A North American Spiritual Arc- Heart of the Black Hills, Part 4: Black Elk Peak, from Sylvan Lake to Cathedral Spires

After spending about an hour at Crazy Horse Monument, I headed directly for Custer State Park, and Sylvan Lake.  From there, Trails 4 & 9 offer breathtaking choices, in heading for the summit of Black Elk Peak, another mountain that is sacred to indigenous people of the High Plains.    I will describe my hike of Sunday, July 21, in three segments.  Today,  I present the first half of the ascent:  Trail #4, from Sylvan Lake to Cathedral Spires.

The photos will tell the rest.  The approach to Custer State Park offers a hint of what lies ahead on Black Elk Peak.


Next,we arrive at Sylvan Lake, a very popular fishing and swimming spot.


Now, on to Trail # 4.


The Black Hills remain heavily forested, yet have igneous, granite and limestone formations much like those of points further west.



A spire, looking like a cave, got some new friends and I in the mood for further adventures, uptrail.


The trail itself is quite moderate, in terms of elevation gain, up to and including the turnoff to Little Spirit Tower (which I did not visit, this time) and Cathedral Spires.  It was worth noting, however, the effects of heat on the quartz which is also ubiquitous here.


Now, back to the various and wondrous shapes, which the rocks present.







Wildflowers get in their two cents, every now and then.


Through it all, the rock guardians keep watch.


Soon, again alone, I came to Cathedral Spires.





From these majestic volcanic uplifts, I would continue on a somewhat steeper course, to the awe-inspiring summit of the highest mountain in the Great Plains region.

13 thoughts on “A North American Spiritual Arc- Heart of the Black Hills, Part 4: Black Elk Peak, from Sylvan Lake to Cathedral Spires

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