Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Devils Tower

(Chuck)We stopped in Belle Fourche, South Dakota to see the Tri State Museum. Jan had noticed it on a billboard and it turned out to be a great visit. We toured many displays of western heritage and local history. For a bonus we had also found the Geographic Center of the Nation. I had an uncle who had claimed to be from the center of the Universe, and I myself am from a distant planet which has to be the center of something, so this was quite a bonus.

From Belle Fourche we journeyed to Devils Tower. It has been one of our favorite stops in the Black Hills area for most of our lives. We first visited it in 1969, and each time we are in the area, we stop for a visit. It became America’s first National Monument in 1906. The tower rises 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River and is 867 feet from its base to the summit. Unfortunately we saw no climbers on the tower the last two days. It has been a treat to watch them in the past. An average assent on the Durrance Route with an experienced climbing team is 4 to 6 hours. It takes about one to two hours to rappel down. I was astounded to read today that in the 1980s, Todd Skinner – a Wyoming native - free-soled (climbed alone, without ropes or protection) the Walt Bailey route in 18 minutes. We are limited to the hiking trails in the area and enjoy them very much. This morning we took the traditional 1.3 mile hike around the tower and this afternoon we did the Red Beds Trail which was 2.8 miles. Geologists agree that Devils Tower is an igneous intrusion. Magma welled up into the surrounding sedimentary rock. There it cooled and hardened and formed columns that are 4-5-6 and seven sided. Ages of time and erosion then revealed the tower as we see it today. As you walk around the tower there is a boulder field that is re result of fallen columns. There have been no major falls of columns in modern history.

We have stayed in the Devils Tower Belle Fourche campground for two nights. It is a beautiful area with huge mature Cottonwood trees throughout. The Belle Fourche River wanders through the valley. We will leave tomorrow for the Bighorn Mountains. I found a promising spot to boondock and we are looking forward to seeing the mountains again.


Sally Schindel said...

What a great area that is! One of our favorites. We expect to go through there in Oct, hoping for no early snows! Enjoyed your postings!
Sally & Gregg

Eric said...

loved the pictures. beautiful area.

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