Friday, September 11, 2009

Black Hills National Forest: Rimrock Trail & Devil's Bathtub

Today I ran some errands in anticipation of my upcoming move to Minnesota. I discontinued my phone service and got a change of address form from the post office. After that I was free to do some exploring. I decided to head up into the northern Black Hills to check out some things I’d been meaning to see. I drove north from Hot Springs through some parts of the national forest I hadn’t seen before and finally stopped when I crossed into Wyoming to see Cement Ridge Fire Lookout. It was a rough drive up there and the lookout was being manned by a forest service fire lookout. It was also very windy and cold up there. I spent a few minutes looking around and then hit the road again headed for Little Spearfish Canyon.

At Little Spearfish Canyon I stopped at the Rimrock Trail trailhead. I wanted to hike the upper section of the Rimrock Trail. The hike was very pleasant. The temperature was much cooler than the previous day and I felt like the hike, temperature, and spruce tree scenery were a preview to my arrival in Duluth. I really enjoyed the easy walk and was a bit disappointed when I arrived aback at my car.

When I got in the car and started up the engine I noticed that my low fuel light was on. I would need to find some gas and find it pretty quickly. I realized that the closest gas was in Cheyenne Junction so I headed up Spearfish Canyon to the little restaurant/gift shop/gas station there. The gas was a bit expensive at $3.00 per gallon, but I didn’t have much choice. I filled up and then headed back down Spearfish Canyon to my final destination of the day: Devil’s Bathtub.

I had never been to Devil’s Bathtub before, but had read about it in an old hiking guide to the Black Hills that I found at the information desk at Wind Cave. Nick, who I had hiked with yesterday, had also mentioned it to me and now my curiosity was piqued. I heard and read there was a sign marking its location, but when I drove through the vicinity where I thought it should be I saw nothing. I drove back to the area again, found a side road that crossed Spearfish Creek where there was another small creek flowing into it, and parked. There was a user trail that paralleled the creek there and I followed it upstream. Sure enough it led to some interesting tight canyons and deep pools that were fed by some interesting natural waterslides. I walked upstream to a sign proclaiming private property and then retraced my steps. It was an interesting hike though and I enjoyed seeing so much water. Had it been as hot as yesterday I would have gone for a swim.

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