Jun 24, 2008
“I am never getting on a horse again!” shouted my friend, Kathy Newberg following our eight hour ride to and from Harney Peak. “Until tomorrow, “ she added. I felt exactly the same way. The trail ride up to Harney Peak was beautiful, treacherous, breathtaking, challenging and by far the most awesome trail I have ever been on. From the views of the Black Hills from 7,200 feet to the snow we found in the canyons on our way up, it was like no trail I ever traveled. And as blue as the sky looks in the pictures, in real life, it is even bluer. Harney Peak, I learned, is the highest point this side of the Rockies. When looking down from above, I never knew my eyes could see so far.
As the horses rested at the top of Harney Peak, I stared at them in awe. We took them out of their environment, trailered those horses over 500 miles and asked them to do what we ourselves couldn’t: climb to the top of a mountain! And carry us they did! Our flatlanders took us up over 2,000 feet for about 8 miles in unfamiliar territory on terrain they were not accustomed to traveling. And if that weren’t enough, they took us back down that mountain. And we thought it was hard on us! What amazing creatures!
My sons are finally starting to appreciate the beauty of the country from the back of a horse. It warmed my heart to hear them say such things like “oh my gosh, look at that!” or “isn’t that beautiful!” And McCain said he can’t wait to go back! Although I chronicled our vacation on my blog, it wasn’t until after I got home and had a chance to look at the pictures, that I realized how blessed we are to be less than 12 hours from the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Later in the week, our horses walked into the barn at Ft. Robinson near Crawford, their shoes clinking on the brick floor, not unlike the 12,000 horses that populated Ft. Robinson in the early part of the 20th century. And as we were riding through the buttes with the Messicks, Brenda kept commenting that she felt like we were in an old western movie. And it did. You half expected someone to be watching you from above. What a history our own state holds. And it’s great to explore from the back of your horse!
I’m so glad I can share these memories with my sons. I’m pretty sure they will tell their kids what we saw along the trails. (And that they slept on cots in the livestock part of the horse trailer, too!) I hope they appreciate that we gave them the opportunity to experience this piece of Americana in a way that is uncommon to other tourists… from the backs of our own horses.
See pictures of the trip: http://horsetrailriders.com/vac07.htm