Black Hills and Blue Skies

As part of the LGMIP, we take two extended weekend excursions.  We just returned from our first one which was to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  On Friday, we left at 6:30 in the morning from Katherine Thomas Hall, and drove the 10 hours out to Rapid City, stopping for a break at the world famous Wall Drug.   After checking into our motel, The Lazy U, we hopped back into the van for the ride out to Custer State Park in order to drive the Wildlife Loop during the evening grazing time.  It was well worth it as we saw bison, pronghorned antelope, donkeys (left over from when they were used in the park), prairie dogs, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and even the elusive elk!   It had rained quite a bit during our first 3 weeks in Eau Claire, but the weather was perfect (well, except for one night-time thunderstorm) in the Black Hills, sunny with high blue skies!  A welcome change.

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On Saturday, it was off to the monuments.  First was Mt. Rushmore, which always seems smaller in person, but still quite impressive.   Then it was over to the Crazy Horse Memorial (not sure they'll ever get it completed, but it's huge).

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Sunday, we slept in a bit and then got to enjoy the tasty breakfast buffet at the historic State Game Lodge which was used as a summer home by President Calvin Coolidge.   Then the highlight of the trip was hiking to the summit of Harney Peak.  The roundtrip is about 7.0 miles.  The peak is 7,242 feet, the highest one east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Great Pyrenees!    Since the weather was clear and beautiful, the views were tremendous.   Everyone made it back, even though it was a tough hike.

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We have no idea what we're about to do….

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It's looking very interesting, however, as we can see our destination, the Harney Peak lookout tower, 2.5 miles away from this spot on the trail…

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Wow…. we made it, and the views are worth the tough hike!

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This is the fourth trip to the summit for Dr. Baker…

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The classic group shot…

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One more view, and then it's back down to beautiful Sylvan Lake and the trailhead.  If you've seen the National Treasure movies, this is where they filmed one of them, and Sylvan Lake is in the movie…

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One last trip through the Wildlife Loop allows Karen and Shelby the chance to pet one of the donkeys.  We then say goodbye to Verlyn and Cindy, the proprietors of The Lazy U Motel, and hop in the van at 7:00 a.m. on Monday for the long drive back.   One last stop is the Badlands before we make good time heading east with the wind at our backs…

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