Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Solstice Hike ~ Harney Peak & Little Devil’s Tower, Black Hills, South Dakota

We decide that it would be cool to hike to the highest point east of the Rockies and west of the Pyrenees on the summer solstice, however Mother Nature did not think it such as good idea, and by the end of our five hour hike, we had some sunshine, some rain, some hail, some thunder, and lots of wind. We also had tons of fun! 

We didn’t intend to do both Little Devil’s Tower and Harney Peak at the same time, but we took the wrong trailhead from the Sylvan Lake parking lot (not really our fault, since the correct trailhead was down a road that said “emergency vehicles only”), but we’re really glad we did both at the same time - Little Devil’s Tower offers great views of Harney Peak and the trail to Harney Peak offers great views of Little Devil’s Tower. 

We started on Trail #4 (yes, that’s the name) in Custer State Park which offered views of wildlife 
 

and something that used to be wildlife.
 

We then took the 0.6 mile one-way side trip to Little Devil’s Tower.  The hike is rather benign, until you get to the offshoot where you need to rock scramble for a good ¼ mile to get on top of Little Devil’s Tower

to see the views, one of which is a great view of Harney Peak. 
(This was the first instance of rain.)
 
We continued along Trail #4 which merges with the Norbeck Trail (in the Black Hills Wilderness) which then merged with Harney Peak #9 Trail.   

Great views could be seen from many places along the trail

including the back of Mount Rushmore National Memorial

and  Little Devil’s Tower.
 
 It was very cold and windy at Harney Peak,


but we stayed long enough to enjoy the views and have our picture taken.   
Zoey was with us, but very unwilling to step-out for her picture. :-)

We took the Harney Peak # 9 Trail back to Sylvan Lake (this was the intended ascend hike) and it was great to make the hike a loop. This trail was much less steep than the trails we took up, and we passed a lot of people heading up.  This was where we encountered the most rain and hail – picture us standing under a tree like elk waiting for it to pass, at least long enough where we weren’t getting pinged on the head by the hail! This trail offered one last view of Harney Peak and although not able to be appreciated in the picture, it was quite a-ways-away!
 
All-in-all, this was a fabulous hike. Inadvertently making it a loop was perfect, and we enjoyed the solitude of the hike up. The entire hike took about five hours (we had to ascend Little Devil’s Tower individually since Zoey wouldn’t be able to do the rock scramble) and was probably about 10 miles, give-or-take half a mile or so. 

Easy and affordable - no matter where you are!
Escapees RV Club Commercial Member #693

1 comment:

John and Carol said...

What a great day! You are amazing. That is a lot to hike in one day.

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