Author Topic: Run 2 the Hills  (Read 146 times)


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Run 2 the Hills
« on: July 23, 2014, 09:32:06 pm »
Hi all!!!

This isn't the first time I've been to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota but it is the 2nd time I've blogged about it, hence the 2 in the title.

First a little bit of a preface.  My story starts with a KLR.  Please, please, hold the applause.   ;D  It was back on '04 that I purchased my KLR new from C&S Motorsports in Aberdeen SD, and that's where it happened.  One day as I was frequenting the establishment a man couldn't resist but to come up and talk to me... because of the KLR.  This man was RevMartin.  To my good fortune we immediately became friends.

Fast forward to two weeks ago and I was out in my shop sweating while working on my Rally Raid Evo2 kit.  The phone rings, it's RevMartin.  He says 'Hey I've got a few guys coming up next weekend.  You in?'  I said 'I'll try'.

Everything I did was trouble.  The shrouds for the EVO kit were back-ordered (I still haven't received them).  Wolfman luggage didn't process my order when it was ordered but compliments to Wolfman and Frank especially, they took care of me and made sure I had my luggage in time for the trip.  That's a whole 'nother story but to condense it Wolfman is AWESOME and so is Frank!  Frank @ Wolfman didn't have one of the bags I wanted in stock and he told me to look to Revzilla.  Their service was excellent.  I couldn't believe how fast the bags arrived!  I would recommend them to anyone.  Unfortunately because the shrouds never showed up I couldn't use the bags  :'( .  I pinched rear a tube putting on my D908's and I may have pinched the replacement I still haven't decided on that one.  I ordered a new GPS (Garmin Monterra) which showed up the day before the trip, too bad the powered mount I ordered didn't show up in time.  I ordered these through C&S instead of the internet.  I really prefer to support my local vendors rather than purchase on the internet.  I will always call and see if I can get anything local first.  Matt and Steve at C&S are really good people.  I would definitely tell anyone in the area to go through them if possible (I would like it if people out of the area could use them as well).  I never have to ask to match internet price, Matt is always near or below what I find on the 'net.  I don't even look anymore I know they treat me well. There were also a few smaller inconveniences that occurred prior to the trip that had me questioning things.

Needless to say the build up to the trip was causing me some grief.  I was starting to think it was a sign that I should just stay home.  I'm not even a superstitious person.  Clearly I didn't listen to these signs and continued on instead and I'm damn sure glad I did!!!

I wasn't quite ready enough on Friday the 18th of July 2014.  I was planning on leaving at 9 am and didn't get on the road until 1130 or 1200 CST.  The grief didn't end.  First I couldn't remember how to set my Spot to tracking mode.  I thought I had it set and left the house.  Less than 5 miles into my trip I realized that the batteries in the spot were dead.  Luckily I had the foresight to pack some AA's.  I replaced them but still didn't get the tracking right.  I kept going not knowing the tracking wasn't working.  A few miles later I was turning west onto a road that was what I call a section line.  You see, in my neck of the woods the world is cut up into one mile squares or 'sections'.
A lot of the time these roads aren't always used by normal traffic, just tractors and such getting to and from the fields.  This is the type of off roading I have near me... straight lines with some ruts here and there.  Nothing exciting.  It's all flat around here.... Thank you ancient glacier!

Back to the story.  I finally got the tracking going after a short call with my father and I was only 20 or so miles from home.  I got turned around a few times right away and was getting discouraged about the whole trip but I kept soldiering on.  I took gravel to Ipswich where I stopped at Buffalo Station and had a burger.  I continued on west of Roscoe were I finally turned south onto some gravel.  My entire goal for this trip was primarily gravel travel.

I followed the gravel until I reached Gettysburg, SD (Where the battle wasn't).  I have a thing for historical markers.  You guys will learn that soon enough.  I have a goal to have a picture of my bike with each historical marker in the state. 

I fueled up and took pavement across the river (in South Dakota if you say 'The River' it means the Missouri River).  I traveled several miles of pavement after crossing the river.  While on the asphalt I passed a section of prairie where the tribe is pasturing bison.  I regret not stopping to take a picture.  We have raised bison in the past, 2-3 at a time.  They were always yearlings.  These bull bison on the prairie were nearly 3/4's of a mile away and I could still tell how large they were.  I'm 6'4" and I'm positive these guys would be taller than me at the shoulder.

I traveled on down the road until my GPS finally told me to turn down some gravel.  Game on!!  It was gravel for a long time.

I turned on one BIA road and onto another but not before a picture.

I continued on down the next road and it just got better.  Things were really coming together.  I was listening to Black Label Society and just purely enjoying life.  Black Label is where the SDMF comes from in my handle.  The rest of it (Reaps) is from a WWII flight simulator that I was part of in the late '90s and early '00s.

Anyway after some time I came to a highway.  I had to follow it for awhile.  A truck I pulled out behind just happened to be going the same way I was.  We both turned onto a gravel road.  This gravel road turned into a trail.  I took a picture. 

This trail turned into a path.  I stopped near a ranch house because it looked like the end of the trail.  After a few minutes of checking my GPS, I saw a vehicle leaving the ranch and coming my direction.  An old man pulled up in an SUV.  He reminded me of my TU—KAŠILA ((Toon-kah-sheela)(Grandfather)).  I instantly felt very fond of him.  So much so I will use my technology (GPS) to find out who he is and send him something in the mail.

My new friend and I talked about the weather, where I'm from and where I'm going.  I told him my GPS told me there was a road 100 feet back that will take me where I'm going.  He told me he's never seen a road there, but the trail continues down by his house, all the way to a gravel road that will take me where I need to go to get fuel.  We say our parting ways and I took off.  I traveled a short distance and found a very rutted up path that led to a culvert that had just been put in.  I bounced across the obstacles and into a hay field.  I could see some tracks in the field but didn't feel like trespassing.  I was sure I missed something so I turned back around and bounced back across the huge ruts.  Low and behold the old man was traveling down the path to make sure I was on my way.  I saw the old man coming down the path.  We met and I told him I came to a hay field and was worried I had missed my path.  In a stern voice he said 'No just follow the trail it's all just like this... I'm traveling this way.  Would you just like to follow me?'  I said 'Hell Yeah!'  So I followed Tunkasila across the big ruts and over the culvert.  He drove through the hay field and then across a cattle guard.  On the other side of which looked like the kind of trail I was looking for.  In case any of you are wondering what a cattle guard is, it is several pieces of round tube welded a few inches apart.  It provides a surface for vehicles to travel across but at the same time will not let livestock traverse it.  They need no training and understand immediately that they are not to cross.

I followed Tunkasila across the rolling prairie.  I wish I could have stopped now and then to take a picture but I didn't want to overstay my welcome.  This is honestly the greenest I have seen it West River.  Tunkasila also told me that I would never see this again.

We got near the end of the trail and Tunkasila told me where to go and I insisted on shaking his and and thanked him.  He was never going to travel that far on this trail.  Honestly it wasn't suited for his vehicle, I would have felt a lot more comfortable on my own traveling faster with a bit more wind over me (because of the heat), but I wouldn't change anything for the world.  He was an incredible man.  I can say this and I know nothing about him.

I followed the instructions and made my way to Howes'.  The station was closed.  It looked as tho it may have been closed for years.  I don't believe it was I think I was just too late.

I looked at the GPS and decided that I had enough fuel to get to Union Station.  I kept moving and came to Union Station.  Upon reaching the town limits I had thought that the road was under construction.  There was so much smoke I thought they were grinding the road surface but it turns out it was just a guy in a diesel pickup with a missing engine.  It was pouring out smoke and knocking something terrible!

They only had ethanol so I put in 2.4 gallons of 85 octane because I knew it was twice as much as I needed to make it to RevMartins in Sturgis.

After leaving Union Station I finally got back on gravel.  All of a sudden I could see Bear Butte in the distance.  Bear Butte is a very sacred mountain to the Lakota People.  In Lakota it is called 'Mato Paha' or Bear Mountain.

I was so happy.  I came to a point where my GPS told me to turn west.  The path said 'Minimum Maintenance, Travel at your own risk'.  Nothing I'm scared of.  But it has a gate that is closed and I'm less than 60 miles from my destination and I just don't want to push my luck.  I mean it's been a long day already and I just want to park and take a nap.  So I give in and turn back.  I travel nearly to Sturgis.  My GPS decides to make me go through Fort Meade.  I see some of America's finest and jump back onto the highway I was just on.  I travel for what is a few feet and turn back off the highway.  I traverse a gravel road past a sacred cemetery and to a mountain trail.  My GPS is adamant that I'm slightly over a mile from my destination but the trail it wants me to go down is closed.  So I backtrack to the highway and travel a few miles following the GPS and finally pull into RevMartins home.  It turned out to be a 9 hour trek.  Once there I shake hands with the other riders.  We sit around a fire and I finally make my way to my resting place in a camper.  Before I went to bed the bikes were put to bed in the garage. 

The next day the five of us get prepared for the day to follow.

We rode over 200 miles before the others went back to base camp and RevMartin and I rode some of the OHV trails.  These included some rock ridden trials.  Some rocks the size of your head.  By the end of the day I was wore out.  I ended the day making 55.36 MPG.

During this ride we went to Pactola Lake.

The little rock you see in the lake has an American Flag flying proudly on it's peak.

Martin's KLR was acting up to this point.  The brake lite was flashing intermittently and the turn signal was steady most of the time it was on.  It turns out the battery was bad.  I think it had a dead short.  While at Pactola we tried to diagnose the problem.  Some Harley riders showed up and the female riders were amazed at the amount of tools us 'dirt riders' were carrying.  We may have not solved the problem right then and there but we got the bike running (push started).  RevMartin and Ross headed home to get a new bike and meet the rest of us at a Chinese restaurant, after I stopped at the KTM dealer to get a new rear brake return spring.

The food was excellent but a few of us ate too much and regretted it for 20-30 minutes of the following ride.

We left town and were heading down the highway towards reptile gardens.  Martin decided to turn towards Hart Ranch and I threw out my hand to signal that I was changing lanes.  After signaling I looked over my shoulder and saw a vehicle a ways back.  I pulled my hand in a stayed in my land while slowing down to wait for the car to pass.  As it did I saw a young boy make a weird face and throw his hand out the window to flip me off as they passed.  I'm on vacation and am supposed to relax but this made me mad for some reason.  So I  returned the favor.  They proceeded to fly up to the rest of the group, almost run over Phillip and then throw a bottle at the group.

Some peoples kids!

So we proceeded down the road.  Low and behold near the end of the road I saw a little grey car.  I thought to myself that it looks similar to the vehicle I got flipped off by.  Sure enough I was rolling around the corner and in the drivers seat there was a little girl throwing me the finger.  Later that day I talked to the others but no one else saw the finger.  Was it just me or was the rest of the group focused on the road?  I honestly don't know what I did that would make them flip me off in the first place.  I know I didn't cut them off or anything.  I honestly feel that they don't know what hand signals are.

Anyway back to my story.  We ended up on Iron Mountain Road. This road has cutouts in the mountain that line up with Mount Rushmore.  We stopped to take some pictures and met a nice guy who took all of our pictures.  He just happened to be the ROM for our area with Harris Product Groups.  I work in a welding supply shop and sell his products.  Needless to say we hit it off!

RevMartin, Phillip, Ron, Myself and Ross.

You probably can't make the faces out here, so I took another picture.

At the top of Iron Mountain Road I got a good view of Mt. Rushmore.

Later that day we sent everyone home and RevMartin and I did some harder trails.  I wish I could have taken some pics but riding was the priority.  I'm a rider first and a tourist third.

We ended the day with a good supper at a restaurant were Martins daughter works.

I slept well that night with dreams of trail riding going through my head.

Sunday we went to Church and then afterwords RevMartin and I put some miles on what he calls 'easy trails'.  Martin was riding a KLX 250 so I spent my time just trying to keep up.  I was still wore out from the previous two days and by the end of this day I was spent.

This part of the trail was easy.

Martin laughed at my plate.  It decided to separate itself from the bike so 3 zip-ties later and all was well.

Later we passed a gold mine.

The payloader took three scoops to fill the truck.  I counted the time until I heard noise.  It took 2.5 seconds.

We took off and crossed the haul road, followed a trail until it ended here.

From here we went for a hike to a ledge.  It was a long way down!  Click the pic below for a video.

Here's one for the Ladies!  What an ugly mug  :o

The Canyon.

I didn't get anymore pics that day.  We went back down the trail, past the mine and to a Subway and split a 6".  From there we headed home in a mix of gravel roads and trails.  Martin let me lead most of the way so I wouldn't have to feel bad about not being able to keep up.  ;D

Once home I cooked some corn on the cob on the grill.  Once it was done Phillip cooked hamburgers and hot dogs.  Boy was that a good meal!

We sat by the fire and talked the night away.  RevMartin tried to talk me into staying another day, but I just couldn't do it.  Off to bed with more dreams of trail riding.

Monday came too quickly.  I got up and started packing.  Said my goodbyes, fueled up and was on my way.

I kind of have a tradition to take a pic of my bike with Bear Butte on my way out of the area.  I'm not sure what happened to my phone on the first pic below but it looked kinda cool.

I continued up Bear Butte road and a few other gravel roads until I came across a closed bridge.  I had to backtrack a bit on some asphalt to get back on my track.  I then followed Twilight Road to Mud Butte Road until I hit 212.  This was marked as a minimum maintenance road but it was fine.  I came across a herd of sheep and 3 herds of cattle, one of which was just on the other side of the crest of a hill.  I came over at around 50ish, put the binders on and ended up in the middle of the herd luckily without hitting anybody.  I did manage to take a medium sized bird to the chest and kill it.  That one got the adrenaline pumping for quite awhile. 

From mountains to prairie.

Clearly in this environment it was time to listen to Chris LeDoux.  What a wonderful ride.  These are certainly the times when I can't help but smile and think to myself 'what an extraordinary way to travel'.  Just excellent!   8)

Once at 212 I stopped to take a break.  I ate an apple and drank some water.

I then jumped on the highway for a few miles to another gravel road.  I followed it to a road closed sign.  There was a group of guys installing two large culverts in the road.  I passed the road closed sign and down a trail it looked like the workers were using.  It ended with a large drop off to the creek below.  Unpassable.  I went back to the road closed sign and started looking at the GPS.  There were no connecting roads that could get me where I wanted to go.  I was going to have to backtrack more than 20 miles.  Then I heard someone yelling.  I turned around and it was they guy in the front end loader.  He was telling me I could go through!  I packed up my stuff and got moving as fast as I could.  Going across the construction zone was a bit tough.  It was muddy, rutted and had piles of dirt scattered randomly.  I thought I was going to fall down and embarrass myself in front of these guys.  I made it through without trouble.  I'm sure glad they let me through.

I continued until I came to a highway.  I followed this to Bison.  Just before arriving my low fuel light came on.  What the heck?  Only 120 miles?  This cant be.  Oh yeah, I forgot to open the pet****s after fueling up in Sturgis.  Whoops.

Onward I go.  I came to a small town with a junkyard on the side of the road.  It had an airplane mounted on a short tower.  It appeared to be able to pivot on a rubberized mount of some sort.  It made me wonder how much it moved in heavy wind.  In the light breeze of the day it was dancing around a bit.

I continued on to Lemmon and fueled up again.  Just over 51 mpg this time.  I asked the lady at the station where I should go to eat.  She told me to go to the R Bar.  Good call!  I had a bacon cheeseburger with peperjack, grilled mushrooms and onions.

As I was eating a storm blew through.  The wind came up and there were a few sprinkles but most of it went north of town.  Leaving town I stopped to snap some pictures of Lemmon's petrified wood forest.

I continued on my journey.  I had some trouble and ran into some section lines that were very difficult to tell if they went through.  I eventually got tired of searching for a road every couple of miles and decided to get back to highway 12 and make some tracks until the other side of the river.

Historic marker.

The temperature dropped drastically.  My rockgardn gear is great in the heat but not so in the cold.  Luckily I brought a windshirt.  I stopped in McIntosh and donned the shirt.  I was just thinking it was a waste of space since I hadn't used it all weekend.  I'm sure glad it was along for the trip when the temp dropped.

I made it to Mobridge and fueled up again even though I didn't need to.  I left Mobridge and got concerned that I was going to have to travel through a storm.  Riding in the rain wasn't so much of a concern as getting my raingear out of the duffel was haha.  I had it packed so nicely.

I remained on the asphalt until I reached highway 10 north of Mound City.

I was tired of all this highway riding and wanted to end my travel with some gravel.  I jumped north of 10 and zigzagged around here and there.  Down some gravel, then some section lines.  Then some unused section lines.  Now I'm in the middle of nowhere with few options.  I really don't want to backtrack.  So I ford ahead and finally make my way back to a gravel road.  This road when 1 mile before turning into a rarely used section line.  I decided to turn around and went south.  I found a good looking gravel road and followed it until I came to a place where it washed out years ago.  At this point the sun was nearly below the horizon.  I had enough.  Back to the highway and higher speed to home.  I made it in time to go to bed and get up for work the next day.

I hope ya'll enjoyed my story and stay posted for another adventure this fall.


I forgot to add my track.  This was the plan and I stuck pretty close to it.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 09:57:06 pm by SDMF_Reaps »

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Re: Run 2 the Hills
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2014, 10:07:42 am »
VERY COOL!  Jealous that you have some great riding up there.   Would love to ride somewhere other than ATV trails for a change (not that I don't like the trails, just want openness for a change!)
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