Come on out, the outdoors are fine

By Gray Hughes

A WALK IN THE WOODS -Hill City Prevailer Editor Gray Hughes decided to hike the Spring Creek Loop Trail on Black Friday this year. [PN Photo/GRAY HUGHES]

“All good things should be wild and free.”

This line can be found in Henry David Thoreau’s lecture “Walking,” first delivered in 1851.

One of the big reasons why I moved to the Black Hills was to get into nature.

I loved the city, and Philadelphia will always be my home, but visiting my girlfriend and family there was always overwhelming. It’s too crowded, and it’s overrun by concrete.

I loved the peacefulness of the farmland back on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but it was flat, and outside of the beach, which you can only really utilize a couple months out of the year, there wasn’t much in the way of outdoor activities.

On Black Friday, my girlfriend and I did something we could have never done in the city or on the Eastern Shore without taking a long drive.

We went for a hike.

We decided to participate in the #OptOutside movement, a movement where, on Black Friday, rather than standing in lines at department and big box stores, you get out into nature.

We decided to hike the Spring Creek Loop Trail. Nothing too challenging as we were still digesting our Thanksgiving dinner from the night before, but the views it provided were spectacular.

The nature here is outstanding. Seriously, there are views here people would pay to see.

But, unlike a city where those views are provided to you by driving to a scenic overlook (or worst yet, ruined by high rises), you have to earn the views. You need to get out of bed, put on some good, warm hiking clothes and be prepared to sweat.

On our hike we saw countless families out doing the same thing we were doing. The trail by no means was crowded, but it was obvious that we weren’t the only ones who wanted to get outside.

We moved to the Black Hills in August, but we did get to visit the area in late May and early June this year to visit my family.

Every day we were here during that trip, pretty much, we hiked. We did the spring Volksmarch up Crazy Horse, which is something we will never forget. We hiked the trail to Devil’s Bathtub, and, somewhere out there, there is a video of me going down the slide.

If it wasn’t too hot, every weekend during the first two months or so after we moved here, we hiked, whether it was a quick little jaunt we did with my family’s Bernedoodle, Bernie (creative name, I know), or longer, more strenuous hikes on the Centennial Trail.

The outdoor possibilities here are endless. When she still had it, my little sister liked to take her Jeep Liberty out onto the trails here. My mom and step-dad have a camper, and they try to camp pretty much every weekend they can during the warmer months.

I’ve been canoeing here, I’ve taken a RZR down some pretty sketchy trails and, in the winter, I’ve skied down the slopes of Terry Peak. I’ve even chopped down my own Christmas tree in the Black Hills National Forest.

Trust me, legally chopping down your own Christmas tree from the wild is something that is unheard of back on the East Coast.

The Black Hills are an outdoors enthusiast’s paradise. They are just as good as the Rocky Mountains but without the crowds.

The option to do something outside pretty much every day of the week is what attracted me here.

I just hope the trails don’t get too crowded.