2014 South Dakota – Day 26 – Chadron – Custer: Cavorting with the wind

Friday June 13, 2014, 89 miles (144 km) – Total so far: 1,296 miles (2,085 km)

It’s like they come twirling about on tiptoes – flashing their leggy lengths of recklessness beneath a short skirt of cover. Oh, how far do you want to go? How fast? Just slide out there and get them behind you and away you go. They tease you with possibility. They torment you with incredible memories of times past. They pound into you and push you harder and faster than you ever thought you could desire. Oh, tailwinds, the ultimate seducer. Forget cardinal sins, it’s all about cardinal directions – and which one you are heading toward and which one the wind is coming from. Read more

2014 South Dakota – Day 26 – Custer: Hanging with Harley Niblack

Saturday June 14, 2014

Tourist areas like the Black Hills are full of attractions – some a rip-off, some well worth your time. It seems most people see the National Museum of Woodcarving to be a rip-off. I’m not sure what to think when I wander down there after a sleep-in (we did 89 miles on 2 hours of sleep yesterday, so a bit of recovery was needed!). I’m hoping to find a wood carving of a turtle to send to Nigel. Read more

2014 South Dakota – Day 27 – Hell Canyon Hike: If this is hell, then it’s a pretty ‘cool’ place

Sunday June 15, 2014, 30 miles (48 km) – Total so far: 1,326 miles (2,134 km)

On a hot, dry day in late August 2000, a woman stopped on the side of the road about a mile and a half west of Jewel Cave National Monument. She lit a cigarette. Then she dropped the match. It was a day of record low fuel moisture and gusty winds in the middle of a drought. But she wanted to watch a fire; she just never imagined that it would get so big. Read more

2014 South Dakota – Day 28 – Custer: The connection

Monday June 16, 2014, 12 miles (19 km) – Total so far: 1,338 miles (2,153 km)

There was a time back in 2005 and 2006, when everything was hard and the future so unknown, that I would take a lawn chair into the far depths of our backyard late at night and just sit and look up to the sky. The neighbour’s lights did not penetrate there. I could be alone in the late night quiet.

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2014 South Dakota – Day 29 – Custer: Marbles – falling from the sky

Tuesday June 17, 2014, 6 miles (10 km) – Total so far: 1,344 miles (2,162 km)

So I’ve just been hanging out the last few days. Yesterday I went into town and stocked up on food, went to the library, then headed back out for a lazy day at a Forest Service campground. It stormed a couple times in the afternoon. It seems to be a pattern at the moment.

Today I just hang out again. My friend Wayne is coming up from Ft Collins, Colorado and we’re going to meet up to do some hiking. If we weren’t planning on meeting today or tomorrow, I would have taken off after the Hell Canyon Hike. Read more

2014 South Dakota – Day 30 – Harney Peak Hike: A day with old friends

Wednesday June 18, 2014

Eighteen years ago I worked for part of a summer at the mountain campus of my university. Wayne was the kitchen manager; Brendt was a cook. I got along with both of them – they were easy to work for. However, they had a fearsome reputation among the kitchen and housekeeping crew as big-time bad boys. So, out of curiosity, one night I went to hang out with them at their cabin. Read more

South Dakota 2014 – Day 31 – Pactola Reservoir – Hill City: Saying goodbye

Thursday June 19, 2014, 15 miles (25 km) – Total so far: 1,359 miles (2,187 km)

Wayne and I rise early. So do all the other people at the Hart Ranch Resort. We go down to the office so he can book another night, and there are so many people around and everyone is so cheery, you’d never know it was only 7.30 am. Read more

South Dakota 2014 – Day 32 – Hill City – Rod and Gun CG: The Mickelson and Rimrock trails

Friday June 20, 2014, 55 miles (89 km) – Total so far: 1,414 miles (2,276 km)

The health fairy must have come last night and beat me with the bad wand while I was sleeping. I’m very raspy and phlegmy this early morning – my asthma is playing up in the cold, damp air. My fingers seem to have been replaced with inflexible wood stumps, too. The arthritis in my fingers means they often ache and it can be difficult to form a tight grip in the mornings, but this morning the pain is pretty searing and I can’t bend them much at all. Read more

South Dakota 2014 – Day 33 – Rod and Gun CG – Belle Fourche: Wranglers and rodeo folks

Saturday June 21, 2014, 34 miles (54 km) – Total so far: 1,448 miles (2,330 km)

The camping families ply me with food this morning. The two families are from Minnesota and Denver and have met for a week of camping together. This is their last morning and they are cooking up the last of their food. I can’t eat within an hour of taking my thyroid pill, so they wrap up two huge breakfast burritos for me in foil. Read more

South Dakota 2014 – Day 34 – Belle Fourche: Re-routing

Sunday June 22, 2014, 5 miles (8 km) – Total so far: 1,453 miles (2,338 km)

The rain is light and steady. It pools on the top of the tent and runs down the sides in intermittent streams. It is a day to stay in the sleeping bag as long as the bladder will allow.

I pack up the wet tent in drizzle around 10am. We’re not leaving Belle Fourche today, so there is no hurry. My parents have mailed my Montana maps and geology book for me to pick up here at the post office. Since it’s Sunday, it means we need to wait around town until tomorrow to pick them up. Read more