This week I decided to climb Harney Peak which I have never done before. This peak is the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains. At the base of the peak is Sylvan Lake, in Custer State Park. We (my younger sister, our dog, Sheridan, and I) passed a picnic area where we would later eat lunch on our way to the bottom of the peak from the parking lot.
At the beginning of the hike is a bench with an inspirational quote about journeys, probably mean to inspire hikers to reach the top. The path up is gravel surrounded by a meadow at first. Soon the meadow turns into a tree-invested forest, the picture-perfect place for a moose according to my mother. We took a break after that space near a rocky area where the top of the peak is visible. we continued along a ridge into another forest which is , surprisingly, down hill. This part lasted for awhile. we crossed a creek using the small walk bridge (and our puppy gulped up some of the rushing rapids). Next was this huge rock my family dubbed “The Warped Wall”due to its shape and our obsession with the television show ‘America Ninja Warrior’. Most other people probably just refer to this as a boulder, but, hey, we all have our quirks.
Anyway, after you pass through the forest there is a drastic change as the path becomes surrounded by dead trees and fallen branches. There are stone steps to guide you around the bends and turns as you continue to the top. Soon there is an opt-out for the weak, aka a path back to the lake. But my sister and I carried on up to the top where there is a lookout. The lookout has multiple levels with ladders to get to the highest level to take in the varieties of scenery. The entire platform and tower are constructed out of stones, just like the steps from before. The way down, as you could probably guess, was pretty much the same thing in reverse, except the bottom included lunch. Stale chips and dry PB&Js never tasted so good.
As I was taking in all these new sights, I realized every vacationer and tacky tourist see the entire Black Hills this way and I can’t wait to see some more!