The snow crunched below my hiking boots. I could hear the rushing of the water from the creek. Sue ran ahead smelling every rock and stick in sight. The green of the pine trees was the only color that popped on this grim, but warm January day. The grass was a hay yellow, hibernating still, though it was 55 degrees out. The Black Hills provided what they were known for, the black charcoal cut outs of rock and history of the land. Ice paved most of the paths on the Centennial Trail in the Black Hills National Forest.
My hiking companions and I started out on Flume Trail-head, which is about 14 miles outside of Rapid City, SD. The Centennial Trail is an 111 mile trail that connects several State and National Parks. It flows through Bear Butte State Park, the Black Hills National Park and ends at Wind Cave National Park. Flume Trail appealed to us because it has a 3 mile loop. We attempted to follow that but soon found our instinctual survival skills were lacking. A left turn instead of a right turn put us off of our goal of 3 miles and progressed it to a 5 mile hike. However, it lead us to a peak that looked down on the creek. We decided getting lost was part of the fun (I discovered my travel buddies get lost on hikes often, remind me to plan the next hike!).
It was a rocky, steep climb, trying to find our way back, but we found joy in the journey. The rocks that protruded from the hills were black, granite looking peppered with snow throughout. The best part of hiking with company is the conversation. When I am out in nature my mind clears itself, the fresh air rejuvenates me, leading the way for random topics. We talked about important things like hydration and unimportant things like television. Some of the time we didn’t talk, taking in what the earth had to offer us.
We discussed not knowing if snakes hibernated (okay now we know they do) or if we should be scared of mountain lions (they would have heard us and left us alone…I think). Then, the dogs ahead of us found something that caught their attention. I thought it was a dead squirrel or rabbit or something. They found a deer leg. A legit partial leg of a deer. The bone was sticking out of it, there wasn’t any blood near or around it. Thankfully the dogs didn’t consume it and we didn’t see what/who had done that to the deer. (Or the rest of the deer…which was the concerning part…hmmm) But just a reminder of the way wildlife truly is. (Insert images of random animal body parts #nature)
It is a blessing to have the opportunity to connect with the atmosphere. It is almost like my religion. I feel refocused, like I could tackle anything that came my way. I have been able to enjoy the beautiful city of Rapid City here in South Dakota. It has statues of almost all of the Presidents on the street corners in the downtown area. We stayed in the Hotel Alex Johnson, right in the hub of a myriad of candy shops, bars and restaurants. We are here of a couple more days, I haven’t made it to Mount Rushmore yet but it is on the list!
If you are ever in the South Dakota area, I not only recommend visiting the downtown area of Rapid City, but also the beautiful National Parks. This location has so much history to it, even just in the land, that you’d be a fool not to!
Keep wandering! <3afk
**Check out more photos from my hike in the Black Hills National Forest on my instragram: thewanderinglily3