Leaving South Dakota today with such good memories of the beauty we have seen. On our way out of the Black Hills of SD we took the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. It was one of the most beautiful places we have seen. Nineteen miles of towering evergreens and deciduous trees and leaning in over the gorge were limestone formations. It was hard to drive for looking up at the variously colored cliffs. In some of the formations we could see castles or people; most, however, were conically shaped, rounded and roughed by the wind with deep crevices separating one from another. Dark holes dotted the cliffs, and we could see our Native American brothers and sisters making their homes in those dark caves. It was a treat for the eyes and mind!
Before we entered the Canyon we drove through Deadwood, SD. Thick with tourists, we were not even tempted to stop and spend our money on the ever present slot machines. We did find out that there was an Episcopal Church in Deadwood very near Saloon #10 where Wild Bill Hitchcock was shot. From the Spearfish Canyon we headed into Wyoming to Devil’s Tower.
Devil’s Tower is in the northeastern corner of Wyoming. It was this nation’s first National Monument, designated as such in 1906 by Teddy Roosevelt. Elevation at the park is 4,254 feet. Devil’s Tower rises another 867 feet from there. It is a sacred site for the Lakota, Shoshone, and Kiowa. Each of the tribes has its own story of how the mountain was formed. They all include a bear, who chases after children. The children climb up on a stump. The stump raises them up out of the bear’s reach but not before the bear stands and claws the stump, scoring it all around with its claws. The children are borne up and out of the way of the bear and become the stars of the Pleiades.
We took the 1.3 mile loop walk around Devil’s Tower. Watching families with children taking this walk was wonderful and we watched as one mom showed her 8 or 9 year old how to tell how old a tree was by counting the rings of the cut base. We saw two does who were so accustomed to humans that they were totally unaffected by the clicking cameras, and we saw two climbers rappelling down the side of the tower’s base. All along the trail we saw colored ribbons and pouches tied to the trees. They are sacred prayer pouches left by the Native Americans who come there. Sweating and hot we returned to the parking lot ready for some cold water.
After Devil’s Tower, we headed west and came to the town of Gillette, Wyo. Where we are spending the night before heading to Laramie to see my friend, Marilyn Engstrom. I have known Mare for 30 + years since she was a field work student at my church in Penn Hills, PA. It will be so good to see her again. The last picture is from our trip today…Marilyn always said there are 2 seasons in Wyoming: Winter and Road Work!