Hiking Bear Butte

Panorama view from summit of Bear Butte - looking toward the Black Hills
Panorama view from summit of Bear Butte – looking toward the Black Hills

Bear Butte

Mato Paha or “Bear Mountain” is the Lakota name given to this site. To the Cheyenne, it is “Noahvose.” This geological formation is one of several intrusions of igneous rock in the Black Hills that formed millions of years ago. The mountain is sacred to many American Indian tribes who come here to hold religious ceremonies.

A Sacred Mountain

Many American Indians see Bear Butte as a place where the creator has chosen to communicate with them through visions and prayer. During our visit, we saw many colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles or pouches hanging from the trees. These prayer cloths and tobacco ties represent prayers offered by individuals during their worship.  While no one was actively offering prayers during our climb, we admired the ones we saw from a distance and did not disturb these sacred offerings.

The Trail

The trail is a 1.8 mile one-way excursion up this laccolith that rises 1,253.5 feet above the surrounding plains.  The family and I started out on a partly cloudy morning and encountered steep steps, a rocky path and places where you could not tell the trail from the rocky skree on the slopes.  The hike to the top was warm and challenging but once at the top, it was totally worth the effort.  I had hiked Bear Butte before and was glad that the family and I got to go up to the summit together.  Once at the top, you can see why native peoples held Bear Butte in reverence.

Panorama image from the summit of Bear Butte - looking from the North to East
Panorama image from the summit of Bear Butte – looking from the North to East
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AirVenture 2011

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At the end of July every year, one of the greatest shows in aviation starts in Oshkosh, Wisconsin – EAA’s AirVenture.  This year I was hoping to have my dad along in tow, but that just didn’t work out.  Instead, I went up by myself for “Warbird Friday.”  The weather had been somewhat cloudy and rainy during the week, but Friday was a gloriously beautiful day with very few clouds in the sky, bright sunshine and unlimited visibility.  A great day to head to an airshow.

Since I was going on Warbird Friday, you can assume that I’m there primarily for the classic military aviation planes.  You’d be right, and my favorites are the WWII aircraft.  It is always a treat to see the B-25s, P-51 Mustangs, and all the other aircraft, but the excitement is seeing them fly.  As part of this year’s show, the only flying B-29 in the world would be at this year AirVenture.  FiFi (which I had seen the previous week at DuPage Airport would be flying in the Friday afternoon airshow.  That was something I wanted to see, but little did I know I would have further surprises in store for me.

P-39 Lightning>In addition to the old warbirds, there are plenty of other aircraft to take a look at – commercial, current military, homebuilt, experimental, and other aircraft types.  This year another star attraction besides FiFi was Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

I spent the day looking around at the aricraft, admiring the detail that the planes carries, many of them looking like they just fly a WWII sortie.  I was awestruck by the attention that is given to these aircraft – not from a maintenance perspective because that’s a given – but from a reverence to pay homage to the machine and the men who flew them in combat.  The further surprise came later in the day when I got to witness not only FiFi fly, but also an F4 Corsair and a P-38 Lightning.  These planes had been at other AirVentures I have been to, but I never got to see either of these aircraft types fly before.  It was an additional treat for the day.

Overall, I had a great day, as evidenced by the pictures below.  If you have a chance to visit EAA’s AirVenture in the future, I would highly recommend it.  Even if you don’t fly or have no interest in flying yourself, but have interest as an “aviation enthusiast” you will have a great day (or days as AirVenture is a week long event).

Enjoy the images below.