Thursday, September 15, 2016
The wrong name
If you've seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you'll be familiar with the site called Devils Tower. Driving there, you can see it from miles away. And while the draw for us wasn't as crazed as that portrayed by the characters in the film, the closer we got, the more exciting it felt.
When we got there, we spotted a few brave adventurers climbing high up on the rock (you have to look closely -- or else, click on the image to zoom in some), but settled for following the path on an easy walk, not much over a mile, around the base of the rock.
While we walked, we couldn't help noticing that some of the trees had bits of coloured cloth or medicine bundles placed on them. Signs cautioned walkers that these hold religious significance and are not to be disturbed or removed.
There's a bit of a story of how this rocky mountain got the name Devils Tower (including of how it lost its apostrophe -- somebody's typo), There's also more than one telling of how those 'claw marks' on its side came to be. If one can imagine them as really being the marks of a bear, that bear must have made a grizzly look like a miniature.
Considering the negative connotations of anything with 'devil' in its name, I'd like to hope that it won't be long from now when the site can be renamed. I like the idea of calling what the Lakota people did, Mato Tipila, or in English, 'Bear Lodge'.
We were lucky enough to get a campsite near the base of the mountain and the pink rays of dawn on the rock were awe-inspiring. The whole place truly felt like much too sacred a site to be stuck with the name Devils Tower. And while this was a wonderful place to camp, the next place was also great, but in quite another way.