A quick factoid: Pringle, a very small town, is the elk capital of South Dakota. Now you know too. And that is where we saw one elk in our drive that day.
On to today: We woke up in our very nice lodge room at 6:00 a.m. Every morning, Susan and Darren make breakfast smoothies in their blender, and I make smoothies in my Magic Bullet. We're saving a ton of money by not going out to breakfast every morning.
My breakfast smoothie recipe is a handful of half walnuts, three baby carrots sliced, a slice of apple (cut up), a slice of cucumber, a slice of raw beets (diced), two strawberries, sliced, about 4-6 blueberries, one cup of unsweetened almond milk, and a scoop of Costco's Orgain Organic Protein Powder (smooth chocolate fudge flavor). I put them all in the 8 oz. size Magic Bullet cup and run it for a little less than a minute. Mmm. Very tasty.
Crazy Horse Memorial is 15 minutes from our lodge. We wanted to be there before the 8:00 a.m. start time so we could register. That way we'd be in the start line by 8:00 a.m. when they open the trail to us. For three cans of food per person for the local food bank, we were admitted to the park for free.
All went well. We were registered and in line with 5 minutes to start time. Then I remembered I didn't have my knee brace on. It was very important to keep my knee stable, especially with the steep trails we would be walking. Darren ran to the van and retrieved my knee brace. I finished putting it on just before they opened the trail. Thank you, Darren!
|Line waiting for trail to open--in front of us|
|Line waiting for trail to open--in back of us|
|Part of the San Antonio contingent--|
Darren, Susan, Ellen, Mike
|Darren, Susan, Ellen, me (with knee brace)|
|And away we go!!!|
|Here's where the crowds thinned out...|
going uphill. We stopped to breathe for a bit.
|Very organized event with lots of signs|
The trail started out with a lot of steep down. Uh-oh, I thought, that means a lot of up is coming. We made it through the up parts and let people pass us as necessary. We did our share of passing others. People who had done this walk in the past said that the trail was steeper in parts this year because they did away with a lot of switchbacks.
On the trail, it was like old-home week. We saw Volksmarchers from other parts of the country, and from other clubs in Texas. I especially enjoyed seeing Carol and Dennis Romig from Menehune Marchers, the club Bob and I belonged to in Honolulu, Hawaii. We last saw them in Honolulu last December when they had their Volksmarch Christmas luncheon and walk. They graciously invited us when they knew we'd be in Waikiki.
Judge for yourselves how beautiful this walk is. Some high-level clouds moved in as we hiked.
|On the trail|
|Crazy Horse's head taking shape, with the horse's head|
outlined in white on the rock on the right.
|Almost to the top|
|From the back side of the rock|
|A picture of a photo|
|In your face|
|From the front|
|From out on the arm - which isn't done yet|
|Me and Susan|
|Someone's life got saved that day!|
|Darren and Susan at the tunnel|
|Susan and I at the tunnel|
|Susan taking a long look at Crazy Horse|
|Susan and John Ives|
|John Ives and Darren|
|Just awe inspiring|
|Three marmots on the rocks|
|Crazy Horse and tunnel. Above tunnel is his arm;|
below tunnel will be his horse.
Our first walk of the day was complete. After stamping our Volksmarch books, we walked to the Visitor Center to see the movie about the history of making Crazy Horse. It's really an excellent film that shows how the whole idea started and how many years it has been in the making.
The man who was hired to work on the sculpting of the rock started out working alone. He had limited money and limited equipment. Every day he would go out and haul up his equipment. There were mountain goats out there with him that loved his ladder and they would climb the ladder too. As the years went by, he got married. They had 10 children, all of whom helped him with the work. The boys helped out on the mountain. His wife and girls collected money from the tourists and made sure the tourists' questions were answered. He thought the ladies had the harder job.
Can you believe it took a decade to make the tunnel? That's a lot of time and some very careful explosive work.
Outside of the Visitor Center are the Black Hills Nature Gates. This work of art caught my eye immediately with the highly polished golden metalwork. I must have taken 30 photos of it, but I'll only share a couple here.
|This looks like stained glass with the blue sky background.|
|Sculpture showing the finished product|
|Hanging in the Visitor Center are flags of the Indian|
As is usual when we finish walking, we were famished. About 10 minutes away, in Hill City, we found Hubcap Diner and decided to eat there. What a good decision! We beat the rush and were seated right away.
I had a patty melt, side salad, and a root beer float. The root beer float hit that sweet spot in my mouth and tummy. It was sooooo good. It had been years since I had a root beer float.
|Susan M. with her Crazy Horse walk medal|
|Here's my medal too|
|Decor in the Hubcap Diner|
|Neon Marilyn Monroe|
|Devils Tower - 867' from its base to the top|
|View of surrounding area|
|Happy Susan M.|
|View from Joyner Ridge Trail|
|I zoomed in on Devils Tower|
|Darren and Susan in the prairie|
|View from a different angle|
|Farmland below us|
|Susan with deep ravine and Devils|
Tower behind her
|Don't know what kind of wildflower this is.|
|Heading back to the van through the prairie|
This motel had the worst room for me on the trip. My room reeked of cigarette smoke. I immediately called the office and told them. They told me the whole motel is non-smoking. I said, "Then why is there an ashtray in my room?" He couldn't answer that. I told him I was very unhappy with my room. He said they were full and didn't have any other rooms available. So we unpacked the van and moved into our rooms. Susan and Darren's room didn't stink.
About 1/2 hour later, I took the ashtray up to the office and told the manager I don't smoke and handed him the ashtray. He then told me, he found another room on the other side of the motel. I told him it was too late, I was already unpacked and didn't want to move all my stuff. I hated that room.
Well, another action-packed day ended and we needed to get some sleep because our next walk would be at 8:00 a.m. More tomorrow. Time for sleep.