Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Exploring the Great West: Day 2, Part 1, Bear Butte State Park

This is a continuation of a travel series to The Great West.  To start at the beginning, go HERE and HERE!

On the second day of our vacation out west we left Wall South Dakota and began driving towards our next destination Spearfish Canyon.  Hubby wanted to break up the drive a bit so he googled "Things to do in Sturgis, South Dakota" the night before, and discovered Bear Butte State Park.  It was a completely unplanned, spontaneous stop and we were so happy we kept a flexible schedule to allow us to stop here because it truly was one of the highlights of our trip.



Bear Butte State Park is located about six miles from Sturgis.  It is a famous landmark in the area.  The mountain is called "Bear Mountain" by the Lakota Indian Tribe, and is considered sacred to many American Indian tribes who come here to hold religious ceremonies. Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse have all visited Bear Mountain.  General Custer camped near the mountain, and Bear Butte served as a landmark guiding settlers into the area.


There are only two trails in Bear Butte State Park, a lake trail and the summit trail.  The park is mostly known for its fabulous summit trail.  It is 1.85 miles to the top of the butte which is 4, 426 feet above sea level.  There is a 900 foot vertical climb from the parking lot to the start of the trail.  In the photo below you can see me on the steps as we just start this climb with the famous Bear Butte behind me.


I was dressed in my active swim wear and hiking sandals because after this we were going to drive to Spearfish Canyon for a river hike.  Although my clothing was ok for this hike, my footwear was not.  I should have changed into hiking boots as the terrain was rocky and rattle snakes were plentiful.

There was a heat advisory this day, so it was advised to take lots of water and hike early in the morning or early evening.  But because we traveled early in the morning, we were starting our hike mid-morning.  We met plenty of hikers coming back down as we were going up, but a few were going up with us as well.


At the start of the hike, you walk through a lovely forested, prairie-like area.  Take advantage of the shade here, because the higher you climb the less shade there will be.


In this area you will notice brightly colored cloth strips hanging in all the trees.  They are prayer clothes that represent the prayers of the individual worshippers.  You are asked not to photograph them, which is why you may not see any in my photographs (although some got captured accidentally).


The views got insanely beautiful right away.  You don't even have to climb to the top to see incredible views.



Once you get to this point, you've done the worst of it.  The initial climb to the summit is the hardest, then it sort of levels off and you just walk along the ridge on switchbacks.  We ran into one woman who turned around at this point because her vertigo was bothering her.  Then on the return trip we ran into another woman who was really struggling and asked "How much further".  We responded "You have a long way to go yet".  We had no idea if she decided to continue on or not.  She did not look so good.


The unique rock formations are always so interesting to us.





There were a few benches here and there where you could stop and take a break.  We stopped at one in this area and spent quite a long time chatting and eating, and then I turn around and to my surprise I saw a deer!  I could not believe how unafraid he was of us.  


After our break, it was time to hit the trail again and then the real fun began!


Wow! I cannot say enough about the incredible beauty of this trail. If you're ever in this area, you really must hike this trail.  What made it so special is that the scenic views were non-stop because there were not any trees to block the view.  In most mountain trails we have climbed, we were climbing through a forest. The typical mountain trail, you hike awhile, reach an open area, enjoy the view, then back into the forest you go until the next opening.  On this hike, it's all open.  You are literally walking on top of a mountain ridge with obstructed views the entire time.  It's incredible!


We could hear a "mooing" sound the entire time we were hiking and couldn't figure out if the black animals we saw in the distance were cows or Buffalo.  There are buffalo in this park, and you will drive right past them as you enter the park.


The trail is very narrow and has steep drop offs.  I don't recommend this hike for children or anyone afraid of heights.  However, I am TERRIFIED of heights, and I managed.  The scariest part is at the very end, coming down from the scenic deck.



There were several spots like this one, where I thought "Wow, if I trip I could tumble right over the edge".  I thought it was insane that they didn't have little fences in certain spots like this.


The trail ends at this spot up on top.  It's a steep climb of stairs to get to the deck.



As I stated earlier, coming down off the deck was the hardest part because there was no guard rail at the end of the steps, just a steep drop off. It was terrifying for someone like me who is afraid of hikes.


This picture gives you a great idea of what the trail is like once you reach the summit and can just walk along the top of the butte.


I have to add, that there was a rattlesnake warning at the Visitor's Center.  We didn't see a rattlesnake, but we definitely heard a rattlesnake warning.  We were cautioned by some other hikers coming down that there was a rattlesnake under the steps so be careful.  As we approached the steps, we definitely heard the "rattle" sound.  I was really nervous, because all I had on was sandals, but I felt I had come too far to turn around now, so I just quickly climbed the stairs.  Other hikers heard the sound and turned around, not willing to take the risk.  On the return trip, I didn't hear the rattlesnake so he must have moved on.


The Summit Trail Hiking Trail in Bear Butte State Park was such a wonderful, spontaneous surprise.  It's always nice when something you never planned to do on vacation turns our so incredible.  We usually plan our vacations very well, but it's nice to have some flexibility to do things like this.

After our hike, it was back in the car to drive to Spearfish Canyon and enjoy a relaxing river hike:  more on that next week!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Cute Handmade Halloween Cards For Kids

I love to spoil my grandchildren every holiday by sending them a box of inexpensive treats.  For Halloween, I send them mostly healthier treats, with a little bit of candy, plus a hand made card.  I like to keep the cards either "Halloween Cute" or "Fall-themed". 

These cute Halloween images are pretty old.  I just love them, they are so adorable!  I think they are by Inkadinkado if you're lucky enough to find the stamps on-line still.  If you can't, shoot me an email and if you live in the states I'd be happy to stamp some images off on card stock for you and send them your way.


To make the cute Halloween cards I stamped both the dog and cat images on a separate piece of card stock , colored them in, and cut them out.  With the dog card, I even stamped the image a second time so I could just cut the pumpkin out and pop it up on dimensionals giving it a 3D look.


I chose the star designer paper for the background because of the stars in the dog's hat. Then I stamped the sentiment onto a piece of Kraft card stock, punched some holes in the end to add some eyelets and purple ribbon, and finally, I stamped some stars onto white card stock, colored, fussy cut them out, and glued those onto the Kraft card panel.  The card base is also Kraft paper.  The puppy is popped up on dimensionals.


For the kitty card, I used the same technique as the puppy card:  coloring, cutting out, and popping up the image with dimensionals.  The two outer pumpkins are also separately cut and popped up for extra dimension.


With this card I used my sewing machine to create a zig-zag edge around the entire card, and then I sewed another piece of candy designer paper on top.   The sentiment was stamped in white craft ink onto black card stock and popped up.


To finish the card, I wrapped a big rusty bow around the designer paper and adhered the whole thing to a Kraft base.


Finally, I wanted to show you a couple of tags I attached to their presents.  The pumpkin was cut using a Cuttlebug die and machine.  I made "grass" by just handcuffing some green paper and then sponging green ink on it.  The tag was cut on blue card stock using a Spellbinder's Nestability die, then sponged with blue ink.  I hand wrote their names on the tags.


So what about you?  Do you give your children or grandchildren special treats or presents for Halloween? I'd love to hear from you!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up wit these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Exploring the Great West: Day 1, Part 2, The Badlands National Park: Hiking Saddle Pass and Driving the Badlands Loop Road

This is a continuation of a travel series to The Great West.  To start at the beginning, go HERE.

On day one of our vacation we returned to the Badlands National Park.  We had already visited for a short time in 2019 but we loved it so much we promised ourselves we would return someday and explore more. We still only had one half day to spend in the Badlands, as the first half of the day was spent just getting there.  But since we had been there before, it turned out a half day was all that was needed.  There were only two trails left we wanted to hike:  Notch Trail (which I covered in last week's post) and Saddle Pass Trail.


Saddle Pass Trail is only a .25 mile round trip trail.  I know that sounds so short, and it is, but it is VERY, VERY STEEP and STRENUOUS.  This trail is marked as strenuous on the park trail guide.  It is such a steep and slippery trail I found it almost impossible to climb.  I was constantly slipping on the gravel and I don't think I could have even done it at all if my husband wasn't there for me to hold onto.  But, if you can do this trail, I recommend it, because the views are spectacular!  

There's this cute bridge right by the parking lot that leads to the trail.  Because of the steepness and the slippy gravel, it is not recommended hiking this trail after a rain (does it ever really rain in the Badlands though?)


This short trail climbs up the Badlands Wall to a view over the White River Valley.  



Like most of the Badlands, there isn't much shade so when I found a shady spot, I stopped to rest awhile.



Once you reach the top, you get the stunning views of the White River Valley.  Here you can connect to either the Castle or Medicine Root Loop Trail (Those are 10 miles and 4 miles trails, so we skipped those.  Plus, they just go through the flat prairies of the valley. Nothing too exciting except cactus and rattle snakes) or go back the way you came.


Before we made the decent back down, we spent quite a bit of time up on top just exploring.



Hubby even went rock climbing to capture me in the middle of the photo below.  That is his shadow in the picture.  Isn't that cool?


You can see the parking lot and the steep trail you climbed to get up this high.



It was really fun just wandering around up on the top butte.  However, the descent down was not fun.  I wanted to just get down on my butt and slide down, but hubby wouldn't let me cause he said I'd ruin my clothes.  The only way then I could make it down was if he went ahead of me, and I put my hands on his shoulders, and allowed myself just to slide and crash right into him.  His bulky frame never wavered when I would crash right into him.  You would have thought I would have knocked him down, but he stayed solid.  I couldn't believe they didn't have any type of chain or hand rail to hang on to, but hubby said the rocks were too unstable and a chain or railing would have just pulled right out.


Eventually we made it safely down and I was quite relieved.  Now it was time to just get back in the car and enjoy the Badlands scenic loop road on the way out of the park.


There are not anymore trails after this point, just plenty of parking lots and pull overs to enjoy all these spectacular scenic views.

This would be a great road to take Grandma on, children, or anyone who may enjoy beautiful views but can't hike or doesn't enjoy hiking.  


This stop told the story of a war between the Native Americans and the military in this area.

We were at this part of the park at dusk, so we saw a lot of wildlife.  I highly recommend you drive this road in the late afternoon/early evening, right before the sun sets, because you will not only get to see gorgeous sunsets, but you will see lots of animals out feeding for the night.



My favorite part of this scenic road was Yellow Mounds.  Oh my, I felt I was in a scene from "Lord of the Rings" when I was in this area of the park.  The color seemed so magical I expected to see a hobbit pop out.


"These strangely colored mounds are the result of an ancient sea draining away and the chemicals from decaying plants turning the soil yellow." (source)








Oh, such beauty, every where I looked!  





And just as reached the end of the scenic road, and we were about to exit the park, we saw our very first buffalo of the trip.  We were so excited!  Little did I know that by the time this trip would be over, I would have seen hundreds of buffalo.  


I hope you enjoyed my return visit to the Badlands.  Next week, I will back with another South Dakota adventure at Bear Butte State Park.  It was one of the most thrilling hikes of my life!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!