Tuesday, June 8, 2010

South Dakota - Day 2 (part two)

Now before we can really get into where we went, you have to watch these 2 short video clips:














No, I'm not a big close encounters cultish fan, we just thought it was cool, and wanted to see it. In fact, it ended up being one of our favorite places on the trip, and we didn't plan on going there until we got all the way to SD.



WARNING:
This post might be educational.

Sorry kids!


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This place? It's Devil's Tower National Monument.

It played an important role in the Sci-Fi thriller, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" back in 1977. Of course, I'm just going on rumors as I wasn't born until many, many, MANY years later. Did I mention many?


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is a monolithic volcanic neck located in the Black Hills near Hulett and Sundance in northeastern Wyoming. It rises dramatically 1,267 feet above the surrounding terrain.




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Geologists agree that Devils Tower was formed by the intrusion of igneous material. Theories have suggested that Devils Tower is a volcanic plug or that it is the neck of an extinct volcano. Devils Tower did not visibly protrude out of the landscape until the overlying sedimentary rocks eroded away. As the elements wore down the softer sandstones and shales, the more resistant igneous rock making up the tower survived the erosional forces. As a result, the gray columns of Devils Tower began to appear as an isolated mass above the landscape. In theory, at some point in the future, Devil's Tower will be nothing more than a large pile of rock due to continued erosion.







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According to the Kiowa, seven little girls went out to play and were spotted by several giant bears, who began to chase them. In an effort to escape the bears, the girls climbed atop a rock, fell to their knees and prayed to Great Spirit to save them. Hearing their prayers, the Great Spirit made the rock to rise from the ground towards the Heavens so that the bears could not reach the girls. The bears, in an effort to climb the rock, left deep claw marks in the sides which had become too steep to climb. (Those are the marks which appear today on the sides of Devils Tower.) When the girls reached the sky, they were turned into the star constellation the Pleiades.

Which if you look, is not what exactly is depicted on the painting above, but the story that goes with the brochure that the National Park Service distributes.



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The tower is held sacred by many Native American cultures. You'll see many prayer ribbons and bundles, leave them alone. In fact, stay on the trails, period. You're on sacred ground.






Something else fascinating there, rock climbing!

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Add this to the list of things I will probably never accomplish. Many rock climbers that day. We sat and watched a team of three for about 1/2 hour. There are many established and documented climbing routes covering every side of the tower, ascending the various vertical cracks and columns of the rock. The difficulty of these routes vary greatly, ranging from relatively easy to some of the hardest in the world. All climbers are required to register with a park ranger before and after attempting a climb.


But who blames them, look at the view:

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And:

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We stayed for quite some time. Several hours. Explored around, sat and watched the birds, the climbers, just people. Marveled at this huge formation.

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Definitely worth the trip.

Now, do you feel educated?

Still awake?

hello, anyone?

2 comments:

Stefunkc said...

I have driven by that twice and never stopped. Thanks for the lesson!

gowestferalwoman said...

It is very special in person...And you captured its essence quite well!

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