courteous crowds

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      [Ed: Imported from Americas Roof ‘Summit Trip Reports’ forum]
      [By: Bukhtan on August 25 2005 at 9:04 PM]

      We walked up from Sylan Lake on August 1st, 2005. We ascended by Trail #9 and descended by #4.
      I had heard that this is an extremely popular hike, and experience bore this out. We started before 8:00 AM, but nonetheless wound up sharing the peak with a considerable crowd, greatly augmented by a school group. Though some of the kids were far more interested in their cell phones than in their surroundings, they really didn’t bother us too much. Among the unschooled were some highpointers on their way to White Butte in North Dakota, not long before having visited Mt. Rogers in Virginia, which they highly praised. (There were some murmerings about other parts of the Southeast, but, since I’m from Alabama and am already painfully aware of what that State has done to Mt. Cheaha, we left the Heart of Dixie alone.)
      Trail #9 offers a very gradual ascent through ponderosa pine forests, latterly much damaged by beetles, with patches of aspen here and there. The famous multilith’ed shouldering of Harney’s Peak was not much in evidence till we were right on the summit, though there were occasionally good views of the top and its attendant heights, from various openings in the forest. Total elevation change over the approximately 3 mile trip was about one thousand feet.
      Most striking, once eastern exposure is gained, are the views of the blessedly un-vandalized BACK of Mount Rushmore. What a beautiful rock! We used to get in real trouble for carving on desks – what in the world induced the State of South Dakota and Uncle Sam to let that rogue Buglum dynamite a live mountain? (And now some other vandal is tearing up another mountain (fortunately not visible from Harney’s Peak), ostensibly to honor the stalwart patriot Crazy Horse, who wisely refused to allow himself to be photographed!)
      An unwonted humidity had arrived by the time we descended the #4 trail, which skirts the great Cathedral Spires before dropping somewhat steeply to a series of meadows below the “Little Devil’s Tower”, which really does resemble its namesake in Wyoming, at least from Harney’s Peak.
      All in all, a pleasant walk, in spite of the crowds. But the ascent up that northern lead sure did look interesting, from Hill City. And NOBODY seemed to be coming or going that way. I thing we’ll take that route next time.
      PS: I have to add my comment to the business about “highest point between the Rockies & the Pyrenees”. What about Greenland? 3200 meters, isn’t it? Of course, with global warming, it looks like that ice mass won’t be there much longer …
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