It was a beautiful morning and so Noelle and I decided to hike up the tallest peak in South Dakota, Harney Peak. We packed up our gear and hit the road bound for the less traveled Willow Creek Trailhead. Our plan was to hike up Harney from the north. The trails on this side of the peak see much less traffic. So after getting stuck behind gas-guzzling RVs headed for Mount Rushmore we made it to the trailhead. We hit the manure covered trail and at first it was a real slog along dusty trails within earshot of the highway. About 2 miles into the hike the conditions started to improve.
There was less evidence of horse use and the trail entered into the Black Elk Wilderness.
When we got to the junction with the Harney Summit Trail the scene included a lot less solitude. There were tons of people up there; many of them looking like they had never hiked a mile in their lives. Several people carried water and snacks up in plastic grocery bags. The summit area was also an interesting place to listen to conversations.