4th Annual Black Hills Hammock Hang and RV Adventure Week August 2015

This year was the 4th Black Hills Hammock Hang event. Vicky and I have attended all of them except one, due to Vicky's Father's passing. This year we decided to take the RV and make it a longer week by going the long way round to the Black Hills.
Missouri- Kansas-Colorado-Wyoming-South Dakota then home via S.D.-Iowa, Missouri.

We left on Saturday heading toward Oakley KS and the strange rock formations in Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark.

We decided to break up the drive and stay the first night just outside of Kansas City, MO.at an RV KOA campground.

This was a great campsite, very friendly people, a great pool (it was a hot day) and hand dipped ice cream cones!

DAY 2-3
The next day it was off to Oakley, KS. Now Oakley KS (Annie Oakley) is not your metropolitan area. It's primary claim to fame is that William Cody won the right to use the name "Buffalo Bill" in a contest with William Comstock in a rather brutal bison killing game.
There is a very nice visitors center with a large statue of Buffalo Bill out front:

So we arrived in the afternoon at the High Plains RV campground right off highway 70 in Oakley and set up. The campsite had a Bar and Pub attached to it, along with a miniature golf course and pool. We used the pool, did some laundry and waited for the bar to open.  All the time the skies are getting dark and ominous. We had been advised when we checked in that they were expecting some strong weather and we were told the location of the shelter areas if we felt unsafe in the RV.

Even though we had brought lots of food, at dinner time it was off to Cap'n Jack's Pub for some food and beers.

As you can tell from the above photo the weather was getting worse as the evening progressed.

Later that night
The RV definitely rocked for most of the night in the high winds, but we survived. Unfortunately a person was actually killed in an RV not too far away when his RV flipped over from the storm.

We had planned a rest day here the next day in order to go down to Monument Rocks, but because it had rained so heavily the night before and it is a 7 miles each way trip on dirt roads, off the highway, to get to the Monument, all the locals advised us to not go or risk getting stuck so far in the middle of nowhere. It is a 40 minute drive to get to the dirt road turn off south of Oakley.
So since we had reservations set for the next few days we stayed with our plan and just used today as a rest day.

 The next morning dawned really foggy from the storm the night before.

 We took the day to just do touristy things and have a good time.

 The sky became unsettled again in the evening,

but we were all set up to BBQ in the RV and enjoy a movie or two. This was better than driving in this weather today. (place mats courtesy of the Shaw's)


Today it was off again to Cheyenne Wyoming via Denver Colorado. Why? because we needed to deliver beer from 4 Hands Brewing Co, in St.Louis, Mo to The Trail Show. A Podcast that I have been listening to for almost 3 years and hosted by 4 long distance hikers from the Denver/Boulder area. Their motto "more beer, less gear".  We met up with "Disco" to deliver our loot before heading north.

 as a thank you, Vicky and I are now the proud recipients of a Trail Show hat! 
 Cheyenne, WY is only about 80 miles north of Denver and we arrived by early afternoon. Vicky and I have been sticking to the 330 rule- Drive no more than 330 miles per day or arrive by 3:30 pm. This means you are not too tired from driving and arrive in time to enjoy the new location.

We had time to visit the outlet store for Sierra Trading Post just a mile from our campsite. It was too cold and windy to enjoy the pool, but we did manage some grocery shopping and a relaxing evening.


Life in the Vast Lane- the drive from Cheyenne over to the Black Hills of South Dakota was high prairie and gusty winds. We woke in Cheyenne to a temperature of 45 degrees with a bitter wind chill. 

The KOA campground in Hill City, SD is a huge facility with over 500 hundred RV sites, restaurants, shops and riding stables. 

a view from our site. The weather arriving in South Dakota was just beautiful today. 

That night we got to hang out with our friends the Shaw's and have a great dinner in Rapid City.

And drive past Mt Rushmore


We had a leisurely morning in our campsite in the Hill City KOA and then drove the 12 miles over to Sheridan Lake.  Arriving at the 4th Annual Black Hills Hammock Hang.

All the usual suspects showed up this year again. 
Brian, Susan, Steve, Paul, Frank, Mama Boot (Carol) and Dick

 We found the same group of trees waiting for our hammocks

 Lots of lounging and telling of stories and catching up on the past year's events

and of course the fur friends

Harney Peak was on the agenda today. Vicky and I had talked about it yesterday and decided that today she would give it a go. Harney Peak 7244' the unofficial highest point east of the Rockies. Today we woke to smoky skies due to the fires in Glacier Montana that had come on the backs of the high winds over the last couple of days, but we got out early, to avoid the crowds, and headed over to the more popular Harney Peak trailhead at Sylvan Lake.

The start of the Harney Peak trail. We got on the trail a few minutes before 9 am

It was a beautiful morning and we had the trail to ourselves

The view from the Black Elk wilderness overlook was breathtaking

We managed to get a photo of both of us, from a nice couple that arrived at the overlook at the same time as us. 

There were wildflowers all along the trail

The final ascent to the Harney Peak tower is done through some marvelous rock stair work by the Civilian Conservation Corp. (CCC) 
 The view just before the top from a "window" in the rock work created by the CCC

Harney Peak Tower (CCC) 

 Panoramas from the top

prayer flags suspended from the trees around the summit

more wildflowers on the way down

On the way back we decided to go a different trail. We had come up on the Harney Peak #9 trail, but we would go back the more challenging Little Devil Tower Trail #4
A view of the towers coming down

The Tower

Tower trail

Then through the woods and descending back to the trail head
 Almost done

Done and finished with a reward of a 2/3 pound burger at the Bumpin Buffalo in downtown Hill City.

After splitting the giant burger and salad it was back to the Hang site. Everyone had gone off on separate errands and adventures today and we were all getting back about the same time.

Later in the evening it was fantastic Fajitas and then banana boats for dessert. (take a banana, peel just one side, scoop out some and fill it with chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallow, coconut, and maybe some rum! and then let it cook on the fire until soft and delicious! )
Sleep came very easily in the hammock tonight. I took the tarp off so I could just look up at the sky, but I didn't wake up once!

Saturday morning most of us that had long drives had to leave. Paul was continuing on to the Pacific Ocean and got an early start and we left around 8 am

 a group photo (above) and then Paul was off. (below)

It was a stop at Wall Drug of course for us and some cake donuts to go!

 Across the state to Sioux Falls and the KOA campground for the night

Tonight we saved the filet's for a celebration of the completion of the hang

DAY 9- 10

An uneventful day driving from Sioux Falls, past Omaha, NE, through Iowa, back to the same KOA we stayed at on night one in Oak Spring Missouri- we could have driven all the way home, but we were sticking with our 330 rule and it made for an easy day.

As we move into fall the Cicada were really loud in all the trees surrounding the RV sites

Got home and got the RV cleaned up and then had Vicky add the additional states to our RV map.
Can't wait for next year!

Thank you Brian and Susan for putting on another great event! 
Support Our National Parks - Preserve - Protect - Enjoy