We had some great adventures during our week in Fort Robinson. The hiking in the area was fabulous, as we went from grasslands to the top of Buttes overlooking the vistas. We ended up encountering a gang of grumpy locals as we made our way to the trailhead at Mexican Canyon.
Fort Robinson is an intriguing place. As I came into this area I was mixed with awe for the beautiful landscapes and sadness for the history of this area. It is here at this fort that Crazy Horse, the great Lakota warrior and leader, was assassinated in cold blood. It is here that some of the great native American tribes were decimated. It is here that the buffalo were massacred in order to starve out that first nation. It is a rich history, but a bloody history.
When we left Fort Robinson to go to Custer State Park ND, we passed the turnoff of Pine Ridge Reservation and Wounded Knee. Although close, I decided not to visit. One more white tourist gawking at the area re-imagining both the Massacre and the Wounded Knee Incident just seemed wrong. Instead, I thought of those peoples working to keep their culture alive and teach their children about the history that surrounds them. I wish them strength and perseverance in their efforts.
We spent a week at Custer SP, ND, where we hiked, adventured and met wonderful people. We had a couple of run-ins with the open-range buffallo herd, population approx 1300 – we met three of them.
These two were cruising down the road and then decided we WOULD NOT pass as we headed to a trailhead. And we didn’t … There are lotsa other hiking trails around here with friendlier locals! What is it with us and trailhead blockades????
I am constantly awed by the vastness and beauty of the lands we travel. It seems like I say to Dan every week “This is the most awesome view yet,” and then we get to the next place. Well, Custer was no exception. The Black Hills National Forest fills me with wonder, yet again, for the majesty of nature.
We left Custer SP after meeting some really nice people, and I had a chance to do a photo session with a very fun and talented bullwhip-toting, harley-riding fella (photos to come), to head over to Mount Rushmore just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
I had some pretty big assumptions about my attitude to experiencing Mount Rushmore in person. After all, it was hacked into the stone of a sacred Native American mountain, in the center of a sacred region. I was holding a grudge, I’ve got to admit. Instead, I found I was filled with awe for the sheer vision of one man, Gutzom Borglum. The celebration of the ideologies of the four presidents and his desire to present to the world the magnitude of their aspirations, physically realized, was pretty awe-inspiring. I was also impressed with the variety of visitors to the monument – I counted over twenty state license plates in the parking lot, from one coast to the other. Old people, kids, veterans in wheelchairs; all of these people from all over the country had come to this place to learn and pay respect to the founding principles upon which this country was built. I left my cynicism in the parking lot.
Today, we continue on our journey and head into North Dakota. I can see grasslands from one horizon to the next. The expanse of the view is making me dizzy! We head up to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for a week. And after that, we go to see Uncle Dennis, Aunt Illiana, Cousin Elena and little cousin Phoebe in Minot. We are sure looking forward to seeing family after four months on the road!