Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Black Hills, Crazy Horse, and Mount Rushmore

 After a good night’s sleep and two substantial meals, the moral of the troops was much better this morning. Nobody even shot me any particularly dirty looks when I told them there would be another four or five hours of driving today. We made and packed sandwiches for lunch, and then headed out.

Our first stop was the Jewel Cave National Monument, where we planning to hike the Hell Canyon trail. At first, I was a bit worried because the visitor’s center was unexpectedly closed (Monday-Wednesday, apparently). However, we eventually discovered the trailhead we wanted was actually outside of the park. This was a good news/bad news situation, because, at almost exactly the same moment, I received word over the radio that Justin had forgotten the bag of sandwiches we packed. Tanner was the only one who had his sandwich because, apparently, he doesn’t trust any of us.

The hike itself was beautiful, although we didn’t spot any of the bighorn sheep that roam the area. We did a five and a half mile loop that ended up being a little more challenging than expected, what with snow and difference in elevation. However, the views made it worthwhile.

Hell Canyon Loop

Next on the schedule was the Crazy Horse monument, currently being created in the Black Hills. The scale of this project is insane. The presidents’ heads on Mount Rushmore are smaller than just the face of this monument, which depicts a Native American Indian chief sitting on a horse.

The Final Product

The final stop of the day was Mount Rushmore, an expected highlight of the trip for several of our group. No one told me they were scheduling construction, though, so we encountered a bunch of chainlink fences when we first arrived. The good news was we were able to follow the detour path around to the viewing platform. Along the walk we passed through Avenue of Flags with all of the state flags, and roundly rejected Joe’s claim that Maryland has the best state flag.

We encountered some snow on the way home but made it back safely and had a spaghetti dinner followed by a pingpong tournament, instigated by Joe and Justin. Unsurprisingly, Justin came out on top, but a few others (Sam, Cole, and Gabby) gave him a run for his money. There must be something in the water in Pennsylvania.

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