August 4, 2006.
I awoke early and found that the Black Hills visitor’s center was not open yet so I had no information or maps to explore the area. Since I was so close to Mt. Rushmore, I decided to check it out.
Let me preface this by stating I have a minimal interest in history and I deplore being in crowds. The appeal of visiting this famed National Monument wasn’t there for me. I knew I’d regret not even taking a look at it since I was so close, so, I took the quick drive over.
As soon as I began the walk up to the viewing area I knew this was the right decision. It was so early that there were only a handful of cars in the parking garage and the gift shops were still closed. Workers were cleaning the terrace and getting ready for the onslaught of people sure to visit today. I wanted to walk around so I took the 0.6 mile loop trail down to the base of the mountain and back up to the main terrace. No one else bothered to walk this strenuous trail today so I had the place to myself. It was an amazing feeling to look up at the impressive carvings and to check out the mountain’s natural features. I was treated to a variety of wildlife, including chipmunks, mountain goats, and canyon wrens. My day was off to a good start.
Next on the list: Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.