Saturday, September 18, 2010

Onward Through the Fog

On Friday we took a couple of scenic drives and explored areas to the north and west of Custer. We followed a section of the Central Hills Scenic Drive from Hill City to Silver City, then continued north and slightly west to the Northern Hills Scenic Loop. The Northern Hills Loop starts at Deadwood, continues to Sturgis, back west to Spearfish, and then loops back to Lead and Deadwood.

The entire drive is beautiful, and we enjoyed a glimpse of Historic Deadwood, where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane lived and are buried. Deadwood is now populated not only with museums, but with casinos and antique shops, one of which is shown here. This one specialized in large metal animals. We looked and looked for a goat for Goat Hill Farm, but that's probably the only critter we couldn't find. We were tempted by a six-foot rooster, but were able to resist.

In Spearfish, a quaint small town located in a broad valley on the northern edge of the Black Hills, we visited the D.C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery. It is one of the oldest hatcheries in the west, and over the years has provided literally billions of trout for stocking lakes and streams. Nickie especially enjoyed the underwater views of the magnificent rainbows, some of which were literally half her size. They looked to her just like the fish on Animal Planet, but better, and therefore elicited lots of jumping and barking.

From Spearfish, we headed down Spearfish Canyon, which follows Spearfish Creek. We tried to find out why the town, creek and canyon are named "Spearfish." However, we could not find anything more specific than "it was a place where the Indians used to spear fish," or "the early settlers thought it looked like a place where you could spear fish." We did learn, though, that Spearfish Creek was once called Spearfish River because of the large volume of water that flowed through it.

We saw Bridal Veil Falls, which doesn't have much water flowing this late in the year.

We then took a short side trip up Little Spearfish Creek to Roughlock Falls. It's a beautiful area, as you can see, and one we hope to revisit with fishing rods in hand.

In Spearfish Canyon, the magnificent Ponderosa Pines which cover the hillsides near Custer begin to give way to spruce, and there is much more undergrowth. Since the aspen and other trees are beginning to take on their fall colors, we had spashes of brilliant yellow among the green. Clouds nestled along the ridgelines, though, and gave a soft, etheral beauty to the landscape.
By the time we turned for home, the clouds that had been hovering over the peaks had descended to the ground. We drove most of the way home in a dense fog (traveling only 30-40 mph), and spent much more time on the road than we had planned. We were glad to break out into the sunshine a few miles from camp.

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