Western Trip 2017 Day 8

On of the objectives our friend John wanted out of this trip was to go to the top of Mt Harney. (now called Black Elk Peak). So we planned this out on Thursday night and I mentioned we might want to start a bit early to avoid an afternoon weather that rolls through the Black Hills this time of year, having done this hike many times before. Well the best laid plans and so on, we didn't start early at all but left well after breakfast.

The day did start out looking very promising with blue skies and plenty of sunlight

The trail we use for day hikes is the Sylvan Lake trailhead. It allows you to go up on one trail and then if you want you can take an alternate back once you start to come down from the top that takes in the Cathedral Spires and Little Devils Tower. This is the way I planned to take John and Rex (who wanted to join us for the walk)

We started at the trail head about 11 am with still sunny skies

It is a lovely wide trail for the first half of the trail up to Black Elk Peak. It is Trail #9 if you are looking at a trail map for the area.

A considerable amount of damage still from a combination of the pine beetles and the wind storms over the last few years.

Still lots of wild flowers blooming along the trail.

As you get to the actual lookout of Black Elk Peak there is some excellent CCC rock work 

The views from the top of Black Elk Peak are very nice. Black Elk Peak is the highest point east of the Rockies 7,244 feet 

Look out tower
Rex (left) and John admiring the view

Looming on the horizon however was the weather I was concerned about. After spending about 30 minutes on the top the wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping. I suggested we might want to start heading back. I knew we wouldn't make it down dry but I had prepared by bringing rain gear for myself and John.

At the split we took trail #3/4 down. The sky opened up and it started to hail. Then I realized that Rex hadn't brought any rain gear either. So getting John into his set and giving Rex my set. I was now going to walk down the hill with just my fleece pullover and shorts. 

It hailed and rained for the next 2 hours! There was not much picture taking as my iPhone stopped working in the wet and I would almost run ahead for 500 feet and then wait for the guys to catch up so I could generate some body heat. The hail was large enough it actually hurt, but we all made it down to the parking lot
Getting back to the campsite in the late afternoon it was actually still nice over here.

It didn't last long however as the storm arrived just behind us
It rained like crazy as we had to seek shelter on the picnic table under the canopy as the water ran beneath us. 

As quickly as it came it left and the sky cleared for the remainder of the day and night
Dinner was still a great success as Brian cooked up a mess of ribs and chicken along with other tasty treats 

Meat cooked outside- perfect way to spend the evening

Dave and his son digging in. 
keeping the fire going all through dinner and later made for a great gathering place as everyone had plenty of great food and conversation

Turned into a lovely Friday evening for everyone at the hang.

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