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Home > Travel > South Dakota September 2003 > Hiking in the Black Hills  

Hiking in the Black Hills - Saturday, 27 September 2003

The first portion of the hike passes over easy terrain.
The group as they pass through a crevice. Front row: Mark, Nina and Danny. Back row: Sam, Brian.
Sam stands on what seems to be the top of the world.
Brian sits and enjoys the scenery. Just being at the top made it worth all the effort.

On Saturday morning, Brian and four others from the group went hiking in the Black Hills. Here is his account of the trek.

I had been trying for several days ahead of time to organize a short hike on Saturday morning before Joe's football game. My original hope had been to hike up Harney Peak, the tallest point in South Dakota, but we only had a couple of hours and we probably wouldn't have made in time. So we decided on Little Devil's Tower instead.

Dorothy's brother Sam and his wife Nina, and Teri's brothers Mark and Danny joined me on this crisp September morning and we headed out from Rapid City. We drove past Mount Rushmore, passing by a profile view of the portrait that I hadn't seen in the couple of times I had been to Rushmore before. We also passed by a couple of mountain goats right on the side of highway.

We arrived at the nearly empty trailhead parking lot just after 8:00 and set out shortly thereafter. The start of the trail was nice and level and very well defined. Before long, the trail forked, with the main pathway leading to Harney Peak, but we turned left and headed up the Devil's Tower Spur Trail.

Almost immediately, the trail became very steep and the going was slow for all of us. After quite a climb, the trail turned sharply to the left and dropped slightly through a narrow crevice. We stopped and took a group picture.

Past the crevice, the trail began to climb again, this time more steeply. After a short while, Nina stopped because her knees were bothering here, and she said she'd wait for us to return. Shortly thereafter, Mark and Danny also turned back to wait with Nina while Sam and I pressed on. I briefly considered stopping as well but pushed on, trailing behind Sam a bit.

We again reached a brief plateau where the trail turned left again and went up through a very narrow crevice. Once past this, the trail opened up onto bare rock for the final very steep climb up the top.

Up there, it felt like we were on top of the world. The surrounding scenery was stunning. We stopped for a few pictures before heading back down. The return trip only took half of the time for the climb. On the drive out we went through several of the tunnels that nicely frame Mount Rushmore.

To be truthful, only Sam actually reached the top. Stupid as it seems, I made it within about 30 or 40 feet of the top but didn't do the last stretch. At the time, I was just too tired and it didn't seem worth it, but in retrospect I much regret not finishing off the climb. Oh well, I suppose that's a good excuse to visit the Tower again on a future trip.

All text and photos © 2001-2003, Brian and Dorothy Hansen