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Thursday, July 9, 2015

7-9 Harney's Peak

Harney Peak
Harney Peak is located in the Black Elk Wilderness/Black Hills National Forst, but the #9 trailhead starts at Sylvan Lake in CusterState Park.  We started the trail at 8:00.

This trail is 3.3 miles to the top of Harney Peak and listed as moderate difficulty.   It's a beautiful trail that just keeps ascending more and more.  We passed a few hikers on the way - both going up and coming down.  Amazingly enough, we even passed jiggers today.  Along the way, we were rewarded with many spectacular views.  It seems that with every twist, I wanted to take a picture!

As we climbed, we were rewarded once in awhile with a view of Harney's Peak and were excited every time it seemed just a little closer.

Look how far it is!

We see it 'just' over there!

Closer, closer, closer!

We saw many chipmunks and one large deer on the way up.  At Harney's Peak is a stone firepower.  It was built in 1939, but is no longer in use.  Looking out from the tower, you can see forever into the distance.

Directly below the tower, climbing on the huge granite rocks were about 6 mountain goats.  They are obviously used to people as they seemed to pose for many photographs.

We stopped for a 30 minute lunch break and fed a few of the chipmunks here.  They are also used to people as one ate directly out of Scotty's hand.

As we started back down, we heard a bagpipe!  We hustled down so that we could catch a glimpse of the bagpipe player.  The last song he played was 'Amazing Grace' and we were able to finally see him just as he was putting his bagpipe away. Such an amazing song to accompany our amazing views!!

We started our descent on part of Trail #9, and then followed A small connecting trail over to Trail #4 which is 3.5 miles and rated as moderate difficulty.  We both thought this trail was steeper than the trail going up, and there were several sections covered with small loose stones.  This made it a little trickier walking down the hill.  We passed two other trail heads on the way down - paths leading to Cathedral Spires and Little Devils Tower.  We chose not to do either as our trek was plenty long!  The path seemed to sparkle as bits of mica had broken off nd cord the pathways.  At several spots, the path seemed wet.  We picked it up and it was just very fine dust sprinkled generously with mica bits.  It made beautiful, sparkly paths. The last 2 miles seemed the longest.  I groaned every time the path took another upward turn.  We finally got to the parking lot and I was never so glad to see that brown truck with the orange and green kayaks strapped on top!
Starting our descent.

This is actually closer to the bottom as you can see some of the rock formations
that surround Sylvan Lake.

Which way?  I'll take the shortest!

This picture just doesn't do the path justice.
The path sparkled!

Wild lilies.

We drove up towards Deadwood and checked in at the Hidden Valley Campground.  The path back down the mountain had many switchbacks.

This was a very nice, clean campground with a little babbling creek running down the center.  We ate at Pub and Grub, a neighboring restaurant.  Skies were dark, but it didn't rain that night.  Even if it had rained, it wouldn't have bothered our sleeping this night.  We were exhausted after this 9 mile hike!

When I took this, I could just see the stars starting to appear.

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