August 28, 2009

Harney Peak

View from top of Harney Peak

One of the nice things about imploding at only 24 miles into my race at Lean Horse was the fact that I felt fresh as a daisy within a very short period of time. Took advantage and spent the next couple of days hiking and sight seeing in the Black Hills. Saw lots of wildlife and awesome scenery - you can see some pictures here.

One of the highlights was doing the moderate 6 mile round trip hike from the Little Devil's Tower trailhead along the Needles Hwy to the top of Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota at 7242 feet. Beautiful trail through Custer State Park and the Black Elk Wilderness, which is part of the Black Hills Nat'l Forest. Man, they have some really nice trails through fragrant pine forest with plenty of rocks (mostly granite) and roots - I wish the Lean Horse course used some of these types of trails rather than dusty gravel roads!

Now THIS is more like it!

The trail meanders past many different rock formations in the Needles district and eventually hooks up with the #9 trail from Sylvan Lake.

It then begins to climb more steeply and ends with a few sets of stairs to the top of an old fire tower at the top of the peak. The tower is no longer used for fire spotting, but is still open to allow the plethora of tourists who make the hike a birds eye view of the surrounding area. On a clear day you can see 5 different states, but it was a little hazy during the time I was there as you can see.

View from the other side of Harney Peak

One of the coolest things was watching a hawk soar.....below me! Bizarre!

In spite of not accomplishing my goal of finishing the Lean Horse Half Hundred, I had a great trip and am already ponderin' which 50 mile trail race to do next. Giving some serious thought to Surf the Murph this fall and/or McNaughton next April. I may have to sacrifice doing Wild Duluth and Chippewa in the process though. Decisions, decisions!


Mark H. said...

Beautiful scenery. Thanks for posting.

Helen said...

Awesome pics! And yes - them rocks would have been more like it :)

It's a great complaint isn't it - all the races to choose from!

Londell said...

Love the pictures. Does the camera do panaramic shots? What a view... If you want my vote, do surf the murph... I have an aid station and love to see familiar faces.

Kel said...

Helen, yes - so many races to choose from - nice problem to have ;)

Londell, I use a free software program called AutoStitch to make panorama shots from a series of regular shots. Cool stuff!

RunWesty said...

Great pictures and great attitude, good luck choosing your 50 as there are many to choose from.

SteveQ said...

I was in the same place and don't recall seeing anything in your photos! Of course, I did the up and down in 48 minutes, which might've had something to do with it.