Today was a day filled with history and a bit of hiking as well. After a good breakfast in Billings we headed just south of town to the Pictograph Caves State Park. Alahpalaaxawaalaatuua - that’s what the Indians call this place, meaning ‘Where there is spirit writing’. This site has been in use by man for over 9000 years and the walls of the caves have pictographs painted on them dating back to the time of Cleopatra and some as recent as a hundred and fifty years ago. The artifacts found here are in the thousands and date the use back through the years.
Carol and I hiked all the trails and were just mesmerized by not only the history but by the rugged beauty of the spot as well. The day was warming and by the time we got back to the car the temps were well into the nineties. From the caves we headed to the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer’s last stand. This is a national park situated on a Crow reservation near the southern border of Montana.
This is a place everyone should visit. We listened to a talk by a Park Ranger, who told the story of the battle. He brought the battle to life as he talked and pointed to the places where the action took place. This is the only battlefield that has markers placed on the exact spots where people died, whites and the Indian warriors. The battle was actually spread out over an area running about five miles and there is a driving trail which we took after exploring the site where Custer died.
We hiked the site in 100º heat, the same sort of temperatures the battle was fought in. There are two memorials on top of that hill, one for the soldiers and one for the native warriors. What a day the must have been back in 1876, our countries centennial year. What a black day in history for America. When we were driving the battle trail we noticed the temperature was 115º, damn that’s hot!
Back on the road we decided to make our way toward North Dakota and set Glendive, Montana as our destination. We didn’t get out of the park until well after 3 in the afternoon and still had a lot of miles to cover. We stopped in Miles City, a real western town, and had supper at a local place - I had a Buffalo Burger (one of the best burgers I have ever had), Carol had Montana beef salad complete with a deep fried egg. We rolled into Glendive around 8:00, unpacked and made a quick tour of the town which sits right on the banks of the Yellowstone river. A fine day all around.