The one and only time we climbed Harney Peak as a family occurred on June 24, 1974. There is something universal about our Dakota family - we all love the Black Hills. That love came from spending so much of our free time in the hills. There is something magical about the Black Hills on a warm summer's day. If we had the chance we were out soaking it all in.
I don't remember much about this outing. Let's face it, my memory is pretty shot anyway. What I do remember sparks from seeing these pictures.
In the above picture you'll see Janice, little Lisa and Dad on their way up the mountain. The hike starts from Sylvan Lake. You follow this road for awhile and then you start up. Dad always set the pace. He really didn't care if you kept up or not but one thing is for sure, you didn't pass him. He wouldn't allow it.
Here we are at the top. Mom (Luella) is at the top of the steps, coming down are Jilane, squinting in the sun (either that or hiding her lazy eye, not wanting it captured on film only to surface some day is some demented blog). Behind Jilane is Kevin with shirt open. Don't know why, he was the very definition of toothpick thin. Janice is next and last comes Jon, drinking the last of our water. Poor kid was so skinny he needed the water to add ballast. Without a bit of extra weight the boy could have been blown away in the next gust of wind. Funny but I remember that white blouse mother is wearing. She wore it with a blue slacks if my memory is correct.
Here we are again, resting at the top of Harney Peak. Notice we succeeded without the use of extra oxygen or warm clothing. We didn't even stop at the various base camps along the way. What do you think of that Brandon!? Lisa is looking a bit confused. She doesn't seem to know where to look. I blame the altitude or severe ADD. Jon is happy in this picture. Jon was always happy. Why was that? Come on Jon - just look at you. You've got the worst hair cut on the planet - a Luella special. You're so skinny not even a misquito could get a decent meal off you yet you're happy. There's a lesson to be learned there somewhere. Dad looks detached. Sometimes he was involved and sometimes he wasn't. By the way, if you're looking for Grandma Mattson forget it. She tired to climb but gave up early in the morning.
Here are the youngest looking from the Fire Lookout Station at the very top of Harney Peak. The station wasn't manned in 1974, but in its day a ranger staffed it every day. From this lookout the Ranger could see smoke from a new fire somewhere in the Hills and report it so it could be extinguished before it spread.
And finally we have Grandma Mattson and Mom at the end of the hike. Grandma nearly made it to the top. I've got to hand it to her for giving it her best effort. She waited below the peak for our return then walked down with mom. I took this picture at the end of the trail at Sylvan Lake. Grandma's face was almost a perfect purple red from the heat and the climb. She was a fantastic ole gal. I'm sorry many of you never got to know her.
There you have it - another trip to the Hills through the eye of the camera and the wisps of memory.