My Pawnee Buttes day trip.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by MrBob, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

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    Ever since glimpsing them from a distance a few years ago I've been curious about the Pawnee Buttes located in the Pawnee National Grassland:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pawnee_National_Grassland

    With money so tight, it's hard to justify burning gas for this little outing but I find the solution in my back yard.

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    The Strom has been lounging around for the past few days and seems willing to come along.

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    It takes me about 15 minutes to pack and head out from my Longmont home.
    Still feeling burdened by hard times:

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    But I got the antidote right here:

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    #1
  2. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

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    In spite of the malls and subdivisions in my part of Colorado, it's still largely an agricultural area:

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    and there are reminders of a simpler time:

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    Warm weather won't be with us for much longer:

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    Avoiding the slab on the way to PB takes me through one small town after another:

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    These beauties are in Eaton, CO. I'd take any one of them. I'm sure someone can help me with the name of the shop.

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    #2
  3. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

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    As I ride further north the towns begin to thin out and big skies and open prairie take over:

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    I stop to ask directions from a few of the locals:

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    They talked it over and recommended this road:

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    I didn't quite manage to kill myself on it, the V Strom does not like deep sand.

    Closer!
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    At this point I've been riding on poorly marked gravel roads for about 20 miles and I'm relieved to see this sign:

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    Just outside of the little crossroads of Keota lies their cemetery:

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    I like to stop at these old cemeteries to pay my respects and read the inscriptions:

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    There were entirely too many infants buried there and not many of the residents made it out of their 30's - a tough life back in the day.

    A little further down the road I see this and immediately guess what it is. Can you guess? Think long, pointy things that shoot into the sky. I grab a quick photo and get out of there before the black helicopters show up.

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    More miles of gravel road riding fun and I come to this sign:

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    And soon after see this:

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    Back after a break -
    #3
  4. AviatorTroy

    AviatorTroy Long timer

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    Very nice. I rode through the grasslands this summer, but didn't really stop. That baby most likely died in the 1918 flu epidemic.

    My wife likes your Volvo!!! :evil
    #4
  5. East Coast Rider

    East Coast Rider Just Me...

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    Yup...keep it coming.... :thumb
    #5
  6. FirstPath

    FirstPath Long timer

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    Rode through there summer of '09 with my two boys and a hack on our way back to Minnesota. Would love to have gone exploring on the dirt roads taking you off the main highway.

    I too am envious of your P1800...

    Scott in Shoreview
    '85 Voyager Hack
    '79 Suzuki GS 550
    #6
  7. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

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    The 1800 makes a great gasoline storage tank in addition to being a blast to drive.
    BTW, I grew up in east St. Paul in the McDonough Housing Projects when Shoreview was mostly farms.
    #7
  8. Dekay

    Dekay Adventurer

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    half-life, Washington
    Keep the Pics coming! Nothing like solitude on 2 wheels...
    #8
  9. surly357

    surly357 Cochetopa dreamin'

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    i figure any day spent on the pawnee instead of in longmont is a good day:D

    here's my favorite shot of keota (from the 1920's....)

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    #9
  10. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Nice Antedote:lurk
    #10
  11. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

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    That's a great photo. I like seeing the place when it was more alive. When I passed through, the only signs of life were a gang of goats.
    #11
  12. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

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    Off to my left, the entire northern horizon contains these:

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    Alternative energy, hurray!

    Another one of the locals who decides to stand in the middle of the road. We share a "Stebel moment" and the road is clear.

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    This is open range country so riding at night can be tricky. I remember this later.

    I arrive at a little parking area. At this point I'm so pumped to get on the hiking trail that taking a photo slips my mind. There are two porta-potties and a few beat up signs and that's it. I'm glad I brought water and snacks. I start down the trail:

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    The weather is wonderful, warm temps with a light breeze. I imagine that in summer the heat could be blistering.

    The trail is a pleasure to hike. The only sounds are birds and the breeze; no sirens or trains or pirate bikers. I'm in heaven.

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    #12
  13. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

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    Looks a lot like the Dakota Badlands.

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    Off the main trail were trails following some of the gullies. I imagine they would be places to find shade on a hot day.

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    I'm really glad I made the trip but, to be honest, I expected more "butte" looking structures.

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    Marching on, I gradually realize that I have yet to arrive at the actual buttes - doh! Soon, I see this:

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    And I added another photo to show how the light changed as the sun and clouds changed positions.

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    A little further along the trail I see this. I called them Butte A and Butte B but I'm pretty sure they have other names.

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    Hiking toward Butte "B" I come across an Antelope highway. I saw plenty of these beautiful animals on this ride but by the time I got the bike stopped and pulled out the camera they were tiny, leaping figures rapidly receding on the horizon. The soil here is very fine, like talcum powder. My footsteps raise clouds of dust.

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    Along the trail:

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    Looking back toward the trailhead I see rain coming. Time to go because those gravel roads would be no fun when wet.

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    One more look at this magnificent formation.

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    But, wait, in true Colorado fashion the clouds disperse and are gone within minutes and the evening light turns soft and golden.

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    I arrive at the bike just before dark, look to the West, and receive another gift from nature:

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    Now it was dark and between myself and the nearest highway was miles of unfamiliar and unlit rough road. Just the same, I was determined to wait for the stars to appear, and did they ever. OMG - the Milky Way appeared to be made of clouds of stars and planets and the sky was faintly lit by starlight. I was completely alone and filled with wonder.
    Riding along in the dark and looking for deep sand and panicked critters was invigorating (and scary) but once again me and my Strom made it through.
    I arrived home safely, a little over 8 hours and 230 miles after leaving Longmont. I'm already planning my return trip with camping gear.
    Thanks for riding along. I hope you enjoyed sharing my trip to this wild and beautiful place. It's a little challenging to get to, but worth it.
    #13
  14. Odysseus

    Odysseus Stoic Philosopher

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    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing. The sunset picture was particularly good.
    #14
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Nice ride! Thanks for the report and pics :thumb
    #15
  16. WilderRider

    WilderRider Long timer

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    Thanks for sharing. I usually go ride them in the spring before the melt up high. It is deceptive how far out there they are. Last year I managed to run out of gas on my DR650. Prompted me to go invest in a Safari tank.
    #16
  17. L8APX

    L8APX Slightly Oversquare

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    Great RR and best of fortune to you! :thumbup
    #17
  18. TwoShots

    TwoShots Vagabond

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    Very cool. Almost soothing!
    Thanks for sharing.
    :thumb
    #18
  19. LumpTheBeezu

    LumpTheBeezu Been here awhile

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    Loved your report and pics! Hope your future shapes up better than you ever imagined!!
    #19
  20. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

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    Appreciate the kind thoughts, thanks.
    #20