We toured the Black Hills outside of Custer State Park today. The first stop on our itinerary was Jewel Cave National Monument. This is the third largest cave in the world. We signed up for the Scenic Tour that included a 723 step assent back to the surface and 80 minutes underground. I volunteered to be the lantern rouge for our group. Our second stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is the Native American’s answer to Mount Rushmore. When finished, it will be the largest statue in the world. Entirely self-funded, the site boasts an excellent museum of Native American artifacts, both modern and historical. There is also a university that is supported by the tourist dollars generated by the memorial. Finally, we finished up at Mount Rushmore. Pictured is Washington in profile, which coming from the west, we saw first. We also saw a pair of Mountain Goats. After Rushmore, we were pretty much done for the day and headed back to camp. We have next door neighbors tonight, a younger German couple.
I’ll leave you with some words of advice on caving from Jan and Herb Conn. The Conns are famous around here for their rock climbing and spelunking. Many of the spires in the nearby Needles rock formations were first notched by these two. Jan was also the first woman to ascend Devils Tower. As lofty as this all sounds they also mapped out much of the first fifty miles of Jewel Cave. Herb has passed, but Jan, in her nineties, still lives in nearby Custer. Here are a few of their words of wisdom about caving:
- Blimey it’s Slimy
- Adventure can always be found in the dark
- Never go caving with someone smaller than you
- Darkness brings us enlightenment
- Find brilliance in the blackness!