It was a beautiful Autumn morning as I woke up in Deadwood, on the day of the 46th year since my birth. To celebrate, for lack of a better word, I went hiking along the Mickelson trail in the Black Hills.
Originally the Burlington Northern line that took trains from Edgemont to Deadwood, the Mickelson trail is now 109 glorious miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding. As I get started making my way out of town, I see a lone rabbit eating grass along the rivers edge. So intent am I watching this creature that I don’t notice the man coming up alongside me.
He greets me warmly, waving his iron claw hands in the air. A veteran of WW2, he embodies the spirit that I love about this country, it’s freedom and resiliency. He wishes me luck on my journey, and we part ways.
I’m soon immersed in the beauty of Fall colors on this October day, the sounds of town fading behind me. If time would allow, I’d complete all 109 miles.
I settle for 14 though, and it’s a wonderful compromise. A couple of miles in, I chat with a lady on horseback, a family out for a picnic, and a couple of young mountain bikers. We all have the same grin on our faces from such a perfect day in the mountains.
I reach a summit and find a split in the trail, which is lucky for me as the alternate route is a loop that will eventually take me back to Deadwood, instead of having to return on the same route.
Hours later, I run into the same lady on horseback, and we smile as our paths cross again.
I wasn’t aware that I had my camera on the “painting” setting, yet it captured the beauty of the hills perfectly, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
Of all the hiking trails in all of the places in this world, I couldn’t have been luckier to find myself on this trail, on this day, in this place in time.