Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Harney Peak – Black Hills, SD

Recently the weather in the Black Hills has been BEAUTIFUL! Sunny with a high of 75, kind of beautiful. And I knew I had to take advantage of all that goodness. So I hiked Harney Peak.
Harney Peak is the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains and west of Europe. & the view on top is beautiful! But it is also quite a hike, quite a workout, and quite a time commitment. It has been 3.5 years since I hiked it last. What happened 3.5 years ago when I hiked it last time?

I got engaged! Horray!
The Harney Peak Trailhead #9 is located near Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I took trail #9 from Sylvan Lake to the Peak and back down on the same trail. That’s the only route I’ve done. But there are other trails that I hope to someday experiment with.  At the top of the trail, right before you reach the historic tower on the peak, there are a lot of stairs. So. Many. Stairs. It is quite miserable. But makes the view at the top totally worth it. It is one of my favorite views.
Pine trees. Birch trees. Hills. Cliffs. Rocks. & beauty.
This way my fourth time up to the Peak. & it felt AWESOME! It was a last minute decision. The previous day I worked a difficult 12-hour day shift; I was scheduled to work a 12-hour night shift on the day of the hike. My husband told me the weather was going to be about 70 degrees. & I said yep! I’m going for a hike! In town there was no snow present, and it had been nice for a few days, so I figured most of the snow on the trail would be gone. My brother-in-law seriously doubted that I would make it to the top. He tried hiking it one winter and backed down 1/4th of the way up because it was too icy. I was nervous that I wouldn’t make it, but I felt empowered.
I am woman.
I also had finished reading the book called Wild by Cheryl Strayed. If any of you have read it (or seen the movie), you’d understand why I felt like I needed to spontaneously hike 9 miles in the snow all by myself.
Also with all of these crazy changes happening in our lives: moving in with my sister, selling all of our things, quitting our jobs, and moving to Africa – I needed a bold adventure to let all that stress out, pray aloud to my Jesus, and think.
& it was just what I needed.

There wasn’t very much snow; I slipped a bit, but never fell. On the hike down all the snow & ice was slush. It was HOT. I was wearing yoga pants, hiking boots, and a long sleeve shirt with a t-shirt on top. And it was January 27! What a beautiful hike!

What is your favorite place to hike? Have you hiked Harney Peak before? Tell us your stories in the comments. Thanks!

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