Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunrise at the Top of the World

Harney Peak Sunrise

We got up at 3am on Saturday morning to catch a romantic sunrise up on Harney Peak.

We drove to Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, and hiked 3 miles, under the Harvest Moon. Nathan had his handy headlamp flashlight thing to keep us from tripping on all the rocks, but it was still dark under the trees. I will admit that I worried about mountain lions, but I kept those scary thoughts under control.

We got to the top of the peak at 5:15am, about an hour before sunrise. As we were hiking I felt a little too warm in my sweats and fleece jacket. But it was cold up on the top of the world, and there was no where to hide from the strong wind. The wind seemed to want to blow me off the edge and down onto the rocks.

The Harney Peak fire lookout tower was built as part of a work project in the 1930's. It is a stone building with windows all around the top. The building has been gutted, but it used to have electricy and running water. You can climb up a set of stairs to see out those top windows and all around the world. Or you can climb down to explore the empty rooms of the building. I was worried that there might be someone hiding with a chainsaw, so I made Nathan check each and every room before we could rest and eat some breakfast. We were all alone up there. No other hikers. No kids. Ahhhhh.

It was incredible to be able to see so far - over the Black Hills and across the prairie. But it also made me feel a little dizzy. This is my favorite picture, from inside the tower, looking East.

I am really curious about what it would have been like to live up there. How long could you go without supplies? How would you get supplies? How would you let someone know about a fire? It is quite a hike down, but with a horse it would have been okay. I wonder if there are pictures of it when it was in use as a look-out, and I wonder if anyone lived there through the winter.


Laurie said...

Beautiful pictures, Wendy. Sounds like a great outing!ae

Mary said...

What a pretty hike! The pictures are nice. I'm glad you two were able to have such a fun date.

Kristine said...

I actually did a similar hike once to watch the sunrise with my first boyfriend. It was an amazingly beautiful experience, even if I didn't end up marrying that guy.

I love that you did this with your husband.

The hike you took as a family looked like a lot of fun too.

Amanda said...

What a fun idea and what great pictures! Is Nathan still enjoying "your" camera? I think I would have been worried about the mountain lions too. I was worried when we hiked Harney in the middle of the day.

texasblu said...


We went to Yellowstone this weekend... I forgot to take my camera! WHAAA!!!

You pics are awesome!

Deanne said...

Wow! I can only imagine what a beautiful sight you had (I'm sure the pics don't do it justice). I'm glad you and your hubby had the chance to do that before your move.

by the way, you don't look like you've changed at all since the last I saw you! How do you do that? You look great!

wendy said...

You are so sweet, Deanne - you brought a little tear to my eye.

I was thinking I looked a little Crazy in that picture - it was really cold and windy and Nathan kept making me take just one more picture....

Donna Boucher said...

Oh wow! What a memorable experience!

Love the view...and the sunrise!