Wind Cave Recap

20160914_141401
The surface of Wind Cave national park

Length of Stay:

  • 4 nights, 2 days (I ended up spending 2 days exploring Custer State park)
20160916_112325
Thou shalt not pass

Highs:

  • Bison!
  • Riding Ricky, the beautiful Arabian
  • Driving the Needles highway and Iron Mountain road in Custer State park

Lows:

  • None

Favorite Hike:

  • Little Devils Tower

Favorite Treat:

  • Raspberry-rhubarb-jalapeno pie

Favorite Random Moment:

  • Being invited to a Full Moon gathering (yes, we all howled at the moon)
  • Watching the wild burros aggressively seek out treats from passersby
20160916_130729
Just lookin’ for a handout

Windy Caves

Wind Cave national park is an underground magical world full of strange formations and eclectic natural designs. There’s some mystery and a lot of speculation behind the history of this subterranean world. While most people agree that the Lakota Indians were truly the first to discover this place, a well-accepted story tells of two gentlemen who stumbled upon the cave when they felt strong gusts of wind coming from this shrubbery-hidden hole.

20160914_103900
Rumor has it the rush of air knocked their hats right off!

Pictured above is the Natural Entrance. Can you imagine squeezing yourself through that hole into the unknown? Curiosity (and probably a little bit of recklessness) led a handful of young men into the cave armed only with a candle in a bucket. This was the late 1800’s and their chosen safety precaution was a trail of string that enabled them to find their way back.

Comparatively, my tour of the cave was a cakewalk. With the assistance of electrical lights, I could view the artistic patterns on the walls and ceilings around me. Wind Cave contains a very unique deposition of minerals referred to as boxwork. This honey-comb outline is ridiculously delicate and absolutely gorgeous.

20160914_111550
Note the lacy-looking boxwork in this section of the cave

Wind Cave was different from Mammoth Cave in that I really had the time to gaze at strange and wonderful-looking formations. If you recall, I spent most of my time at Mammoth with my face in the dirt!

20160914_111955
Clean face!

Not Another Boring Hike

I haven’t gotten tired of hiking yet. Mainly because I get to see cool views like this:

20160915_134823
Cathedral Spires hike

And fascinating spectacles like this:

20160915_142237
The view from Little Devils Tower hike

And of course I get to enjoy the little things about my hikes: the crisp morning air, the sounds of nature, the refreshing solitude – oh, and more bison!

20160916_112056
A lovely herd of bison

I can’t get enough of these guys. They crack me up.

So yes, some days my feet ache and my thighs burn (depending on the elevation gain), but I cherish every single moment I spend walking in the great outdoors.

You should try it sometime, you just might just like it.

Bemusing Beasts

When I first met Ricky there wasn’t much of a connection. After spending 4 hours on the trail together, however, we finally hit it off.

20160915_094116
Ricky and I

Ricky, the adorable Arabian, was a real trooper maneuvering his way through the rugged trail up along the base of a rocky ridge. It was morning, and the sweet smell of fall mixed with the not-as-sweet scent of horse turds. Local wildlife calmly watched as the nimble beast and I passed respectfully through their forest territory. It was a gorgeous day, and I couldn’t think of a better way to experience the Black Hills than astride Ricky. Crazy Horse memorial could easily be spotted in the distance. If you’ve never heard of this artistic work that’s been 68 years in the making, you should Google it. It makes for an interesting read.

And then there were the bison.

20160914_090602
Bill the Bison strutting his stuff

Although not anywhere as sweet as my little Arabian friend, these creatures are something else! Immediately after I entered Wind Cave national park, they corralled my car as the official welcoming committee. I strained my ear to listen for huffing – the characteristic sound they make when agitated – but heard only heavy, labored breathing. I’ve seen some nifty characters in the wild during my travels, but I think the bison is one of my favorite thus far.

Click here to check out a short video I took.