One thing my husband and I love to do in the Black Hills is hike. During decent weather we love to find a new trail to explore, and that's what we did a couple weeks ago.
We have so many trails to choose from that I don't think we'll ever run out of new places, especially since we love to re-hike trails we've been on before.
(I wonder how many miles I can get out of a pair of hiking boots?)
The Cold Brook Canyon trail in Wind Cave National Park was a new one for us. It was a beautiful spring-like day!
This trail is rated "moderate," so we anticipated that the 2.8 miles in and out would be fairly easy for us.
As we started our descent into the canyon, we hit our first snag.
Seeing a bull bison like this is pretty common in the park...but this guy had decided to graze right beside the trail. So we gave him a wide berth.
He let us know that he had seen us (see the raised tail and the on-alert head?) but we stayed a good 30-50 yards away from him, and he soon went back to his grazing.
The main thing about encountering wild animals while hiking is to leave them alone. We like the popular saying, "Do Not Pet the Fluffy Cows!"
Around the bend from the bison was a prairie dog town. I wasn't able to get a picture of a prairie dog because they are very skittish. Along the well-traveled routes in the parks, they're used to people and will even seem to pose for pictures. On this back-country trail, however, they disappeared down their holes as soon as we drew near.
Just past the prairie dog town the canyon started narrowing. Rock walls rose on both sides of the trail.
The sheer walls and overhanging cliffs reminded me that we were in mountain lion country. We didn't see one, but we both felt like someone was watching us as we traveled through the narrows.
But we did see something up on the cliff -
An abandoned nest? Or one that isn't occupied yet this year?
Since we estimated the size at a good four or five feet across, we are guessing it belongs to an eagle, either a Bald Eagle or a Golden Eagle. Both are common in our area.
Either way, we'll have to hike back here again in the summer to see!
The trail ended at the edge of the park, and we turned around for the hike back. These out-and-back trails show us a different view each way!
Thanks for coming along on our hike! See you next month on the Back Porch - who knows where we'll be going next?