Monday, May 21, 2018

Come for a Hike with Me!

by Jan Drexler

A couple days ago, my dear husband and I took advantage of a brief respite in our daily thunderstorms to fit in our first real hike of the season.

We went to a trail we had never tried before, the Stockade Lake trail at Custer State Park.

We've visited the stockade a couple times. It's a reproduction of a stockade built by early gold seekers in 1874, in spite of orders from General Phil Sheridan prohibiting non-Natives from entering the Black Hills. To see pictures of the original stockade and to read more of the history, read this blog post.

Stockade Lake is a favorite spot for fishermen and picnickers and is the location of this 1.2 mile trail. Don't let the short length of the hike fool you, though. The elevation rises 400 feet - and goes back down - in that distance.

We started out in sunshine, enjoying the early wildflowers along the way.

I'm still on the quest to get a good picture of one of these beauties. It's a Shooting Star, and blooms for a short time in May and June. It's the size of a violet, with the petals swinging up from the yellow and white center. Every photo of this flower that I've taken so far is out of focus. The slightest breeze makes the blossom quiver!

Trails in the state park are easy to follow. The blue diamonds point the way.

The trail isn't always have to watch your step!

When you stop to look around, though, the views are gorgeous. Hmm, are those rain clouds to the north?

When we looked toward the east, I got this shot of sunshine on one of the burned over mountains from last November's fire.

The trail never looks as steep in the photo as it felt when we were hiking up it!

When Badger Clark, a native South Dakota poet from the first half of the twentieth century, was asked why the Black Hills aren't called mountains, he said something along these lines: when visitors come, "it is better to delight than disappoint."

The Black Hills are definitely mountains, and we delight in every inch of them!

The rain finally did move in when we were on our way down the trail, so I tucked my camera inside my jacket. But not before I got one last picture...

I hope you enjoyed our hike together! What is one of your favorite things about where you live?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. Oh, this is rugged landscape for certain! East, West, Home's Best!

    Jan, I love the insight you bring into your walks, and life in general. Seeing the Black Hills (and no, I wouldn't have known they were mountains, but I love that quote!) through your eyes makes me long to see them in person.

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you!

    1. I hope you're able to visit sometime!

      Our Hills aren't as tall or as rugged as the Rocky Mountains farther west, but they're more accessible, friendlier. As awe-inspiring as the Tetons are, the Hills are home. :-)

  2. Jan, you have me longing for Ouray. Although we flatlanders have to take a couple of days to acclimate to the altitude before attempting any hikes. But, oh, the views you can find on those hikes. Things you just don't see from the road.

    Love your pictures. I'm glad to see that spring has finally come to the Black Hills.

    1. That's an advantage of living here. Our house is at about 3400', which isn't too high in elevation, but it's enough to help us acclimate quickly when we go to the higher altitudes.

      This trail when from 5100' to 5500', so not too much of an altitude stretch for us.

      And my dear husband wasn't much of a hiker until we moved here, but he realized the same thing you mentioned - if you want to see the great views, you have to get away from the road!

      I hope you get to make your trip to Ouray soon!

  3. Enjoyed the hike. I would really like to be there in person to hike and observing all of God's beauty around. Thank you for sharing the pictures.

  4. Gorgeous photos, Jan! Those are definitely mountains. :) I'm glad you had a great hike!