Ascent of Medicine Mountain on 2014-09-13

Climber: Lupe !

Date:Saturday, September 13, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Medicine Mountain
    Location:USA-South Dakota
    Elevation:6878 ft / 2096 m

Ascent Trip Report

Note: This trip report is a continuation of the trip report this same date for Peak No. 6720. It picks up from where Lupe was at the summit of Peak No. 6720 about 2.25 miles to the NNE of Medicine Mountain.

From the summit of Peak 6720, Lupe headed NW down into the valley to the SSW of the saddle at the upper end of Tree Draw. She went around to the N of a big rock outcropping, circling around to the W and then turned SSW following a faint road down the valley. This faint road continued for some distance before disappearing. Lupe followed animal trails for a little while, came to a very small creek, and eventually found another faint road that led down to where the valley reached USFS Road No. 297 about 1 mile NNE of Medicine Mountain.

Lupe followed USFS Road No. 297 less than 0.25 mile S before leaving the road. She bounded over Negro Creek and crossed a small field to start the climb up Medicine Mountain. At first there was quite a bit of deadfall timber in the forest, but about 1/3 of the way up Lupe came to some open ground. She followed the open ground until it ended and she had to enter the forest again. There wasn't as much deadfall up here though, so the going was easier. The climb got steeper near the end.

Medicine Mountain has two distinct rocky high points nearly the same elevation separated by several hundred feet. Lupe approached from the N of the N high point. There was no easy way up the rock cliffs. Around to the E the slopes were pretty steep. Lupe worked her way around to the W. After being forced by the small cliffs to descend a bit, she found a spot where she could climb up above the cliffs. Soon she was at the summit of the N high point. The views to the N all the way around from the W to the E were very good and unobstructed from the N end of the outcropping.

Lupe was quite interested in a chipmunk that was scurrying around the rocks at the N high point. After a few minutes, though, suddenly Lupe made a low woof and the hair on the back of her neck and halfway down her spine stood up. She peered intently into the underbrush to the NE. She kept this stance up for a couple of minutes and made a low woof several more times. Lupe's human porter wondered what could possibly be so alarming. About the only serious threat would be a mountain lion, but they are pretty rare in the Black Hills. Suddenly a bunny darted out of the bushes and sped across the high point. So much for the big hair-raising threat.

The S high point is marginally higher than the N one and the true summit of Medicine Mountain. It was an easy matter to get up on the S high point. A faint trail led up to the top from the NW side of the rock outcropping. At the S end of the high point was a grassy area from which there were great views of the Harney Peak area to the SE. The views were unobstructed all the way around to the W.

Lupe dawdled for better than 0.5 hour up on Medicine Mountain. She had been contemplating going on to Peak 6680 about one mile to the W, but it was getting a bit late in the day for that. When it was time to head down, she went down to the saddle between the two high points on Medicine Mountain and then headed W down a slope with a lot of deadfall timber. Lupe tried to work her way around to the SW and eventually came to a jeep trail that headed down to another little road. She took this little road heading S down into a valley. After going S for maybe 0.75 mile, the road went over the ridge on the E side of the valley and wound around a bit generally heading E. It eventually came to an unmarked USFS road which Lupe followed S for a little while until it reached USFS Road No. 297. There was a marker here for the road Lupe had been on which said it was No. 297 3M.

From this junction, Lupe had intended to follow USFS Road No. 297 to No. 317, head NE on it to No. 304, and then follow No. 304 N back to the G6. However, Lupe's human porter had overestimated how far S Lupe was and led Lupe N on USFS Road No. 297, not realizing at first that the junction with No. 317 was still a bit farther to the S. By the time the porter realized the mistake, it was just as easy for Lupe to continue N on No. 297 back to the same valley she had come down from Peak 6720. So Lupe wound up going all the way back up that valley to the saddle over the ridge just N of Peak 6720. She then crossed over the saddle to follow Tree Draw back down to the G6.

The sunset was fading as Lupe reached the saddle over the ridge just N of Peak 6720. She sniffed around exploring Tree Draw again in the growing darkness. By the time Lupe reached the G6, it was 7:46 PM. It was 44 degrees F and the first stars were appearing. Apparently there were interesting smells or goings on in this area in the darkness. Lupe was not ready to go home. She sniffed around for 30 minutes under the stars before fresh roasted chicken flavored Alpo sounded enticing enough to hop in the G6 and head for home.

For photos and additional commentary, go to

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 95: Lupe at the N high point prior to going over to the true summit of Medicine Mountain. Bear Mountain is the high ridge in the distance to the SW (2014-09-13). Photo by Lupe !.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:878 ft / 267 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Clear and calm all day, temps in the upper 50's or low 60's
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:878 ft / 267 m
    Route:Bushwhack up NE slope from Negro Creek
    Start Trailhead:Negro Creek next to USFS Road No. 297 about 1 mile  6000 ft / 1828 m
Descent Statistics

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