Sunday, July 31, 2011

Scottsbluff Monument

Saturday was the first day in a long time that I could sleep in without an alarm.  Not that I typically have to get up on a Saturday, but I always feel like I'm wasting the day if I sleep in.  So, I went to bed without an alarm clock *gasp*.  No worries though, my kind elderly neighbors were up and making plenty of noise by 8am.  I don't have a clue what they do that early in the morning, but the pounding sure doesn't make for quiet rest.

I finally rolled out of bed around 9am.  Pretty good for a girl typically on the go.  E was spending the day at home cleaning and I had nothing that had to be done.  So, I decided to take a hike up to Scottsbluff Monument.  I scoped it out Friday night with a two mile walk along the perimeter and located the perfect place to park.  You know, the kind where you don't have to pay to enter the park. 

I began my excursion around 9:45.  I actually was just planning to head to the visitor's center and back-1.2 miles each way.  I started my trek in 85 degree weather and was moving along at a pretty decent pace.  The grasshoppers rustled the brush nearby every now and then and I was reminded of the snake sightings I'd heard of out there.  So, I basically jumped a bit every time one made some noise.  Eventually, I got used to them.   I was in a pretty open prairie like setting and really starting to notice the sun.  It was getting warmer. 

Fortunately, the path was headed past a small grouping of pine trees.  As I passed the trees I started thinking about the fact that this was probably one of the few areas that wildlife would have a safer place to hang out.  I walked slowly to peek into the trees and brush to see if I could see any deer.  Suddenly, I heard a hiss, rattle, and a snap...I turned to my left and about a step behind me was a snake coiled up with his head and part of his neck (not sure if that's technically what that area on a snake is called) was sticking straight up in the air.  I picked up my pace.  For a brief moment, I considered turning around to take a photo.  Probably best that I decided against it.  A biker came up beside me a few moments later and inquired as to whether or not I saw the RATTLE snake.  You bet I did!  Good thing I didn't get that photo. 

Eventually, I made it to the visitors center.  I saw a path heading up towards the monument and figured I could make it another 1.6 miles (each way) and off I went...  On my way I passed a couple about my age with a woman that looked to be in her 70's.  I figured the path couldn't be to hard if she could handle it.  I kept going even when the sweat started dripping down my face and it seemed like I was walking at a 90 degree angle.  I may be exaggerating a bit, but it was definitely going uphill.  I got to where I thought was about the 1.6 mile mark when I saw it.  The climb that led to a really neat looking cave.  I pushed on.  By the time I made it to the cave I was hot and exhausted.  I paused in the shade before making it through the cave to the most beautiful view of the city of Scottsbluff and Gering.  I decided I'd gone far enough and started heading back to the visitor's center.  Then, I saw it...a pretty blond girl RUNNING up the path.  Talk about feeling out of shape...

The descent down was a lot easier.  I actually jogged part of it.  Partially because it was such a steep incline that my body wanted to and partially because I was inspired by the blond girl.  I made it back to the visitor's center and spent some time cooling off and getting several drinks from the bubbler (that's a water fountain for you nonWisconsinite's).  I vowed that the next time I take this hike I'll bring water.  Oh!  E received a few text photos of my hike and my plan worked-he said he'll go with sometime. :)

I was very cautious on my way back past the snake sighting, but of course I had my cell phone camera ready to go.  Figures-this time no snake.  I made it back to my car safe and sound. It was 95 degrees. I plan to hike it again tomorrow.

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