Friday, September 13, 2013

A Hike

We stopped along the way to Custer State Park to take this shot.

Part 1, Day Four, Thursday, August 22
I didn't write anything about this day before, so I find myself trying to reconstruct memories when so very much has happened since then.

This was our last day in the Black Hills.  I still had not gotten to do any hiking, and our bigger girls were keen to do some swimming or maybe even renting a kayak, or whatever they could afford.  We decided that we'd hike in the morning in Custer State Park.  We'd drive the Needles Highway over to Sylvan Lake.  And there we'd have a picnic lunch at the park by Sylvan Lake and swim in the afternoon.

Love this Man

Joe wanted to go to Custer State Park because of a fun memory he carries with him of a camping trip with a group of our college friends.  They had planned to do primitive camping at a hike-in location in the French Creek Natural Area.  As it turned out they got not only rained out, but the creek, which had to be crossed several times on the walk out, had become a swollen torrent and they had a bit of trouble getting all their people and things out.  One of their company was a very small woman who had to be piggy backed across the worst flooding. 

And so Joe wanted to share with his kids the area where this familiar family legend occurred.

Rachel picking some raspberries along the way,

The Abrahamson Parade

We had a very nice walk, although the access area had changed quite a bit in the 20+ years since Joe camped there.  There is a big horse camp area just adjacent to the trail head which through us off a bit.  When we asked directions from the horse camp hosts, they pointed us onward to the right spot. 

Sophie sparkling in the sun

We hiked far enough to ford French Creek twice.  Although there are log crossings at each ford, the weather had turned warm, so the littles wanted to play in the water.  The bigs just wanted to be done, so they could get to the real swimming.  But so it is when traveling with a wide range of ages.  We saw lovely wildflowers and mushrooms and trees and grasses.  We saw one big buck running through the hillside across the creek from where we had stopped to climb around a bit.  I had brought along our aluminum camp dishes and the kids "panned for gold" for a little while.  We took some individual photos in the beautiful natural setting.

Panning for Gold

Pretty hillside

John was very interested in the mushrooms during our trip

A primitive shelter we found along the way

Goatsbeard in seed, with Stella in the backtround

John and Mary

Some of John's treasures

And then we headed back.  By then the day had warmed up quite nicely. Ask any of the kids who were sitting in the back of the van as we stopped to visit.

But who did we visit?

As we were backing out of the parking spot after a potty stop at one of the resort/gift shops in Custer State Park, the kids said, "You have plenty of room, but I think that man thinks you're going to hit him.  He's just staring at the back of our van."

As it turned out, he was indeed staring at the back of the van.  But not out of fear of being hit.  He recognized the car dealership label from southern Minnesota.  So he came over to the driver's side window to ask us where we were from.  He and his wife are the parents of one of Joe's classmates.  Joe hadn't seen them for years, but knew them a little bit during his high school years.  Soon his wife came over to see who her husband was chatting with.  We had a very nice visit.  To make the coincidence one step more fun, one of their kids' family are members of the church in Olympia where my brother-in-law is a pastor.  Their Grandson is a friend of my nephew, Iver.

We visited for quite awhile.  While the kids in the backseat got progressively warmer.  But we were on our way to swim.  "You can cool off then," we reminded them.  "It's not every day you run into people from 'down home'."

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