Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Places We've Seen

Since Josh and I began our geocaching explorations, we have come across a few unknown spots that completely surprised us. We would be on our way to find a cache and all of a sudden there was an amazing canyon or waterfall ahead. All we could think was "How have we never been here before?" Intriguing us more was that our friends hadn't heard of these places either.

One afternoon Josh and I explored the Whitewood Creek Reclamation Area which is located behind Schade Winery, at the beginning of Boulder Canyon in Deadwood. There's a dirt road that follows the creek back towards Whitewood and it looks like it dead-ends in a storage yard but alas, it winds to the right and heads into the canyon.

We crossed a couple of trestles and slowly made our way along the creek. The canyon walls rise up hundreds of feet on the left and the creek flows on the right. There's not much for traffic in this area, because it is a dead-end which makes it even more peaceful and relaxing. Maybe two miles in there is a large man-made wall which acts as a retainer but also gives easy access to the creek. To get on top of the wall you have to drive through an 100 foot crevasse. It's awesome.

We had heard about a railroad tunnel in this area. Our eyes were pealed for any sign of it. The road continues for a few miles more but eventually ends at private property. As were were turning around I saw a large black void.

8.11 Josh at Whitewood Creek Train Tunnel  
It's at moments like this that I know Josh loves me. I started hooting about a tunnel and how we should walk to it. It was ridiculous but he obliged and we set off down the road.
8.11 Whitewood Creek Train Tunnel

We had found the old abandoned train tunnel! The entrance was gated but it was still really cool to be able to see through it and to imagine a train rolling through there. I wish that there was information on the land owner because we would love to hike above it and around the area (and obviously to get inside)!

After playing for a bit we headed back to town. On the way out we spotted several hiking trails that we had missed on the way in. We are going to go back later to hike and explore a bit more.

During the week I had been geocaching on Annie Creek Rd. and found a great spot. I didn't investigate at the time because I wanted to do it with Josh and we were able to make it there just a few days later.

9.11 View of Annie Falls from landing
Annie Creek Road is about 2 miles North of Cheyenne Crossing in Spearfish Canyon. It's a little dirt road just before a sharp corner. The road seems to be laid on an old railroad bed and in a few spots they are surfacing. There's a nice hiking trail that follows along the left side and can lead you to some great views. About a mile or so in there's a small pulloff on the right and a steep pebble path on the left.

We parked there and Josh, myself and Wu made our way down the path. For a few yards it's rocky and steep but it leads to a natural landing. Lining the edge were huge boulders that made perfect benches. Josh sat out with his legs over the edge but it was a bit too high for me.

From there we overlooked a waterfall that fell onto a large boulder and split the stream of water in two. The path down to the creek is a bit trecherous but it's worth it. There's some climbing and the pine needles can make it a little slick.

8.11 Josh at Annie Falls
It was so steep that we had to leave Wu at the top. Josh told him to stay and we hiked down. The creek was really easy to cross and we didn't get our feet wet. We enjoyed the waterfall and were in total delight over the new hike we could do here.

There a bit of space by the creek and it would be a beautiful area to eat lunch, which we will be sure to do. After taking a few photos and realizing that Wu was waiting we climbed back up.

To our delight the dog was still there and when we crested the top he let us know that he won't be left behind again. This wasn't a hike for young kids or dogs but it was a good challenge for us and we have started to try to find a route up the creek instead of down that steep incline.

We made it back to the car and kept exploring the Canyon. It was a perfect way to have started the day. 

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