Sunday – May 31, 2015 – Broken Arrow Horse Campground, Custer, SD
Today is a big day for us. We are going to hike Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota at 7,242 feet. Our starting point was from Sylvan Lake near the trail head to Harney Peak. The elevation here is 6,145 feet. The trail is 3.8 miles to the top and at times it seemed as if it was straight up! Oh my, this Nana did not do near enough walking in the weeks before starting up this trail.
Here are some pictures of us near the bottom of the trail and Harney Peak in the distance. First picture you can barely see the stone tower at the top of Harney Peak. The next picture I zoomed in on the stone tower. That’s where we are headed. What was I thinking?
Logan, Tucker & Papa Dean
Tucker, Nana Cheri & Logan
|Right in the center, do you see the little tip above the cascade of rocks? That is Harney Peak from where we were at the bottom of the trail.|
|Here is the tower on Harney Peak when I zoomed in from the same spot.|
Below are pictures taken on the way up. You'll notice there are several dead trees. The pine beetle have moved in and killed many of the pine trees.
|Looking back down the trail from about half way up.|
I’m not sure how far we were into the hike, maybe ¼ of the way and I turned around to find a lady walking up the trail right behind us. We began to visit and we thoroughly enjoyed her company as we discussed hiking and traveling stories on the nearly 5 hour hike. The scenery as we climbed upwards was quite beautiful and I did not take nearly as many pictures as I should have. It really took all I had to put one step in front of the other. If it had not been for the boys I would not have done this but I'm glad we did.
It was a beautiful cool day with a nice breeze. Much of the trail had shade from the nearby trees. As we neared the top I am sure the steps became twice as high as at the start of the incline. At times I felt I could barely get my leg up to the next step and then would have to rest my hand on my thigh to push myself up in order to make each step. But – we made it and what a view there was for us to see.
|The view from the top. It was beautiful.|
|The tower at the top.|
I only have a few pictures, but I have to admit I was so winded all I really wanted to do was sit and rest for a spell, and eat a little lunch. The boys climbed around on the rocks some while Dean and I rested and visited with our new friend Carla.
|Logan in the middle and Tucker behind him.|
|If you enlarge this you can see Logan and Tucker resting on the rocks.|
However, we did not want to spend the night here so I had no other option but to begin the climb down. Now, here is the strange thing. About half way down, we begin going back uphill, then we would dip down a bit more, and then back up. I sure do not remember the trail going downhill while we were on the way up. Since it was Sunday there were quite a few people on the trail. Everyone we met was very nice and willing to step aside and out of each other’s way as needed. Many brought their small children and dogs with them. We saw a few dads backpacking their really small children up the trail. Sure, they were young, but I was still impressed how they did not seem to realize they were carrying an extra 20+ pounds on their back.
I can’t tell you now glad I was to see the muddy pond of water we had to walk around on the trail at the trailhead because I knew we were within a hundred feet or so of the vehicle. We made it! We bid our goodbyes to Carla. It felt so good to sit on that soft seat in the truck. We drove down to the park store in order to make use of their nice restrooms. By the way, there are no toilets of any kind on the Harney Peak trail! Ugh!
|A view on the way down of the aspens among the mountains.|
The park store sold Harney Peak hat and t-shirt sets. We each had to purchase one of these as a memento of our day here. Logan and Tucker went up Harney Peak like a couple of chipmunks and never slowed at all. Oh, to be so young again. But I am thankful for being able to not only walk, but to also do the climbing necessary to get me that far. We are blessed!
On our way back we drove the Needles Highway. Here are pictures of the needle. The scenery was stunning. The stone walls along the highways were magnificent in size and beauty. There is just no way to really describe what you see here. We were fortunate to visit here in South Dakota at such a perfect time of the year. The temperatures have been very mild and very comfortable. While it did rain some it rarely impacted what we wanted to do. While there are a lot of people visiting here I believe the numbers are still quite low compared to what there will be in the coming months.
|See why it's called the Needles Highway?|
|That is one tall mountain!|
|Some lady offered to take our picture! How nice.|
| Cathedral Spires|
Just down the road we came to the Hole in the Wall Rest Area:
Do you see the hole in the wall?
We headed back to Bentley to have some dinner, shower and rest up for tomorrow, our last day in Custer.