I dipped back into northeastern Wyoming, past many horses and fields and ended up outside Lovell and camped at a beautiful spot overlooking a river and at the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. I was treated to a lovely sunset and the remote dark skies allowed me to spot the comet for a moment between the clouds along with all the glowing stars.
The sun rose and I with it in order to arrive at the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in the mountains with just a few ranging cows as traffic. This sacred spot to Native Americans at the top of Medicine Mountain is home to an 80 foot wheel of stones that is aligned with the solstice and is a destination for ceremonies, offerings, and prayers. It’s a mile and a half walk each way from the parking lot along the ridge where I passed marmots and pikas but didn’t spot any of the namesake bighorn sheep. I circled the wheel as instructed and left a cool purple stone I found at one of the spokes, then found a bench and just sat for a while taking it all in along with the cool mountain air.
Next stop was further east with a stop at a field where there’s a memorial of a battle where the Indians obliterated an army squad (apparently poorly trained and even more poorly led), then a stop where there’s a larger version on the street corner of the rock, paper scissors sculpture we saw in Santa Fe, until the looming presence of Devil’s Tower emerged on the horizon.
This place is crazy and impressive. It’s hard to fathom the process by which this geometric geology came to be, and I just circled the tower along the path, passed by the many cloth ribbons tied to the trees in offering, and craned my neck upward watching the birds circling the top. A few climbers were coming down for the day- what a cool experience that must be. It felt eerie, sacred, and very special. No aliens in site, though, just a few prairie dogs, chipmunks and lizards keeping the birds company.
I found a great spot to camp out in the Black Hills outside Sundance for the night, then took off into uncharted territory: South Dakota.