.  Maybe higher than anything over here?

As Lupe worked her way N beneath the vertical rock wall on the W side of Eagle Peak, a new worry appeared. Even farther N, a group of 3 vertical prongs of rock came into view. They looked very high. Was the true summit of Eagle Peak actually over there? SPHP couldn’t tell, but it was certainly possible. Photo looks N.
Soooo, SPHP, let me get this straight! After we’ve spent hours circling uselessly around as much of this big wretched S end of the mountain as possible, you now think maybe the summit is actually way over there?
Oh, don’t mind me! Think I’ll just lay on this comfy moss in the sun and laugh for a while.

Fine, fine, Loop, just peachy fine!  Have your little laugh, or big one if you like, but here’s the deal.  If we can get to the top of either the S section or the N section of the summit ridge, we are going to call it good enough for Dingo work.  You can then claim a peakbagging success on Eagle Peak and we can get out of here.  Unless, of course, it’s completely clear from up on top that the true summit is definitely at the other section?  What do you think?

OK, but I really think there’s no need to keep consulting your silly, misleading, inconclusive maps.  Maybe it’s time to consult a psychiatrist, instead!  You might get to the bottom of all this, if not the top.

Ha, ha!  So hilarious!  Come on, let’s get on with it.  Either way, success or defeat, I’m about done with Eagle Peak.

Oh, maybe you still do have a marble or two left!

Lupe came close to making it.  Twice she got within 20 feet or so of reaching the top of the vertical rock wall.  One route looked possible, but too exposed.  SPHP wouldn’t chance it.  The other appeared effectively blocked by a single boulder.

Twice Lupe nearly made it to the top of the big S section of Eagle Peak’s summit ridge. Here she’s only about 20 vertical feet from being there. So close, yet so incredibly far, too!

If she could have gotten up on that wall, SPHP believed Lupe would have had an easy stroll with only minor additional elevation gain required to reach Eagle Peak’s summit.  It never happened.  All hope of reaching the top of the mountain’s S section of the summit ridge disappeared when the N end of it ended in big cliffs.

Attention shifted to trying to get to the top of the N section of the ridge.  Unfortunately, the clearer view of it that Lupe had now was even more daunting than before.

Lupe would be approaching the 3 vertical prongs from the S where the steep rock offered little encouragement.  Worse yet, what could be seen of the top of the ridge farther N looked like a narrow string of rock knobs difficult and dangerous to traverse, even if it was possible to get up there somehow.  Towering cliffs were seen to the E, and it looked like there must be cliffs of lesser, unknown height to the W.

Nevertheless, staying toward the W, Lupe and SPHP headed down to the saddle leading to the N section of the summit ridge.  Lupe crossed the saddle and succeeded in regaining some elevation, but as expected, there was no way to the top from here.

Lupe nears the N section of Eagle Peak’s long summit ridge. Photo looks N.

It was still entirely possible Lupe might be able to reach the top of the N section of the summit ridge from the NW.  She had seen that much earlier in the day.  From here, though, even trying it would mean a big down climb, and then another search for a route up working N along the W side of the long ridgeline.  No way.  Not today.  SPHP was done.

Let’s get some photos from here Loop, and call it good.

Lupe barked happily!  She was ready to call it a day, too.

Looking back at the rock wall along the S half of Eagle Peak where Lupe and SPHP had spent most of the day trying and failing to reach the top. Photo looks SE.
Laramie Peak from between Eagle Peak’s N & S summit ridges. Photo looks E.
Another look at Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) from Eagle Peak (9,167 ft.). Photo looks E.
County Road No. 710 winds away to the SW.
Jack Squirrel Peak (8,942 ft.) with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks SSW.

On the way back down, Lupe passed through the burnt forest again.

Lupe roaming in the burnt forest near the start of the return trip down off the mountain. Photo looks SW.
Windy Peak (R of Center) from the upper W slopes of Eagle Peak. Photo looks NW.

SPHP made the mistake of leading Lupe N too soon.  She should have lost more elevation first.  This way the burnt forest went on and on.  Maybe it was just the sense of defeat, but what should have been a relatively easy trek back, seemed much longer and steeper than the way up had been.  When Lupe finally reached the live forest, it also seemed to go on forever.  The American Dingo turned W, plunging relentlessly down the mountain.  SPHP became afraid she was going to cliff out, but she didn’t.

Somewhere near the end, Lupe’s routes up and down crossed.  At last, the Carolina Dog emerged from the forest, reaching relatively level open ground near County Road No. 710.  The NW slope of Eagle Peak didn’t look all that daunting from down here.

Lupe W of Eagle Peak at the end of the day not far from County Road No. 710. Eagle Peak didn’t look all that daunting from down here. Photo looks E.

Oh, well!  What was done was done.  Que sera.  It was over.  Next time Lupe would just go straight on up that NW slope!  If there ever was a next time.  Defeat bred pessimism.

Lupe reached the G6 again at 6:52 PM (72°F).  Denied, after 8.5 hours on a mountain only a mile away, with less than 1,500 feet of elevation gain required to summit!  How was that even possible?  SPHP felt sunburnt, battered, bruised, scraped, and worn out.  The plucky American Dingo looked fine, but you could bet even she wouldn’t be taking any long moonlit strolls tonight!

SPHP drove around the N end of Eagle Peak heading E on USFS Road No. 671.  Lupe would spend the evening at a dispersed camping site off USFS Road No. 681 leading to Friend Park near Laramie Peak.

What a gorgeous evening!  On the way to No. 681, SPHP stopped briefly NE of the mountain to let Lupe out for another look.  Eagle Peak stood high and wonderful, its crown surrounded by an intriguing variety of cliffs and spires.  Lupe had nearly reached the top.  Almost, but not quite.  The lofty summit remained the domain of eagles, not dingoes.

Sometimes that’s the way it goes.

Lupe NE of Eagle Peak on the beautiful evening of 6-9-17.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2017 Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Mountain, Laramie Range, Wyoming (6-8-17)

Day 1 of Lupe’s 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond

Nine months gone.  Practically an eternity!  Late in the evening, Lupe laid sad-faced and bored on the even sadder-looking old couch clawed up by 4 cats who no longer lived here.  Did she ever even think anymore about those glorious days of her last and greatest 2016 Dingo Vacation when she’d gone all the way to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska?

If so, you couldn’t tell it.  Of course, maybe she was thinking of those times, and how long ago and far away it all seemed was what was making her sad.  Loopster heaved a sigh, staring vacantly over the edge of the couch.  She looked like she had lost her last friend.

Forlorn Lupe.

She hadn’t, of course.  She’d been on lots of Black Hills expeditions full of adventures with SPHP over the last nine months.  Fun times, but not the same as hitting the open road for days on end spent exploring exciting, beautiful, distant lands.

While Loop moped on the couch, SPHP was not idle.  A warm, fragrant breeze stirred the air.  Late spring by the calendar.  Early summer by SPHP’s reckoning.

Better enjoy lounging around like that while you still can!

Lupe’s eyes shifted to watch SPHP busily checking equipment and supplies.  Her expression didn’t change.

You’ll see, soon enough!

Promises, promises.  Nothing fun happened.  Dullsville.

The next morning SPHP was up early.  Shower, breakfast, and then back and forth packing all this stuff into the G6.  Lupe began to realize something really was up.  A glimmer of hope in her eyes grew rapidly to increasing anticipation.

Mountain climbing season, Loopster!  It’s here!  You ready?

Was she ever!  Only a few hours later, Lupe was in Wyoming, whizzing along in the G6 headed for her first adventure of her first Dingo Vacation of 2017.  Had the mood ever changed from last night!  Looper was ready to let the good times roll!

Lupe returns to the great state of Wyoming at the start of her first Dingo Vacation of 2017. Oh yeah, this is gonna be good!

Lupe was headed for the Laramie Mountains in SE Wyoming.  Only 8 days into June, it was still weeks early to head up into some of the higher Wyoming ranges for mountain climbing, since there would still be too much snow on the peaks.  However, with the exception of Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.), the highest mountains of the Laramie Range top out only a little over 9,000 ft.  There might still be some snow around in early June, but not enough to be a problem.

By early afternoon, Lupe reached Douglas, Wyoming.  SPHP drove S from there on Hwy 94.  The highway eventually turned to gravel and became County Road No. 5.  A mile N of Esterbrook, SPHP had planned to let Lupe tag Prairie Dog Hill (6,400 ft.) as her first peak “climbed” in the Laramie Range this year.  It wasn’t even really a climb at all, since County Road No. 5 goes almost right over the high point.  Pathetically easy.

However, when Lupe arrived at Prairie Dog Hill, a cattle drive was in progress right on the road.  Lupe was almost out of her mind with delight!  She bounded from window to window of the G6 in a foaming-at-the-mouth barking frenzy.  She was eager to get out and help drive some cattle herself!  Not such a good idea.  The cowboys might have an issue with that.  SPHP drove on, turning E at Esterbrook on USFS Road No. 633.

No. 633 wound N & E for several miles.  Shortly after passing Esterbrook Campground, the road began to lose elevation and turned S.  Lupe’s first real peakbagging objective, Black Mountain (7,960 ft.), came into view.

Black Mountain (L) comes into view from USFS Road No. 633. Laramie Peak, the highest mountain of the Laramie Range is seen in the distance on the R. Photo looks SSW.
Black Mountain (Center) was Lupe’s first real peakbagging goal of her 2017 Dingo Vacation to the Laramie Range & Beyond. Photo looks SSW.

Black Mountain was still 9 or 10 miles SSW from where it first came into view.  On the way there, Lupe stopped by Horseshoe Creek, which flowed right along USFS Road No. 633 for a couple of miles.

Lupe stops by scenic Horseshoe Creek on the way to Black Mountain. She would later spend the night at the pullout off USFS Road No. 633 seen beyond her.

Looking for USFS Road No. 667, SPHP turned off No. 633 at Camp Laramie Peak, a Boy Scout camp at Harris Park.  Lupe and SPHP made inquiry at the main office on how to find No. 667 to Black Mountain.

Lupe stopped at Camp Laramie Peak to inquire about how to find USFS Road No. 667 to Black Mountain. She was a good deal more enthusiastic about how this day was going than the boy outside the Boy Scout camp’s main office.

Camp Laramie Peak was just opening up for the summer season.  Councilors were already here, but the first Boy Scouts were just beginning to arrive.  Fortunately, an official was available who told SPHP that USFS Road No. 667 (unmarked) to Laramie Peak went right through the camp.  He pointed out a road that went S down a little hill.

The road would quickly deteriorate to a high-clearance proposition – it wasn’t going to be G6 friendly at all.  This was known in advance from the topo map where No. 667 was marked 4WD.  The intention all along had been to ditch the G6 somewhere, and follow the road on paw and foot.  Fortunately, SPHP was free to park the G6 at Camp Laramie Peak at a small parking area near the main office.

It turned out that USFS Road No. 667 (a 4WD road) to Black Mountain goes right through Camp Laramie Peak. The officials at the camp said SPHP was free to park the G6 at a small lot not far from the main office, so Lupe’s trek up Black Mountain started right here.

At 3:08 PM (79°F), Lupe and SPHP set off.  There had been one caveat mentioned at the office about taking USFS Road No. 667.  The road went through Boy Scout property for the first half mile or so.  Leaving the road was not permitted.  No trespassing on Boy Scout land!  Seemed like an odd demand from an organization dedicated in part to promoting the outdoors, but another official reiterated this rule as Lupe and SPHP ambled along the road through the camp.

Whatever, no problem.  SPHP adhered rigidly to this restriction.  The American Dingo, having spent most of the day cooped up in the G6, was somewhat less diligent.  Lupe had a fun time roaming and exploring the forest not too far from the road.

After dipping down through camp, No. 667 crossed a small stream and then began to wind W climbing steadily.   Bluebells were growing in profusion in the forests and fields.  It was a pretty day, a bit warm, and Lupe was off to a good start.  She was beyond forbidden Boy Scout territory in a jiffy.  A mile from camp, she arrived at a minor saddle near large rock formations.

Loopster among the bluebells.

About a mile from Camp Laramie Peak, Lupe reached these large rock formations at a minor saddle. Photo looks NNE.

Still hidden from view more than a mile N of the minor saddle was Peak 7320, another mountain SPHP hoped Lupe would get a chance to climb.  First things first, though!  The road turned due S from the saddle and climbed more steeply than before.  Lupe followed it, continuing toward Black Mountain.

No. 667 soon turned SW and leveled out for a little way.  Peak 7320 now came into view back to the N.  The mountain was capped by a huge knob of solid rock.  Lupe might not be able to get to the top, even if there was time enough later on for an attempt.

Peak 7320 from USFS Road No. 667 on the way to Black Mountain. Photo looks N.

Off to the SW, the summit of Black Mountain had come into view, too.  It was a little hard to recognize at first, but got easier to discern as Lupe continued along the road.  A fire lookout tower was perched way up on the highest rocks.

The summit of Black Mountain (far L) came into view here, but it was still so far off, it was hard to recognize at first. Photo looks SW.
Getting closer! The fire lookout tower on the summit (Center) is now discernable. Photo looks SW.
The fire lookout tower at the summit (R of Center) with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks SW.

No. 667 soon began to climb again fairly steeply.  Before long, it made one big jog to the NW before turning sharply S.  Once it made the turn, the road started leveling out.  Lupe was still gaining elevation, but at an easy pace.  The Carolina Dog now enjoyed a pleasant journey S to the summit along the big N ridge.

The views were increasingly beautiful!  Albany Peak (7720 ft.) could be seen to the SSE.  A little farther on, Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.) came into view to the SW.

Albany Peak is seen straight up from Lupe on the L. Photo looks SE.
Laramie Peak, the highest mountain of the entire Laramie Range, comes into view. Photo looks SW.
Lupe traveling the big N ridge. The summit is in view, still a little way off. Photo looks S.

Lupe continued S along No. 667 until it curled around a big rock formation, and suddenly ended at the base of the massive stone knob the fire lookout station was perched on.  A steep metal stairway was the only way up.

Lupe arrives at the end of USFS Road No. 667. She did not like the steep stairway leading to the fire lookout station. Photo looks ESE.

The American Dingo didn’t like the look of those stairs!  She stayed at the bottom, while SPHP climbed the first longest section.  SPHP had to plead with her to follow.  She finally did come up, but not until SPHP was about ready to go down and get her.

A metal platform turned 90°, and led in a few feet to a 2nd shorter flight of stairs.  SPHP climbed this 2nd set, only to turn around and see Lupe running back down the 1st flight all the way to the bottom again.  SPHP returned to the top of the 1st flight to resume pleading and coaxing.  Looper finally relented.  This time she made it all the way to the fire lookout station to claim her peakbagging success!

Despite the long, scary metal stairway, Lupe makes it to the fire lookout station on Black Mountain (7,960 ft.) to claim her peakbagging success! Photo looks S.

The day had been warm and the air calm all the way up the mountain.  Even down at the base of the metal stairway, there hadn’t been much of a breeze.  However, up at the fire lookout tower, it was considerably cooler.  An annoyingly strong gusty wind was blowing out of the SSE.  The last bit of elevation gain had made a surprising difference!

It was so windy, Loopster wanted to take shelter in the lookout tower.  She was most disappointed that it was padlocked shut, and no one was around to let her in.  The views were splendid in every direction.  Somewhat reluctantly, the Carolina Dog cooperated with taking photos.  She preferred to spend her time on the N side of the tower out of the wind.

Lupe and SPHP made several forays around the tower to check out the views, returning frequently to the N side for breaks from the wind.

Of course, the most impressive view from Black Mountain was toward Laramie Peak (10,272 ft.), the highest mountain in the entire Laramie Range. Photo looks SW with help from the telephoto lens.
Looper checks out the view of Laramie Peak. Photo looks SSW.
The view to the N.
Another look to the N.
Albany Peak (7,720 ft.) (L) from Black Mountain. County Road No. 71 down in the Cottonwood Creek valley is seen in the foreground. Photo looks SSE.
Another look at Albany Peak a little later on with help from the telephoto lens. Photo looks SE.
Haystack Peaks are seen in the foreground on the R. Beyond them in the distance is Bear Head Mountain (8,359 ft.). Photo looks SSW.
Another look SSW, this time with more help from the telephoto lens. Haystack Peaks are in the foreground. Bear Head Mountain in the distance.
Laramie Peak (R) dominates Haystack Peaks (L foreground) and Bear Head Mountain (L distant). Photo looks SW.
The view to the NW. USFS Road No. 667 is seen below.

Lupe spent a good 30 minutes up at the summit of Black Mountain (7,960 ft.).  Before leaving, the Carolina Dog and SPHP took a longer break out of the wind on the N side of the lookout tower.  Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild.  Then it was time for one last look at Laramie Peak from the top, and a final stroll around the lookout tower.

A last look at Laramie Peak from the Black Mountain fire lookout tower. Photo looks SW.
After half an hour up at the windy fire lookout tower on Black Mountain, Lupe waits on the sheltered N side of it for the signal from SPHP that it’s OK to start down and get out of the wind once and for all. Photo looks S.

In her eagerness to get out of the wind, Lupe showed no fear of the long metal stairway leading down to USFS Road No. 667.  She raced to the bottom in nothing flat.  It was still a little breezy back down at the road, but nothing compared to the gusty wind up at the tower.

SW of the lookout tower were some great viewpoints where Laramie Peak was on display.  Lupe took a little time to sniff around and explore this area.

Laramie Peak from SW of the lookout tower. Photo looks SW.
Looking NE back up at the fire lookout tower.

When Lupe was satisfied with her explorations of the summit area, she headed back N along USFS Road No. 667.  She would retrace her route up following the road all the way back to Camp Laramie Peak.

Bluebells on the way back.

Although SPHP had hoped Lupe would have time to take a crack at Peak 7320 on the way down, the sun was starting to get low.  Since it looked like there wouldn’t be sufficient daylight to summit and get back to the road before dark, Lupe never made the attempt.

Peak 7320 (Center) seen a little before sunset on the way down Black Mountain. Unfortunately, Lupe wouldn’t have enough daylight to climb it and find her way back to the road before dark. Photo looks N.

It was 9:11 PM (52 °F) when Lupe reached Camp Laramie Peak again.  In fading light, she was treated to a ride S in the G6 down the Cottonwood Creek valley on County Road No. 71.  SPHP wanted to check out potential access routes to Albany Peak.  Maybe Lupe could climb it tomorrow?

There proved to be numerous homes on private property along County Road No. 71.  “No Trespassing” signs were posted all over the place.  SPHP found one possible access point, but it wasn’t clear if this route went across private property or not.  From Black Mountain, Lupe had seen a very large rock formation at the top of Albany Peak.  Maybe she couldn’t even get to the top of the mountain, even if there was access?

Reluctantly, SPHP decided Lupe should skip Albany Peak, at least on this trip.  SPHP drove N again, as Lupe barked enthusiastically at antelope grazing in the fields at dusk.  It was dark by the time Lupe stopped at a pullout along USFS Road No. 633 near Horseshoe Creek for the night.

Sunset in the Laramie Range of Wyoming.

Only 24 hours ago, Lupe had been bored and despondent on the tattered old couch back home.  Yet today she’d had a blast traveling to Wyoming and climbing Black Mountain.  The lucky American Dingo’s summer of 2017 adventures had only just begun!

Laramie Peak from Black Mountain, 6-8-17

Links:

Laramie Peak, Wyoming (8-9-15)

2016 Laramie Mountains, Wyoming Adventure Index

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2017 Laramie Range, Wyoming & Beyond Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD & WY Expedition No. 91 – Peak 6888, Bald Hills, the Weston County, Wyoming High Point, Peak 6645, & Laird Peak (6-1-14)

There’s nothing so rare as a day in June, and June had just arrived!  Both Lupe and SPHP were raring to go, even though scattered thunderstorms were in the afternoon forecast.  The plan was to head way out into the high country of the NW Black Hills for some peakbagging fun.  First up were Peak 6888 and the Bald Hills (6,690 ft.), both within a few miles of the Wyoming border.

Although there were already clouds around, the sun was still shining when SPHP parked the G6 more than 0.5 mile W of County Road No. 117 along USFS Road No. 109 (Parmlee Canyon Road) at 9:39 AM (59°F).  Lupe and SPHP started out taking Bear Canyon Road S from No. 109.  Bear Canyon Road was just a dirt road that looked like it seldom gets any traffic.  It passed through a field in a shallow valley and then entered the forest, winding its way up a low ridge at a pretty decent clip.

The climb was a short one.  Bear Canyon Road soon leveled out, and reached a clearing where there was an intersection with more faint roads.  Several whitetail deer ran off into the forest as Lupe approached the intersection.  Peak 6888 is about 0.75 mile S of Parmlee Canyon Road.  SPHP figured Lupe still had to go a bit farther S to get there.  The road continuing S was marked as USFS Road No. 117.5J.

Lupe followed No. 117.5J up a couple of little rises.  The road leveled out again after each one.  When the road seemed to be at its highest point, SPHP stopped to check the topo map.  The summit of Peak 6888 was supposed to be a little W of the road.  The entire area looked quite level, although the forest did look a bit higher off to the NW.  Lupe and SPHP left the road exploring the forest to the NW, while searching for an obvious high point or marker.

Lupe found neither.  A big area was almost as flat as a pancake.  Nothing seemed discernably higher or lower than anywhere else.  Lupe saw more deer, but summits were scarce.  Well, Loop, looks like this is all the summit!  SPHP encouraged Lupe to hop up onto a big log.  This can be your summit photo, Lupe!  Might as well call it good, and go on to the Bald Hills.

Lupe seemed happy enough to call this log the summit of Peak 6888. There were no views in any direction, just more flat forest extending all around.
Lupe seemed happy enough to call this log the summit of Peak 6888. There were no views in any direction, just more flat forest extending all around.

Peak 6888 was now in Lupe’s bag, but it hadn’t been too exciting.  At least there was a little excitement when Lupe and SPHP returned to No. 117.5J.  Lupe saw a female elk crossing the road.  The elk saw Lupe and SPHP, too.  It took off running, but seemed confused on which way it wanted to go.  It finally disappeared off to the SE.

Lupe and SPHP continued S on No. 117.5J.  Almost right away, Lupe came to a big square mud puddle where the road started angling SW.  Lupe ran over to wade around and get a big drink of mineral water.

Lupe discovers the mineral water pond on Peak 6888.
Lupe discovers the mineral water puddle on Peak 6888.
The mineral water pond looked like it could have been milk chocolate flavored.
The mineral water puddle looked like it could have been milk chocolate flavored.

From the milk chocolate colored mineral water puddle, No. 117.5J started losing elevation slowly, but steadily, as it went SW for about 0.75 mile.  The road appeared to end in a small valley near a couple of stock ponds.  There were several barbed wire fences in the area.   Lupe and SPHP headed S across the little valley, and climbed up the next low ridge ahead.  Up on top, Lupe found USFS Road No. 113 at a green gate.

By now the sky was completely overcast, and it began to rain steadily.  SPHP wore a blue plastic rain poncho, but Lupe was doomed to become a progressively more soggy doggie.  Lupe and SPHP marched W on No. 113 in the mud and rain.  The clouds grew darker.  The downpour strengthened, and the woods filled with fog.

Although Lupe ordinarily loves to get wet playing with the garden hose on warm, sunny days, the dreary downpour seemed to dampen her spirits.  For 2 miles, Lupe and SPHP slogged W on No. 113.  SPHP began to wonder what ever happened to the “scattered” part of the scattered T-storms in the forecast.  It looked like it could rain buckets all day.

After going 2 miles, Lupe started passing by minor side roads that SPHP was expecting to see, and No. 113 gradually turned S.  The road had been fairly level most of the time, but now began to lose some elevation.  That didn’t last long.  It was soon gaining the elevation back.  Lupe reached a high spot on the road as it turned W.  The road continued W, but it was clear it was about to lose serious elevation in that direction.

About this time, the rain stopped.  Suddenly the sky was getting brighter again.  SPHP stopped to check the maps.  The little green hill on the N side of the road had to be the summit of Bald Hills.  Lupe was practically there!

The remains of a campfire were on the N side of the road, too.  Unfortunately, trash was scattered all around it.  While SPHP collected trash, Lupe sniffed around, encouraged by the rapidly clearing sky.

Lupe just S of the summit of Bald Hills. The top was just up this little green hill. Photo looks N.
Lupe just S of the summit of Bald Hills. The top was just up this little green hill. Photo looks N.
A rather damp Lupe among pretty yellow flowers S of the summit of Bald Hills.
A rather damp Lupe among pretty yellow flowers S of the summit of Bald Hills.

When the trash was all gathered up, Lupe and SPHP climbed the little green hill to the summit.  The summit area was a bit surprising.  It was a big flat open field, completely surrounded by pine trees.

Trees killed by pine bark beetles were still standing along the W edge of the meadow.  When they eventually fall over, the view will improve dramatically.  As it was, Lupe and SPHP could only get glimpses of Mount Pisgah (6,380 ft.) five miles away in Wyoming.

Lupe in the big flat meadow at the summit of Bald Hills. Photo looks W. The sky is beginning to clear!
Lupe in the big flat meadow at the summit of Bald Hills. Photo looks W. The sky is beginning to clear!
Looking W.
Looking W.
Lupe starting to dry out in the sunshine. Photo looks NE.
Lupe starting to dry out in the sunshine. Photo looks NE.

The meadow on Bald Hills was quite pretty and full of little flowers.  It was kind of a shame there wasn’t a more open view anywhere, but that’s the way it was.  As Lupe and SPHP ambled around the field, the last of the storm clouds drifted away to the E, and the sun began to shine.

Lupe and SPHP left the summit taking what was supposed to be a shortcut back to No. 113 by heading directly E.  There proved to be a fair amount of deadfall timber to deal with in the forest.  While Lupe might have saved some distance, it was debatable how much time was really saved.

Once on No. 113 again, Lupe and SPHP followed it back E.  Where dark clouds, rain and fog had prevailed only a short time ago, now a sunny, fresh, bright green Dingo Paradise existed.  Lupe’s spirits soared!  She dashed through the damp woods sniffing excitedly at every tree and bush.  Lupe came to a series of small pools scooped out along the road.  She made frequent use of them.

One of several pools of rainwater along USFS Road No. 113. The day was warming up rapidly. Lupe made frequent quick stops at the pools for refreshing drinks.
One of several pools of rainwater along USFS Road No. 113. The day was warming up rapidly. Lupe made frequent quick stops at the pools for refreshing drinks.

When Lupe reached the green gate across No. 113 again, she turned N leaving the road.  Lupe and SPHP went down off the ridge into the small valley, this time passing above (E of) the higher pond.  Lupe returned to No. 117.5J.  Soon Lupe and SPHP were back up on Peak 6888 again.

Lupe took a Taste of the Wild break while resting under a fallen tree trunk.  SPHP sat on the tree trunk eating an apple and looking at the maps.  After the break, Lupe and SPHP once again wandered around on Peak 6888, still looking for an obvious high point, but with the same negative results.  Lupe chose a bright green meadow for her 2nd Peak 6888 summit shot of the day.

Lupe near the upper pond on her way back to Peak 6888. This area is a little W of the Beaver Creek Cow Camp on the USFS map.
Lupe near the upper pond on her way back to Peak 6888. This area is a little W of the Beaver Creek Cow Camp on the USFS map.
Lupe takes a Taste of the Wild break while resting under a fallen tree on Peak 6888.
Lupe takes a Taste of the Wild break while resting under a fallen tree on Peak 6888.
Lupe chose this bright green meadow to commemorate her 2nd ascent of Peak 6888 of the day. Photo looks WSW.
Lupe chose this bright green meadow to commemorate her 2nd ascent of Peak 6888 of the day. Photo looks WSW.

SPHP had noticed while looking at the maps that 0.33 mile to the NE of Peak 6888 there was a small area enclosed by a 6,900 foot contour line.  Since that was somewhat higher ground, Lupe and SPHP crossed over No. 117.5J to go check it out.

NE of No. 117.5J, Lupe did seem to gain a little elevation, but it didn’t amount to much.  Lupe still found no obvious high point.  There weren’t any big views anywhere over here either, just more forest.  Lupe and SPHP went W back to Bear Canyon Road and turned N.  By 1:48 PM (65°F), Lupe was back at the G6.

Lupe’s next two peakbagging goals were both located 10 miles to the NNW.  Lupe and SPHP jumped in the G6, and enjoyed a very scenic drive through gorgeous Black Hills high country near the Wyoming border.  The last part of the drive was along another USFS Road No. 109.  (Not the No. 109 that leads to Parmlee Canyon.)  This No. 109 led N out of the Beaver Creek valley.  It eventually turned NW toward the Wyoming border.

SPHP was really hoping there would be some kind of a sign and a fence at the border.  Lupe’s third peakbagging goal of the day was the Weston County, Wyoming High Point (6,620 ft.).  The high point is located about 0.375 mile S of where No. 109 reaches the Wyoming border.  The whole key to finding the Weston County High Point was knowing where the border was.

The luck of the Dingo prevailed!  There was a Wyoming sign at the border.  There was also a cattle guard, a fence, and a convenient level place to park on the South Dakota side (2:28 PM, 57°F).  Lupe and SPHP left the G6, crossed the cattle guard into Wyoming, and headed S along the border fence.

The entire area was forested and rolling, but without significant elevation changes.  Logging trails ran this way and that through the woods.  When it seemed easier, Lupe and SPHP just followed the logging trails, but never got very far from the border fence.  Pretty soon, Lupe came to two high points right along the state line.  One of them had to be the Weston County High Point.

The two high points were close enough to each other so it was possible to see both at the same time.  However, they were so similar in elevation, SPHP wasn’t certain which was truly the highest point.  The first one Lupe came to, the one to the N, seemed like it was highest, but it was hard to tell for sure.  Naturally, Lupe visited both high points.

Lupe at the N candidate for the Weston County, WY high point. She is sitting just past the border fence on the South Dakota side of the border. SPHP believes this is the true high point, but there was another possible candidate in view a short distance to the S. Photo looks E.
Lupe at the N candidate for the Weston County, WY high point. She is sitting just past the border fence on the South Dakota side of the border. SPHP believes this is the true high point, but there was another possible candidate in view a short distance to the S. Photo looks E.

From the N high point, a small, nearly level ridge extended W about 100 feet into Wyoming.  It was possible the Weston County High Point was actually somewhere along this ridge instead of right on the border with South Dakota.  Lupe explored the W ridge out to where it ended at 10 foot high limestone outcroppings.  SPHP was of the opinion the actual high point was back at the WY/SD border, rather than anywhere along the ridge.

Lupe seemed to enjoy looking for the Weston County High Point. Here she is looking happy while exploring the small ridge W of the border and the N high point candidate.
Lupe seemed to enjoy looking for the Weston County High Point. Here she is looking happy while exploring the small ridge W of the border and the N high point candidate.
Although Lupe explored this entire ridge W of the N candidate on the WY/SD border for Weston County, WY High Point, SPHP didn't believe the actual high point was anywhere out on this ridge. To SPHP, the land seemed marginally higher right at the border. Lupe never did really come out and say what she thought.
Although Lupe explored this entire ridge W of the N candidate on the WY/SD border for Weston County, WY High Point, SPHP didn’t believe the actual high point was anywhere out on this ridge. To SPHP, the land seemed marginally higher right at the border. Lupe never did really come out and say what she thought.
The W end of the ridge ended at these 10 foot high limestone outcroppings. Photo looks SE.
The W end of the ridge ended at these 10 foot high limestone outcroppings. Photo looks SE.

After exploring the W ridge, Lupe and SPHP went over to the S high point candidate along the Wyoming/South Dakota border.  A small area on the Wyoming side near the S high point had been clear cut.  There were slash piles laying all around.  The S high point was a limestone outcropping right at the border.  There wasn’t any ridge extending out to the W here.  The ground went downhill immediately W of the high point.

Lupe at the S candidate along the WY/SD border for Weston County, WY High Point. Photo looks S.
Lupe at the S candidate along the WY/SD border for Weston County, WY High Point. Photo looks S.

Wherever the actual Weston County High Point truly was, Lupe had now been there, having explored both possible candidates, plus the W ridge.  The forest blocked any views, so there was no reason to linger.  A short distance up a little hill to the E just inside the South Dakota border was Lupe’s fourth peakbagging goal of the day, Peak 6645.

Why Peak 6645 is on Peakbagger.com’s official list of Black Hills 6500-foot Peaks is completely beyond SPHP.  There are numerous other higher points close at hand that are not on the official list.  A little over 0.1 mile to the NE is High Point 6651, a mile to the SE is High Point 6807, and a little farther E is High Point 6906.  The topo map shows many other examples of higher points close at hand, too.  Nevertheless, Peak 6645 is on the official list and the others aren’t.

Since Peak 6645 was on the official Black Hills 6500-foot Peaks list, Lupe was going to visit it.  At least it had the great virtue of being located very conveniently close to the Weston County, WY High Point.  Lupe and SPHP made the short trek up the hill.  Between the trees was a hint of a view off to the WSW, but that was all.  Nevertheless, Lupe seemed completely happy with Peak 6645.

One cheerful Carolina Dog on Peak 6645! Photo looks WSW at a little meadow. Lupe is about 30 feet W of the actual highest point on the hill, but it was only 4 or 5 feet higher than where she is here.
One cheerful Carolina Dog on Peak 6645! Photo looks WSW at a little meadow. Lupe is about 30 feet W of the actual highest point on the hill, but it was only 4 or 5 feet higher than where she is here.

Lupe on Peak 6645, 6-1-14

Lupe on the very highest part of Peak 6645. Photo looks NE.
Lupe on the very highest part of Peak 6645. Photo looks NE.

The actual summit of Peak 6645 was an otherwise unremarkable 5 foot high mound in the woods.  Lupe sniffed around for a couple of minutes, but even she didn’t find anything particularly fascinating.  While Lupe was sniffing around, clouds were moving in again.  Thunder started rumbling off to the NW.  Lupe and SPHP hurried NE on to High Point 6651.

From High Point 6651, Lupe was able to see USFS Road No. 109 just below to the NE.  Instead of going right on down to the road, though, Lupe and SPHP turned NW, following the ridge.  The ridge soon played out, and sloped on down to No. 109 closer to the G6.  A quick 0.25 mile road trek, and Lupe was back at the G6 (3:17 PM, 57°F).

Hwy 85 near Buckhorn was only a couple of miles NW on USFS Road No. 809 (the road number changes from No. 109 at the Wyoming border), but it was already raining again by the time Lupe reached the highway.  Another  thunderstorm was passing through.  SPHP stopped in at the Buckhorn Bar & Grill to grab a hamburger.  Lupe stayed in the G6, entertained by barking at black cows across the road.

Lupe sniffs around outside the Buckhorn, WY Bar & Grill.
Lupe sniffs around outside the Buckhorn, WY Bar & Grill.

The owner and the cook/waitress were the only people in the Buckhorn Bar & Grill.  They were both friendly, and after a reasonable delay produced a pathetic-looking over-priced hamburger, which didn’t even come with fries or chips.  SPHP took the sad little thing out to the G6 to share it with Lupe while waiting for the rain to stop.  Lupe’s opinion of the hamburger was far different from SPHP’s.  She greeted it with enormous enthusiasm, and would have eagerly consumed far more than her fair share, if SPHP had permitted.

The hamburger was gone in a flash.  Lupe retired to the back seat of the G6 for a nap, while the rain continued outside.  SPHP munched an apple and looked at the maps.  Lupe’s 5th and final peakbagging goal for the day was Laird Peak (6,906 ft.), which was only 6 or 7 miles to the NE, and less than a mile from Hwy 85.  Climbing Laird Peak wouldn’t take long.  Gradually a new plan came to mind.  Lupe could go on into Wyoming to Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.), a more isolated and interesting peak!

However, the rain went on and on.  Thunder rumbled repeatedly from very dark clouds overhead.  Lupe snoozed contentedly full of hamburger.  The windows of the G6 fogged up.  SPHP finally decided that if the storm didn’t end by 6 PM, Lupe would have to forget about Inyan Kara.

At 5:30 PM, a tiny white spot appeared in the clouds to the NW.  For a few minutes, the white spot grew.  A little patch of blue appeared.  Maybe the storm was about over?  SPHP started the G6 and drove SW on Highway 85.  Within a few miles, it was clear that the storm was passing.  By the time Lupe reached Four Corners, the rain had stopped.  Growing patches of blue sky were off to the W.  SPHP turned NW on Hwy 585.

The drive toward Inyan Kara was gorgeous.  The sun broke through the clouds to shine on the mountains and high plains, all fresh and green from the rain.  Inyan Kara was still shrouded by dark clouds, but they were likely to dissipate soon.  SPHP initially missed the turn W on County Road No. 198, but came back to it.

A lot of rain had fallen.  County Road No. 198 was muddy.  Despite the mud, the G6 made it 1.5 miles W of the highway to an intersection.  SPHP took the sharp turn N and drove down a hill.  From the G6, Lupe barked at cows grazing in the green fields.  The road turned W again at some corrals shortly before disappearing beneath an enormous puddle.  Beyond the puddle, SPHP could see deep muddy ruts in the road.

No way the G6 would get through this!  SPHP parked near the corrals.  Lupe and SPHP began a march W around the huge puddle, and then along the mucky road.

Inyan Kara is dead ahead! Lupe is on the muddy access road, which goes to two private ranches. Photo looks W.
Inyan Kara is dead ahead! Lupe is on the muddy access road, which goes to two private ranches. Photo looks W.

It was a longer march that it looked like at first.  Even where the road looked good, it was very soft.  It was a beautiful evening, though.  Lupe and SPHP enjoyed the trek, despite the mud.  When Lupe finally got close to Inyan Kara, she reached a fork in the road.  To the W were some buildings and a “No Trespassing” sign.  Lupe and SPHP tried the other fork going NNW down a hill first.

Lupe hadn’t gone very far, when she came to a sign saying the county road ended here.  It also said “No Trespassing without Owner’s Permission”.  A yellow house was in view not much farther down the road.  Lupe and SPHP continued on to beg the owner’s permission to cross the private ranch to Inyan Kara.

A bluish dog about Lupe’s size started barking as Lupe and SPHP got close to the fenced yard around the house.  The bluish dog was all excited.  He whined and wanted to play with Lupe.  SPHP petted him, but Lupe just growled.  No one came out of the house.  SPHP yelled a few helloes, but there was no response.  Too bad, this was the best place to gain access to Inyan Kara.

Lupe and SPHP left the disappointed bluish dog behind to go back and try the W fork of the road.  The results were much the same.  Two dogs were at the house at the end of that road, but again no people.  A fat little Corgi stayed up on a deck and barked.  A white and black dog barked as it came running up to meet Lupe.  As soon as it got close enough, the white and black dog promptly peed on SPHP’s boot.  Lupe growled again, this time with more justification.

Sigh.  That was it.  No one was around at either place to grant permission to access Inyan Kara.  So much for that idea.  Lupe and SPHP headed back on the muddy road toward the G6.  It was still a beautiful trek.

Lupe E of Inyan Kara on her way back to the G6. Looking N from the county road.
Lupe E of Inyan Kara on her way back to the G6. Looking N from the county road.
Looking SW.
Looking SW.

As Lupe and SPHP neared the corrals where the G6 was parked, there was a bit of a surprise.  A herd of 30 or 40 black cows was congregated on the road near the G6.  Lupe would have to go right past them.  SPHP put Lupe on the leash.  Lupe tried to be good, but it was just too much temptation.  When she got very close to the cows, she started barking.  She felt amazingly powerful and ferocious when the whole herd stampeded away.

Well, not quite the whole herd.  One cow was unfazed by Lupe.  When Lupe and SPHP went right on by, the bold cow decided to follow.  In fact, the bold cow had apparently decided that SPHP must have something good to eat.  It started trotting along eager to partake of whatever delicious repast SPHP had stuffed in the backpack.  The cow completely ignored Lupe, who was somewhat startled by the notion that barking at this cow made it want to come toward her instead of running away.  Up close, it was an awful lot bigger than the noisy Carolina Dog!

Even more startling, was the reaction of the rest of the herd.  When the other cows saw that the bold cow was not being devoured by an American Dingo, but was actually anticipating a delicious treat from SPHP, they suddenly decided they were about to miss out on something good.  The whole herd came thundering back, anxious to partake in whatever happy event was about to unfold.

SPHP wasn’t too keen on being crushed by a herd of overly enthusiastic hungry cattle.  Lupe and SPHP made a run for the G6, barely getting inside before being completely surrounded.  Whew!  Back inside the safety of the G6, Lupe regained her confidence and resumed barking furiously at the herd pressing in on every side.  By now, though, the cows were totally unimpressed.  They went back to munching grass, feeling a bit put out.

Slowly and cautiously, SPHP eased the G6 through the herd, stopping every few seconds to wait for another opening a little farther forward.  Lupe continued having her fruitless conniption fit the whole time.  Nearly all the cows continued totally ignoring her.  After a few minutes, the G6 broke free of the herd.  Lupe and SPHP escaped back to the highway.

The Inyan Kara jaunt had been a failure.  There was still time, though, to return to the original plan.  Lupe and SPHP headed for Laird Peak.  A mile W of O’Neil Pass on Hwy 85, SPHP turned N on USFS Road No. 106.  Less than a mile from the highway there was a big open area on the E side of No. 106, shortly before reaching a junction with Willow Springs Road coming in from the W.  SPHP parked the G6 in the open area (8:04 PM, 47°F).

Lupe and SPHP started out going E up a little valley along a grassy road.  Lupe passed a small stock pond on the S side of the road, and soon came to a water tank.  Water was overflowing the tank, creating a small muddy stream that ran down to the stock pond.  One of SPHP’s maps showed Tom Spring in this location.

Beyond Tom Spring, the grassy road disappeared for a stretch.  Lupe soon found it again, now angling NE up into the trees.  The road climbed until it reached a flat area where a number of roads converged.  Lupe was already quite high here.  Despite the forest, it was possible to get a glimpse over the other side of the mountain toward the SE.

At the intersection, Lupe took a good road N until it passed a fence.  She then left the road to follow the fence E toward a 50 foot rise where SPHP expected to find the summit of Laird Peak.  Near the top, Lupe and SPHP caught a last look at the fiery sun about to drop below the horizon.

Sunset on Laird Peak.
Sunset on Laird Peak.

The sun sank below the horizon within minutes, but Lupe had no problem finding the survey marker and benchmark at the summit of Laird Peak to complete her 5th and final peakbagging success of the day.

The Laird Peak survey marker and benchmark.
The Laird Peak survey marker and benchmark.

Lupe reached the G6 again at 9:00 PM on the dot (47°F).  She’d had quite a big day in the NW Black Hills.  Four mountains climbed for the first time, plus a Wyoming county highpoint reached!  Perhaps the most memorable mountain, though, was Inyan Kara, the one she didn’t get to climb!

Lupe on Laird Peak at dusk.
Lupe on Laird Peak at dusk.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

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.

Black Hills, WY Expedition No. 104 – Inyan Kara Mountain (11-9-14)

Snow was in the forecast.  An approaching winter storm was supposed to hit tomorrow and dump half a foot of snow on the Black Hills.  The next 10 days weren’t expected to get above freezing.  Today was supposed to be nice, though, with highs in the 50’s.  Last chance, for a while at least, for Lupe to go on a Black Hills Expedition!

Lupe’s peakbagging goal for Expedition No. 104 was a rather unusual Black Hills mountain – Inyan Kara (6,360 ft.).  Inyan Kara is part of a line of forested ridges and hills in eastern Wyoming separated from the main body of the Black Hills in South Dakota by 5-10 miles of grasslands used mostly for ranching.  Like Devil’s Tower (5,112 ft.) in NE Wyoming and Bear Butte (4,433 ft.) near Sturgis, South Dakota, Inyan Kara was considered sacred by the Lakota Sioux.  General George Armstrong Custer is purported to have visited Inyan Kara on July 23, 1874.

Inyan Kara sits on roughly 2 square miles of the Black Hills National Forest completely surrounded by privately held ranch lands.  To even reach the national forest land, Lupe would need permission from the ranchers.  Lupe and SPHP had tried once before to get permission, way back on Black Hills Expedition No. 91 on 6-1-14, but had arrived at the ranch headquarters to find no one at home except the dog.

Lupe SE of Inyan Kara Mountain. Would she get permission from the local ranchers to cross their property to reach it?
Lupe SE of Inyan Kara Mountain. Would she get permission from the local ranchers to cross their property to reach it?
Inyan Kara from the SE. Although Inyan Kara is on roughly 2 square miles of Black Hills National Forest, the mountain is surrounded by privately held ranchlands.
Inyan Kara from the SE. Although Inyan Kara is on roughly 2 square miles of Black Hills National Forest, the mountain is surrounded by privately held ranchlands.
The road to the headquarters of Douglas and Sheila Hunter's ranch E of the mountain.
The road to the headquarters of Douglas and Sheila Hunter’s ranch E of the mountain.

This time Lupe and SPHP were in luck!  Lupe arrived at the headquarters of Douglas and Sheila Hunter’s ranch just E of Inyan Kara to find Mr. Hunter and a couple of helpers in his front yard busy loading a vehicle on a trailer.  Mr. Hunter’s dog, Bear, was very interested in meeting Lupe, but Lupe just growled.

Despite Lupe’s less than cordial reaction to Bear, Mr. Hunter kindly and readily granted Lupe and SPHP permission to cross his ranch to access Inyan Kara.  Mr. Hunter directed SPHP where to park the G6.  By 10:15 AM (50°F), Lupe and SPHP were on their way.

Lupe and SPHP started out going W on a continuation of the dirt road that led to, and also went on by, the Hunter Ranch headquarters.  Lupe passed some old buildings near a tiny, mucky creek, and soon afterward came to a junction with another road.  Lupe and SPHP turned N on this other road, but left it before long to start climbing through the fields directly toward SE-facing cliffs on Inyan Kara.  On the way up, Lupe and SPHP ducked under a fence, thereby leaving the Hunter ranch and entering the Black Hills National Forest.

Lupe and SPHP turned N to avoid the cliffs.  Lupe still angled slightly up the slope to gain elevation slowly, but steadily.  She was approaching the forest on the E side of Inyan Kara.  Once in the forest, Lupe and SPHP continued N working gradually up the ridge to the W.  When the top of the ridge became visible between the pines, Lupe and SPHP turned W and climbed directly up the steep slope to the crest of the ridge.  Lupe could now see the igneous summit of Inyan Kara to the WNW.

Lupe reaches the crest of the ridge. The summit of Inyan Kara is seen beyond her to the WNW.
Lupe reaches the crest of the ridge. The summit of Inyan Kara is seen beyond her to the WNW.
The summit of Inyan Kara is basalt, an igneous rock. The basalt was forced up into overlaying sedimentary rocks as magma, which cooled and solidified. The sedimentary rocks at the top have since eroded away. Vertical columns can be seen in the basalt. A more famous and clearer example of similar geology can be found at Devil's Tower about 27 miles NW of Sundance, WY.
The summit of Inyan Kara is comprised of igneous rock.  Magma was forced up into overlaying sedimentary rock layers, but never erupted.  Instead, it cooled and solidified. The sedimentary rocks at the top have since eroded away. Vertical columns can be seen on the mountainside. A more famous and clearer example of similar geology can be found at Devil’s Tower, about 27 miles NW of Sundance, WY.

Lupe on the ESE ridge of Inyan Kara, 11-9-14Inyan Kara is an interesting mountain.  It is shaped rather like a distorted horseshoe, with the opening of the horseshoe NE of the summit and facing N.  A long ridge starts rising from the NE end of the horseshoe, and makes a big sweeping curve clear around to the E and then S of the summit, ultimately going clear over to the SW.  This long ridge gains elevation rapidly at first, but much more slowly as it progresses SW.

The S and SW portions of the sweeping ridge are quite high.  Close to the SW end, there is a significant saddle where some elevation must be lost going NE to approach a shorter, but higher ridge leading to the actual summit.  This N ridge is characterized by large igneous rock formations, but is easily climbed.  Several smaller saddles must be navigated while heading N along the summit ridge.

The N ridge angles NE shortly before reaching the top of Inyan Kara.  The summit and nearby areas form the NW end of the horseshoe.  Between the N and S ridges, a deep forested valley comprises the center of the horseshoe.

Lupe had reached the top of the lower sweeping ridge ESE of the summit.  The easiest way to reach the top of the mountain was to just follow the ridge as it swept around to the S and then SW.  From there, Lupe could traverse the saddle over to the higher N ridge and continue on to Inyan Kara’s summit.

The ridge was all forested and fairly narrow most of the way to the saddle, but it was never narrow enough to be a problem.  Deadfall timber sometimes partially blocked the way for SPHP.  It was only bad in one small area toward the SSW.  As Lupe progressed around the ridge, there were a few places with great views to the SE, S or SW.

Lupe on the S ridge of Inyan Kara. Photo looks SSE. The high ridge on the horizon seen above her head in this photo is the Sweetwater Mountain (6,440 ft.) high point.
Lupe on the S ridge of Inyan Kara. Photo looks SSE. The high ridge on the horizon seen above her head in this photo is the Sweetwater Mountain (6,440 ft.) high point.
Looking NNE at the Inyan Kara summit ridge from the lower S ridge.
Looking NNE at the Inyan Kara summit ridge from the lower S ridge.
Looking SSW from the S ridge.
Looking SSW from the S ridge.

Lupe and SPHP followed the S ridge around to the SW.  Lupe continued W far enough to make certain she had reached the highest part of the S ridge.  She then headed NE down into the saddle on her way to the N ridge leading up to the summit.  Lupe could have started NE down into the saddle a bit sooner, and she wouldn’t have lost quite as much elevation.  It still didn’t take her long to cross the broad forested saddle to reach the N ridge.

The most interesting part of Lupe’s climb up Inyan Kara started upon reaching the N ridge.  There were big rock formations.  The rocks were tan or pinkish orange, and had little steps or contours in them.  Lupe quickly climbed up to a high point at least as high as any spot along the S ridge.  From here, she could see the Inyan Kara summit off to the NNE.

The rest of the way to the summit was a bit tricky.  It involved some exploration and occasional back-tracking to find the easiest route.  In general, it proved best to stay to the NW side of the N ridge until getting quite close to the summit, since there were places that ended in cliffs to the SE.

The top of Inyan Kara is an open rocky ridge from which there are grand views in most directions.  Although it hadn’t been windy on the way up, there was a steady, cold wind out of the SW when Lupe reached the summit.  With the darkly overcast sky and stiff breeze, it was beginning to look like the forecast snow storm might well be on its way.  Lupe wasn’t going to get to enjoy the views for very long.

Lupe reaches the top of Inyan Kara! She didn't like the strong, cold breeze coming from behind her. The dark sky did look like the expected snow storm might be on its way. Photo looks SW.
Lupe reaches the top of Inyan Kara! She didn’t like the strong, cold breeze coming from behind her. The dark sky did look like the expected snow storm might be on its way. Photo looks SW.
Looking SSE from the Inyan Kara summit toward Sweetwater Mountain, the high ridge on the far horizon.
Looking SSE from the Inyan Kara summit toward Sweetwater Mountain, the high ridge on the far horizon.
Looking NW from Inyan Kara. The circular USGS benchmark is on the ground in front of Lupe.
Looking NW from Inyan Kara. The circular USGS benchmark is on the ground in front of Lupe.

Right away, SPHP noticed a USGS benchmark out in the open just 10 or 12 feet E of the summit. SPHP was disappointed that it didn’t even say Inyan Kara on it.  While SPHP was looking at the USGS benchmark, Lupe was sniffing curiously around a big juniper bush just 8 feet N of the summit. Upon investigation, stuffed inside the bush SPHP found a broken Tupperware container inside a couple of Ziploc bags.  It was all held in place inside the bush by several rocks placed on top.

USGS benchmark on Inyan Kara.
USGS benchmark on Inyan Kara.
Lupe not enjoying the wind by the juniper bush. The registry log was hidden inside this bush 8 feet N of the summit.
Lupe not enjoying the wind by the juniper bush. The registry log was hidden inside this bush 8 feet N of the summit.

Inside the broken Tupperware container was a pen and notebook that serves as a registry log.  There were also other papers relating to a wedding, a funeral service and other events that had been held on top of Inyan Kara.  The registry went back to 2008 and contained quite a few names.  Some of the individuals had climbed Inyan Kara multiple times, with one claiming to have made 6 ascents.

SPHP would have liked to spend more time reading the registry, but the wind made reading for very long unpleasant.  It was difficult to hold the pages open and still without tearing them.  SPHP entered Lupe’s name in the registry log, before putting it all back together and stuffing everything securely in the bush.

Despite the wind, Lupe and SPHP lingered up on Inyan Kara for a while to enjoy the views.  Lupe had water and Taste of the Wild, and then huddled inside SPHP’s jacket to stay warm.  SPHP ate an apple and a big carrot.  For the Black Hills, the views were tremendous.  Far below and all around Inyan Kara was open ranch land, dotted here and there with forested hills and ridges.

On the N horizon, Lupe could see Missouri Buttes (5,374 ft.), Devil’s Tower, and Warren Peaks (6,650 ft.)Cement Ridge (6,674 ft.) was off to the NE.  Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) and the main body of the Black Hills were in view to the E.  Sweetwater Mountain was SSE.  Very far to the W are the Bighorn Mountains, which are easily seen from Inyan Kara on a clear day when the light is right.  However, SPHP could only barely make out one small portion of the southern Bighorns on this overcast day.

When it was time to go, Lupe and SPHP took the same route back along the N ridge going SSW and then down into the saddle area between the N and S ridges.  Instead of going on to retrace Lupe’s route along the S ridge, Lupe and SPHP ventured E down into the steep, deep forested valley between the ridges – the middle of the Inyan Kara horseshoe.

Lupe on her way down Inyan Kara. Photo looks N.
Lupe on her way down Inyan Kara. Photo looks N.

Lupe followed the valley all the way down to its exit onto the prairie NE of the Inyan Kara summit (the open end of the horseshoe).  There was no trail at all in the upper portion of the valley, and only a faint one in the lower part, until Lupe reached a jeep trail near a couple of old rusting water tanks near the valley’s N end.

The trek down through the central valley proved to take much more time than the S ridge route.  Except at the upper and lower ends, the valley is V-shaped nearly all the way.  Even the very bottom was steep, rough ground.  In places it was choked with deadfall timber killed by pine bark beetles, making the going very slow.

The valley did provide Lupe complete protection from the cold wind.  About the only other advantage was a tiny intermittent trickle of a stream where Lupe could get a drink.  Not much of an advantage when SPHP was porting water anyway.  While the valley was fun to explore once, Lupe and SPHP definitely recommend the S ridge route instead for the splendid views, shorter hike, and easier terrain!

Once Lupe emerged from Inyan Kara’s horseshoe, she followed the jeep trail around the E side of the mountain.  There were forests near the E ridge, but most of the time Lupe was out on the open range.  The jeep trail led right back to the Hunter ranch headquarters.

Lupe arrived at the G6 at 4:24 PM (51°F).  No one was around except Bear, who was standing on the front porch.  Bear whined when he saw Lupe.  Bear still wanted to play, but the tired Carolina Dog showed no interest, dashing the lonely ranch dog’s hopes.

Sunset leaving the Hunter ranch.
Sunset leaving the Hunter ranch.

Inyan Kara Mountain is about 4 miles W of Hwy 585 in NE Wyoming between Sundance and Four Corners.  Turn W on County Road No. 198 about 15 miles S of Sundance.  Follow it about 1.5 miles W.  A sharp turn N on a dirt road eventually leads 2.5 miles NW to a fork in the road.  The Douglas and Sheila Hunter ranch headquarters is a short distance down the right fork.  Courtesy and respect for the landowner’s rights will go a long way toward securing permission to access Inyan Kara.

For more information on the interesting history of Inyan Kara, click here.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

King’s Hill, Montana & Bald Mountain, Wyoming (9-7-16 & 9-8-16)

Days 40 & 41 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

Night, Unknown Hour, Pre-dawn on Day 40 – Cold out, but at least Lupe wasn’t going to get snowed in at the Canadian Rockies.  Last evening’s rain had stopped.  Stars glittered in the black night sky.  Back to sleep, if possible, no telling how many hours away dawn was.  Lupe wasn’t going anywhere until then, not with the G6’s burnt out R headlight.

Day 40, 6:55 AM, 33°F – Whatever happened to that bright morning sunshine SPHP had expected?  The clouds were back.  In places there was fog along Icefields Parkway Hwy 93.  It hadn’t snowed down here, but mountains visible between the clouds were sporting a dusting of new snow.  The mood was more like the onset of winter than a day in early September.

Morning in the Canadian Rockies.

Sadly, Lupe was leaving.  Her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska was all but over.  She would have a couple more adventures on the way home, but they wouldn’t take long.

The miles flew by as Lupe watched the scenery from the comfort of the G6.  She saw the grandeur of the towering Canadian Rockies.  She passed by many a turn leading to fabulous adventures she’d had earlier on this Dingo Vacation or back in 2013 or 2014.  As Lupe left the glorious mountains, the sky started to clear and the sun came out.

Lupe wasn’t the least bit sad.  As far as she was concerned, the adventure was still on.  In fact, it was getting even better!  Ahead of her were more than 1,000 miles of farm and ranchlands.  That meant one thing to the Carolina Dog – an abundance of cows, horses, haystacks, suspicious barns and outbuildings to bark at while leaping from window to window in the G6!  Yes, it was going to be an exciting, busy, exhausting day!

And so it was.  Barking at cows and horses from the G6 is a sport Looper never tires of, nor loses interest in.  The unsuspecting cows and horses don’t have to do anything more than exist in order to egg her on.  Seldom are they even aware of her brief, shrill, distant presence.  Doesn’t matter a whit.  Loop barks all the harder.  The whole experience provides her with a sense of purpose, accomplishment and joy.

The only way to calm the energetic din, is to drive into a town or up into the mountains.  Even the mountains can be noisy, but rarely are there enough deer and squirrels present as substitutes to make the experience at all comparable to the pleasures to be had in cattle country.

SPHP was granted a break while driving through Calgary, and another later on in Great Falls, Montana.  In Great Falls, SPHP stopped to pick up fried chicken, potato wedges and Almond Joys.  For a while SE of Great Falls, the potato wedges and Almond Joys kept Lupe distracted.  By the time SPHP stopped at the Al Buck Memorial Park along Highway 89 N of the Little Belt Range, Lupe was too stuffed to share the fried chicken.

Day 40, 7:00 PM, 47°F – Lupe arrived at King’s Hill Pass on Hwy 89 in the Little Belt Mountains of W Central Montana very satisfied with how her day had gone.  The excitement of being in cattle country was temporarily over up here, but the sun would be above the horizon for a little while longer.  The American Dingo was still bursting with energy and eager for some exercise climbing King’s Hill (8,008 ft.).

From the pass, Lupe went SW through the forest until she reached USFS Road No. 487, which she followed for 0.75 mile going S along the W face of King’s Hill.  By the time No. 487 turned E, she was almost up to the S end of the huge, nearly level summit area.  Lupe went N along the wide summit ridge, as the last feeble rays of sunlight faded.

Lupe near the S end of the King’s Hill summit near sunset. The highest point on King’s Hill is toward the far end of this meadow. Photo looks NNW.

Lupe traveled NNW across the open ground until she reached the survey benchmark at the true summit near the N end of the mountain.  Although the sun was still above the horizon, clouds filtered the remaining sunlight to the point where it was hard to tell it was even present.  It certainly did nothing to cut the chill from the W wind sweeping over King’s Hill.

Off to the NNE, Lupe could see Big Baldy Mountain (9,177 ft.), the highest point in the Little Belt Range.  Big Baldy already had snow on top!

Off to the NNE, Lupe could see Big Baldy Mountain, the high point of the Little Belt Range. Big Baldy already had snow on top!
Big Baldy Mountain from King’s Hill. Photo looks NNE using the telephoto lens.

Up in the cold wind, late in the day after being cooped up in the G6 so long, the American Dingo started getting ideas.  Oh, no!  SPHP recognized that look.

Up in the cold wind on King’s Hill late in the day, Lupe started getting ideas. She stood motionless staring steadily at SPHP. In a flash, SPHP realized what was coming. The were-puppy was about to attack! Photo looks SSW.

Suddenly Lupe vanished.  In her place appeared the wild, ferocious were-puppy.  Without hesitation the were-puppy attacked SPHP!

After a few minutes of struggle, during which the were-puppy lunged and leaped at SPHP with snapping jaws, SPHP managed to fend off the were-puppy.  Lupe returned looking as innocent as she could be.

So, I take you adventuring not only to the Canadian Rockies, but way up to the Yukon and even Alaska, and this is what I get?

Why, whatever do you mean, SPHP?  Are you feeling well?

Sly dog!  Well, the wind was cold, and Lupe had made it to the top of King’s Hill.  The sun really would be down behind Porphyry Peak (8,192 ft.) soon.  No sense in sticking around waiting for the were-puppy to return.  Lupe and SPHP started S toward the road leading back down to the G6.

The lookout tower on Porphyry Peak stands silhouetted against the sky near sundown. Photo looks W.

Shots rang out.  Gunfire!  Hunters?  The same American Dingo which had presented itself as the bold, ferocious, wild and invincible were-puppy only minutes ago, now pleaded with SPHP for reassurance and assistance.

Help!  Help!  Hide me!  Save me!  Hold me!  Pet me!  Love me!  Carry me!  All of the above me!

Sheesh, such drama!  Come on Looper, you’ll be fine.  Just stick close by.  No harm will come to you.

As promised, Lupe returned safely to the G6, though shaken by her narrow escape (8:19 PM).  She leaped into the G6 immediately.  SPHP fed her Alpo and Taste of the Wild before putting her blankie over her.  Soon the were-puppy was snoring peacefully.  Outside, stars shone brilliantly accompanied by a half moon.

Day 41, First Light, 6:13 AM, 41°F – Lupe woke to the sound of rain and wind gusts.  A small storm was blowing through.  So much for any thought of climbing Porphyry Peak this morning.  SPHP had hatched a different plan already, anyway.  Look out cows, horses and haystacks, Lupe is on her way!

Lupe left the Little Belt Range behind.  S of White Sulphur Springs near the junction of Hwys 12 & 89, Lupe & SPHP got out of the G6 to take a look at the dramatic sky remaining in the aftermath of the storm front.

Lupe in W Central Montana along Hwy 89 near its junction with Hwy 12. The day started off with scattered small storms and wind. A little later on, the sky cleared off completely. Photo looks SE.
Dramatic clouds of a line of small storms boosted the scenic value of Lupe’s early drive through W central Montana. Photo looks SE along Hwy 89.

Cows, horses, haystacks!  Lupe had her fun.  Ahh, this was the life!  Another great day!

E of Lovell, Wyoming, Highway Alt 14 wound steeply up into the last big mountain range of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation.  Lupe was back in the Bighorns for the first time since she’d climbed Cloud Peak (13,167 ft.) back in July.  Her final peakbagging adventures of this Dingo Vacation would occur here.

A little after noon, on this cool breezy day, Lupe set out from the Bald Mountain campground for Bald Mountain (10,042 ft.) (12:09 PM, 56°F).

Lupe sets out for Bald Mountain. Photo looks SE.

The mostly bare, rounded mountain was an easy climb.  The only real obstacle was the SW wind, which blew harder and harder as Lupe gained elevation.  Carolina Dogs are not great fans of wind, but Loopster persevered.  There was nothing along the way to protect her from the wind, but on the other hand, the views were tremendous!

On the way up. The summit of Bald Mountain is ahead. Photo looks ESE from the S side of the W end of the mountain.
Looking SSE.
Looking SW.
Looking SSW.

Lupe reached the survey benchmark at the true summit.  The wind was worst here.  She didn’t like it, but the Carolina Dog stayed long enough for photos.  Lupe had been here before.  Twice in 2012, once in 2013.  More than 3 years had gone by since her last ascent.

The survey benchmark at the summit of Bald Mountain.
At the summit. Photo looks SSE.
Hwy Alt 14 is seen on the L. Hunt Mountain (10,162 ft.) is on the R. Photo looks SE.
Medicine Mountain (9,962 ft.) (L) from Bald Mountain. The round white dome on Medicine Mountain is part of an FAA air traffic control installation, and is often visible from great distances. Photo looks NW.
Looking WNW. Medicine Mountain on the R.
Lupe patiently endures the wind at the summit of Bald Mountain. Photo looks NNW.

Well, this was it.  Lupe had done it.  She had reached the summit of Bald Mountain.  Only one task remained – to go find the place of names, and make the necessary repairs.  Lupe’s name has been immmortalized in stone on Bald Mountain since July 11, 2013.

It had been more than 3 years since Lupe and SPHP were here last, but the place of names was found with relatively little difficulty.  Lupe waited in the wind for an hour, while SPHP fixed things up.  Finally, it was done.And that was that.  There was nothing left to do.  Enough of this wind!  Lupe and SPHP began the easy trek back to the G6 with a grand view of Medicine Mountain ahead.

Lupe about to start the return journey down to the G6. Bald Mountain CG where the G6 was parked is at the closest large clump of trees down on the R. Medicine Mountain is at Center. Photo looks NW.
Medicine Mountain using the telephoto lens.
About 1.25 miles beyond the summit of Medicine Mountain, is the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark. No details of the Medicine Wheel’s origins are known, other than that it was built by Native Americans. Considered a sacred site, visitors are allowed to visit the Medicine Wheel when not in use by Native Americans, but Lupe did not go there today.

The wind was still blowing when Lupe reached the G6 at the Bald Mountain campground (3:13 PM, 53°F), but not as strongly as up on the mountain.  She stayed in the area for more than an hour before heading E again on Highway Alt 14A toward Burgess Junction.

Later in the day, E of the magnificent Bighorn Range, Lupe resumed her happy duty watching for cows and horses to bark at along I90.  She kept it up as long as there was light to see by.  Yes, this really was the life, all these splendid days adventuring on and off the long road to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska and back, every minute spent with sweet Lupe!

Lupe coming down Bald Mountain.

After an adventure spanning 9,126 miles, 41 days & 40 nights, Lupe returned to her home in the Black Hills of South Dakota at 10:50 PM on 9-8-2016.  She had gone thousands of miles farther than she had ever been before, seen countless magnificent sights, and had wonderful adventures all the way up to the Yukon and far into Alaska.

In the Brooks Range of northern Alaska, Lupe went her last mile N reaching the confluence of the Dietrich River and a stream NW of Dillon Mountain.  From there she saw a mountain, farther N yet, privately designated the Mountain of the Midnight Sun.  Whether Lupe ever sees the Mountain of the Midnight Sun and adventures in Alaska again is, at this moment, part of the unknown, uncertain future.

So long as Lupe is alive and well, hope remains that some day the Dingo of the Midnight Sun will return to roam and play once more beneath the pale blue Arctic sky.

The dark blue Mountain of the Midnight Sun (R).

The Owl & The Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money, wrapped up in a five pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar,

“O lovely Pussy!  O Pussy, my love, what a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are, what a beautiful Pussy you are.”

Pussy said to the Owl “You elegant fowl, how charmingly sweet you sing.  O let us be married, too long we have tarried; but what shall we do for a ring?”

They sailed away for a year and a day, to the land where the Bong-tree grows, and there in a wood, a Piggy-wig stood, with a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose.  With a ring at the end of his nose.

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”  Said the Piggy, “I will.”

So they took it away, and were married next day by the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon.

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon.

They danced by the light of the moon.

 – Edward Lear, first published 1871Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.