A Day Off

Fall is here at last! The chill of coming winter has started to nip at the nose and the fingers and the toes, and our first frosts happened days or weeks ago. It is the time of year that particularly beckons for me to be outdoors. I took advantage of my new schedule with empty Tuesdays and drove the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway yesterday. Trixie was my little driving buddy, getting thoroughly in the way, sitting on my camera bag, and sharing a bag of pretzels with me. Dogs are such good company. Although I shorted myself on time a little bit and didn’t have as much good daylight left as I had hoped, it was sufficient. The golden leaves and the autumn glow make for wonderful picture taking. The drive home was a later than I had expected, so we got to Pactola right past sunset. So much beauty.
IMG_4926eIMG_4976eIMG_4969eIMG_5029eIMG_5038eThe change of seasons is invigorating. So much anticipation of wonderful things to come.


Hiking | Roughlock Trail

After our adventure with the Community Caves, we ended up in Savoy at the Roughlock Trail trailhead. Roughlock Trail is only a mile long, and it borders Little Spearfish Creek on one side, while the road winds its way on the other side. The road is closed to “wheeled vehicles” (not snow machines) during winter months, so we hiked in on the road, which was a slushy, muddy mess.
IMG_2987IMG_2989The road in is an easy hike, without any steep grades and many gorgeous vistas of the soaring rock formations. So much beauty to marvel at! The greenest water plants were thriving in the frigid water, and little gems of rosehips still glimmered on their thorny stems, intermingled with the red bark of dogwood.  And what a cloudless, blue sky! Jake insisted it was a Colorado blue sky, but Sarah pointed out that this is indeed South Dakota, making it, of course, a South Dakota blue sky! In the summer, the trail would be preferable to the road, but without vehicles the road was a beautiful, open walk.
IMG_3000Then of course there is the destination: Roughlock Falls is one of the more famous of the waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon, and possibly the most spectacular, with the tiered waterfall and lush greenery, even in the winter. Walking paths and boardwalks around the waterfall make for very easy access, and picnicking areas create a great destination spot. Of course, in the summer, this means lots of tourist traffic, but the Falls are most definitely worth a little traffic. There are no natural lakes in the Black Hills, but we have some awe-inspiring waterfalls. IMG_3013eWe came back on the Roughlock Trail, which we think was actually quicker than taking the road, in spite of the layer of ice on the top. We slid most of the way back, occasionally losing control and having to hurtle ourselves into snowdrifts or grab onto trees to keep from face planting. YakTrax would have been fantastic. The trail itself (without ice) is well maintained and a nice level grade overall with a few ups and downs, and a couple of benches along the way if you need to sit and rest. It isn’t at all strenuous. The trail is more enclosed than the road, so if picture-taking is your aim, you might find those landscape shots a little harder to get. I imagine in the spring and summer there are abundant wildflowers! That is certainly the case up around the falls, so I’m sure the trail boasts plenty of little jewels of that sort.

A worthwhile short hike.

Laura Elizabeth

Sister date

DSCN0015.1I know the Fourth of July came and went almost two weeks ago, but I wanted to share some pictures from my family’s Independence Day. Mom and Dad were on their way back home from Illinois, unfortunately, and Anna had to work during the day, but Sarah and I took full advantage of our day off and drove through the beautiful Spearfish Canyon.

DSCN0108.1We’ve already started planning another drive sometime this fall, both to see the leaves change and to drive it when there are fewer tourists, but it was still a lovely trip. The wonder of God’s creation is truly amazing. And what is amazing is that God has not only left His fingerprints so clearly impressed in this world, but He has also allowed for there to be beauty in the results of something so devastating as a global flood. Not only did He give us the rainbow after the flood to remind us both of His judgement and His goodness in preserving a remnant, but He has left memories of the flood in places like the Black Hills, the Grand Canyon, and countless other places that were the result of the judgement of God on a wicked world. But I digress.

DSCN0023.1Sarah and I drove up to Spearfish, made a hasty stop at Walmart to get cold kombucha to drink (we were both getting drowsy–It was hot out!), and then drove down the canyon. We stopped here and there along the way to take pictures, and I added a few photographs to my growing botany portfolio.

DSCN0042.1Bridal Veil Falls was beautiful, but about fifty other people thought the same thing. Tourists. Bless their hearts. They stood around on the deck not even looking at the Falls, but just taking up space. Not many pictures happened this time around. So we’ll take another drive.

DSCN0092.1Roughlock Falls, however, was even more spectacular. It isn’t as tall as Bridal Veil, but it is tiered and simply gushes water. It is about a mile off the main road, plus a little walk to see the full beauty of the Falls, and it was well worth it. Fewer people were flocking Roughlock, since it was so far off the beaten path, and the walking paths were lined with wild roses, geranium, thimbleberry, violets, and countless other greenery. What a beautiful trail!

In the evening, we picked up Anna and headed to Custer to see the fireworks, and met a friend there. It was a quiet, simple Independence Day. Glad to spend it with friends and family.

Laura Elizabeth