Cows. I can’t say I have a lot of experience with them. I grew up in the suburbs, but I did spend a few weeks working on various farms in New Zealand, and I managed to learn at least one thing: Be careful around the bulls, they can be unpredictable.
So it was with some apprehension that we approached a large bull alongside the road in an unfenced area of the nearby ranch. We made plans if he charged. Ken’s involved doing a Superman dive over the fence on the other side of the road, mine involved vaulting the fence with one hand on top of a post. At this point, one of my board members, Bob, was also hiking with us. I’m not really clear what his plan was. As we drew alongside of him, it became clear that there was no hope for any of our plans. The other side of the road was low and was filled with a deep, wet muck – not exactly a good launching pad, and even my post idea was useless because right in that area (and only in the area), the strand of barbed wire ran directly over the top of the post, as opposed to six inches below it. We passed a few nervous moments, casting cautious glances and ready for anything. Luckily, he was only very curious. He kept his eyes on us at all times, but stayed more or less where he was.
The rest of the day was less eventful as we crossed the Nebraska/South Dakota border, and headed north toward Edgemont. We saw few cars, and returned to camp at a wide open stretch of public land on Oglala National Grassland. It was one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve ever seen. It was exposed, but the weather was quiet, and we had a 360 degree view of rolling grasslands with the Black Hills rising to our north, and the Pine Ridge hooking around to our west and south.
I awoke in the middle of the night, exited the tent, and spend a few blissful moments, before I got cold, staring at the full show of stars, a show I hadn’t seen in a long time. This will be one of the best places to camp on the Great Plains Trail.