South Dakota Centennial Trail: 1 July 10 -- We took a little spontaneous detour day before yesterday while in the Black Hills National Forest. We went found Black National Forest Road 354.1C that is two rather deep ruts through the forest. It's passable in a high-clearance rig on a dry day, but definitely not a passenger-car opportunity.
About a mile in, we intersected the South Dakota Centennial Trail as it passed abandoned beaver ponds that required a closer look. Marking the 100th anniversary of statehood, 1889 to 1989, the 111-mile Centennial Trail represents the ecological diversity of South Dakota. The Trail crosses the prairie grasslands near Bear Butte State Park and climbs into the Black Hills high country, skirting lakes and streams until it reaches Wind Cave National Park near Hot Springs. The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks have combined their efforts to develop this Trail (Trail 89) for our use.
The ponds are one of those features that require you to "slow down and focus down" to appreciate. The spring just to the north of the ponds created a meadow awash in flowers this year and filled the ponds to overflowing, all because the South Dakota drought is over. We've had non-stop rain since April.
The Black Hills are primarily limestone, and the water drains right through. Historically, before the dams were built, streams filled in wet years, flowed to the edge of the Black Hills and then went underground to re-emerge out on the Plains.
After crossing a hundred yards of lush meadow, we reached the first of a series of three or four spring-fed former beaver ponds. They are in a combination of sun and shade, which means there are a number of plant species in the area that like one of those two combinations. The ponds themselves are small -- 10 feet by 20 feet, but they feature an array of interesting colors and shapes.
Anisoptera) and the damselflies (Zygoptera).
We saw three different species, which were all amazing, if a little hard to get to sit still for a photo. They are quite territorial, returning to the same twig after chasing off intruders. With a fair bit of patience I got some portraits.
In the shadier spots there was also an array of plants.
The dragonflies (Odonata) fighting for territory provided the best show of the day. Odonata is an order of carnivorous insects, encompassing the dragonflies (
As we were watching the dragon flies in their aerial battles over the pond, the afternoon clouds started rolling in. A lightning strike on the fairway behind our house that blew five breakers the day before was as fresh in our minds as the fresh wind from the downdraft spill. So we headed back to the rig.
Ten minutes after we got home, a big thunderstorm rolled in. Nice wet year in the "Dakotas" as they say in Minnesota.
Louise and Brian with Photos by Brian -- Text and Photos copyright 2010, Goin Mobyle, LLC.
Day 1Centennial Trail SD -- Beaver Ponds in July