Monday, May 16, 2011

Bear Butte

This past Sunday turned out to be a decent, though windy, day. The sun was shining and there wasn't many clouds in the sky. After a day and a half of snow, Josh, Mom & Myself were ready for some outdoor exploration.

In the two years that Josh & I have lived in Deadwood, we still hadn't made it to the top of Bear Butte. On our many joy rides we've driven by, even driven up to the parking lot, but never made the hike. The drive from Deadwood to Sturgis has a complete change in landscape. Winding through the corners of Boulder Canyon the road is hilly with steep canyon walls colored green with pines. The rocks are gray, and orange and stained from the minerals leaching to the surface. The soil is dark reddish brown. A small stream runs along the road at the base of the rocky outcroppings. I'm sure you can tell it's one of my favorite rides out of town.

When you turn the first corner in Sturgis the landscape begins it's transformation. Suddenly the canyon gives way to prairie. Once through downtown Sturgis the hills are behind you and suddenly you are in wide open spaces. The pines gave way to prairie grasses, the deer to antelope and the shadows of the canyon to the sunshine of the plains.

5.15.11 Bear Butte SP
Bear Butte rises out of the plain like a bear rising from slumber. Millions of years ago igneous rock formed the butte and after those years of erosion it came to resemble a sleeping bear. The Lakota Sioux call it Mato Paha, Bear Mountain and along with other Native American Tribes respect it as a sacred place to pray and worship.

In 1973 Bear Butte was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the trail leading to he top has been recognized as a National Recreation Trail. The trail is also the starting point (or ending) for the 111 mile Centennial Trail. The journey to the top took about an hour, an hour-fifteen and nearly every step had beautiful views. Prayer bundles were tied to trees along the way. Some were fresh, their colors still vivid, others were frayed and sun-bleached. Each blew in the wind. Unfortunately, the administration asks that non-Native America's stay on the designated trail- there were some awesome caves and rock outcroppings that we would have liked to have explored.

5.15.11 Top of Bear Butte
At the top we took the usual tourist photos of ourselves and rested at on the platform. We stayed awhile to take it all in and Josh noticed how the game were leaving trails across the rocky talus. It was awesome to packed rock where the game had packed trails. We also tried to spot the buffalo herd that inhabits the park but didn't have any luck. After milling around for a bit we began the hike down, stopping at each turn in the trail to take a picture or two. The trip down was only about 35 minutes and soon we were back at the car, cruising through Boulder Canyon on our way home.

My Mom was heading out the next morning, so we decided to make a quick stop in at Schade Winery. There were still wines to be tasted. I tried a couple that I had passed over the weekend before and ended up buying a bottle of Blackberry. It's just so delicious.

Back at the house we started the charcoal and prepared some burgers for the BBQ we had been planning. Some of our friends that my Mom knew came over and we visited and ate and ate some more. Then drank some Blackberry wine. It was nice having everyone at our place and it was starting to feel like summer.

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