Tag Archives: spirit mound

Hiking Spirit Mound in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

12 Oct

Hikers seen at the top of Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of part of the countryside seen from the top of Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting places in Siouxland is always fun for me. A little exercise at some destinations and the chance to reacquaint with a place that is as much educational as it is fun. Spirit Mound outside of Vermillion, SD is recognized as one of the stopovers for the Lewis and Clark Expedition that former President Thomas Jefferson commissioned for the expansion of territory during the 1800’s.

Signage along a trail at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Signage along a trail at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The hike to the top of the mound is easy enough and gives a nice view or the surrounding area, which is mostly farmland. It was high ground for the Lewis and Clark expedition to scout the surrounding area. Sacred to local Native American tribes. As described on a national park website: “Spirit Mound was alternately described as a “mountain of evel spirits”, a “hill of little people”, and a “place of Deavels.” The Sioux, Omaha, and Otoe tribes told of 18-inch tall humans with “remarkable large heads” who inhabited the site. Armed with arrows, these spirits attacked anyone who approached the hill. What did Lewis and Clark expect to find there?”

The park includes a variety of signage that includes information about the journey as well as natural history of the place that might interest to others. It’s a pleasant way to spend part of a day exploring the area. Enough exercise to work up an appetite for lunch but not too much for the non outdoor adventurous type.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A holdover from a glacial period at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Signage about earlier geological aspects of the area seen at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Geologic information about Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Information about restoration of prairie explained along a trail at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rest bench at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wildflowers at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Signage along a trail at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bunny greets a visitor before darting off into vegetation along a trail at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A grasshopper nestled into vegetation at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Signage about snakes along a trail at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An all-sided bench for folk who climb to the summit and can then enjoy a 360 view of the surrounding countryside at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Buzzing About on a Summer’s Eve in Siouxland, Spirit Mound, Vermillion, SD

14 Sep

A bee buzzes around a backlit sunflower plant at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent trip to South Dakota and a visit to Spirit Mound, I liked the lighting that was occurring around some sunflower plants. Early enough in the morning for some directional light before the light turns flat when it reaches its zenith in the sky around noon. Plus the heat and humidity didn’t kick in until later as well.

Backlit plants at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A backlit sunflower plant at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy the light when it creates a better photographic image and gives a photo a bit more “personality”. And during summer months, early morning and late afternoon, early evening are generally the better times to be out photographing. But sometimes the ideal time might not be a good time depending on one’s schedule.

The bonus this time though was finding an apis mellifera flying about and securing a bit more substance before summer is gone. Although I must admit, I didn’t see the creature until editing images later when looking on a larger screen than the camera’s viewfinder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bee buzzes around a backlit sunflower plant at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shooting the Moon not Always an Easy Job, Spirit Mound, Vermillion, South Dakota

19 Aug

The sun sets in the west over farmland seen from Spirit Mound, just north of Vermillion, SD Thursday evening, August 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I go out and about in Siouxland looking to photograph a subject I always have high hopes. And then really, really hope that I get lucky. The recent super moon that appeared earlier in August was an opportunity to try my hand in creating a “spectacular image”, but the photography gods had other thoughts in mind, evidently.

A super moon rises over farmland seen from Spirit Mound, just north of Vermillion, SD Thursday evening, August 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A super moon rises over farmland seen from Spirit Mound, just north of Vermillion, SD Thursday evening, August 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When photographing a super moon around urban landscapes, one can always count on illuminated buildings to provide some contrast and dimension or scale to the ascending moon. In rural America one only has whatever landscape is there. I had chosen to photograph the moon rise from Spirit Mound, a point of reference made during the adventure of Lewis and Clark while they and the Discovery Corp was “mapping” the world west of the Missouri River for President Thomas Jefferson. It has a high elevation point from which to see the surrounding countryside. Of course there is no accounting for whatever weather may blow through a prairie or clouds that might appear and block one’s view which happened earlier in the summer on another outing to photograph a super moon.

Two people hike up to the summit of Spirit Mound as the sun sets and before a super moon rises over surrounding countryside, just north of Vermillion, SD Thursday evening, August 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun glows over farmland seen from Spirit Mound, just north of Vermillion, SD Thursday evening, August 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will admit that I like the images from the setting sun a bit more than what I was able to photograph of the super moon rising. But I was lucky that my disappointment was tempered by the fact that it was a very nice evening. The stifling heat that affected the region has dissipated somewhat and a light breeze flowed over the hill top. There were no buzzing insects and it was quiet. Contemplation and amazement to see two large orbs disappear and appear.

As I waited fro the sun to set and the moon to rise, I had a feeling that low lying clouds were going to hinder my ability to photograph the moon. And for some strange reason I found it difficult to acquire focus which in previous outings was not the case. And even though a later image of a silhouetted tree by moonlight with the moon blown out was an image I also liked better than those of a properly exposed full moon. So patience will be word as I await another year to try my hand at capturing an image and probably looking for another venue from which to do that. There is always next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A super moon rises over farmland seen from Spirit Mound, just north of Vermillion, SD Thursday evening, August 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Spirit Mound in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

18 Sep

Spirit Mound is seen in the background behind some sunflowers at the Spirit Mound Historic Prairie near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spirit Mound Historic Prairie is one of the place and stops taken by Lewis and Clark’s Expedition researching the Louisiana Purchase for then President Thomas Jefferson. For Native Americans at the time it represented a place of foreboding, as a website states: “Long before white men came to what is now South Dakota, the little hill known by the Sioux as Paha Wakan was held in awe by tribes for miles around. The Omaha, the Sioux, and the Otoes believe that the mound was occupied by spirits that killed any human who came near.”

The trail head at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A trail marker pinpoints a spot visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition as it explored the “New West” for then President Thomas Jefferson seen at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The day I visited there were going to people out on the trail helping visitors to learn a little more about the Mound and other aspects of the area. But a morning rain”washed away” the volunteers as the event was postponed to the following day. But I don’t always let a little water dampen my enthusiasm or gear. And I missed the rain, and the informational pieces as I didn’t attend the following day, but enjoyed the short walk and look at Spirit Mound again as I had visited previously.

Rain puddles fill a walking trail at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Rain drops cling to a sign at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But there are now informational plagues erected along the trail to give a visitor some background and information one would have to research later, which still wouldn’t be a bad idea to understand more about Lewis and Clark’s expedition and the Native Americans who lived in the area centuries before. History can be fascinating and sometimes it seems surreal to walk in an area visited a century or two or more by explorers and others who lived in an entirely different world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informational plague talks about the history of Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Storm clouds appear on the horizon nearSpirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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