Custer City, June 18, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Bob got up early to beat everyone onto the Internet when it was less busy. It worked for awhile and then not so much. When everyone gets on it, it just slows things way down. We decided to go hiking today as it was supposed to be cooler and there was little threat of rain. We wanted to go up to Sylvan Lake in the northern arm of Custer State Park and do one of the hikes there. We were told that the hike to Harney Peak (3.5 miles one way) was a moderate hike with a view of Mount Rushmore from the top. There is also an easy 1 mile loop hike around Sylvan Lake that is scenic. As we passed through Custer City we noticed some gray clouds hanging over the higher elevations, so we decided to wait until we got there to make up our mind. We packed a lunch and left around 10:00. We stopped in town to gas up and do some business online where the Internet service was much better. By the time we were done, it was 10:30 and we needed to get started on the day. On our drive to Custer State Park, we passed a longhorn ranch. Those were some beautiful longhorn animals!

We found our way to Sylvan Lake and began the loop hike. It would be good for a warm-up for longer hikes to come. The lake was as pretty as I remembered it.

It is surrounded by granite spires.

The path winds its way around the lake and through the rocks.

A nice gentleman came by and offered to take our picture together. We don’t often get an opportunity like that!

It takes you below the lake level where we saw a waterfall.

From the lake level, you can walk along the top of the waterfall and stand on the platform there.

We had fun playing among the rocks and enjoying the beautiful day.

It was an easy hike and a nice way to start the day. From there, we took a drive through the Sylvan Lake Campground and discovered there are no sites big enough for our 30′ travel trailer. We checked out the trail map and decided to try the Little Devil’s Tower (1.5 mile one way) hike. After eating our lunch, we embarked on our longer hike for the day. It was listed as a strenuous hike, but what the heck, it was only 1.5 miles one way. 

It was pretty flat to start and we passed families with small children, some walking and some being carried on their parent’s backs. Heck, if they can do it, we can do it! So we continued on. We started the slow ascent and stopped for water breaks along the way to check out the scenery.

We had some beautiful views the higher we climbed.

As we could hear was the wind through the trees and maybe a songbird or two. Can you see the face in this rock?

We finally got to the point where we thought we were close to reaching our destination. It sure looked like Little Devil’s Tower. I hope it is!!!

But no, the path continued on and we ran into other hikers coming down that said it was about 1/4 mile more, so on we went until the trail ended. There were people resting there who said it wasn’t really the end! There was one more steep climb through a rock crevice to the next level.

We debated about whether to do the final climb and decided we had come this far already, so up we went. We spotted this vein of pink granite that looked like stairs, but they weren’t. We stopped to marvel how that was formed.

We had to wedge ourselves between the rock crevice to get up and down again. Once we got up there, you could scale some more rocks to get even higher, but that’s when we called it “done”. There were others who went to the top, but we were happy where we were. Can you see them there at the top?

We rested awhile and soaked in all the views before making the descent. It took us about an hour to get up to the “top” and about 50 minutes to get back down. We felt we had really accomplished something today! We returned to the campground and took off our hiking boots to rest our feet. We had a beverage and relaxed in the solitude of the afternoon while most of the other campers were still out for the day. We had dinner and relaxed a little with some TV. We would like to go see the evening light program at Mount Rushmore one of these nights, but tonight wasn’t the night. The rain clouds moved in around 8:00 and it was quite cool. I had to unpack my jeans for the first time since we left. We’ll sleep good tonight.

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