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Wild Horse Sanctuary

November 2, 2013

South Dakota – Wednesday, October 23

Tula and I started our day with a 3 mile walk in Hot Springs so that I could see the springs by daylight. We walked along the river on the Freedom Trail for a while first, then followed it right into town, where the hot water falls down from the rocks. There are 170 springs in this area, and a soak in the warm waters was supposed to cure all sorts of ailments. So this became a resort town, and huge hotels and bath houses were built out of the local sandstone. There is still at least one bath house building in town. While I was out walking, I saw someone fill a couple bottles with warm water right from the spring. I felt the water and it was warm, but not nearly as hot as the spring waters in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Hot Springs is also a paleontological site – mammoth bones were found in a sinkhole in 1974, and research and excavations are still going on.

Once I had seen everything I wanted to in Hot Springs, I headed south a bit to the Wild Horse Sanctuary in southwest South Dakota. There are several areas around here where movies have been filmed and I passed a sign pointing out one of the locations for the movie Hidalgo. And there were more turkeys around too. The Wild Horse Sanctuary is home to over 600 horses and they have 11,000 acres of prairies, rock canyons and rivers to roam around in. There is a herd of Spanish mustangs, and the DNA for the stallion of that herd has been traced back to the Spanish conquistador horses. They’re beautiful – buckskins, bays, blacks, grullas – all my favorite horse colors! There is also an American herd which includes a lot of pintos, and they’re kept separate from the Spanish horses. The Wild Horse Sanctuary also has a handful of Choctaw Indian ponies – there are not many of them left, and none of those are for sale. I actually saw both herds on the drive into the visitor center. Back in 2006 when South Dakota was my “state-of-the-year” we visited this sanctuary and took one of the tours out to see the horses. I wasn’t planning on doing that today, and was happy to see lots of the horses when I drove in. As a longtime horse lover, I wanted to make a donation to the Wild Horse Sanctuary. Even though these horses are wild, they get supplemental hay in the winter, and there are other expenses as well. They also sell some foals, yearlings and 2-yr-olds to help cover expenses. The lady I met at the visitor center was nice to talk to. She told me they had been spared the heavy snows that had blanketed the area a short time ago a little further north. This is their quiet time of year, and she was happy to get a donation.

After I left the sanctuary, I started to head north toward Custer. The road I was on went right through Wind Cave National Park and I decided to stop and do some walking on the Wind Cave Canyon Trail. It had been a while since I’d been able to stop at a national park! I covered over 3 1/2 miles on the trail – and I’m sure parts of the Wind Cave were under my feet. I saw a lone buffalo right at the end of my walk on the next hill over – I always like seeing them. I saw more buffalo as I continued through the national park, including one who decided to cross the road right in front of me.

From there I drove through part of Custer State Park and saw some antelope. When I got to town, Tula and I got out for a short walk through the middle of town. Custer was another old mining town and is now kind of a tourist town, and since the summer season is over, things were pretty quiet. I passed the original old jail (although it had been moved) and there was a sign on it saying the builder of the jail was its first occupant – he became drunk and disorderly on the money he got to build the jail! On the way to Hill City I drove past the Crazy Horse memorial, and my photo is a little blurry but I added it anyway. In Hill City Tula and I walked another mile and a half in the fading daylight. It was another old mining town, and the old shops were all connected with wooden sidewalks. Altogether I walked 10 1/2 miles today, which helped make up a bit for my shortfall yesterday. I drove into Rapid City and called it a day.

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One Comment
  1. Tim Calloway permalink

    Nancy, On Friday, November 15, you were kind enough to visit us at the Bergmann Center in Charlevoix, Michigan. Thank you for sharing your incredible adventure. You may be homeless and broke when you finish, but you will be rich in ways that most of can’t imagine. Tim Calloway

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