Sat & Sun 7/30-31

Traveled today from camp in Fallon County Montana to a friend’s ranch property near Hot Springs, S. Dakota. It’s a hilly, near mountainous, ranch property covered with cedar trees and rolling hills. Really beautiful place and and fortunate they continue to count me as a friend who is allowed to come stay with them!

View from the guest house front porch onto the ranch.
Also from front porch, with animal sighting – Fell Ponies out for the day.

Uneventful drive south, which is good, but chose the more scenic route through the middle of the Black Hills of S. Dakota. That was not my best choice. It’s summer still and there were lots of tourists visiting Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument and all the cute touristy towns in the hills. So the driving was slow. I was not in a hurry, but still, it was slow going. Arrived at the Murdock Ranch and visited with Bruce for a bit then relaxed in a place they have for guests. So very comfortable and generous to allow me to stay with them. We went out for dinner that evening in Custer, SD at “Pounding Fathers,” a brew pub and restaurant taking its name from the popularity of nearby Mt. Rushmore crew of fellows in carved in granite. Beautiful evening drive to Custer and back with that special glow in the air highlighting all the cool valleys and rock formations that make the Black Hills so attractive.

Sunset view
Sunset over the ranch with Parker Peak in the background.

Slept well in the guest house and ready for new adventures on Sunday.  

Sunday morning I was up early, had some tea and took off on a walkabout hike of the hills nearby. Saw some wildlife, a mule deer and some magpie birds that kept an eye on me. Mostly just hiked and took in the natural beauty of the landscapes here. I took too many photos of all the very cool rock outcroppings as well as close ups of rocks! I’ll post some here. Hike high up to the base of Parker’s Peak on the ranch property. It’s the highest point in this county, Fall River County. Wonderful views of grasses in the valleys and crazy neat rocks everywhere. If only Bruce could harvest the rock and sell it instead of cattle!

Amber waves of grain (grasses)
Looks like a perfect seat hollowed out of the huge boulder in the center.
Another rock
Still more rocks
Choke cherries I believe. Had a delicious syrup made from them.
“Rainbow” rock (my name for it, not official).
Rock portrait
Bubble rock
I likey some lichen covered rocks
Wavey rock

Bruce and I took a joy ride in the afternoon to hunt for a special site I know about where ammonites and shark teeth have been found. I hadn’t been there in many years and although it is only about 10 miles from their ranch, it was still hard to find and hard to get to once we left the asphalt road. We had success and found the site and Bruce and I collected a few fossils. He knew of (or thought he knew of) another site nearby, near the state line where SD & Wyoming meet that he’d heard has some sort of fossils seen in the dark shale soils there. I’m intrigued so we went for it. Turned off Hwy 18, but apparently too soon. We traveled for several miles on forest service managed lands at a slow pace but didn’t come upon what we were looking for. Came out onto the highway again and drove a little farther west and think we found the true access road. Next time we’ll try again.