I'm lying in my tent somewhere in western South Dakota writing this on my phone. It's day 2 of this adventure and so far, aside from on a few hiccups, things are going pretty well. If only these damn bugs would quit buzzing around my tent, I might be in heaven.
Day 1 had its ups and downs. I unexpectedly met up with a friend in Sioux Falls which was nice. He bought lunch, which was nicer. (Thanks Daniel, always a pleasure!) After that I sat in the posting lot for 30 minutes and made good use of the establishment’s wifi. Then I hit the road heading west, until I hit the National Grassland…..
I had planned on spending the night camped out in the Fort Pierre National Grassland. I figured it would be nice; rolling hills, nice sunset, cool breezes caressing my face as I fall asleep dreaming of mountains. Yeah, it wasn't any of that shit. Ugh. Do yourself a favor: don't fucking go there, ever. If for some reason you need to go to Pierre, SD, go AROUND the Fort Pierre National Grassland to get there. As far as I could tell it just a bunch of fenced in pastures and farms with a couple of county roads you'd need a friggin monster truck to get down. I mean there was fucking nothing, nowhere, nada. I drove around for an hour and said screw it. I slept at a rest stop, which was precisely 68.2 miles away.
The next morning kicked off with a scenic drive to Mt. Rushmore. I'm glad I got some advice from my brother prior to arriving: Don't stop. It's $11 to park and what the shit, it's not like you can't see the damn thing from the road. Go early when there is no traffic, pull over snap a quick pic post that shit to Instagram, and be gone.
After the drive-by Instgramming at Rushmore I made my way up to Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park; a very cool spot with lots to do. I ending up doing a big loop up to Harney Peak and on the way up I got to see the Cathedral Spires, which are freaking amazing. I seriously need to learn how to trad climb, stat. It looked like there were plenty of sweet climbs there and needs to get me some of that. I'm coming back to climb those at some point, for sure. At the tops of the hike was Harney Peak Fire Tower which is pretty cool and with an amazing view.
After getting back to the car I took the scenic drive through Custer Park. Apparently the parks around here are well known for their buffalo. As soon as I heard that I started muttering ‘Tantanka’ repeatedly trying to sound just as bad as Lieutenant John J Dunbar (Kevin Costner) did in Dances with Wolves. Holy shit, I cannot wait to see one! I am scoping hard for these things as I wind my way through the park. All of a sudden I come around a corner and there's a massive bull not 20 feet from the road. Let me tell you: these things are immense. The only other animal I've seen in the wild that humongous was a full grown bull moose. Scary big. This thing would have stepped on my Mazda and not even thought twice about it. I was not about to pull over there, so I kept on driving satisfied that I had seen ‘Tantanka’ eventually getting to Wind Cave National Park, where I saw there are even more buffalo.
Wind Cave just so happens to be where I am camped out now, miles from anywhere, in a camp site riddled with buffalo poop (he called the shit poop, lol). The park ranger told me last night two people camped out in the back country woke up with 5 bison in their camp. Thanks dude, I needed to hear that. I just hope the slightly wooded area I chose is not where they choose to have breakfast!
Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully no buffalo.