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#36 Wind Cave National Park, SD

June 30, 2018

 And the award for the tallest State welcome sign goes to South Dakota!

 Wind Cave National Park is the 8th oldest national park.  It is also one of the biggest maze cave systems in the world.  It also contains rare boxwork formations that are not found hardly anywhere else.  But as you know, I am claustrophobic and caves are not my favorite, so it was a long hike for me up top, above the good people crawling along the cave below my feet.

 

As you may surmise from the pictures from the hike, I didn't feel cheated at all, the scenery was beautiful!  I was raised in South Dakota on a large ranch and prairie grass is part of my DNA.  There is something about prairie grasses swaying in the breeze on a hot summer day that is mesmerizing.  It speaks if you will listen.

 

 

 

 

 

There was a large amount of Poison Ivy along the trail and one had to proceed carefully in many areas.  At one point, it was like a forest, and I was forced to turn around.  I had never seen poison ivy that thick and tall before.

 

 

 There are numerous signs warning of ornery buffalo and it can be a little disconcerting setting out on the trail, but then you settle in and the landscape sucks you into it's quiet and magnificent beauty and you are one with it.  

 Weirdest mushrooms I have ever seen!

 

 

 

 Are these the sturdiest trail markers you have ever seen?  There's a very good reason for that.  The buffalo use them for scratching posts and will rip them right out unless they are buried deep and are stout.

 

 Buffalo hair

 More signs of buffalo...it's a buffalo wallow.  They take dust baths in these.

 "...Where the deer and the Antelope play"

 Spectacular clouds!  This was a precursor to a big storm that blew up later that evening.  It had been a long time since I had been in a prairie storm.  There is a magnificent power in the lightning that flashes across the prairie, followed by the stillness of the night, broken only by the sounds of a pack of  coyotes hunting.  'Good to be back...

 

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