Summer in the CPW- Meadow Flowers and Hazelton Peak

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Jan 4, 2014
After a week in Rapid City, SD sitting in a classroom learning how to be an FPO, I was itching to get out and enjoy the forest I'm to protect. Weather being iffy and snow still persisting I decided to stay low and just get to know the "neighborhood" of where I lived. I walked up Schoolhouse Park to the end of the road in Slab Park, cut across a short stretch of reprod trees from the '88 Lost Fire to Buffalo Park and then found my way to a road and back to Hunter Work Center. It was a nice mellow way to wake the legs up after a week of classroom sitting. The highlight of the trip was the flowers. SO. MANY. FLOWERS!

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The next day had even worse weather prospects than the day before so I settled on checking out a mesa full of flowers right next to the road. Again, HOLY FLOWERS!! Being a desert boy the shear amount of flowers was beyond me. I followed a couple trails to dead ends and got an awesome view right down at Buffalo WY.

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A couple days of work occurred and then my next two days off came. YAY! Better weather and a desire to do something awesome saw me driving to the peaks south of the wilderness known as the "Hazelton Peaks." I'd seen in an old guidebook that the southernmost and tallest peak: Hazelton Peak, had somewhat of a trail up it. Going off the little memory of the trail description I had I got to a parking spot and headed off. I can't say I followed a trail per say... more followed the trails of an elk herd to where I could see the mountain and I figured it out for myself from there. It was a good hike and the view from the top was fantastic.

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I definitely did not follow the way I went up, let alone a trail as I went down the mountain. For not being a wilderness area I got a good wilderness experience. Eventually I hit the old road I took to get to the game trails so I knew I'd make it. This was when I had one of those "moments you'll never forget." As I walked I heard some interesting animal calls that perked my attention. Then boom, there was an elk between the trees in a meadow. I hoped it did not see me but it definitely did. I could see five in the shade behind it. Crap I may have just blown seeing the herd that made this impressive trails I'd been following. As I crept forward the one that spotted me bolted but the majority just went on the alert, didn't run. I continued to creep and got good views of a bunch of healthy animals. As my angle changed I could see the herd was among the biggest I've seen, maybe 40 head. I got to a couple trees I intended to hide behind and something moved five feet in front of me. A baby elk, no more than a week or two old was bedded down in the trees I'd reached and it did not know how to react to what was most likely the first human it had ever seen. It was frozen, staring at me in pure fear. The baby startling got the rest of the herd running off. The thought that I was seconds away from separating this baby from its mother and it dying flew through my mind and I backed off the little guy/gal. It bolted and I ran to a good vantage to see if it would follow the herd and I was blessed with a view of the baby running off with its mama. SO FREAKING COOL!! The next ten minutes of my hike was punctuated with the chirps and bugles of the herd talking amongst itself, trying to find each other and calm down. I spotted five new babies and there were probably more. It was a great time.

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Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
May 5, 2012
Cool story with the herd.


I walk
Jun 25, 2012
Great story Scott! Thanks. Elk talk :) Do you have a placemark or map of where you were at? And what is an FPO?


Feb 1, 2014
Amazing Flowers. Great Views. Cool experience with the elk. Great TR. Thanks

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Jan 4, 2014
So, FPO??...... Fareynikte Partizaner Organizatsye? Fleet Post Office? Fake Police Officer?

ROFL!!:roflmao: The last one is the closest. FPO= Forest Protection Officer. Essentially a person with the authority to enforce National Forest regulations but doesn't carry a gun.
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