Magical Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park - one of my favorite gems from our trip to the Black Hills, South Dakota! This unique mountain lake is surrounded by rounded-granite outcroppings and towering ponderosa pines. Located at an elevation of 6,145 ft, it's the highest lake in the Black Hills with a surface area of 17.3 acres and a maximum depth of 30 feet. No wonder it is known as the "crown jewel" of Custer State Park and was featured in the 2007 Disney movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
"In its graciousness, beauty often touches our hearts with the grandeur and nobility of its larger resonance."
~ John O' Donohue
"Go out, go out I beg of you And taste the beauty of the wild. Behold the miracle of the earth With all the wonder of a child."
~ Edna Jaques
Sylvan Lake is a man made lake that was created in 1881 when Theodore Reder built a dam across Sunday Gulch Creek to create a reservoir of water. In 1921, this unique lake became a part of the newly-created Custer State Park.
"Until you cross the bridge of your insecurities, you can't begin to explore your possibilities."
~ Tim Fargo
The large, striking granite boulders reaching up majestically into the expansive sky, create a stunning backdrop for the serene beauty of the lake. The weathered rocks protect the lake and keep it's surface unusually placid and reflective.
The unique granite boulders at Sylvan Lake are some of the myriad igneous rock formations visible throughout the Black Hills. These formations began their journey far beneath the earth’s surface where molten magma pushed up from the core of the earth, filling up any cracks or spaces it could find in the overlying sedimentary rock. This process takes millions of years, during which the molten magma slowly cools and solidifies/crystalizes into hard rock.
"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space."
~ Johnny Cash
"My path is the path of stopping, the path of enjoying the present moment. It is a path where every step brings me back to my true home. It is a path that leads nowhere. I am on my way home. I arrive at every step."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Looking closely at the granite boulders, you can see the course texture of the rock. This indicates that the granite cooled slowly while still underground. You will also notice the roundness of the boulders. The rounded form of the granite is due to thousands and thousands of years of weathering and erosion, which has smoothed out the rock.
"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center."
~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
"An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it 'creative observation.' Creative viewing."
~ William S Burroughs
Even though the sky was blue and filled with puffy clouds the day I was shooting at Sylvan Lake, my favorite photo of the lake is this one I processed in black and white, because it showcases the dramatic grandeur of this unique spot. Places like these remind me how much beauty and discovery lie waiting in the natural world, beckoning me to set aside routine and embark on more adventures!
"Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say."