Our favorite hiking destination is Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The first time we hiked up to the peak was in 1995, just a week after our youngest daughter, Amy and her husband, Travis got married. We had been planning the trip for a while, and were looking forward to relaxing and hiking in the hills. We really didn’t know much about where we were headed, except that it was a favorite destination of lots of people in the hills, and we knew where to find the trail head. We really thought that was enough. Little did we know!!
We had planned the hike for the third day of our trip, but found ourselves at the trail head the second day of the trip. We read the information on the sign telling about the trail, and as it said that Sylvan Lake was in the shadow of Harney Peak, we figured that it couldn’t be that far. So we decided not to wait until the next day…oh boy, were we wrong!!
Thankfully, it was September, and not the heat of a July day. We had jackets on and I was wearing a sweater. To make matters worse, I had my purse/planner, which was not light, and we didn’t have any water. We really thought we were going on a little walk. The hike actually took about 2 1/2 hours, each way…not bad considering our inexperience and my purse/planner!! That purse ended up weighing…oh, about 2 tons, by the time we got back down to the car. And, of course, you recall that we had no water. Thankfully there was a little snow on the ground!!
Nevertheless, despite the fact that we were not really in the greatest hiking condition, and all the other ways we simply were not prepared for this hike, we ended really loving the trail. We kept hoping that we would live to reach the end of the trail, and we were stunned at the people who had little kids on the hike…and the little kids didn’t seem to be having any trouble!! Of course, they did have water, so I suppose that helped.
When we reached the top…finally, the view was all we needed to get hooked on that trail. It is amazing up there. Still, we did not dare make that hike again for a number of years, even though we go to the Black Hills every year. I guess we were a little bit overwhelmed. When we finally took that hike again, we were much better prepared for the hike. I don’t take my purse anymore, for one thing. Now we take a backpack with lunch and a couple of 20 ounce bottles of water in it, to eat and drink at the top, because we know that it is 2 hours up and 2 hours down, and we like to spend about an hour at the top. We also have a water pack that holds about a 2 liter bottle of water, for the hike up and down, because we really can’t expect to be able to find snow when we go over the 4th of July week. Basically I guess I’m saying that while we will always love that hike, and we have gone up about 7 times now, we are a lot wiser about how to hike these days. I guess you just have to live and learn.