2. Off to Explore South Dakota…9.2018

Day 4 9.10
I left early in the morning after making coffee, seeing all kinds of animals on my wilderness drive on the way to hike the Castle trail…the longest in the park.  



I drove all the way back through the park…stopping to buy ice—of course & refilling my water bottles at the Visitors Center.  The Castle trail was quiet, few other people were on it & it was all out in the open, under the blazing sunshine.  The views were all of the rocks shaped like castles.  I hiked to the point where the trail meets the Saddle Pass then turned around.  I decided not to do the entire trail out & back.


I did go off trail just for a few hundred yards to look around one of the formations & found two big horn sheep grazing!

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I ended the hike with 6.5 miles done, my foot still sore but better than yesterday & hit the road, leaving the Badlands & heading towards Rapid City.  My first stop was the Visitors Center…bad luck with a not too friendly, super bored, not informative or helpful employee.  I walked out of there with a ton of papers but not a warm fuzzy feeling about the place.  So, I drove several miles near the outskirts of town to the National Forest Office to another not too friendly, super bored, not informative or helpful employee & also left there with some maps & info.  With my front seat filled with random papers, I pulled out my own map.  I knew when I wanted to visit this side of South Dakota, there was a definite northern area & southern area I wanted to see.  Just pick one, Vicki….so I headed north.  With my awesome experiences so far in Rapid City, I made a rapid exit of the town.

I love scenic drives!  I took the highway north through the tiny town of Nemo then Vanocker Canyon towards Sturgis.  I was in the forests now & it was beautifulrolling highway, cool temps, not many other cars & really pretty.  

Sturgis is mostly known for it’s annual motor cycle rally & a drive through town makes you think that it’s all about motorcycles all the time.  I stopped at the Knuckle Brewing company & drank a whiskey aged brown, passing on the food which didn’t look all that great.  

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I wanted to hike Bear Butte the next day & found a pay-for campground (so unlike me) at the state park near the trail.  It was a sweet little campground…only about a dozen sites & there were only a couple of other campers there.  It was $11 a night….& a beautiful night it was!  I was on the end by a lake & soon made dinner, drank a good beer & read until the cool temps sent me into Camper for a good nights sleep.

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Day 5 9.11
Yikes!  Crazy big winds this morning….everything was flying off my picnic table as I made coffee & my chair was flying too. I read for awhile, until it got too windy to sit outside.  I drove up to the entrance of the park, but before I paid to hike this trail, I looked up high at the Butte…did I really want to hike up there on top when the wind was already gusting big down here?  I said no.  So, I continued my drive forgoing the hike.

My next stop would be Deadwood…but it would be a quick one as it turns out.  I drove the few blocks through town, looking at a few neat old buildings, but most were filled with t-shirt shops, ice cream stores & fudge.  There were quite a few new monstrous buildings…all casinos & hotels.  The town was crowded, but nothing drew me to stay.  I stopped at the VC to use the bathroom & asked where I might by a postcard…the nice lady said they gave them out for free.  The complimentary card had pictures of Aces, Jacks & Spades on the front…clearly a marketing card for all the casinos in town.  I politely said thank you, took the card, but dropped it into one of the brochure racks by the door.  The town didn’t inspire me to look anywhere else for a postcard…so I left.

The town of Spearfish was my next stop & I parked in their cute little downtown.  I got a super nice, friendly, informative, pretty perfect employee at the Visitors Center, who gave me a paper or two, but all sorts of ideas & information he thought I might like to know.  Spearfish Visitor Center gets a 10+ & five stars! 

I drove out to the trailhead to hike Crow Peak…another hike recommended to me by the South Dakota guy that manages my local Eddie Bauer store.  It’s a 7.2 mile round trip hike up to a beautiful view through the forests.  There were only a couple of other people on the trail & the weather was perfect!  You can see that fall is in the air here…the leaves are starting to change.

The view from the top with Bear Butte in the background.

After my hike I went to the Crow Peak brewery for a beer.  

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I loved their Wicca Chili beer & their outdoor deck.  Today is September 11…a day I’m sure all of us remember with huge sorrow.  The only other people up on the deck were two young girls…probably just drinking age discussing the 9.11 tragedy…except they barely remembered it.  One was talking how her mom was originally from New York & always gets very sad on this day.  They knew is ‘was a big deal’, but it seemed to them like piece of history, not part of their lives.  I always forget how old I am…pretty intentional I think, but as I drank my beer, I thought about all the days I do remember of history…I was little, but can remember exactly what I was doing when Kennedy was shot; when my brother left for Vietnam, the Challenger explosion, the Oklahoma City bombing & of course, the horrid day of September 11.  Now I felt really old.

The brewery didn’t sell food, so I went to the place the VC guy recommended…Killians.  I drank a yummy Lagunitas beer & had a decent burger, taking 1/2 with me for later.  Then I was driving through Spearfish Canyon…wow, it was gorgeous!

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I headed to a forest service camping area called Hanna, just down from the canyon.  They had a pit toilet & tent camping.  I just parked in the parking lot (so I didn’t pay) & there was one other couple setting up a tent.  The guy was rather cranky…or not friendly, so after a couple of times of smiling at them & saying hello, I quit.  I crawled into the lounge in Camper (that’s what I call my bed when I’m not sleeping on it) & read & drank some port.  Super dark skies here tonight & the sounds of a little stream nearby.

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