The first place I ever got out of my car and set foot on the ground in Harding County smelled of death. Three half-stripped, sharp-toothed carcasses lay in the short grass by the road, near a low pile of brown fur amid the bushes. Whatever got them was meaner than I. Probably not a good omen for hiking alone, armed only with my Swiss Army knife, iPad, and trusty boots, toward those wet, crumbling sandstone cliffs.
But no coyote or puma have found me here yet on the far eastern outcrop of the archipelagian Custer National Forest… or if they have, they don’t like the smell of craisins, and they’ve left me be, to take my pictures.