WEEK 7 RUN-WALK ACROSS AMERICA 2017 STARTS TOMORROW
Segment 15 Gillette WY to Sundance WY
Segment 16: Sundance WY to Rapids City SD
Segment 17: Rapid City SD to Kadoka SD
This week’s run takes runners near more spectacular sites, for which the Great West and High Plains areas of the United States are well known. One of the most recognizable natural geologic features of this region is the Devils Tower National Monument, in the Bear Lodge Mountains near Sundance in Crook County WY. In 1906 it was named by President Theodore Roosevelt as the first national monument. If you have seen the 1977 Steven Spielburg movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” you will remember it as the structure some characters were obsessed with, and the place where the giant alien space ship had parked itself.
Apparently the 1200+ ft, solitary, pillar-like granite formation came into being as the softer surrounding land was eroded over millions of years. “One legend has it that a giant bear clawed the grooves into the mountainside while chasing several young Indian maidens”. The rolling prairie of the Black Hills area of Wyoming surrounds this tower, which is held sacred by several Native American tribes of the northern plains (they call it “Bear Lodge” ). The National Park Service promotes this site as an ideal location for Night Sky Viewing: “Half the Park is After Dark, At The Bear’s Lodge”.
Sundance WY gave its name to the Sundance Kid, who was jailed there for a while. From eastern Wyoming the route enters South Dakota and skirts the northern edge of the South Dakota part of the Black Hills (a mountain range and a forest). The ponderosa pines covering the hillsides are so dark and light-absorbing that it is said they look “black”.
After leaving Rapid City the route heads east, just north of the Badlands National Park to Kadoka, a place literally known as a “hole in the wall” (the Lakota Sioux tribe named it). This area of South Dakota is chock-full of sights, the most famous of which are the Mt. Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse National Memorials.
Although the more western national parks often get a lot of attention, I think this region is one of the most interesting to explore, not only for the beauty of its physical features but it’s history. In the southern part of the Black Hills, far from our route in Custer State Park, there’s an annual Buffalo Roundup held in late September that would be a truly awesome experience.
Enjoy this part of the trip, the Rocky Mountains have been left behind and the High Plains sub-region of the Great Plains stretches out before you.
NOTE: The Weeks 7-8 Segment map PowerPoint PDF can be downloaded here; all are on the RESOURCES page.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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