Friday, August 21, 2009

5280.3 (357.4) Miles to Cooke City, Montana

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Went to Little Big Horn National Monument in Montana, where Custer had his last stand. Heard about the battle, walked around Last Stand Hill, and sat out in the national cemetery there (which has nothing to do with the battle itself) for a few minutes writing:

I'm looking up at the VII Cavalry monument on Last Stand Hill, where Custer died. Small markers dot the places here soldiers fell. The monument marks the group grave where most of the non-officers (many of whom were removed to other location (Custer was re-buried at West Point)) are buried. Behind the monument is the Native American memorial, commemorating the group that won the battle here.

Stretching out below the hill are the wide plains and rolling hills of southern Montana, leading right up to the base of the Rockies in the distance. Behind me is a national cemetery, the final resting place for many soldiers from multiple wars. Green grass from the cemetery runs into yellow of the plains runs into purple of the mountains.

It is (relatively) quiet here today. Not so all those years ago. Today, all this stands to remind us of Black Elk's words, which grace the visitor's center's wall:

"Know the power that is peace."

Then is was on to the Beartooth Highway. You drive into the highway in a gap between two mountains, then an undulating up-and-down road for a while. And just as I was thinking to myself "we should probably start climbing soon," the road u-turned and started a steep, switchback ascent between 7 and 8,000 feet into the sky. Lots of construction and road work near the top of the pass, but still an incredible drive.

On the Beartooth note, thank you to everyone who has given me suggestions of places to go/drives to take/things to see/etc.

Landed in Cooke City, Montana on the far side of the Beartooth Pass, 4 miles from Yellowstone's northeast entrance, in a motel without internet access. Next post: into the park.

Pictures: First 5: The wall of the visitor's center at Little Big Horn, markers where a VII Cavalry and a Cheyanne fell, the Native American Memorial, and the VII Cavalry Monument on Last Stand Hill. Last 3: The Beartooth Highway, the last 2 from Beartooth Pass, just shy of 11,000 feet.

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