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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Looking Out and Back in Spearfish

Hi Blog! Today is Sunday, August 30, 2015. It is going to be a hot one here in Spearfish, South Dakota. Temperatures are expected to be up in the 90s. Because of the heat, we decided to take it easy and find a nice short hike. The plan was to get up and out early and get back before the day gets too hot. You know what they say about the best laid plans. More on that later.

We looked over all the hiking materials our friend Lee Ann had collected for us. We decided on Lookout Mountain. It is a 4 mile loop with views looking down on Spearfish. According to the trail write up in the local Spearfish Magazine, "none of the trails are marked or mapped, but most trails are very visible and easy to follow." This proved to be the case -- at the start of the hike. We parked Great White at the trailhead and walked under the highway. We started following the trail to the left which would take us up the shoulder of the mountain to the right.

However, we soon learned that there are others using the mountain besides hikers and they sometimes like to make their own paths.

According to the topo map we printed from the internet, all we needed to do was follow an old woods road around to the small summit peak. Here is our first good look at Lookout Mountain.

From the north side of the mountain, we were able to get a really nice view into Montana. We just missed getting a picture of some white tailed deer as they crossed in front of us and went over the side and down into the trees.

What we did find, was a flat rock that had been used for pounding grains. If we had more time, we probably would have been able to find other evidence that this area was used by Native Americans before the settlers arrived.

As promised, the woods road brought us around to a spur that took us up to the summit.

Here is the view looking down on Spearfish.

As we began our trek down, we continued to follow the road. In our eagerness to descend the mountain, we must have missed a grass covered turnoff. It soon became evident that we were heading right for suburbia. This development was so new, it didn't even appear on my hiking GPS.  This view looks back up at Lookout Mountain from where we were bushwhacking our way through the concrete jungle.

We had a choice, hike back up the mountain and try to find the unmarked trail, or continue down into Spearfish and just walk back to the truck. By this time, it was already 11:30 a.m. and getting hot. Down won! Down also had a mini-mart located along our return route. If you get a chance to try cucumber lime Gatorade, we highly recommend it. Very refreshing.

We should have known this was not our day. Before heading out this morning, we looked on Yelp and Beer Advocate for a great lunch spot in Spearfish. Lucky's 13 Pub came highly recommended. When we got there, their tap lines were broken! No fresh beer. We had to settle for Sam Adams and Leinenkugel in bottles. On a bright note, our sandwiches were really good. Our waitress did an outstanding job of getting our order in ahead of the party of 34 who just arrived for a family birthday lunch.

After lunch, we decided to stop by and check out the High Plains Western Heritage Center. This five-state regional museum was founded to honor the old west pioneers of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming & Nebraska. It is filled with all kinds of cool stuff like the original Spearfish-to-Deadwood Stagecoach, turn-of-the-century kitchen, saddle shop and a blacksmith shop. However, Kathy was more interested in the Tom Selleck exhibit. Tom has starred in a number of westerns and has donated several items to the collection. Here Kathy tried to get into Tom Selleck's pants.

The chuck wagon was chock full of stuff needed on the long trail. Did you know that Arbuckles’ Coffee began in the post Civil War Era of the 19th Century? Two brothers, John and Charles Arbuckle, initiated a new concept in the coffee industry; selling roasted coffee in one pound packages.  Until that time, coffee was sold green and had to be roasted in a skillet over a fire or in a wood stove. One burned bean ruined the whole batch.  The Arbuckle Brothers were able to roast a coffee that was of consistently fine quality and the first to be packaged in one pound bags. Kathy was thinking of slipping a bag into her pack, but then we learned you can still buy their coffee, so she put it back.

A bigger-than-life-size statue of James A. “Tennessee” Vaughn astride a horse dominates the Founders Room. As a trail boss, Vaughn was credited with bringing more longhorns up the trail than any other trail boss. One of Vaughn’s responsibilities would be to advance the herd to determine grass and water sources and report back to the drovers to set up night camp.  A trail boss was responsible for the safety of the cattle and had to be skilled in working with both cowboys and the owners of the cattle outfits.

There were all kinds of exhibits on pioneering, cattle & sheep ranching, rodeo, early transportation, American Indians, and mining. Here is a replica saddlery shop which is used to repair items and make replicas for the museum.

Outside the museum are a number of historic buildings including a windmill, rural schoolhouse and cabin. They also have several head of longhorn cattle, but they were too far afield to photograph.

After the museum, we had about an hour to relax, change and give Baxter a walk before driving over to Four Corners, Wyoming to meet Lee Ann and Jim for dinner. They said they had a surprise for us. After parking Great White, we jumped into Jim's truck and he drove us down a gravel road for miles and miles. It seemed like we were driving into the back of the beyond, when suddenly a sign appeared - Canyon Springs Stage Stop Steakhouse. They managed to find a steakhouse in the middle of ranch country.

The owners, Judy and Frank, treat you like guests visiting their house. Their restaurant is filled with cool western artifacts, including a chuck wagon. The food was absolutely outstanding. If you are ever in this part of Wyoming, you must stop. Get more information on them from the link above, or check them out on TripAdvisor, which gives them very high reviews.  Thanks, Lea Ann and Jim, for introducing us to your new state. We can't wait to return next year.

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