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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Hiking at the Devils Tower

See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars,
the moon, the sun, how they move in silence. ~ Mother Teresa
 

The Devils Tower, declared the first national monument in 1906, is one of those places I’m just not sure I can wrap my head around. So much of it seems so contradictory that it just doesn’t fit together for me. One thing is certain though, I did enjoy my brief stop and would recommend the Devils Tower to anyone.

The natural beauty is not at all what I would’ve expected after driving hours through the flat prairies of Wyoming. The tree-dotted hills roll dramatically through the northeastern part of the state and are capped with the Devil’s Tower, the jewel of the area. It’s quite stunning and unlike anything I’ve seen before in my travels.

Erosion is a constant problem though and the tower is continually crumbling. Despite this, and this is where my problems in understanding the place begin, rock climbing is allowed by our great park service. To me it seems as though this would only expedite the tower’s demise opposed to helping it through awareness and knowledge.

On the other hand though, a writer’s residency program is offered. I can’t help but applaud the National Park Service for this opportunity. It’s a great way to immortalize this geological treasure and remember it through poetry and prose years after it is gone.

In regards to the geology of it all, I certainly prefer the alternate idea on how the tower was formed. The Native Americans hold this site sacred, and that is recognized by the National Park Service through the Circle of Sacred Smoke sculpture near the entrance. The different tribes tell a much better story of how the tower was formed than any scientist ever could.

Eight children were there at play, seven sisters and their brother. Suddenly the boy was struck dumb; he trembled and began to run upon his hands and feet. His fingers became claws, and his body was covered with fur. Directly there was a bear where the boy had been. The sisters were terrified; they ran, and the bear after them. They cam to the stump of a great tree, and the tree spoke to them. It bade them climb upon it, and as they did so it began to rise into the air. The bear came to kill them, but they were just beyond its reach. It reared against the tree and scored the bark all around with its claws. The seven sisters were borne into the sky , and they became the stars of the Big Dipper. (from park brochure)

I think the best way to appreciate the tower is by camping for several days and enjoying all of the trails that are offered. The wildlife opportunities are obviously abundant with a prairie dog colony and a huge flock of birds that nest on the tower. Many other animals are also seen in the area and I feel fortunate to have run across three deer while on my hike.

I only had time for one trail at the base of the tower. I was initially disappointed that it was closed for renovations halfway around, but had I not had to turn back I wouldn’t have seen the deer on the trail. It was a great photographic moment, but one where I was also able to pull my eye away and just enjoy nature for what it is since the deer did not seem startled by the growing crowd in the least.

I saw one other deer as I drove into the park as well. I was not quick enough with my camera to grab a picture, as I did with the others, but would like to thank Mr. Leslie Swartz for emailing me three photos he snapped. Because of him I can definitely state that traveller courtesy is alive and well…pass it on.

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