Time to catch up on the summers adventures. I had planned on taking another stab at the Colorado Trail Race again this year but they moved it up a week which lead to some conflicts with some other races I had signed up for. So instead I decided to make up my own adventure and do a ride in the Black Hills of South Dakota and maybe if time allowed a little riding in North Dakota.
THE GREAT BLACK HILLS ADVENTURE RIDE 2013.
I left home about mid morning on Friday and got to Rapid City late that same day. I needed to do a few things in Rapid City so I spent the night in a Walmart parking lot. I've slept in a lot of odd places over the years but that's the first time I slept in a Walmart parking lot. I got up and had a good breakfast and headed over to the visitors center to pickup some maps and info on the trails. Since I started planning this trip I had been having trouble finding info on the Centennial Trail. I could find basic info but there wasn't a lot of specific info like is available on the Colorado Trail and this held true at the visitors center also. After the visitors center I headed over to a local bike shop. I got there about a half hour before they opened and while waiting for them to open I was talking to another customer also waiting, this guy was a true conspiracy theory guy who was sure the government was going to bomb and kill all but the upper class and he was going to be a survivor. Quite the guy. Well the bike shop guy said the Centennial trail was in good shape to ride, and they have been improving the northern part so that it got better as you go north. Well that fit my plan as I had intended to start at the southern end of the Centennial Trail and go north than ride on over to the Michaelson Trail and head south back to the truck. I headed out to the north end of Wind Cave Nat Park and the Highland T.H. for the start.
I arrived at the trail head about 11:30 and had the bike all packed and started riding about noon.
The trail was very reminiscent of the Colorado Trail. It was built with hikers in mind but they do allow bikers and horse riders. This trail looked like it had a lot of horse traffic. The trail was typical mountain single track. It started heading up immediately but was very rideable. After a few hours I hit the first section of hike a bike (HIB) several miles of very steep trail just full of bowling ball size boulders. It was quite a hike I don't know how a horse would make it up here. I was moving along at a steady pace getting much further than I had thought. I got to the first big detour late in the afternoon. The area where Mount Rushmore is is called the Black Elk Wilderness and bikers are not allowed. You can circle around it to the east or west and I decided to go west. This involved a 20 mile section of Needles highway. The first 10 miles were up hill but the second 10 miles were down hill and what a blast, going around the switch backs and hairpin turns at 30 MPH was great. I got around the wilderness by mid evening and went a couple of miles north on the trail and made camp for the night in a big open field.
Totals for the day: 42 miles and 8 hours. Camp 1 just north of Big Pine TH.
Day 2 started about 8 AM I got up packed up and hit the trail.The trail was typical up and down all day, mostly single track with an occasional dirt road. I saw very few people on the trail, only the occasional day hiker. One problem is that the trail did not seem to pass thru any towns so resupply was difficult. about mid afternoon as it was beginning to rain I was near Pactola Reservoir and made a detour to the marina get a meal. The only thing there was a convience store that also sold pizza and chicken so I ordered a pizza and got a pop and had a good meal. After eating I hit the trail again for a few hours till I got to Pilot Knob TH and camped near there at the edge of a field near a creek. Washed up in the creek and hit the hay for the night.
Totals for day 2: 40 miles and 11 hours
Day 3 started at 7 AM I packed up and hit the trail. The trail from where I was at (Pilot KnobTH) and north to Dalton TH was open to motorized vehicles so I didn't think navigation would be a problem. The trail was easy to follow but ya had to pay attention to the signs because there were a lot intersecting trails and the trail was very rocky and rutted from erosion. Detoured into the little town of Nemo for a meal only to find the only restaurant was closed for the day so convience store food would have to do. I did see a few more people in this area mostly on ATV's. Nemo was a nice little town with a cute looking campground but not much else. I continued on to Dalton TH. The trail was along a ridge above the TH and I saw the sign directing the motorized vehicles down the hill to the TH but missed the second turn down the hill and continued on till I came to an intersection where I knew I was off the trail but I thought I could still find the TH by continuing down the dirt road and when I came across some ATV'ers I asked for directions and they told me I was headed for the TH just up the road. I reached the TH about noon but I could not find the Centennial trail going north from the TH. I found 2 trails at the TH and knew the motorizes trail ended here so I picked the non-motorizes trail out of the TH and it climbed a huge hill that was about 45 minutes of HIB and when I got to the top I recognized the ridge trail I had just been on so I headed back down the same trail to Dalton TH and than tried the other trail leading out of the TH and again after about 45 minutes of HIB up the hill again I came to the same ridge trail and had to turn around and go back down. I checked the road about a mile in each direction and could not find the trail out of there. All of this had taken me about 2 hours and now I was at a total of 102 miles into the trip so I decided to call it quites for the Centennial trail and head for Deadwood and the start of the Michaelson Trail.
The ride to Deadwood was mostly dirt road and it was a great scenic ride. It took some concentration to navigate but I didn't have any problems. The last few miles were on pavement and than a few miles on the Michaelson trail into Deadwood. I got the last hotel room in Deadwood because the motorcyclers were starting to arrive for the rally.
Totals for day 3: 40 miles and 9 hours
The Michaelson Trail
Started from deadwood early in the morning. The Michaelson is an old RR grade that has been converted to a bike trail. The first miles, about 15 were all up hill. but because it is a RR grade it is a slight grade. Than the next 20 or so miles are all down hill and it was a blst to ride. There are several short tunnels along this section also. After about 50 miles the trail flattens out and you are nearly out of the mountains. Stoped in a little diner in Hill City for lunch. Rode on to the little town of Pringle, It was starting to rain a little and this was directly west of where I left the truck. So I left the trial and rode the roads for about 20 miles back to the truck. Near the entrance to Wind Cave Park I ran into a herd of buffalo on the road had to shoo them out of the way than I sat and watched them for awhile. I was going to ride up to a lookout tower but the buffalo had road blocked. So I continued on towards the truck. About 2 miles from the truck I came across another herd of buffalo who had the road blocked. I yelled and tried to move them along for about half an hour but they weren't moving out of the road and it was a remote road so there were no cars to push them out of the way. I finally ended up riding about a quarter mile cross country to the buffalo fence and than followed the buffalo fence around the herd (The buffalo fence is a 10 or 12 foot tall fence that runs for miles along the border between Wind Cave Park and Custer Park. Apparently they don't want the wind cave buffalo mixing with the custer buffalo.) I figured if the buffalo charged me I could toss the bike at them and climb the fence. But I got around them ok and back to the truck about 7 or 8 PM. Enough time to throw the bike in the back and than I drove a few miles further into Wind Cave Park and dry camped for the night.
Total miles about 80 and 12 hours on the trail.
Black Hills hiking
Spent the day hiking. Specifically to Harney peak the highest point in the Black Hills. Took a swim in Sylvan Lake to clean up.Than headed for Medora North Dakota and the southern end of the Maa Daa Hey Trail.
Maa Daa Hey Trail.
After breakfast in a diner in Medora headed out on the Maa Daa Hey Trail south to North. The plan was to just have an easy day ride. The start is right along the Little Missouri River in fact you have to walk across the river within the first mile. It was only knee deep but the trail in the area is very sandy. After a few miles the trail became very nice. It seemed to be well maintained very ridable. Unfortunately I was unpreppared and was supposed to take the Buffalo Gap detour around the Theodore Roosevelt Nat Park but It wasn't posted and I continued on thru Theodore Roosevelt which was a big mistake. The trail turned to crap in the park The trail was over grown with a scratchy brush which tore the hell out of my bare shins. I rode about 10 miles in and turned around and headed back. Stopped a couple of times to talk to other bikers, saw a few rattle snakes and had my only flat of the trip about 2 miles from the end.
Total miles for the day about 25 and about 5 hours riding.