This was a good last morning in South Dakota. Tyler and my day started at 3:15am when we snuck outside and laid down on the driveway to stargaze. We saw shooting stars and satellites and a brilliant star that must have been a planet. It was a good way to spend my usual waking hour.
When morning did arrive, we hiked .75 miles to the ridge pictured above…a quick ascent of 1000′ with a view back down to our lodge. Indeed “strenuous,” at least for the over-forty and under-nine set. (Under-nine degree of difficulty can be attributed to general sleep deprivation at this point.) But well worth the effort. As a wise friend once said, “there is something ‘more’ in the Black Hills, listen for it.” Up here, I think we all found it.
Hike number two of the morning was to Little Spearfish Falls. We held out hope for a stream below the falls where we could pan for gold and perhaps even take a dip…and we weren’t disappointed this time. Stites brought his official plastic gold pan, and although (alas) there was no gold to be found in the extensive twenty-minutes he dedicated to panning, it was well worth the $5 purchase. Priceless, according to Mastercard.
Meanwhile, the older two threw caution to the wind and demonstrated a western-spirited courage by tiptoeing into the ice-cold stream. A few minutes later found them shooting the rapids neck-deep and then shrieking that they could not feel their arms or feet. Making memories. I was a happy girl.
With a dip in the hot tub as a substitute for showers, we packed up and left our peaceful canyon home…somewhat reluctantly. As we pulled off the final stretch of scenic byway 14A in the Black Hills, Red Cloud of the Oglala Sioux was quoted in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee:
Whose voice was first sounded on this land? The voice of the red people, who have but bows and arrows. What has been done in my country I do not want. I did not ask for white people going through my country. When the white man comes in my country, he leaves a trail of blood behind him. I have two mountains in that country: the Black Hills and the Bighorn Mountain. I want the Great Father [the President of the US, Abraham Lincoln at the time, in 1864] to make no roads through them. I have told these things three times. Now I come to tell a fourth time.
The irony was not lost on us.