South Dakota Trip – Part Two

South Dakota Trip – Part Two

In our first full day in South Dakota we hiked up to Black Elk Peak, which is the highest point east of the Rockies. At it’s summit we are talking 7,244 feet, and we hiked it. It was glorious, as the pictures will show.

That wasn’t the only part of our adventure though. We ended the day in the town of Hill City, SD, eating buffalo burgers at the Bumpin’ Buffalo Bar and Grill (which sits across the street from the Mangy Moose), sampling wine at the Twisted Pine Wine Shop, and buying too much jerky at the Beef Jerky Experience. All and all, a lovely day.

Map Black Elk Range Trails
I don’t recall how long the hike was, but I do know it was beautiful and a ton of fun to accomplish with two of my closest friends.
Hood Tunnel
On our way to the trailhead, we drove through this fun little tunnel that reminded me of the opening of a James Bond flick.
Hiking Trail
Early going was relatively flat and sandy. Little did we realize this was the exception, not the rule.
Mountains and Sky
I could spend the rest of my life trying to capture this in paint and canvas and never come close to that sky.
Down to Get Up
On this trip, we had to go down first before we got up onto the mountain.
Big Rock
For some reason I was particularly fascinated by this rock.
Sky so Blue
Seriously, look at that sky!
We Are Here
From our parking spot we had a short trip down hill to this trail head, which would eventually connect us up with the other trails that would take us up to the summit.
Tanarra early in the hike at our first short break. Still looking fresh and ready.
Felipe Eating
At one point we stopped at this rock outcropping to have a snack, a little hidden away from the trail, where we got to overhear some assholes argue on the trail. It was amusing to say the least.
Felipe at that first stop looking all determined and serious. The opposite of his natural disposition.
Macro Lens Photo
I got these special attachments for my iPhone to modify my shots. This one is some lichen taken with a macro lens. I need to find those attachments.
Starting to Get Up There
We started really getting up there and got hit with these amazing views.
Horizon Shot
I have no idea at what point I took this shot. On this trip I was less concerned with documenting everything and more in enjoying the moment.
Rocky Hide Away
This rocky hide away reminded me of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for some reason.
Flip and Tanarra
A moment to capture us for posterity.
Flip and Keith
Shrek and Donkey ride again.
Majestic Felipe
Felipe looking all kings of majestic.
Keith Selfie
Can’t do a trip these days without taking a selfie.
Trail Sign
I sometimes forget that in national parks you can camp in lots more places than you can in state parks.
Harney Peak Lookout
Black Elk Peak used to be named after a white dude who claimed to be the first to find something that other people used to just call “that big rock in our backyard.”
Black Elk Wilderness
For a part of the hike you enter the Black Elk Wilderness. Some absolutely beautiful terrain during this segment of the hike.
Other Side of the Teeth
We saw both sides of these teeth like peaks on our hike. It was crazy to realize that.
Out of a Western
This terrain was like out of every western I have ever seen.
Towering Rock
This Towering Rock had a small campsite set up with stumps to sit around. You could imagine a ritual or ceremony happening here, either religious or something nefarious.
Lonely Bush
This little tree was growing out of that towering rock, defying the gods with her temerity.
Pano at the Towering Rock
I took this pano near the Towering Rock at this precarious overhang. Worth the risk.
Nearing the Top
Things get steep the closer we got to the top. Lots more rugged bits of the trail.
Entering the Peak
To get up to the peak you enter this little cave and eventually take some stairs until you are at this most magnificent view.
Black Elk Peak Pano
I took two panoramic pictures here. One away from the lookout castle, and this one.
Donkey on the Edge
When Flip moved out towards the edge, I just couldn’t help but think of the line from Shrek, “I’m a donkey on the edge!”
Crazy Kids
These kids literally had to leap to get to some of these spots hey are standing on. The one kid was straight nuts and terrifying his friends. Damn Cody.
The Castle
How the crap they built this thing on the peak is beyond me.
What a View
Ironically, despite loving hiking in the mountains and climbing rocks, I have the worst vertigo that drives me to want to leap off into the air.
Castle Panorama
I took this panorama photo from the castle. Unfortunately there were other people there, but still came out nice.
Just There
The crazy thing about this loop is that on our way back we could see the peak across the valley. Didn’t even realize how far we had come.