Keenan Haga  Off to South Dakota – climbing Harney Peak, their state’s highest. No Mt Rushmore though – closed because of our inept federal government. Reason 101 – why we should all be Libertarians 🙂 October 4 at 12:53pm

 

Plan B?  Someone forgot to check the weather forecast but it’s only October, right?

Dropped Ro at Windstar Kennels, finished work – TGIF!, then north on I-25 – weekend hiking destination: South Dakota’s Black Hills.  Nearing the Wyoming border saw a flashing road sign warning I-80 West to Laramie was closed due to drifting snow.  That’s odd – we only received a dusting this morning, stopped altogether before noon.

Brief fuel stop in Cheyenne, stocked up on road-happy provisions.  Crazy wind.  I overhear truckers talking about road closures (while eating at Wendy’s – I know, but chili sounded tasty) so asked the Love’s station guys about road conditions ahead.  All roads are closed.  Yeah, yeah I saw the sign but I’m not heading west – I’m travelling north, then east to South Dakota.

No ALL roads are closed – freak blizzard.  What?

Being completely hard-headed…maybe we can travel east, then cut north thru Nebraska somehow.  Ok, calling ahead – we had reservations at Custer State Park.  20 inches of snow already, roads are closed – no end in sight.  ARGH!

One of the worst blizzards in South Dakota history plowed through the region during the first weekend of October, leaving a wake of destruction in its path. In Rapid City, nestled in the Black Hills, 19 inches of snow fell on Oct. 4 alone. By day three, total snowfall reached 31 inches near Mount Rushmore and close to 5 feet of snow blanketed the hardest hit parts of western South Dakota. Hurricane-force wind gusts raged through the hills, breaking branches and uprooting massive pine trees already covered in ice. It will be days, maybe weeks, before ranchers can locate missing livestock, but estimates are they will find tens of thousands of dead cattle.

Sullen, turned around & headed back to Colorado.  Plan B – I need a Plan B.  I’m not beaten…just gotta think.

Limited myself to one hour on the Internet – think, think quick.

I’ve never been to Steamboat Springs.  Heard there are natural hot springs (similar to Iceland) & assume hiking trails since Steamboat is a Colorado ski destination.  Check, done 🙂

Caught some sleep, breakfast burritos at Whole Foods, then hit the highway (again).

Enjoyed beautiful autumn colour travelling west past Silverthorne, north on 9 to Kremmling, then another hour to Steamboat on Hwy 40.  Bit of a late start for a hike – but wow, was not disappointed with my choice.  Aspen last weekend, Steamboat Springs this weekend – both fantastic foliage selections plus snow plus chilly 20-degree camping overnights.  ROCKSTAR life!

Quick ½ mile hike to Fish Creek Falls, then a longer trek thru knee-deep snow to Second Falls where a group of CSU engineering students offered a hit from their blunt (thanks work friends for the terminology share).

[Nope I didn’t partake but found the situation funny enough to include in my post.  Come on, you gotta laugh.  Not happening.]

Return hiked to Steamboat, grabbed some chili, then back on the road – day’s only half over, right? 🙂

Drove two miles up a muddy road riddled with pot holes.  Strawberry Park Hot Springs looked like a resort spa on the web.  Sun was disappearing fast.  Was this the right place?  Paid a guy the $10 cash-only entrance fee.  Seemed kinda shady.  And where do you change clothes?  Yeah, the experience was a bit out of my comfort zone.

Temps plummeted with the fading light, steam from the natural hot pools created a dense fog.

Slipped on a suit & kerplunked into the pool – awkward, missed a step completely & all but fell in.  LOL>

Ahhhhh.  Warm, relaxing.  Lowered the voice control in my head.

Perched against a rock wall, kicked back & enjoyed the show – the heavens opened up, exposing every imaginable star.  Little Dipper, Milky Way, Cassiopeia.  Never thought I’d soak ‘til almost midnight – one AMAZING nite.

Flash-bathed at McD’s next morning (another proud moment), then enjoyed oatmeal & blueberries at the Steaming Bean.  Quick walk-around F. M Light & Sons (western store advertised in every farm field from Kremmling to Steamboat), followed by a stop at historic More Barn, before the return drive to Boulder County.

SPECTACULAR ‘Plan B’ weekend – South Dakota can wait, I’ve got time 🙂

 

WATCH my short clip – ‘Second Falls (Fish Creek Falls trail)’

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