Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sunday Drive in Spearfish Canyon

Since we went to Mass Saturday afternoon, we slept in til 7:45 Sunday morning and ate a leisurely breakfast before packing up lunch and our hiking boots and heading out to Spearfish Canyon. What ascetic spot! Our first stop was Bridal Veil Falls which is right along the road and a quick photo op. From there we drove along slowly for several miles admiring the canyon walls Many of the rock formations resembled the spires and turrets of castles - plenty of scope for the imagination as Ann Shirley would say.

Several miles down the road we pulled into a small parking area at iron creek and hiked into the forest along the canyon floor. The creek tumbled and bubbled along beside us as we walked, a charming companion on our meandering walk. Many spots had little cascades and splashes. It would have been fun to wade, but it was too chilly in the shade and since the creek was below us we would have had to make our own way through the underbrush. Since there are rattlesnakes around there, I wasn't eager to put my feet into spots where I couldn't see the ground through the weeds.

We hiked in for about 45 minutes and out again along the same path. Sound boring? It isn't. If you're a hiker, you know that the walk path in the opposite direction is a completely different experience. I noticed flowers and rock formations I didn't notice walking the opposite direction. Back near the parking lot I picked up a rock I'd placed in the path that had lovely colors
 to add to my collection from our trip. They'll make great bookends!

We drove along the canyon oohing and ahhing at the beautiful views until we came to a sign for Roughlock Falls. It was amazing to find such a well-developed and manicured area back in the woods. The falls are a breathtaking sight. There were also rough-hewn and varnished picnic tables and benches that could have been in a woodworkers' museum. Just beautiful. The path down to the falls was concrete in some places and stone in others - lovely. A bride and groom were getting their pictures taken. She was in a white gown, but he wore a simple white and blue striped shirt over dark pants. Amazingly we ran into them again later at dinner after a full day of sightseeing. What a coincidence. (See here for the story.) The falls name comes from the fact that pioneers crossing the area had to "lock" their wheels and slide to prevent their wagons from careening down the mountainside. Interesting how things get their names.

Below the falls is a path that goes for about a mile along the creek. We walked it for about a quarter mile to a spot where it opened up into a wetlands pond. A little past that point it entered the woods and we turned back. A man carrying a tripod and large camera with a zoom was doing some photographing. We had passed him several times as he went through the underbrush down along the stream. On the way back we got into a conversation and he told us the pond was the site of a winter scene in Dances with Wolves where the horses went through the ice. We haven't seen the movie, but will just to look for that scene. Kevin Costner fell in love with the Black Hills while filming it and later opened a museum about the Buffalo called Tatonka which is just outside Deadwood. We hoped to go, but didn't have time before it closed after spending the afternoon in Deadwood which was lots of fun. But Deadwood deserves a post of its own. Until Later...

By the way, no sign of our stowaway. We think he jumped ship along the way, so we have no doubt upset the ecological balance of another state and introduced a new strain to the mouse population making them genetically stronger.

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