Several years ago I was stricken with an unknown condition out of nowhere. One day I was my normal self, going through my daily routine; get ready for work, see my usual customers for advertising and then head into the office. In the blink of an eye my life would change. I had lost control of my nervous system with half my face jerking and twitching. With a brief visit to the emergency room and medication to control the spasms, I was sent home to rest with no answers as to what was going on. A few days later my entire body would begin to violently jerk, my speech was affected and I could not control my arm and leg and the tightening of the muscles that would contort my limbs as if I was silly putty in the hands of a child. I was ambulanced to Sioux Falls with the belief that I was having seizures; we would find out that this was not the case. I spent a week in ICU having every gamut of testing done and trying to fight back to have control of my body. I was finally released with a diagnoses and medication that I would need to be on for years to come. I would spend a month out of work until my doctors would release me to go back to work. For months this was the new me, I felt hopeless at times and cried a lot. My family and coworkers were so supportive, always using humor to distract from the painful episodes that would come and go. We learned quickly that life had to go on, but I felt like a freak and my greatest fear was I would never be able to hold a camera and go on our weekend explorations of abandoned locations that had become a part of my and Ryan’s life.

That July, Ryan had been in touch with an old friend and his wife about a location he had come


across on the internet, an old ski lift/resort called Devil’s Nest. They had a plot of land there that had been purchased by her parents and it had been years since they had been there to see it. We now had tour guides and a huge opportunity that couldn’t be missed, but could I do it. I had to mentally challenge myself to go; glad I had listened to my husband.

Here’s a little history on Devil’s Nest Ski Lift; the idea for Devils Nest began in 1962 with the idea of creating a year round private resort area and housing development. A group of developers decided that this unique location would be the perfect place for an upscale ski resort and recreation area. Devils Nest would be top class and have a 25 story hotel, hunting and skiing lodges, golf course, marina, tennis courts, paths and walk ways, campgrounds and more, all residing on 3,000 acres. It was not until 1970 that construction began for the $100 million investment. Artificial snow machines were installed, pulling treated water from the Missouri River to drop, frozen, onto the slopes. Devils Nest began getting attention by 1972, opening to much fanfare, the opening festivities drew big crowds with the 12 ski slopes, yacht club, equestrian center, dancing hall and 8 houses that had been built on the property. Sadly the attraction went bust in 1974 when Devils Nest Development Corporation could not pay taxes on the property. Devils Nest was foreclosed and sold in auction in 1977. Several lots have been sold off of the large property, but the bulk remains untouched and the buildings and machinery have been decaying for decades. This is private property and signs are posted in many locations.

When we first arrived we spotted the dance hall, what a view those that came to have a night out would’ve had as it sits on the bluff overlooking the Missouri River. I was told later from an older ex coworker that her and her husband would come for dances when it first opened up and that the floor


would sway, that was a really funny feeling she recalled. We made our way to the plot of land that they owned, and sharing with us as we walked through the tall grass what they envisioned if they could ever get a cabin built here what it would entail. We were greeted by a young buck with velvet still on his horns, calmly grazing, keeping a watchful eye on us but not feeling threatened by us he let us watch him for some time. We continued on our way to the base of what once was the ski lift. The derelict building housing the mechanicals of moving the chairs up and down the cable lines sits next to a small swamp. I’m in awe of the dangling chairs motionless above our heads. It is so quiet and peaceful here; I see beauty all around me, a lone cattail starting to seed, a dragonfly resting on a blade of grass with strands of cobwebs floating in the air behind it. A pair of wild mushrooms spring up in the vegetation below my feet. An old tree broken in many spots has continued to grow twisting and wrapping itself around part of its dead self, creating a unique image of life and death intertwining. There are rusted hinges with peeling paint on building doors and even the enormous nuts and bolts at the base of the giant pulley system are picture worthy. It’s an explosion of color with the lift chairs, poles, gears and pulley’s alternating with red, turquoise blue and lime green.

Like many times before from other locations we have been we discuss how sad it is to see, the magnitude of what is before us left to rot, to be reclaimed by Mother Nature. We have strolled for hours capturing images and are deep in the thick trees of Evergreen and Cottonwood to get one last


shot down the hill displaying the lift chairs, when there is a loud sound that came from behind where Ryan was standing. We could feel the vibration on the ground below our feet of something very large hitting the ground. Ryan says that Bigfoot had just tried to throw a boulder at us and it was time to go.

I went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for second opinions that summer with my condition.

After undergoing more testing they dismissed the diagnosis from Sioux Falls, but could never tell me what I had and it eventually went away over time. I have never suffered another episode all these years later. I believe there is healing in nature, physically, mentally, and spiritually. No matter what struggles in life you are going through, if you can take the time to escape outdoors, you will clear your mind, heal your soul, relax and release the tension from your body.

Even the smallest beauty exists in nature but is often over looked, you just need to open your eyes, focus and see.