Happy Fourth of July to everyone! Today is one of the days when we stop and give thanks for this country. We are blessed to live in a truly unique country. During our adventures today, David and I saw several of those unique places.
Today was the longest driving day. We were moving from Rapid City, SD to Cody, WY. We knew it would be a challenging day so we got an early start. The highways were not busy at all since it was a holiday and we were making good time. Part of the Black Hills includes a national monument called Devils Tower. We had decided to forego seeing this since we had a long journey today. Well, the Devil lured us into making our way for a close encounter.
Devils Tower is a butte that sits in the middle of the plains. As a result it is visible for miles. It is a unique formation that rises 867 feet from the base and is 5,112 feet above sea level. Scientists believe that there was molten magma that was forced into sedimentary where it cooled underground. As it cooled it contracted and fractured into columns. Due to the erosion of the sedimentary rock over time the Devils Tower was exposed.
The American Indians also called it Bear Lodge and they have a different interpretation of how it was created. Several Indian tribes share this legend about this butte’s creation. Here is what the National Park brochure states, “Eight children were there at play, seven sisters and their brother. Suddenly the boy was struck dumb; he trembled and began to run on his hands and feet. His fingers became claws, and his body was covered with fur. Directly there was a bear where the boy had been. The sisters were terrified; they ran, and the bear after them. They came to a stump of a great tree, and the tree spoke to them. It bade them climb upon it, and as they did so it began to rise into the air. The bear came to kill them, but they were just beyond his reach. It reared against the tree and scored the bark all around with its claws. The seven sisters were borne into the sky, and they became the stars of Pleiades.” (Quotation from N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain) It is an interesting interpretation of the creation of the butte.
Devils Tower became our first national monument in 1906. Another factoid is that there are over 5000 climbers who scale this monument every year. We observed several of the ascents and descents of climbers during our visit. There are over 220 routes that the climbers can take to the top. You may be able to spot the climbers.
We continued toward Cody Wyoming via a mountain pass in the Bighorn Mountains. We really put the Silver Fox to the test as we ascended the southern route. We did not realize what a challenging climb it was until we reached the pass and the elevation marker was 9666 feet!
Tired from the trip we went to sleep early with the sound of fireworks for the fourth broadcasting in the distance.