Reveille came early on roundup day. About 5:00 AM, if my sleepy eyes didn't deceive me. For some reason the alarm didn't sound but I usually wake up about that time anyway and roll over for more shut eye. But I had chores to do before we left for the roundup. Start a pot of coffee, feed Sheila, walk her, load up the truck with camera stuff and finally take my first sip of coffee.
We knew how to get to the viewing areas and about how long it would take. So I was a bit surprised when I came up on the bumper of this little red car following a long of cars snaking through the hills.
At this point we're about three miles from the roundup site. How long it would take to get there would depend on the efficiency of the parking crew ahead.
And they were pretty good; it took only 20 minutes or so. This is a small slice of the parking area. With 10,000 to 11,000 spectators planned, quite a few cars would be parked by the time everyone arrived.
Across the valley was the South viewing area with it's allotment of visitors. The road in between was blocked so you had to make up your mind, before roundup day, which side you wanted to be on. You could come in from the Custer side or from Rapid City, the way we did it.
Part of the crowd behind the spot we picked to await the big event. I took this at around 9:00 AM and the first buffalo came into the valley around 10:45 AM. Not to bad; I was told by several people not to expect any thing to happen until 11:30 at the earliest.
I wonder what this guy thought? "Five thousand on my right, five thousand on my left. I think I'll skedaddle up the middle."
And here they come; the first outriders and lead buffalo. For some reason, I hadn't expected SUV's and pickups to be part of the roundup. Perhaps without them, the herd would be hard to manage and move in the desired direction.
I was, of course, disappointed; my minds eye again. What I wanted to see were painted braves on pinto ponies waiving spears and bows festooned with feathers. The braver ones riding close to the flanks of big bulls, poking at them with spears, prodding them along. Anyway, that's how some western artists depicted native Americans hunting the buffalo. An idealized view maybe but a lot better than pickups and SUV's.
More of the herd.
Moving into the valley toward the collection pens. The herd was split at this point. About half being driven into the the pen closest to us and the rest into a pen closer to the North side spectators.
A few decided to veer off.
So a wrangler came along and urged them back into line.
Finally spectators were allowed a closer look.
They look docile enough and not stressed out.
From these forward collection pens the herd slowly moves into the upper holding area for inspection, vaccinating and to chose which ones will be auctioned to breeders in November.
Excitements over time to go home.
When we first planned this trip to Rapid City I had no idea what to expect. I'm really glad we took it in. If we're ever back here on roundup day we'll probable do again.