Sunday, September 9, 2012

Devils Tower - 09/09/12

This is our third visit to Devils Tower in Devils Tower, Wyoming and each subsequent visit seems like our first. The Indians have worshiped this mountain through the generations. Every visit to this Indian holy place has had a profound spiritual effect on our psyche. A visit here gives one a better appreciation of the Indian beliefs and their culture.

About 50 million years ago molten magma was forced into sedimentary rocks above it and cooled underground. As it cooled it contracted and fractured into columns. Over millions of years, erosion of the sedimentary rock exposed Devils Tower. The Tower rises 867 feet from its base and stands 5,112 feet above sea level. The area of its teardrop-shaped top is 1.5 acres. The diameter of its base is 1,000 feet.

Today, as in our past visits, we hiked the 1.3 mile trail around Devils Tower. As in past visits, there were several groups of climbers scaling different sections of the sheer straight sides of this mountain. On today’s visit, the women ruled. There were more women then men climbers. Words cannot describe the experience of watching the climbers climb this mountain. It was a sight to behold; the various positions of their legs straddling between vertical rock columns, bracing their feet against crevices in the rock, while their fingers are groping for a crevice in the rock above to pull themselves into another position higher up the mountain. Somehow, they are forcing their bodies to literally defy gravity. The mental toughness and physical stamina these climbers possess is phenomenal. According to a posting at the Visitors Center, about 1,000 people climb this mountain each year. It is an amazing feat to personally witness!

We had a picnic lunch at the base of the mountain, at an altitude of 4,250 feet, overlooking a beautiful wide-open green valley below us. On such a warm and sunny day, this was another memorable visit to one of our favorite places in Wyoming.

We stopped to visit the Prairie Dog Town located within the park. This is a vast open grassland area filled with hundreds of earth mounds scattering the landscape, with many more hundreds of prairie dogs scurrying about. These are the black-tailed prairie dog species. They are one of the most social wild animals of North American. They are a member of the squirrel family, but have minute ears and short tails with muscular legs, which suit them well for living in tunnels. They are highly social and live in densely

populated areas referred to as towns. The mounds of excavated earth around their burrows serve as watch towers as well as dikes to keep out water from heavy rains. Today they are found primarily in such protected areas as Devils Tower, Wind Cave National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Badlands National Park. It is always interesting to view the interaction between these cute little creatures.

Arriving back at the KOA campground, It is now time to relax with a nice glass of wine with cheese and crackers and watch the sun setting on Devils Tower. What a beautiful sight. Scattered wispy clouds surround the mountain. The setting sun reflecting off of these clouds creates a different scenic delight as the minutes tick away, until the sun finally descends beyond the horizon and the mountain fades to black.

A perfect ending to the day at Devils Tower.


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