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Old 06-14-2011, 07:40 PM   #1
Dysco OP
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Learning the Black Hills

My grandma lives in Rapid City, SD and I visit at least once a year to consume way too much choke cherry syrup and apricot jelly, do some fishing, and otherwise kick around the Black Hills. I've had a bike up here a total of two times. Once I did nearly every paved road in the hills on my F650GS. Last year I had my WR250R, but riding got hailed out. This year I've resolved to hit the dirt roads and trails that criss-cross the hills with great vengeance and furious anger.

I have only one obligation, and that's to study for the nursing license exam which I'll take on June 23rd. I just graduated with a nursing degree from CU after three-and-a-half years of busting hump. This will be the first summer in four years that I'll have more than a week off from work or school.



The mission: fish and ride the Black Hills as much as I can while still passing the exam.

It begins!

Dysco screwed with this post 06-14-2011 at 08:39 PM
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:48 PM   #2
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This won't be a typical ride report. My main goal is to learn the cool unpaved routes to get to and from the places I want to go without dealing with tons of tourist traffic. I also want to share the information I find. This year the streams are really high due to a late winter and heavy spring rains so the good stream fishing is still a dry week away, whenever that comes. I also need to help my grandma and her husband out with chores and stuff in exchange for room and board. Most of what I get to do is half-day trips. If I'm late for dinner, I never hear the end of it.

My bike with tools and a little fishing gear, fresh from the trail:
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:52 PM   #3
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The first dirt of my trip: Victoria Lake Road off of Sheridan Lake Road, one of three main routes from Rapid City into the hills.


A nice stream, a big mosquito hatch, but no fish. I'm sure I'll find a lot of streams like this that look great, but are too low in the dry season to support many fish. There was a larger stream lower down that had potential.
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:59 PM   #4
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This is a reduced-width trail, part of the Black Hills National Forest motorized vehicle plan. The biggest vehicles they want on here are side-by-sides. Parts were overgrown, and it looks like the wet spring has sprouted seeds in the tracks. It didn't look like this particular trail got a lot of use.






A few of the forest roads southwest of Pactola reservior.




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Old 06-14-2011, 08:25 PM   #5
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After riding this trail, I got back on the road and headed towards the Pactola NF information station. That's where I learned that while the MVUM maps are free, the permit to ride those trails is not. I shelled out $25 for the fork sticker, good for anywhere in the Black Hill National Forest, and carried on. With all the tourist traffic they get here, they weren't generating enough funds from the motorized crowd to actually maintain trails. I get how that's a problem, and I don't think $25 is unreasonable to help keep them signed and in decent shape.

I got the name of the NF contact for motorcycle use only trails, but then I decided to check some out solo just to gauge difficulty. There is a clump of singletrack due north of Johnson Siding. I went up the first one I hit, which was less heavily traveled than the other trail it connected to.



Steep and loose to a series of roots and ledges.


If I hadn't stopped to take the picture, I might have had enough momentum to clear it. Luckily, a rock broke the fall of my right kidney when I came off the back.


Breathing hard from lifting the bike and getting it through the slot, these rocks were a welcome break at the top.


The trail leading out. The problem with the hills is the granite that sticks up from the ground randomly. This leads to many "gotcha moments" and this stretch is no different. I was in third and sailing along when I hit the rocks in the trees a few hundred yards from the road. No problems, just a little wake-up.

Looking back.


I finished the day on Sheridan lake, trolling for trout on a pontoon. It was good afternoon for a boat ride.
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:29 PM   #6
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Looking good!
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:33 PM   #7
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CONGRATS! CONGRATS! CONGRATS!

That's big. Nice job.

I know, I lived it. My wife that is. After having 2 boys, she decides to go to nursing school. Took awhile, but she got her RN. Has been working PEDS(kids) for 10+yrs. She loves it.

This past year she decides to do the Walden online thing for her Masters. So at almost 48, shes back at it.

Congratulations again. Enjoy your well deserved summer!

...and keep posting those great pics.
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samthg View Post
CONGRATS! CONGRATS! CONGRATS!

That's big. Nice job.

I know, I lived it. My wife that is. After having 2 boys, she decides to go to nursing school. Took awhile, but she got her RN. Has been working PEDS(kids) for 10+yrs. She loves it.

This past year she decides to do the Walden online thing for her Masters. So at almost 48, shes back at it.

Congratulations again. Enjoy your well deserved summer!

...and keep posting those great pics.
Thanks, and that's awesome! I don't know how my classmates with children did it... nor do I know how my wife stuck with me.

It was sometime around my 30th birthday when I decided to go down this road for real. I'm a high school dropout and had a relatively good, but totally boring, career in telecom for almost ten years. I had a few surgeries on my back about five years ago that got me thinking I'd rather do something with people than machines. In a goofy twist, I've fallen in love with the operating room and hope to find a job in one.
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:52 PM   #9
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Great report and please keep more of it coming! That sure is some pretty country!
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:09 PM   #10
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What a great place to go exploring!
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:24 PM   #11
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6.15.11

I intended to have a really big day today with some fishing but only ended up with about 50 miles of trail. It was plenty. I packed my new Tenkara rod and my trusty 6 piece 4wt, a turkey sandwich grandma made, and a rain jacket and headed back to the singletrack near Johnson Siding hoping to get a faster route north to 385. I ended up following a lot of circles and dead end and even figured out the range of "Extreme difficulty" on the Forest Service signs.

Another view of the start of 6310. It doesn't get much traffic, is not technical, and is overgrown which adds an element of awesome.


The (other) end at a central dirt road.The gate 50 yards away is open but it marked unmotorized on the same trail marked with a motorcycle here.
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:32 PM   #12
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Once I connected to the main dirt road, I attempted to find an offshoot that would take my to Hwy 385. My fist guess landed me on 6312.It had a little red sticker that said "Extreme Difficulty". Sweet! I went off to check it out, finding several intersections and some fun, but small, rocky and ledgy climbs and descents.


I saw iris blooming in the trail.


I saw sweet twotrack flanked by soft pine boughs.


Then... Holy crap, what the duece? That's the trail. There you go, trials guys and rock crawlers. It's all yours.
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:45 PM   #13
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After seeing that trail, I was a little leery of those red stickers. Unfortunately I ran out of options as the trails without them were dead ends or loops. I came to this intersection. After looking at my map, I knew it was my way out.

I went uphill, figuring I could go down more things than I could get up. It was moderately technical, steep in places and loose. A lot like the Colorado trails I ride a frequently. Definitley not a bunch of boulders.

I also got the sense that the topography made the trails here fundamentally different from Colorado. In particular, the water bars. A water bar is a berm of dirt built up to keep the water from running down the trail and washing it out or just standing on the trail. In Colorado, most are very steep and (going uphill) you typically land at an uphill angle. Sometimes you get to land to flat, but not as often. I swear I was hitting water bars today that were built like tabletops, where I had a good sight line and could jump to a downward facing ramp on the other side. It was like having a little track feature built into the trail.
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:57 PM   #14
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The Central Region guys clued me in to the Centennial Trail, a portion of which is open to motorized. That's really why I went back to the same trail system. I headed a mile or two north of where the FS road let out and I was at the Pilot Knob trailhead. Little did I know I was in for a big treat... and a tiny bit of drama.


It has been raining pretty regularly so the puddles were deep and everywhere. Some were avoidable, some weren't. After a while, I just plowed since I was already soaked. The beginning has a nice climb with small water bars holding puddles on the back side. I was able to carry enough speed to jump them which kept me giggling for a while.


A moderately technical climb. There were a few medium-sized ledges, but nothing you couldn't get over with enough momentum.


In under 30 minutes, I came to a gate just above Box Elder Creek.


It's a bit muddy, but looking really close to good.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:13 PM   #15
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The Box Elder trailhead is the halfway point of the motorized section. I have a condition when I ride dirt that I call "Hamburguesa." Basically my blood sugar tanks and I start to get stupid and I feel like I could eat everything. Time to pull over and eat grandma's sandwich and the cookies she slipped in with it.

What's that? A rise in the bubble line? Game on! I watched a few small fish rise as I ate.


Hamburguesa over, I rigged up my Tenkara rod (a really long fly rod with no reel) and threw on a caddis pattern. I could see one species of caddis flying around.


3rd cast. I snagged a weed on the bank and it snapped like it was nothing. Yesterday I was catching bluegill with this rod with no issues. Today, it's busted. Replacement parts are relatively cheap, but it was a letdown. No fish, no strikes.

(Edit: Tenkara is replacing the rod!)

A giant black caddis wishes me better luck next time.


A parting shot.

Dysco screwed with this post 06-16-2011 at 06:09 PM
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