Not everything goes as planned, no matter how carefully the plan is crafted. We had a little miscommunication and our hiking group ended up in three separate groups all hiking at different times. And in the Black Hills, cell reception is extremely spotty, so even though we only miscommunicated by about a mile, it wasn’t easy straightening things out. We did meet up and hiked most of the way mostly together, but we got a chuckle out of our miscommunication.
The hike was supposed to include only Little Devil’s Tower and Cathedral Spires, but due to some extra time, Axel and I sneaked in Poet’s Table as well before the three groups managed to get back together. Poet’s Table was recently the subject of a vandalism, when a few girls actually sawed the table in half and carried it away, along with all the decades of notebooks stored in the cupboard. Needless to say, there was some significant backlash, to the point that the whole situation was utterly ridiculous, but at least there is a new table now, and a plaque was added with a short poem by John Raeck, the Vagabond Poet, who founded Poet’s Table decades ago:
“A castle that secluded lies
Beyond the gates of Paradise,
A soul-restoring mountain ark
In South Dakota’s Custer Park;
Where time and life are reconciled,
And man-of-years is like a child.”
Half an hour later, when we had met up with some of the rest of our group, the sky was darker and we began to get sprinkled on. It picked up until it was a happy little gusty thunderstorm. I was sure thrilled with the White Sierra rain jacket I had found at a thrift store in Bozeman! Things were clearing up pretty well when we met up with the last two in our group, who had actually waited out the storm on or near Little Devil’s Tower, but were game enough to climb back up to the top with the rest of us. And yes, it is a climb. Not a long one, but definitely a hands and feet kind of scramble at times. Gale force winds met us on the way up, but calmed down over the next twenty minutes, as the rest of the storm pushed east. The 360 degree view from Little Devil’s Tower was incredible, with the storm working its way mostly south of us, the glories streaming through holes in the clouds, and virga on the edges of the bands of clouds. We reveled in the glorious views of Harney Peak, the Cathedral Spires, and distant hills. The storm pushed the smoke from the western fires away, and we enjoyed the sight of blue skies overhead. The sun was very westward when we hiked into the Cathedral Spires, which is a beautiful, short hike, with some steady elevation gain. I love how different the terrain and landscapes will be within such a short area, from the wide meadows and open hillsides around Little Devil’s Tower, to the sheltered, tree clad slopes around the Cathedral Spires. Some climbers clung like spiders to the sheer rock faces of the Spires, and a few mountain goats meandered down a little lower near the trail. Chokecherries were thick along parts of the trail. These trails are often mentioned individually as destinations, but the three together made for a wonderful afternoon hike. We got back to the trail head around 8pm, with dusk settling and the cool air moving in. The summer is fading fast, but while it is here, we’ll enjoy it!