Friday, July 10, 2009

Wind Cave National Park: Reaves Gulch

Today, Noelle and I had decided, was reserved for hiking in Wind Cave National Park. We had looked at the map and tried to agree on an area that we wanted to explore. Reaves Gulch looked like an interesting spot on the map. It contains a deep canyon and is heavily wooded.
We decided that this would be our spot for exploration. Unfortunately, Noelle was not feeling well today, so I went exploring without her. Reaves Gulch ended up being quite interesting like we had figured. I saw lots of elk down and around there.
Besides the elk being bountiful there was also a lot of poison ivy. In this respect it was probably better that Noelle did not come along. After a while of tromping through poison ivy I came to a game trail that led out of the gulch. I followed it up to a grassy forest edge where I saw about 30 elk, females with calves. I watched and listened to the elk for quite a while and then moved up a bit. When I crested a hill three elk calves nearly ran into me!

From there I walked back to the game trail and followed it back down into the gulch and then up the other side. I followed the gulch rim for a while and then followed a drainage east. This drainage ended up being part of Curly Canyon. The canyon made for some interesting, but difficult walking. There were lots of downed trees and poison ivy. Eventually I got tired of trudging through the stuff and made my way up some ridges. At the last ridge before I returned to the Centennial Trail there was a dead tree with a walnut shell necklace draped from it.
I then hiked down the ridge and back to the car to drive home and take a shower, After my shower and a delicious dinner I headed out for a short evening stroll. I ended up walking to Alvin McDonald’s grave and then over to Bison Flats. At Bison Flats I didn’t see any bison, but instead a large prairie rattlesnake.
It rattled at me and was very close to a dead prairie dog. Had it killed this prairie dog for its dinner? I don’t know but it was interesting to observe for a while.

No comments: