Simply Dakota Uprising » Inspiring a Life of Love + Adventure in the Black Hills

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Robyn first stood out to me as a person dedicated to their art and craft. Her instagram feed was filled with a lovely mix of both vintage and pottery shots, from finished products to fun finds to art in the making. Her consistency and and vibe made me want to know more about the creator behind her pottery.

The Basics

Name: Robyn Alex Hynes

Any nicknames? Robbie Pop is a good one

Birthday: May 24, 2017

Where are you from? I’m from Bloomfield Nebraska, a small town in the northeast corner. We call it a mini tornado alley.

Where do you live now? I live in a cute one-bedroom apartment near downtown Spearfish.

Tell me about your business.

I have three, but my baby is Seedling Stoneware. It’s a pottery business I created right before Christmas 2016. I took a ceramics class during my senior year of college and absolutely fell in love. I was originally going to be an art history student – so it’s not surprising that I would have eventually found my passion in an area of art. Now I can make money doing what I love!

What is a typical day like for you?

Since I run three businesses, I’m usually balancing both of them. In the morning I go up to the pottery studio and check to see if anything is done in the kiln. That, or I’m on the wheel. Then the rest of the day is spent doing business tasks like photographing products, shipping packages, and doing the online end of things.

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What is one favorite thing you thoroughly enjoy about your job?

I thoroughly love interacting with my customers. They’re all so nice! I’ve been really lucky!

List three random things you use/eat/drink/watch/read/listen/do on a daily basis.

1) Iced Snickers Latte for success 2) My Macbook for functionality 3) Lewis Howes Podcasts

Tell me one thing about you that (maybe) no one knows.

I’m actually very introverted. I like to interact with people, a lot. But I really enjoy my alone time. I get energy from it.


Black Hills

Where is your favorite spot in the Black Hills region?

Crow Peak is probably my favorite place to be. There’s just a peace about it.

What inspires you most about the Black Hills area?

The nature around the Spearfish area, especially in Northern Spearfish. It’s so cute and hippie! Everything is always revolving around the landscape in that area, it hasn’t been completely overtaken by people.

Tell me one little, favorite story from your adventures in the Black Hills.

One time I got stuck in my car near Cement Ridge and ended up getting frostbite. Search and rescue had to come find me. Yikes!

Name one amazing place to eat in the Black Hills and why you love it.:)

BAY LEAF CAFÉ! I’m dedicated to this joint. They’re the best!

What’s your favorite trail and why?

Crow Peak trail. There’s views the whole way, and the trees are massive. Not to mention all of the beautiful wildlife. I once was the first one on the trail at 5:00 in the morning and saw a bunch of deer running through the trees. It was really beautiful.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned about adventuring in the Black Hills?


What is one impression you wish you could change about the Black Hills?

That it’s all tourism based. That’s not true at all. Even though we have a lot of fun things for tourists to do, there’s so many secluded places here where you can experience the history of the hills in all their natural beauty.


How does living in the Black Hills impact your life (or creativity or business)?

It makes me more patient. I know I’m happy where I’m at here. It’s a beautiful place, and it makes me contemplate the meaning of life when I see the sunset or sunrise against the hills.

Tell me one thing about the Black Hills that (maybe) no one knows.

The Native American culture here is dominant, and probably more so than anywhere else in the country (in my opinion.) We’re very proud of our cultural history in this area and the importance of the Hills on native cultures.


Being Creative / Leaving a Legacy

Is there anyone in the community that you turn to for inspiration, advice, or creative collaboration?

I usually turn to other people in the area who are making a name for themselves by doing what they love. I find a lot of people on Instagram who are super successful, including Dakota Uprising. I think our generation has a lot to offer for the development and progression of the hills!

Have you had any mentors along the way?

My mentors started with the photographer Rockie Nolan when I was in my freshman year of high school. She’s the reason I got into photography and art. I also think everyone I’ve interacted with in my life has contributed in some way to the way I am.

Have you ever taken a big risk for yourself or your life or your business? Was it worth it?

I would suppose I’m in a risky situation right now. I’ve given myself 3 months, or all of this 2017 summer to make my business(es) a success, or I’m going to go back to the workforce. However, I’m never going to stop my businesses just because of a financial situation. They’re what I love to do. So I would consider this decision to be a bit risky.

What’s your best advice in?

Business, for sure. It’s something I’m weirdly passionate about and I’m always encouraging other girls to make a name for themselves!


Are you creatively satisfied?

110%. Sometimes to the point where I’ll just fall asleep for 14 hours after a good days work. I need creativity in order to survive, and I’ve definitely got it.

What could the Black Hills use more of?

Artists. Doesn’t matter where we are, there should always be more art!

Do you feel an obligation to contribute to something greater than yourself? What could that possibly be?

Yes, and I think that’s part of the reason I love the idea of business so much and mixing it with the pottery. Pottery has been around for centuries, and humans have always needed it. Business is the act of investing in your future and believing in what you have to offer. I think mixing these two is bringing together the past and the future in a way that should (I hope at least) have a positive effect on future generations.

What type of legacy do you hope to leave?

Kindness, creativity, and the power of being a young girl boss!


Robyn Hynes,


@seedlingstoneware, @westprairievintage, @resalequeens




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Last summer, my husband and I were given an amazing opportunity to take a ride in a hot air balloon with Black Hills Balloons. I will never forget the initial feeling as we lifted off the ground, and the peacefulness of floating high above. It’s truly one of the most unique experience you could ever partake in in the Black Hills.

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The night before take off we received an email giving the all-clear to fly the next day (weather permitting). Meeting times and details were provided, and we met in Custer at sunrise. There were several other balloons taking off at the same time and we, the riders, all carpooled to the lift-off spot. Watching the balloons come to life from the ground up was so exciting. We hoped into the basket (which was far more compact than I had imagined – if you are afraid of heights, this would NOT be for you) and before I even knew what was happening, we were off the ground and going up. The basket held 8 people and the pilot. The heat from the flames was HOT. The floating sensation was so, so, so cool. The winds were calm and the views outward and downward were so serene.

“Where are we heading?” we asked. “Wherever the wind takes us.” he said.

And it’s that simple.

Maybe life doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that?

We flew over farms and fields, drifted so close to the tree tops we thought we could almost touch them, said hi to a landowner below us, and eventually landed on a highway with a small thud and some scrapping and the feeling of solid ground below us.

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I must admit that I was pretty nervous at first (but I’m the type that always imagines the worst), however, once we got to know the pilot (who has over 30 years of balloon flying experience), and I calculated the odds of actually crashing, and then I convinced myself of the “YOLO” mantra, I was perfectly at ease to push those thoughts aside and rest assured that I was indeed in very, very good hands. And would I do it again? Absolutely. In a heart beat. Without a second thought.

We landed and the crew deflated the balloons and loaded up the trailer. Our pilot brought us passengers together for the Balloonist’s Prayer and told us the story of how hot air balloon flying was started in France. He poured us all a glass of champagne and we carried on the tradition of landing our balloon and toasting to the flight.

The winds have welcomed you with softness.
The sun has blessed you with its warm hands.
We have flown so high and so well that God
has joined you in laughter and set you gently
back into the loving arms of mother Earth.

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Keely and Damien of Black Hills Balloons, from the customer service, to their passion for flying, to their experienced pilots, were so friendly throughout every stage of the process as well as accommodating and knowledgeable – they are the essence of a wonderful small business out here in the hills. We are truly blessed to have such a unique opportunity to be able to fly over our beautiful Black Hills, and I highly encourage you to take advantage of an experience like this.

Prices start at $295 / person and sometimes you can catch a little coupon code on their Facebook page.

Need reasons for why you should fly? Surprise your loved one with an incredibly romantic date (and maybe pop the question at an incredible height?),  see the sunrise (and Black Hills) in a way you will never see them anywhere else, check ‘hot air balloon flying’ off the bucket list, conquer your fear of heights, do something that gets your adrenaline rushing and puts you outside (and above) your comfort zone, or simply join the few in this world who have been lucky enough to experience it.

Their flying season started May 1st. They book up fast so choose a date soon. They also offer special flying events like a flight around the Devil’s Tower area – so keep your eyes peeled for experiences like those! Those definitely book up fast.

If you’d like to read more about this business, read their interview here, or visit their website or Facebook page.


alyssa crawford interview

I first discovered Alyssa through her photography business, Alyssa Crawford Photography. A few of my friends have had newborn photos taken by her and I was blown away by how beautiful every single image is. She’s a master at her craft and her lifestyle photos are something to swoon over as well. Through the new ambassador program and a few emails back and forth, I’ve gotten to know her better and she is an absolute gem of a person as well. Read her interview below and feel free to follow her social media accounts to follow her latest photograph adventures.

The Basics

Name: Alyssa Crawford.

Any nicknames? My close friends and family call me Aly.

Birthday: September 21st

Where are you from? I was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Where do you live now? Rapid City, South Dakota

Tell me about your business.

When I very first started my business, I thought I was going to be a wedding photographer. I was absolutely in love with the idea of wedding photography. However, within the first year of my business I realized I actually prefer photographing family and babies. Now, I’m a photographer who specializes in newborn and lifestyle photography. I’m the one you call when you want all of those candid, real moments captured – like rocking your baby to sleep or having a tickle fight with your little one. I just want my clients to have images that will help them remember their moments just the way they happened.

What is a typical day like for you?

I drop my oldest off at preschool and then I come home, snuggle my littlest on the couch while I edit on my laptop. My days are based off my kids and their schedules, so I do my best to work while I have free time in between.

What is one favorite thing you thoroughly enjoy about your job?

My absolute favorite thing about my job is photographing connection. I love capturing real moments. And baby snuggles!

List three random things you use/eat/drink/watch/read/listen/do on a daily basis.

  • Lately, I love listening to music while I edit. Bob Dylan, Paul Simon & Eric Church are a few of my favorites.
  • I probably eat peanut butter m&m’s too much.
  • I watch How I Met Your Mother reruns all. the. time!

Tell me one thing about you that (maybe) no one knows.

I was stung by a jelly fish while I was on vacation in Texas a few years ago.


Black Hills

Where is your favorite spot in the Black Hills region?

That’s a hard one! I love driving through Custer State Park and I walking around Spearfish Canyon.

What inspires you most about the Black Hills area?

The people. There is so much culture here!

Name one amazing place to eat in the Black Hills and why you love it.

Burger & Bun Co. Their burgers are so good and I love the atmosphere. It’s so different!


What’s your favorite trail and why?

I have two – Buzzards Roost trail and Little Elk Creek trail. The different textures at Buzzards Roost make it so much fun to photograph and I just love how peaceful Little Elk Creek trail is.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned about adventuring in the Black Hills?

To watch where you step and be prepared for the weather to change at any moment.

What is one impression you wish you could change about the Black Hills?

I wish people knew how wonderful it really is here. I feel like so many people don’t realize how much our state has to offer.


How does living in the Black Hills impact your life (or creativity or business)?

Whenever I feel stuck creatively, I grab my kids and camera and we go on adventures together in the hills. I get to capture them creating wonderful childhood memories. It’s like therapy for me.

Tell me one thing about the Black Hills that (maybe) no one knows.

How influential the Native American culture is here.


Being Creative / Leaving a Legacy

Is there anyone in the community that you turn to for inspiration, advice, or creative collaboration?

If I ever need advice about my work or my business, I almost always turn to my friend Chris Yushta with CJ Yushta Photography. I think it’s extremely important to have people in the same line of work as you to turn to when you need a different point of view.

Have you had any mentors along the way?

My two biggest mentors in my life have probably been my dad and my brother. My dad actually bought me my first DSLR camera! He helps me build backdrops and props for my studio. He’s always been my biggest supporter – especially when I decided to open my business. My brother has been a big mentor for me throughout my whole life as well. He’s extremely dedicated and puts 100% into everything he does and it really pushes me to do my best.


Have you ever taken a big risk for yourself or your life or your business? Was it worth it?

I think my biggest risk has been when I decided to set boundaries for my business. I only take a set number of sessions a month and I hardly work on the weekends. It was definitely worth it because it allows me to get family time which is so important to me.

What’s your best advice in?

My best advice is actually advice I’ve received from my husband. He always tells me to always remember why I started doing this and to never let anyone change my reasons for why I continue to do it.

Are you creatively satisfied?

Yes. My husband always asks, “Are you ever tired?! It’s like your brain never gets a chance to rest.” And that’s truly how I feel about my creativity. I’m constantly trying to do more. I love my projects and if I don’t have 5 different things going on, it just doesn’t feel right.

What could the Black Hills use more of?

The selfish photographer answer…. a local camera shop.


Do you feel an obligation to contribute to something greater than yourself? What could that possibly be?

My biggest contribution would be for my kids. I want to raise them to be respectful, kind hearted people who want to make a difference in this world.

What type of legacy do you hope to leave?

I want people to always remember how important humanity is to me.


Show Alyssa some love:





To read more interviews, click here.

Introducing the 2017 Black Hills Trail Running Series
Written by Kyle Kranz, a Black Hills running coach.

When I moved to Rapid City I was overwhelmed with the amount of trails available to adventure. With nearly 2,000 square miles of forest there are so many that I didn’t know where to start!

Luckily, I discovered the Black Hills Runners Club and the Trail Series. As a runner, this seven to ten event series took me all over the hills. My wife and I found ourselves exploring these trails on our own for runs or hikes. If we were unsure of where to go out for a weekend hike, we’d just pick one from the trail series! Most of the courses are so extensive that a trailhead can be selected and you can do a different route than what the actual race offers.

And don’t worry, even if you’re not a runner you can attend the events! Walkers get a half hour head start on the runners. Anyone who loves the outdoors is welcome. You won’t find a more fun and diverse group of people to hang out with! Many races end with a potluck and prizes are randomly drawn among attendees.

Below, you’ll find the 2017 races with short descriptions. Like I said, even if you’re not interested in attending the actual events these are all fantastic trails and I encourage you to save this page for future reference!


Thunder Run – 4/29/17

3.1 and 8 mile options

Single track through tree lined National Forest Service Land. Head out of Rapid City on Sheridan Lake Road to Victoria Lake Road and to First Thunder Road.


Big Hill – 5/14/17

10k (6.2 miles)

A beautifully diverse course through aspen, meadows, and gulches. Head out of Spearfish on Tinton Road to find this course.

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Dino Run – 6/8/17

5k (3.1 miles)

There are many miles of fairly rocky single track surrounding Skyline Drive and Dinosaur Park in Rapid City. All you have to do is head up to Skyline Drive, find a parking spot (there are many), and hit the trails!


Fat Tire – 6/18/17

5k & 10k

This one also takes place right in Rapid City at Hansel Larsen Memorial Park, across the gap from the Skyline Wilderness Area. Simply start down at Founders Park and head up M Hill for a great variety of trail options.


Mystic Mountain – 7/9/17

7.6 miles

Sponsored by the Black Hills Runners Shop, this is the oldest trail race in the area. 2017 will be the 47th running. It’s all right turns and if you cross the creek more than twice, you’re lost. In The South Dakota Magazine, author Nathan Schock said the often technical course is “as brutal as it is beautiful.”


Stoneman Marathon & Hisega Half – 8/5/17

13.1 or 26.2 miles

This run starts at the Hisega Lodge. The runners will cover some single track trail and gravel road for the first four 4 miles before hitting the Centennial Trail. At the Brush Creek trail head the half and full marathoners split, with the full marathoners going to Dakota Point.

The trail race starts at Hisega Lodge with a single track for about 1 mile and a couple miles of gravel road. Then down a single track trail to meet up with the Centennial Trail to Brush Creek trail head. This is where the full marathon course continues on the Centennial Trail to Dakota Point and back to Brush Creek. After leaving Brush Creek, continue north on the Centennial Trail for about 2 miles to the last turn around then about 4 miles to the finish. The Half marathon will turn at Brush Creek and go north on the Centennial Trail like the full marathon and finish the same.


7th Cavalry – 9/9/17

4 & 8 miles

This event at the Fort Meade Recreation area near Sturgis offers incredible views of the area. You’ll find find hiking, biking, running, and horse riding here.


Old Baldy – 9/24/17

7 miles

Another fun trail up Tinton Road out of Spearfish. You can head up to over 6,000 feet elevation at the top of Old Baldy.

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SD Trail Championships – 10/21/17

10k and 16k

This free event takes place on my favorite trail in the hills, the Flume Trail starting near Rockerville. You can see Rapid City from the course and still see remnants of its mining history. If you want you can start at the other end of this 16 mile trail at Sheridan Lake!

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