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  • We had already been on the trail for a day and a half. We had spent the night in a valley by a creek that we had been following. If you want water in the Black Hills, you just gotta head down. And if you're backpacking and have limited water, spending the night with a creek in walking distance is a good idea. The thing with valleys is that the heat of the sun takes its sweet time in the morning, so everything ends up a wee bit moist with lingering dew; and lingering dew means one terrible, god awful, thing -- humidity.
    So it was late morning, I hadn’t slept the greatest , we were hiking out of a valley, uphill, right off the bat, and it was humid. If that isn’t your idea of a perfect morning then I don’t know what is. In actuality, I was having the time of my life. I was three days from home, in the middle of the woods, doing what I love most; and the best part was that it was only day two, so I had plenty left in me. As we got closer to late-morning, we got out of the valley and out of the forest. It was rock and some trees and the sun. Yet somehow it was still majestic in its own ways.
    We hiked up, up, and up some more --winding our way to the highest point east of the Rockies. It was one hell of a hike, especially with a full pack. I thought about anything that wasn’t the hearty burning sensation in my thighs. But then I saw it. An abandoned fire tower on a big ass rock, and it was on the top of my list of “Amazing Things I can Only See Away From Home”.
    There’s something beautiful about a big ass rock, and something accomplishing about getting to the top. We got to the summit and dropped our packs off out of the way. After that it was just a quick 100 foot jaunt up a trail that felt a lot more like a runoff path than a regularly used, well established trail. The fire tower stood stoic next to the spires of sheer rock that formed a temple of rock and forest. I wandered away from the tower and away from the other hikers, finding a place to be alone; on my own.
    The front of Harney’s was scenic and really just felt like another lookout. I felt bad, actually, that I didn’t appreciate it: appreciate being high enough off the ground that the cars on the interstate looked like ants, appreciate that I could see the gentle curve of the planet that I call home. I took a moment, scrambling across rock faces, to explore, to see. And that is precisely what I did. I found a place where I could sit, where I could observe. Looking over the toes of my boots, I didn’t see landscape. I saw life. I saw many little things form one great thing, and it was beautiful. The curvature of the Earth was still there, and so was some of the interstate, but this was different. I could grasp the effects of time on the area around me and I could see the struggle against it. Trees and rocks somehow lasting longer and being tougher than their other brethren. But most of all, I could hear, no I could feel the silence of time. The quiet unheard tick of the clock that all things must come to face
    Walking down from that big ass rock, the rock that had taken half a day to get to, I just walked. I didn’t thinking about where I’d come from, or where I was headed, but where I was and the work that had been done to get there
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