For a number of years now, Bob and I have been walking the Mickelson Trail that runs from Edgemont, South Dakota to Deadwood, South Dakota. It is 109 miles long, and when we are done, we will actually walk the trail more that two times from one end to the other. I say more than twice, because there are some areas we have walked several times. We did not start at one end and work our way to the other end, but rather we started in the middle, and then realized how much we liked the trail, so we made the decision to keep track of where we had walked and work toward walking the entire trail. It has taken us a long time, because we only come to the Black Hills once a year on the average year.
This year, however, we decided to make a second trip. The lower section of the trail has areas of fewer trees, and is a little warmer climate, so it is very hot to walk in the full heat of summer. We decided that the long Columbus Day weekend would be perfect for three days of hiking…and on a normal year, it probably would have been. However, this was not a normal year. It was not a total loss, but we did get rained out today, which was disappointing. The six mile hike we had planned for today will have to be added on to the rest of the lower section, leaving us with 18.5 miles to the south and 10 miles to the north. Two hundred and eighteen miles at an average of six to eleven miles a day completed one week in the summer really takes a while. Still, it is with a sense of accomplishment that we mark of each new section on our map. While the Mickleson Trail is not a difficult trail, when it is taken in nine to eleven mile chunks, it take a toll on your body for sure, at least for that day. In the long run, it is one of the best things you can do for your body…low impact, hard work…yep great exercise, for sure.
While our last day of hiking was cancelled, the other two days were wonderful. The first day, we were treated to flock after flock of geese flying over on their way south. It was an amazing sight to see, and the air was filled with their calls back and forth, as they happily headed to their southern home for the winter. The second day brought deer into my camera view…both white tail and mule deer, which was a bit surprising in that we have not seen mule deer in the Black Hills before…of course, we are on the southern section of the trail, so it could be just that this area has them. The weather those first two days was just perfect for our hikes. We had to wear our jackets, it was not really cold. Our extra time in the Black Hills this year was wonderful…and it has inspired us to do this again next year.