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Old 08-27-2011, 07:17 AM   #1
Sleddog OP
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Riding theTrans South Dakota Adventure Trail




Trans South Dakota Trail



I thought planning & riding a Gravel road route across South Dakota would be a fun adventure. I created a route that followed along the James & Missouri Rivers, then across the Native Prairies in the Western portion of the state, ending in the Black Hills. The Entire route is about 760 miles. I rode the first 1/2 of it, from my place to Pierre, SD. I found some of the planned roads closed or non existent. I can't wait to ride the second half.

The Route.....




On the road along the James River






Grandpa & Granddaughter fishing flooded waters of the James






Shelby with her catch




Views from the road






Wooden bridges






Long straight roads






A few curves






Some of the roads aren't Gravel!






A Drive in the Country....





Along the Missouri River






I stopped & fixed a Lunch at this spot




Sites like this were common



The next report I had a couple guys join me for the ride from Mitchell, SD to Kennebec, SD. I continued to Wall, SD

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Old 08-28-2011, 07:50 AM   #2
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Good Times........


I mentioned I was going to try & finish riding the Gravel Road Route, (TSDAT) across South Dakota over the 4th of July. Farmer said he would like to tag along & had a Buddy that was interested in joining us.
I decided they should ride the entire route, from the beginning in Mitchell, SD. We planned to meet at Cabela's at 13:30. Farmer had to finish some Bean Spraying & would meet Allen & I near Yankton.

Allen & his ride.....1000 V-Strom




Our route was going to take us along the James River to Yankton, cross into Nebraska & follow gravel roads to Pickstown, SD. I had planned on camping near Pickstown at a Rustic campground I discovered on the previous trip. However, we were slowed by roads that had become more difficult to travel because of all the heavy rains & flooding along the James & Missouri Rivers.

We arrived in Gross, Nebraska near sunset. We planned to eat at the local Steakhouse/Bar. By the time we were done eating it was almost dark. I asked the Bartender if it would be ok for us to camp at the little park across the street. He said to make ourselves at home. It was a great place to spend the night.

View on the way through Nebraska




After a stop for breakfast & fuel in Pickstown, we headed across the River to start our journey North. Soon we came to a flooded portion of the road that also had the Rustic Campground underwater. We turned around & tried to reroute around it. I thought I could intercept the road & salvage the most scenic portion. What ended up was 2 + hours of Adventure riding that reminded me of the recent Off Road Poker Run, only this time my bike was loaded. The "shortcut" eventually brought us back to the flooded road.

We don't have pics of the really tough stuff because we were too focused on getting through.....alive!

John coming to my rescue.




Allen right behind him




We had just ridden through the trees behind John




Allen, up on the pegs riding the 1000 like it's a 125!




John & Allen were heading home Sunday morning. When we arrived in Kennebec I told them I had a house there we could stay in, or there was a KOA The house had Electricity but no water....we took the KOA, we all needed showers.




We spent the evening Doctoring Allens leg & icing it down. I found some Woodchuck Hard Cider (Pear Flavored!) in the store. We ate burgers from the Chuckwagon & turned in. During the night the winds & rain came. Earlier in the evening the Campground host told us they had been flooded earlier & the water was a couple feet deep in the store. I was praying it wouldn't come up again. By morning when John & Allen departed it was sprinkling. I was continuing West, solo......










Good Times Continue......



Sunday morning John & Allen packed their gear & bikes & were heading home.We said our goodbye's & promised to continue the Adventure together another time. I wanted to find a way across the Ft. Pierre National Grasslands. I had run into road closures on the previous attempt.

As I rode out of the campground I could smell breakfast coming from the Chuck-wagon Kitchen, I thought about stopping & having a big healthy portion of pancakes but, decided some cold Chef Boyardee Lasagna would hit the spot in a couple hours.

A 1/2 mile North of town I turn west onto a nice gravel road. There are a few clouds left from the previous nights storms that rolled through




I always wonder what stories old Ranch buildings could tell





Storms & deterioration take their toll





I come across a sign that said road closed, about 1/2 mile further was an area that had been flooded with water. I figured they just hadn't been by to remove the sign. About 3 miles further I came across a huge washout. I walked it & decided I could ride across.





A little further up the road I came across another washout.....this time I remembered what Allen had said before they took off...."And Father watch over Jack, he will be traveling alone & needs to make good decisions" Or something pretty close to those words. I decided God had a sense of humor & this is where I was to make one of those decisions! I turned around & backtracked.




I ran into lots of these throughout the day.




Just before the above picture, I stopped to talk to a guy walking with his scruffy dog. We talked about the nice day, how green everything was, especially being it was July. He mentioned June had been pretty wet & that he had only worked 2 days the entire month because of how wet everything was. He looked at me & said "That's why my dog & I are walkin, can't afford to put gas in my truck on two days pay" He had indicated he lived "just over the hill" I really wanted to take his picture but didn't feel comfortable asking. As I rode away, over the hill, I saw his trailer,an old Chevy truck parked near it.
I'm sure he'll figure out why there were knobby tire tracks in & out of his driveway.........





If there is someone with that name, how come I keep getting his mail in my box?




I'll bet they built the Church in this spot because of the view the congregation would have when arriving for services.





The Ghost Town of Capa, along the Bad River....




A few buildings still remain









A little ways down the street from the above building, there used to be a Hotel that had a Hot mineral springs pool. A guy I work with said when he was about 10 years old (40+ years ago)he, his Dad & Uncles Deer hunted in the area. He remembers going over to the building & crawling through a window to get to the pool. They would chase critters out, undress & all pile in for a bath!

You can still get Hot baths at this Hotel in Midland, SD





When I arrived in Midland I went to the city park & got out the laptop to look at maps. I needed to route my way back north to intercept my original route. I had about a 100 miles of fuel left & knew there wasn't much available further west. I thought I would have to go down to the Interstate to find gas. I also wanted to fill my Camel-back with water. I started wandering around town & saw the Hotel. Behind the Hotel there was a guy re-stringing his weed-eater. I told him I was riding gravel across the state. I asked about the Hotel & that I never had heard about the mineral springs until earlier this spring. I told him I've never seen any ads for it. He said "Naw, we just let people find it on their own" I asked if there was a place to get fuel. He said "Sure is, just follow this road & take the 1st left, then take the next left. You should be able to find some there"

After the 1st left I went about 50 yards & could see a full blown Convenience Store! I chuckled to myself & felt stupid 'cause he got me. I'm sure he thought here's another City guy that thinks we don't have modern conveniences out here in the sticks.

Between Capa & Midland I found this sign along the road!




After leaving Midland I soon came to this sign.




As hard as I tried, I couldn't make out the wagon tracks, but they're there.




Then I went through another Ghost Town of Ottumwa



And then, I found this sign. I was on the first car road from Chicago to Yellowstone!




Read more about the trail here. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/us14.cfm

All I could think of was how many times I've heard people say or read how boring they thought going across South Dakota is! Here I am, just a few miles North of I-90 & I'm ecstatic with the views & history I'm just happening upon!

The road I wanted to travel along the Cheyenne River didn't exist anymore. I talked to a Rancher that said a bridge had washed out about 30 years ago. They never fixed it & closed the road & it was impassable. He told me how to go south & west through Grindstone, Creighton & Pedro to get to Wasta. En-route I came across another church. Dowling Community Baptist Church, built in 1926.




To me, it was interesting that they put the bell on this pile of rocks instead of in the Bell Tower.




Wall, SD is home to the famous Wall Drug. Wall was named after the Natural "Wall" formation nearby. Going West of town, toward Wasta, you have a good view of the Wall when looking across the huge flat Prairie. It was getting late in the day as I approached the edge of the Wall & started to descend. The gravel had been really good. Pretty soon I was on a dirt 2-track, full of ruts & huge clumps of mud. I was riding close to the edge of the trail near steep drop offs. I started thinking again of maybe this is where I'm suppose to have help making good decisions......shortly, I can see a cattle gate ahead & below. There is good gravel beyond it. It was like being on one of my first skydives.....scared something might go wrong, then elated & a rush for making it through unscathed!

I found a campsite at Wall & over a Clamato reflected on the weekends ride. Monday morning I headed home via the Badlands.






I'm looking forward to completing this ride, to the Black Hills. Then hopefully go explore a South to North route

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Old 08-28-2011, 08:07 AM   #3
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Thumb Good Work!!

Looks like a great ride!! I have been through SD many times, but you're taking me through some places I haven't seen! What a great state!!! Thanks.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:35 AM   #4
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All I could think of was how many times I've heard people say or read how boring they thought going across South Dakota is! Here I am, just a few miles North of I-90 & I'm ecstatic with the views & history I'm just happening upon!
So true.

Looks like a great ride.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:49 AM   #5
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Great pictures! thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:58 AM   #6
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Fine RR , was just "back home" (SE S.D.) just 2 weeks ago . Unfortunatly I was driving the motor home dragging the car . All the way across from the northwest , all I can think of is how many fun rides I see . Hopefully I can retire in a couple years and have time to ride many places I have only driven by . Thanks for the report , hopefully you will do some more soon .
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Old 08-28-2011, 02:44 PM   #7
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Great ride report and pictures. I'm reading between the lines when you said "he could figjure out the knobby tracks...in his driveway" and hoping you did what I would have done. If so, good on you. I call these thiings deposits in the karma bank. And there are some nice rides in SD!
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:06 AM   #8
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Anyone that has gone West of Chamberlain on I-90 has probably seen this structure to the North.

Iíve driven by & wondered what it was for over 40 years. Friday, there was a pickup pulling out of the pasture into the ditch beside the Interstate. I did a quick U-turn & went back to ask the Rancher what it was. He smiled & said it was an abandoned magnesium mine. He thought it had been shut down in the mid 1940ís, before his or my time! We visited for a while & he told me to go through the gate & go take a closer look at the mine.
This is the mine shaft, full of water now. He said years ago you used to be able to crawl down into it.

Guessing, I think this structure probably contained a big wheel that was fed ore from the mine.

I unloaded in Wall & left my truck there. I rode down to Sage Creek campground in the Badlands, where I spent the night. Overnight there was a huge Thunderstorm & lots of rain. Fortunately I stayed dry in the tent. Next morning I packed up & headed out.
I came across this building & thought it unusual for a house this big so close to the road with no other buildings nearby. It could have been a hotel. There was big concrete pad behind it. Maybe a gas station with repair facilities. Anyway, itís fun to come across old structures & speculate what they may have been used for.

You have to wonder how many storms the silo has been through!

I wanted to go through Scenic. Itís a cool old western town that up until the 1960ís used to be a major shipping point for cattle from the area. Scenic was listed for sale this summer. While I was there, there were probably 15 Ė 20 vehicles that drove into town. People were taking pictures & milling around. The store / gas station wasnít open & I thought they had wasted their opportunity to cash in on the boost in tourism the Advertising had brought in.
One of two jails in town

At one time you could get anything you needed at the General store!

I wanted to head West out of Scenic. Maps showed there was a road/trail. However, after several miles it came to a gate & private land with no trespassing signs on it. I backtracked a ways to where the trail headed southeast. I followed it thinking I could connect with a road that headed west again. I could never get to it; running into dead ends or private land again. Eventually I came out on hiway 40, about 15 miles south of Scenic. Iím going to leave this section in my tracks, as an alternate, because it is such a nice scenic ride, worth the time to ride.

After getting back to Scenic I continued on hiway 44 West until I got across the Cheyenne River where I was able to get back on gravel & connect with my original route.
This old church is in Folsom, SD

You see a lot of boots hung on fences in the West. There is a significance to the tradition but I canít remember what it is.

I was riding on a gravel road when I noticed a big piece of cardboard, the size a refrigerator would come in. It had a target fastened to it. As I went by, I thought it odd that it was leaning up against the fence. I looked around & there were no buildings or anything I could see. I did a U-turn to go check it out. As I got back a guy on a 4-wheeler pulled up. We introduced ourselves & I said I had to check out the target out here in the middle of nowhere. He said he was sighting in his rifle. I had to have a bewildered look as I started looking around to see where. He pointed & said ďfrom right over thereĒ Finally I see down this little path, about 75 yards, his gun laying on a blanket, in the track of the path. I look back at the target & realize heís shooting across the road! You have to visualize the grass, itís 3 feet tall, he has ear muffs around his neck. There is no way he could have heard me or seen me coming. He held out his hand, with a shell in it & said ďitís a 405 WinchesterĒ I looked at the target & there were 5 or 6 holes in about a two foot circle. I said ďa buffalo gun huh?Ē he said ďYepĒ. We BSíd for 15 minutes, talked about shooting & hunting. Discussed if there was a different way to get from Scenic across the Cheyenne or not. I regret not taking pictures. Itís one of the great experiences of the trip that I didnít get documented.
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Gramp-Z View Post
Fine RR , was just "back home" (SE S.D.) just 2 weeks ago . Unfortunatly I was driving the motor home dragging the car . All the way across from the northwest , all I can think of is how many fun rides I see . Hopefully I can retire in a couple years and have time to ride many places I have only driven by . Thanks for the report , hopefully you will do some more soon .
Coming from the NW to SD, you drove through some beautiful country....When in the cage, I'm always looking off to the side wondering what I'd see if I were on the bike....exploring.




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So true.
You have any DS plans for this fall Charlie?
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Old 09-06-2011, 03:36 PM   #10
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Do you have tracks for this posted up for download?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:42 PM   #11
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Neat ride. That looks like a fun way to get across SD. I remember seeing the story about the town for sale earlier this summer. I may have to hit you up for the tracks sometime.
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:08 AM   #12
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What a great ride. Is there a track?

How would you go over to the Hills? Cuny Table to Buffalo Gap, across 79 through the gap, then up Red Valley Road would be cool. But there have to be some bushwhacks across the rez.
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Old 09-23-2011, 07:23 AM   #13
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What a great ride. Is there a track?

How would you go over to the Hills? Cuny Table to Buffalo Gap, across 79 through the gap, then up Red Valley Road would be cool. But there have to be some bushwhacks across the rez.
jud, I went to Hermosa & tried to find gravel from there to the other side of 385. I kept running into dead ends, roads closed or roads that didn't exist. I need to explore the area you're suggesting, I haven't been down that way but, it looks good.

I do have tracks that I can send, drop me a PM

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Old 09-23-2011, 01:20 PM   #14
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That looks great!
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Old 09-23-2011, 02:03 PM   #15
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jud, I went to Hermosa & tried to find gravel from there to the other side of 385. I kept running into dead ends, roads closed or roads that didn't exist. I need to explore the area you're suggesting, I haven't been down that way but, it looks good.

I do have tracks that I can send, drop me a PM

Sleddog
From Buffalo Gap, 7-11 Road crossed 79, passes through the epomymous gap, and crosses over to 385, just a few miles north of Hot Springs. A much nicer ride is to turn north on Red Valley Road (just past the trout farm), which carries you up through the back side of Wind Cave Nat'l Park. If you bear left at the Y, you will come out on 87, maybe six or seven miles north of its junction with 385. Taking the right fork will bring you out at the south end of the Wildlife Loop. From which you can pick up French Creek Road to come out at Blue Bell after passing Horse Camp campground.

When I was there in August, a bunch of us crossed from Red Shirt east to BIA 27, the road that runs south from Scenic. This is true bushwhacking. Tracks exist intermittently, but they don't show on the Delorme. I bailed early because of an overloaded bike and a recently-dislocated shoulder. It was pretty wet in there, not usually the case. I look forward to completing that segment next year.

It also looks like you can go west from Red Shirt over to Fairburn, pretty much following French Creek.
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