Being a Responsible Hiker

We were prepared to release our blog about hiking Buzzard’s Roost when word came out about the recent vandalism in Custer State Park. Although all details are not known at this time, it appears that two women sawed Poet’s Table in half, carrying it (along with all the chairs and cabinet) out of the park.

Rushmore Family Chiropractic has been blogging about hiking in the Black Hills for the past few months, with an emphasis on hiking as a means of getting and staying in good physical shape. But it’s also important that we maintain our hiking trails for others, including future generations. So, while we don’t yet know all the facts and information about what happened at Poet’s Table, we do want to give you some helpful hints about hiking safely and responsibly.

First: many people view the Black Hills as sacred land. Whether you are part of the Oglala-Lakota tribe or not, please be mindful that our beautiful lands are considered to be more than just pretty places by many members of our community. There is a rich and ancestral history in Western South Dakota and you will meet many people, including fellow hikers, who want to honor and preserve that history as best they can. This includes walking on designated trails, cleaning up after yourself, and even refraining from taking photographs in some places (for instance, on parts of Bear Butte mountain).

Second: changes have already occurred from last generation to this, so be mindful that what you see is meant to be seen for years to come. Please don’t remove anything you find on your hikes, unless you are certain that it is not part of the permanent habitat.

Third: be respectful of other hikers. You will meet many different people on the trails of the Black Hills. Small children, avid adventurers, people from around the world, those who are on spiritual quests, as well as people of all ages, sizes, ethnicities and abilities. The trails don’t belong to any one person, so long as we all treat one another accordingly.

Fourth: be safe. There are rattlesnakes on some of the trails and other wildlife. A good rule of thumb is to view the trail as belonging to the animals. You are merely a visitor. Walk in good light, with a stick or guide to assist you as necessary. Walk prepared, with plenty of water and other provisions you might require. Apply sunblock. Carry trail mix or other protein-rich snacks. Wear a hat and good shoes. And if you see something that doesn’t look right, seek help.

Walking and hiking are excellent ways to keep in peak physical performance. Whether you’re a novice hiker, an experienced trail runner, or someone who just wants to take in the scenic sights of the region, please be mindful of our trails. Rushmore Family Chiropractic hopes that you, your children, your grandchildren and many generations yet to come will all get to enjoy this beautiful land.