Saturday, August 8, 2009

Black Hills National Foreest: Inyan Kara Mountain

Yesterday’s late start allowed me the opportunity to call a landowner who lives adjacent to the Forest Service land at Inyan Kara to obtain permission to explore this interesting mountain. After waking up early for the 2009 Wind Cave National Park staff photograph Noelle and I recruited a fellow seasonal ranger Garrett, to join us on our hike.

The drive through Custer and Newcastle was uneventful. Other than a large number of bikers there was nothing extraordinary about it. When we finally turned off of Wyoming Highway 585 the excitement was really building. We pulled into the front yard of our contact person who had allowed access. From there we started on foot along an old road. The road seemed to go around the mountain but not up it, so at the far end we started to climb in earnest up to a ridgeline.

The mountain is interesting in that the center of it is made up basalt, some of it of the columnar variety that is seen at nearby Devil’s Tower.
Around the basaltic center is a long ridge that nearly encircles the center. We climbed up to the outer ridge and followed that for a while before descending and then ascending to the center massif. The hike was fun but challenging at times due to the lack of a trail. After ascending some basalt for a while we made it up to the summit itself.
The summit was interesting, there were some names carved up there, but at first we couldn’t find the one we were looking for: G Custer. We did however find two different summit registers in a bush near the summit.

We spent some time signing the registers and looking around the summit. After a while we decided to move our search for the Custer carving to a false summit not far from the true one. While we didn’t find the signature at the false summit, the views from it were amazing. After looking around there and eating a snack we moved back to the true summit for one last search.
When we got back to the true summit we did a little detective work and our instincts paid off. We found the signature hidden right beneath our eyes!

We spent some time looking at the signature and photographing it. I’m still a little bit skeptical that it was actually carved by George Armstrong Custer, but it was a fun hike nonetheless. After looking at the carving we made our way back down the mountain to our car. The hike down went much more quickly than the way up! For another interesting Inyan Kara trip report, check this site out.


Willis said...

Have made it to the top of Inyan Kara three times on horse back. Very challenging ride.

Anonymous said...

I had the honor and priviledge to view that mountain every morning from my family's kitchen window every morning and evening, growing up. There is no other spot in the world more special to me, whether "golden hair" was there or not.