Sent: Friday, August 24, 2001 5:02 PM
Subject: Another High Point

I have sort of a rule of thumb that I try to follow for this trip.  Every chance I have to buy gas/use a bathroom/get water/take a shower - I use, no matter how silly it seems at the time, because you never know when the next opportunity will be.  So I was the leaving the campground from hell, the Rushmore KOA, and debating whether or not to get gas there.  I only had about 70 miles on the current tank, and wasn't planning on doing much driving.  But I decided to stop anyway.  As I was getting ready to put gas in the car, I was pondering over the trail of fluid leading up the gas pump behind my car, and realized that there was a fairly sizeable puddle where I had been sitting waiting for the pump to free up.  I looked under the car, and fluid was raining down from the engine block.  A quick check identified it as gasoline.  I quickly moved the van away from the gas pumps and pondered what to do next.  After the downpour slowed a little, I got out the fire extinguisher and crawled under the van to take a look.  It must have been some kind of fuel line break, but I couldn't jack the van up enough to get a good look (without getting gas in my eyes).  So I asked around and got a tow truck to come and take me to the the (not so) thriving metropolis of Hill City South Dakota.  The mechanic there was able to take a look, and determined that the fuel line had become uncoupled from the engine, and was able to quickly reattach it and tighten the clamp.  $100 down the drain total for a loose clamp.  At least I caught it when I did, otherwise I was looking at running out of gas on a narrow two lane road with no help in sight, or the van running long enough that some part got hot enough to ignite the gasoline.  Fortunately neither of those happened, and I was on my way by noon, at which point I returned to my plan to hike Harney Peak, the highest point in SD, and get up early the next day to go to Mt Rushmore.
The hike was nice, if a little hard, lots of elevation gain early in the hike.  Met a guy at the top who was doing the same thing, and has hiked 40 of the 50 US highpoints.  It was overcast and a little smoky, so no real good pictures.
I had secured a campsight on the way in, and after the hike I went to bed early so I could get up and beat the crowds to Mt Rushmore in the morning.