Wall, South Dakota
My second night at the Sage Creek Campground was much like the first: crowded, with lots of chattering going on until all hours. It obviously appeals to many, but it’s not my favorite camping experience.
After a mediocre night’s sleep, what’s a budding hermit to do? Move out. I headed for greater metropolitan Wall. Despite a cloudless sky, I had to go to an alternate location on my list but do it in a timely manner, since storms were predicted to arrive about 2 PM. In sufficient quantities, rain can make trail passage difficult, and my alternate location is known for mud in wet weather. Downtown Wall offers groceries, a hardware store, propane, and a laundromat, but all I needed was groceries.
Ranches on the way north to Wall had herds of Angus cattle behind fences, which reminded me of something I’d read claiming that bison do better than cattle when winter comes, and don’t need feeding or drugs to do well. They’re just out there.
Wall may only be a block or so long, but that block is packed with more touristy shops than you can shake a stick at. Wall Drug Store by itself consumes an entire block length, being packed with sub-stores that offer anything a discerning tourist might need.
Truth to tell, I didn’t attempt to see everything, not by a longshot. I just wanted my groceries and a quick once-over. But I did seek out one iconic item…
One can’t say they’ve really visited Wall Drug without seeing the Jackalope, can one? You can actually buy a stuffed one now for $250. The creature to the left is apparently a genetic variant, a blending of the Jackalope with a pheasant. It has a pheasant’s back, tail feathers, and legs. As explained to me by a clerk, this example was the accidental result of a Jackalope getting into the pheasant pen. The inference was that Jackalopes are either nearly blind, or not very selective in their mating habits. Amazingly, this offshoot was priced at just $200. I didn’t buy either of them, the mere vision being sufficient for me.
Heading straight south from Wall, going about 6 miles gets you to a turn-off heading east. This is a service road for several cell towers, and I expected the entrance to have a closed gate. What it had was a barbed wire gate that was open, which I did not expect because my understanding was that this land is used for grazing cattle. Nevertheless, I followed the Law of the Gate, which dictates that you leave it as you found it. No cattle in sight, so I proceeded to veer left at a split. You go right for better sites along the rim, and left for more privacy. After my experiences at Sage Creek Campground, I opted for privacy and whatever distance I could get from the cell towers.
Below is a video of the drive along that trail. I should point out that the lowly iPhone SE (5) seems to be preadjusted to smooth the video and keep the horizon level. I’d expected a raw, pretty shaky video because the truck was doing its usual bouncy thing, and the phone mount was flexing a bit, leading me to assume that I’d get results that could make a viewer feel ill. Not so. It worked well even when I grabbed the phone out of its mount to swing it around for a view, handheld. Amazing, and a total surprise. If you have the bandwidth, enjoy. If you don’t, you’re not missing some kind of adventure here. It’s just a trail with a view at a couple of points toward the end. It’s just short of 300MB. I’ll post about the actual campsite I chose later, and about the thunderstorm that blew up about an hour after setting up camp. It was a doozy!