Wilderness, Day 2

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain…an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence…protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions…”

                                                                -Wilderness Act of 1964 – Section 2(c)

Sunrise and sunset in the wilderness is an amazing thing. I could hear Peter up early to get the best sunrise shots possible. I needed my rest, and slept in for another hour. A little sore from the hike the day before, a stretching session was just what the doctor ordered. It was going to be unseasonably hot on day 2, and we had a heck of a climb ahead of us.

All ready for Day 2

All ready for Day 2

Hiking the remainder of Horse Thief #14 was downhill, and fortunately, in the shade. The sound of rushing water in the distance suggested the trails convergence into that of Grizzly Bear Creek Trail #7.

Late season snowfall and recent rains had filled all of the lakes and streams in the Black Hills. Our early concerns for lack of water were put to rest when we made it down to the creek. It was flowing very well, and had given us all an opportunity to fill our water supply and cool off from an already hot morning in the Black Elk.  A variety of interesting plant species were also growing in the valley.  Sunrise photos turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.

Not sure what it is, but it looks cool

Not sure what it is, but it looks cool

Sunrise Fungi

Sunrise Fungi

Grizzly Bear Creek

Grizzly Bear Creek

The Grizzly Bear Creek trail up to the Norbeck Trail was one of the most beautiful hikes on the trip. We followed Grizzly Bear Creek most of the way, with other creeks scattered throughout. 

As we climbed in elevation, the creeks grew scarce.  The heat intensified and switchback became commonplace…the final test as we inched closer to our goal.  As we climbed, the severity of the pine beetle infestation was put into perspective.  Dead or fallen trees littered the trail and surrounding hills.  The beauty of the area was not necessarily hindered by the dead trees, but it did prompt some worry about the future of this delicate ecosystem and how the elements and outside species can have such a dramatic impact. 

Fallen trees along the trail

Fallen trees along the trail

After reaching the Norbeck Trail #3, we quickly found and set up camp among the dead pine trees.  Joey had again found a fantastic spot while Peter and I ran for water at a nearby spring.  A well deserved nap on a bed of fallen pine needles was next on the agenda before we went to the summit. 

Finally the time had come to  march up to the top of Harney Peak.  7,240 feet above see level and the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains.  Below are photos from the top.  Enjoy. 

Photo from the lookout tower

Photo from the lookout tower

Almost to the top!

Almost to the top!

Black Hills from Harney

Black Hills from Harney

Does it get any better?

Does it get any better?

The rest of the trip was left open for gallivanting around the Black Hills.  We explored, we relaxed and we enjoyed the outdoors in the Beautiful Black Elk Wilderness.  Whether your into hiking, getting outside, spirituality or conservation, the Black Elk Wilderness has a trail that would fit the bill.  Chalk it up for another amazing outdoor experience in South Dakota! 

 

 

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2 Comments

Filed under Hiking

2 responses to “Wilderness, Day 2

  1. Scott

    Hey…

    I am going to the hills mid-october. After reading your trip, it sounds like it would be good for this time of year, what do you think? As far as water sources are, easy to find one to camp near?

    Pictures are great, glad to hear you had a great time

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