About two weeks ago we were having amazing weather for mid-February with highs in the 70's. All the snow that had accumulated since mid-November had become a thick frozen sheet of ice finally melted away and Luna became a mud ball every time she went outside. I was chomping at the bit to get out of the house, under the sun, into the fresh air, and go hiking in the beautiful Black Hills. I did some thinking, texting, and online research and came up with a game plan for Terry's day off, which was Friday, February 17th.
Here we are driving past Pactola Reservoir.
Luna came along of course. This was her second hike. She looked so sweet all cuddled up sleeping between Noah and Ezra.
Oh wait, she wasn't as asleep as I thought.
So. I planned on hiking Deerfrield Trail like our friend Todd suggested. I had checked with him the night before and he said to take Deerfield Trail from Silver City. I don't know why, but when I looked up the trail online, it seemed to me that the trail only started at Deerfield Lake and so I figured that we would connect at Silver City at some point from there. Wrong. So wrong. We drove an entire hour to Deerfield Lake only to find it still under like a foot of snow (they always get the most up there), no trail, and it turned out that it was nowhere near Silver City! What we wanted was to start at that Silver City Trailhead, which as you can see is way over by Pactola, which we passed in the very beginning of our huge trek.
At least I packed a big lunch, which we ate upon arrival. Then we skidded out to the ice just to check it out, talked to some nice ice fishermen, drove around the lake, back through Hill City, down the highway past Pactola again, and then finally stopped at our desired destination. Just two and a half hours longer than we had planned! Ha! I'm such a dork - I even tried to be organized and know where we were going! Fail. Well, not totally. I had wanted a drive and I certainly got it. Also, look how cute the kids' little scrunched up faces are! Ha!
Finally we made it to the correct trailhead. Much less snow!
Quite a lot of the trail was still packed snow/ice, plain ol' ice, mud, or water but Ezra had a grand time on his Strider. In fact he probably did better and went farther on it than he could have done otherwise. He would've slipped on his own two feet but not at all on the bike.
Apparently this trail used to be a road, hence the large concrete bridges with weight limit signs next to them.
I loved the color of the water. It made me think spring was close at hand. We've had several inches of snow since that weekend though. Sigh.
Another bridge with the creek frozen beneath the snow and ice.
Everyone line up for a picture! Doesn't Samuel look excited?
Todd had told us about the towering walls of rock. Very pretty.
We came to this bend in the creek with an open place to throw rocks from, so of course the kids had to do that. For like twenty minutes.
I liked how that ice bank thing was so solid the kids could walk over the water like that.
Mud ball Luna!
They kids knocked an iceberg loose and it floated away until it got stuck on a rock. Then the kids were trying to hit it with more rocks.
The sun makes me so happy! I said to Terry how I can understand after a long winter why ancient cultures worshipped the sun. It's pretty great. But it's just a shadow of the real Son.
We walked a bit upstream and decided to come back. I didn't want to stop but it was getting late and had been a long day. Plus we saw some fresh animal tracks in the mud. Todd had seen a mountain lion the last time he went so of course that was in the forefront of our minds. I don't know if it was a lion's tracks, but they seemed fresh and big. Maybe not big enough...?
Looking back at the rock where we stopped so long at.
A big ol' freaky cave not far from the bank we were at...
Headed back. The sun was illuminating the pretty red color of the bushes' branches.
Walking on ice.
Here's one track that seemed big but it could just be a dog's. I have no idea.