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Posts Tagged ‘black hills’

Norbeck Byway and the Needles Highway (Day 51)

September 7th, 2009 No comments

My favorite part of South Dakota was driving these two roads. You see the best parts of the Black Hills (even views of Mt. Rushmore!), get to drive through dynamited tunnels, and it’s got interesting bridges: unexpectedly cool. The road goes from about Mt. Rushmore (actually Keystone, a town) into Custer State Park, then heads up north back out of the park to — well, to the park boundary.

norbeck-byway_pigtailFor some reason these are called pigtail turns. You go over the bridge, do about 270 degrees, then go back under the bridge. And if I’d thought about it a little more, I would’ve stopped and taken some better pictures.

norbeck-byway_rock-tunnelAnd there are all these cool one-lane tunnels. Not pictured: the tunnel itself frames a view of Mt. Rushmore (but there was traffic behind me, and…).

norbeck-byway_wild-donkeyUn burro salvaje!

needles-highway_needle-tunnelEvery biker’s true passion: taking photos with a buddy. This was the narrowest tunnel on the Needles Highway — about eight feet wide.

needles-highway_needleThis formation is known as “the needle”. It’s probably better without the shadow, but I wasn’t waiting four-to-eight hours just to find out.

Anyway, point being: cool drive. I think the Black Hills could adequately be covered in a day, though: cave, Crazy Horse, Rushmore, Norbeck/Needles, and you’re out of there, heading toward… huh. There’s not much else around there. Tja.

Also: the rock formations that are the Black Hills’ signature (apparently) reminded me some of the Sächsische Schweiz south of Dresden, except that the “Schweiz” has a big ol’ river, castles, old bridges, and very quaint towns in it. Maybe South Dakota could look into adding some of those. (The similarity of the rock formations is sort of uncanny, though.)

bkd

Harney Peak Loop Hike (Day 50)

September 6th, 2009 5 comments

The peak was cool. Tallest peak between the Rockies and the Pyrenees, they say (7,244 feet!). The loop hike itself was not as cool. Hint: if you’re going to hike to Harney Peak, take the shortest route possible. Don’t think you’re going to get extra credit for taking the long route. You just get more horse manure to walk through (or around — you can walk around it).

Not really any photos of the hike on the way up, since there wasn’t anything to take photos of. I mean, trees, horse scats, but — yeah. Not big trees, just trees. Five to seven miles of trees each way.

Peak:

harney-peak_watchtowerThere’s a fire tower at the peak.

harney-peak_watchtower-panoramaNo fires!

harney-peak_looking-southNo fires this direction, either.

harney-peak_creek-crossingThis is what it looks like when you try and photograph yourself crossing a stream.

  • The hike is probably worth it if you go the shorter route.
  • The shorter route would have you starting at Sylvan Lake. You can make a loop out of it by going back by way of Little Devil’s Tower.
  • Any book that says that the loop starting from Iron Creek Horse Camp and returning via the Grizzly Bear Trail results in a hike of 10.5 miles is off by 2-4 miles. No joke.
  • As much as I love horses (now), it doesn’t seem right that 3% of trail users get to befoul the trail for the other 97%.
  • The trail on the way back down was marginally more interesting because of all the calcite flakes that were in the dirt — it was like someone had spread glitter on the entire return leg of the trail.
  • Calcite flakes don’t photograph well.

I dunno. I don’t like hiking for the sake of hiking. Frex: no worthwhile hike should deliver you to a parking lot two miles into the hike. Plus, aside from the peak, seems like you get better views of better rocks by driving the Black Hills than by hiking them. You know, from what I saw.

Hmm.

bkd