Day 22, July 14: Hot Springs, SD to Rapid City, SD
77.6 miles; 12.2 mph; 6 hr 21 min 47 sec.
Up at 4:45, 5:45 load luggage, 6:00 breakfast at Elkhorn - scrambled eggs, pancakes, fruit, bacon, juice and coffee, 6:45 on the road.
The morning started with mild temperature and along climb to get out of town. There was a stiff head wind for about 20 miles. We started at 3,400 feet and at 35 miles we had climbed up to 5,900 feet. At about 8 miles out we entered Wind Cave National Park and I was delighted to almost immediately see a lone buffalo grazing about 80 feet from the road. Naturally I took a photo. I was glad that I actually saw one so close but was also hoping I'd see more. One mile down the road I came upon a herd of about 80 buffalo right up next to the road, on both sides. What a sight! There were some really BIG bulls! This also happens to be mating season. We were told to be careful, and not to approach them. They are very unpredictable and can easily outrun a person. I found out later that a motercycle rider had been killed (gored) 2 weeks ago. I took some more photos and movies - from a distance. In one of the movies I was approached by a buffalo in the road and I made the brilliant decession to turn around and get out of his way. He didn't charge me, but I admit that I was a bit nervous.
Coyote movie #1.
Coyote movie #2.
Prairie Dogs movie #1.
Buffalo movie #1.
Buffalo movie #2.
Buffalo movie #3.
Prairie Dog movie #2.
Buffalo movie #4.
Buffalo Encounter Movie!
Buffalo Encounter Sequel!
Just prior to that encounter, I had the neatest experience with a prairie dog. His "hole" was right up next to a parking/viewing area. I got very close to him - about 5 feet. He just sat there and kept chewing on a nut that he had found. I was just loving this - what great photo opportunities.
At 36 miles we got to the Crazy Horse Memorial which is only partially complete. Polish sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began the task alone in the early 40's. As one can see from my pictures (Coming soon! Ed.) the face is complete (1998), and work is now being done by blasting away layers that will eventually be the 22 story horse's head. Financing and weather uncertainties plus the colossal and unprecedented scale make it impossible to predict a completion date.
After watching an orientation film and some quick shopping, I left for what turned out to be a very difficult up and down climb to Mt. Rushmore. I took a few photos there and continued on.
After a short stop at SAG 2 in Keystone, I did another tough climb out of town and through a tunnel/bridge and then basically a mostly downhill ride into Rapid City. It was a very long day and I took many photos and movies. The buffalo encounter was just thrilling.