The sitting Bull Crystal Caverns are located south of Rapid City on the way to Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The brochures promised we would be completely surrounded by the world's largest Dogtooth Spur Crystals-some as monstrous as T-Rex teeth.
They told the truth! When they said we would experience the feeling of walking through "a giant geode" - that really is what it was like!
We paid for the tour without considering how difficult the trip to the bottom and back up to get out of the cave would be. Once we walked into the cave and joined our group we realized how many stairs and how much climbing was going to be involved. I have very bad knees and don't do well at all with stairs. But after we discovered that this tour is considered strenuous we still decided to go for it! Bill said he really felt like I could do it and I really wanted to try.
The scary part was if I got down or partially down and couldn't continue, it would be a problem. The guide told us it took 8 hours to get one woman out who got partway and couldn't go any further. If I started this decent, I was determined that I was going to make it back to the top!
The tour consists of 185 narrow metal steps down and the same steps had to be used to climb back up. That was 370 steps round trip. To make it worse, many sections of the stairs were so steep that you had to go down them backwards like climbing a ladder - the individual steps were not wide enough to get your entire foot on so climbing down backwards was the only way. On top of that it was damp and even wet in places making the handrail very slippery.
The two pictures of the stairs (above) only show about 25 steps each and there were 185 steps - round trip - 370 steps!
Yeah, I made it. I may have been the last one down and then back up again but I actually kept up with our group! I loved the cave and felt really awesome about my accomplishment. Not bad for a semi-old lady who was told a few months earlier that she would need knee replacements in the not too distant future!