Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Great North Woods

KI Road, East of Greenville, 10.12.10
We set out today to find Gulf Hagas. It’s a series of waterfalls that fall along the Appalachian Trail. Waterfalls and the AT! It seemed like a great idea. 
We headed east from Greenville towards Brownsville Junction on the KI road. About 20 miles in we came to a gate house and realized that it’d been shut down for the season. Awesome. We didn’t have to pay to get through. The road until now had been alright with occasional potholes. There had even been someone grating out all the washboards and bumps. But what we came to face was intense. 
At one spot Josh had to swerve so far back and forth across road so many times we both became car sick. The dog must have felt like a tennis ball. We finally ended up at Gulf Hagas. Prepared and psyched we started out. After about a 1/2 mile we came to a creek crossing that was mostly dry. We had heard that there was a stream to cross and we were lucky to have passed when it was dry. Or so we thought. 
Gulf Hagas, 10.12.10
After walking a bit further we came across the true stream crossing. Maybe 40 yards across. So, after sizing up our footwear I decided to go barefoot and Josh decided to try it booted. His boots are 12 inches high and waterproof. Wu was in it and thought it was the best day ever since we were in the water too. Several times he tried to take me down. The water was so cold that within a few yards I could barely feel them. Wu held me up a few times not realizing that we were actually trying to cross and weren’t playing. I made it most of the way before loosing my balance and dipping my boots and socks in the water. 
Josh made it about half way out before the water rose above his boot line. The moment it did he wished it hadn’t. After he got to shore and took them off he dumbed water out of each one. I did too, but not like he did. We hid our boots and set off even more determined barefoot.
We lasted about a half-mile. The ground was cold but not compared to what we had just endured with the stream. But we came to a sign and realized that we really had a long way to go and since we were barefoot maybe we shouldn’t risk it today. It was a great idea. Both of us trudge backed across the stream in our boots. And changed our shoes and began to dry out.
Katahdin Iron Works, 10.12.10
With that idea squashed for the day we headed east, again, for Katahdin Iron Works. It’s about 6 miles down the KI road. We expected to find another gatehouse but again it was closed for the season and we were free to explore. 

Across from the gatehouse was a Historic Site. We came across the old site of the Katahdin Iron Works mill. There was still an ore melting building and another brick outbuilding. They were awesome. The rock walls were all still standing and the area was well maintained. It was an unexpected find out in the middle of the woods. We walked and checked out every display board. Wu had a few leash training moments and after we felt that we had thoroughly check out the place we headed on back to camp. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mt. 10.10.10

Acadia is one of our most favorite places. I’ve been going there all my life and finally last fall Josh and I ventured there together. So, when we were thinking about moving to Maine in the fall we knew that we had to get to Acadia for some “leaf peeping” fun. 
We headed to the east and followed the scenic Rt 1 along the coast. The leaves were turning vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. Each pine tree seemed even greener. Ever turn revealed another landscape that belonged in a travel brochure. Quaint isn’t enough. 
Our first stop was the visitor’s center. We bought a pass and stamped our National Parks Passport. After three visits Josh finally was able to get his. Wu was accompanying us and we asked a few questions about where he was allowed. Off-season is great when you’re traveling with a pet. 
Top of Cadillac Mt. 10.10.10
The island was bustling with tourists. The leaves here hadn’t reached the peak change and already people were flooding here. I can’t blame them since it’s absolutely perfect. After getting a couple deli sandwiches and bring Wu for a walk we hit the Park Loop Road.
First stop, Sand Beach. This was the first time that Wu had ever seen sand or the ocean and we thought that it’s something worth showing him so we brought him down to the shore. It wouldn’t do him justice to say that he went wild. A craze took over him. He was into the water and was planning a swim when he realized that a wave was coming for him. He loves the water enough to keep going back for more. He dabbled and tried a drink. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do when he’s off-leash on the beach. 
Bass Harbor 10.10.10
Once we had wrestled Wu back to the car we headed down to Thunderhole. The tide was out and there wasn’t much for action. No crashing of waves or thunder to be heard.  It was still cool to see it at it’s lowest point. 

Jordan Pond House was too busy to make it into. I was a little disappointed at how busy everything really was. With Wu we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the carriage roads because there were so many people. We headed up to Cadillac Mountain. Stamped the Passports again and bought a few postcards. The wind was gusty up at the top. It was cold and we kept moving to stay warm. A quick shot of us together and we hopped from rock to rock until we it was too cold to stand. 
Wu was ever glad to see us and I was delighted that it wasn’t him that we had heard barking harassingly. He was just chilling and we headed off the east part of the island. With his hopes to swim crushed we decided to stop at a small stream and let him swim. He fetched sticks and ran up and down the shore. And after a few short minutes we had a happy dog. Off we went!
Our final destination was the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. There are two short paths; one leads to the ocean and the other leads to the lighthouse. The ocean path starts with wooden steps then ends in a pink granite stairway. It ends onto the rocky shore and you can scramble across the rocks to picnic or play. The lighthouse path is paved and leads straight to the light. It’s tarred and an easy walk. After snapping a few pictures and taking in the sun behind the clouds we decided to head home. 
When we finally got home we were completely relaxed. We headed up to bed early because we were heading north. 
Acadia NP 10.10.10

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Road East

9.11 Effigy Mounds, Josh & Wu
We were facing a 30+ hour drive with our cat, TomTom and our infamous dog, Wu. It was going to be an intense and long drive but we were determined to make it fun. Josh and I planned out a few stops across the country that were in National Parks, Monuments and Forests. Why not see the back road beauty of our country as we make our way halfway across the nation?

The first night we planned our stop in Decorah, Iowa. Neither of us had seen Iowa before and this was a great opportunity. It looked incredibly similar to Nebraska or Kansas or Indiana until we came to the Mississippi River valley. The hills were green and the trees were just beginning their fall change.

As early as we could manage we were on our way to Effigy Mounds National Monument. It's located in Harpers Ferry, Iowa with the Effigy Mounds nestled along the mighty Mississippi River. The road was very country and wound for miles through the hills.

The National Monument, itself, spread out along the terrace overlooking the river. It cost $3 per person for us to hike the trails and after paying the fee we headed to the northern area. There are miles of walking paths that follow the course of the river and meander to various groupings of mounds.

9.11 Fire Point Overlook
We stopped at several overlooks and enjoyed the leaves which were starting to turn. The overlooks were breathtaking and our favorite was Fire Point. The Mississippi had risen above it's banks and from Fire Point we watched the water race through the drowning treetops. At each stop we had a bird's eye view of the Mississippi River and surrounding woodlands.

It's easy to see why this area has been sacred for thousands of years and why past peoples created the earthen mounds that populate this area. The most popular mound shape we saw was conical. There were numerous mounds in other shapes like bears and birds which could be found too. Most of the mounds are raised just a few feet and wild grasses are allowed to grow nearly unhampered on their tops. The groundkeepers trim up to the edge of the mounds and help to outline and pronounce the mounds shape.

9.11 Effigy Mounds NM, Iowa
Since their discovery several of the mounds groupings have been excavated but still there is little known about the people that built them. The mounds themselves can be dated to be 1000-1200 years old with the conical mounds being the oldest. Most of the time the mounds held the burials of several individuals but there's no way to tell if it's family groups or otherwise. The history here was very interesting and there's still so much to be learned!

The mounds were well preserved and as we followed the path through the forest it felt peaceful and serene. It turned out to be a beautiful morning stroll with the sun just risen and the air still crisp and we were completely alone most of the time. It's moments like that when I realize how lucky we are. 

The rest of our morning was spent exploring and we made sure to get checked in at the Visitor's Center. The Effigy Mounds NM was another stamp for our National Parks Passport. As our adventure here came to an end we packed up Wu and headed east with only 1400 miles left to go...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Devil's Tower, Revisited.

Devil's Tower NM, WY 9.25.10
Today with our visiting family we tackled Devil's Tower. It's about 80 miles NE from Deadwood, just on the eastern side of the Wyoming Black Hills. The weather was amazing; 75°, blue skies and little wind. We made it there around 11:30 this morning. It's Public Lands Day and so there was no entrance fee. Ten dollars saved and everything keeps getting better!

First things first, we went into the Visitors Center and stamped out National Parks passports. We are slightly obsessed with collecting these cancellations. They're usually very pretty stamps and I like that the date you visited is usually included.

The Family! Devil's Tower NM, 9.25.10
Roughlock Falls, 9.25.10
Then the majority of the group took off on the loop that circles the base of the tower. It's just over a mile long, tarred and incredibly peaceful. The rocks that have fallen from the tower are called talus and the path follows just along the edge of the pile. On the other side is open forest with little underbrush and a few fallen trees. We walked taking a few photos along the way. We saw about 10 climbers. More than on any of our previous visits.  Over the course of the trail we spread out quite a bit. The youngest was the first all the way around and Josh and I nearly brought up the rear. It was just what I needed. Then we hit up the free cookies and water and headed back.

As a detour we went through Spearfish Canyon. The leaves here are in their peak colors and it was spectacular. Greens, yellows and oranges popped along the canyon. There was a lot of traffic but that didn't seem to take from the scenery. 26 miles of changing leaves, exposed peaks, occasional caves and a perfect stream to follow.

We stopped into Roughlock Falls where our wedding ceremony was going to take place. It was busting with people. So many people. The water was clear and the air was warm. It's a very beautiful place.We enjoyed every waterfall, each little bridge and overlook. There wasn't one overlook that wasn't already occupied but we managed alright. Some beautiful photos were taken. Everyone seemed to enjoy it despite the amount of people. So many Leaf Peepers.

Roughlock Falls, 9.25.10
We eventually made it home. The fresh mountain air is exhausting. It was great day and we are so happy that our family was here to enjoy it with us. And to see why we've been hanging out in South Dakota for so long!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Badlands NP, SD

Today was the beginning of a week long adventure! Josh's family flew up from Oklahoma and Texas for a few days exploring. When we postponed our wedding some of our families plans couldn't be changed so instead of the wasting plane tickets and a cabin they've up for a visit and mini-vacation. Since we don't live close to either of our families it's great to have this chance to get to know them better. Our visitors include;  his parents, both grandmothers, two aunts, one uncle and a cousin. To top it off- two friends from Oklahoma are also visiting. And I don't think that we'll be bored for one second this week.

Sage Creek Road, Badlands NP 9.23.10
We woke up this morning to rain. The sky was dreary and overcast and didn't look like it was likely to get better. As the day went on it began to slowly dry. The clouds didn't seem to clear but instead to divide and provide us with sunshine and blue skies. After picking up Josh's Uncle's family from the airport in Rapid City we headed east to Badlands National Park.

The Badlands at any point of the day are beautiful but today we saw them at sunset. We went into the park by dirt road from the south. It was 25 miles through grazing land. Buffalo and cattle dotted the fields. We drove up on a coyote. He was hunting a prairie dog town and didn't seem to be having much luck.

at Fossil Walk, Badlands NP 9.23.10
Just over an hour from Rapid we were seeing the formations. The badland formations have colorful stratigraphy that glows in the light. After a rain the reds, yellows and grays pop and having you wondering if you're even on earth. Tonight, the light gray soils reflected the colors of the sunset. Beautiful oranges and golds. Shadows moved every minute.  There were so many places where we got out of the car and took it all in. Everyone who had a camera was taking photos. It was awesome and more than a little windy.

After a few hours cruising we got to the end of the Badlands Loop Road just as the sun was setting. It was perfect timing. As we drove home it was complete darkness. It made all the colors that we had just seen even more spectacular. Maybe soon we can make it there for sunrise....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Southern Black Hills Tour

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial 9.16.10
This morning we hopped in the car and headed south on 385. It was a relaxing ride with our windows down with a warm breeze blowing around us.

We were on course for Custer State Park when we realized that we had taken a turn for Mt. Rushmore. The road winds, climbs and drops its way through the southern hills until you come up to Mount Rushmore. It was a perfect day for the faces. They glowed against the blue sky. From every perspective they are spectacular. Carved so precisely into the hills.

A burrow foal, Custer State Park 9.16.10
Custer is usually a hotspot for antelopes, bighorn sheep, elk, buffalos and burros but today we had little luck. The antelope were out in force. We saw several groupings of bulls, cows and calfs. The racks on the bulls are beautiful. Black and rigid. This past spring we saw two young bulls play fighting with their racks. It was awesome. There were a few calfs- each one cuter than the last.
Not one buffalo was seen. This was the first time that this has ever happened. We did the whole Wildlife Loop Road and a few offshoots but still didn't see anything. Both Josh and myself were incredibly disappointed but are still hopeful that we can make it there for the Annual Buffalo Round-up on the 27th of September (also Josh's Birthday)!

Heddy Draw Lookout Point, Custer State Park 9.16.10
Though there was a distinct shortage of buffalo we encountered plenty of burros. Fairly aggressive burros at that. There were three burro "encampments" that we had to travel through and in each one both of us had to guard ourselves. They stuck their heads in the windows and poked around for food. Sniffing everything with great intent and lipping most of the surfaces. We were able to scratch there faces and love on them a bit but they were nothing short of demanding.

I was hoping to see a mountain goat or elk but even though it didn't happen it felt incredible just to be on another adventure with Josh.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Devil's Bathtub, Spearfish Canyon

It's been awhile since we've had a chance to really get out and explore. We've been here and there but no where that really stuck out. We had plans to get back out to Jenney Gulch but when the time came to head out it was voted down for a more private area. We headed to Devil's Bathtub.

Now, when we first moved here the locals were always encouraging us to get out and see it. We drove south Cheyenne Crossing and came into Spearfish Canyon that way. About 18 miles or so in there's a road named Cleopatra. Who can forget that? We parked here and started down the trail.

It was pretty easy going for awhile. The trail winds back and forth across the stream several times. It was awesome to get my feet wet. At times it was easier just to walk up the creek instead of fighting through the trail. There was a lot of silliness. I must have lost my flip flops half a dozen times. The trail meandered through a series of small pools. Some I would have been content on sitting at all day but the allure of Devil's Bathtub was ahead.

It took up the better park of an hour to get up to the spot. Some places were a little tricky and required some concentration. We had brought Wu with us and were a little worried but he was all about it. He treated it like an agility course and was a total show-off.

We spent most of our day at the pool just beyond the actual Devil's Bathtub. To get up to it was a little tricky and Wu (this is me blaming it all on the dog) was a little freaked out about it. Josh and Nate cruised up past a water luge and explored beyond it. Some people were gold panning up past where the boys had been and told us that the creek lead to the old Cleopatra Mine. I spent most of the time in a little waterfall getting my back massaged.

I found myself a walking stick to navigate the rocks with. It was a little to tall for me but perfect for Josh. He quickly snatched it up and I was lucky enough to find another stick for myself. We spent a little time playing in the rapids. It was such a great spot, very private and pristine. Even though Nate was there it was still romantic.

After finding ourselves water logged and exhausted we hiked back towards the car. Wu was excited to be on the move again and whoever was in the water had a companion. It didn't take us long at all. The walking sticks had proved incredibly useful. It had been another amazing day in the hills.

We are so lucky. A beautiful hike and warm water to swim in. We can't wait to go back!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jenny Gulch, Pactola Lake, SD

One of the most beautiful lakes in the area is Pactola. It's man made and stunning. The pine hills fall into the crisp blue waters. It's truely a gem of the Black Hills. Jenny Gulch is a popular swimming spot for the young adventurous types.

We had been hearing about the Gulch for about a year now and had invites before but nothing ever seemed to pan out. So, we finally got our friends together and headed out there. Tyler led the way, he and Amanda are locals and had been hundreds of times. Josh, Nate, Wu and myself followed.

We parked and began the hike up. There was a little stream to cross and of course the dogs ran right through. Wu wasn't sure about it but went ahead and did it. The path winds up a ricky crest and then down a pine needle covered rocky hillside. It's not an easy trail in flip flops.

The actual spot is a outcropping of rocks. There are a few

different heights that one could jump off into the depths. Not once did I touch the bottom of the lake. Once you were off the rocks you were over your head. It was a little scary but amazing. The water was warm and everyone was in a great mood.

Our friends had brought their dogs and they were giving Wu a lesson in fetch. He wanted to play but is still too much puppy. He swam his little heart out though. It was the first time he had actually been in a large body of water. Josh and I could swim out and Wu would swim at us. He would actually try to climb on us which turned out to be dangerous. By the end of the day I looked like I'd been beat up by alley cats.

We swam for hours. It was amazing. Amanda and I swam to the other side and jumped off the rocks there. The dogs played fetch until Wu, at least, was exhausted. He laid on the rocks watching everyone else for hours.

In the afternoon it started to get really crowded and we packed up. It was the perfect day to get in the water and relax.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Custer State Park & Beyond

This past Monday we visited Custer State Park which lays in the Southern Black Hills. It's about 50 minutes South of Deadwood. We started our day out thinking that we were going to finish up some stuff at work and then head home but before I knew it we were on our way to Custer. The road South is a favorite of ours. It's a scenic highway that runs North to South through the hills. Each curve reveals a new meadow and sloping pine covered ridged. Granite boulders shape the skyline. Deer are the decoration, gathering in mass throughout the fields.

We made it as far as Hill City before we realized that Nate, our roommate, had never been to Prairie Berry, our favorite winery in the Hills. Well, that would never do so we swung in and did a tasting. Five tastes are complementary so I did all the wines that had just come out like, Buffaloberry and the older wines that I had been wanting to try like, Calamity Jane. It turns out that they were all delicious. Josh & I selected wines for the wedding and were given a few extra tasting of the ones we were curious about. We walked out with a bottle of Blue Suede Shoes & Calamity Jane.

We were back on the road in no time and heading for the park. The entrance fee for the day was $14 and year long only $28. We bought a year pass. We eventually found our way to Wildlife Loop Road. They aren't kidding. Before long we came across a herd of Buffalo crossing the road. They have become accustomed to traffic and are perfectly happy to make you wait for them. There were a few babies with the herd. One crossed just in front of us.

Josh, Nate and myself were all excited. Before too long we came up on a group of Burros. Several cars were stopped in the road and we waited in line behind them. Burros were grazing throughout the meadow but a few of them were harassing the cars. We had one come up to the window, stick his head in and check things out. Then another and then they tried to eat my camcorder. I did get a few good shots of the inside their mouths.

We started exploring off from the main road and saw our first Elk. Actually, in total, we proabaly say 20-25 Elk. It was the first time any of us had seen them in the wild. Beautiful creatures. Unfortunately we didn't get to see them very close and at first we thought they
were deer with the exception of their size. On one of the offshoots we saw Pronghorn. They seem to travel in pairs. I don't think that we've ever seen them running. Their either grazing or bedded down. We took the offshoot until we realized that we had entered Wind Cave National Park. There really wasn't much of a difference between the two parks but Wind Cave has less trees and a bit more meadow. Wind Cave is the third largest known cave in the world. It's amazing to think that as you look across the prairie there are miles of tunnels that have yet to be discovered.

We meandered back to the Loop and continued our wildlife exploration. It wasn't long before we came across more Buffalo. They are the most amazing creatures. Right now, they are going through a spring shed. It looks like they have a huge sweater across their shoulders but their rear end is nearly hairless. It's not the prettiest time of year for them but their still awesome to see. There's one area towards the end of the road that has a campground and some private camps. This is where we saw, for the first time ever, mountain goats. I didn't think that they would be white! We were all surprised to see them eating their lunch on the campground lawn.

The sun began to get low and we started our adventure North taking Needles highway. It's probably the most scenic highway we've been on out West. There's hairpin turns and tunnels that are carved out of the mountains. The fog was settling and it began to feel eerie. The whitetails were out in hundreds on our ride home. It's funny how they are everywhere this spring but last fall you couldn't find one. The guys were so excited I thought that they were going to jump out the window and wrestle a deer down. We made it all the way home no accidents, no deer meat but thoroughly excited about going back to Custer again.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hike Towards Mt. Roosevelt

After a week of snow and rain there is finally sun in the Hills again. Josh, our roommate; Nate and myself went for a hike behind our new house. Our place is located at the top of the steepest hill in town and has no neighbors. It feels like the country but we're just a few steps from downtown. Our lawn blends into the prairie grasses and gradually blends to evergreens. Each day so far we have seen deer (whitetail & mule) next to turkey's feeding on our lawn. The cat thinks it great and likes to stalk them. No luck so far.

The first twenty minutes of our adventure were spent walking up hill.

After about five I was seriously wondering where we were heading. We followed an old two-track up a ridge. Wild grasses had taken it over and just a remnant of a road remained. After several rest stops we made it to a landing point. We found ourselves in a little clearing between small mounds with rock outcroppings. The boys hiked up to the top and I realized that was the place to be for great views.

After a few minutes of meandering I noticed I was going a different direction than the guys. This is typical. I tend to wander. Crap. We grouped up and walked up to the top of the ridge. On the way we came across some unusual scat and then the scattered and bleached remains of an Elk. We tried to find the skull but we didn't have any luck. The wind was unbelievably gusty and consistent. I was happy I'd grabbed my beanie.

The three of us finished walking the ridge line and ended up sitting for a bit in a thicket of birches. As we were trying to find a place to rest three deer came upon us and then skidded away. Maybe those were the deer that would be finding their way down to our place for dinner. Their dinner not ours. Not today anyway.

As we headed back down the hill it was much easier going. My legs ached from the hike up but that didn't seem to matter as I chose the easiest way down. It was the perfect afternoon for a long hike.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hideaway Road

This winter Josh and I made many attempts to take one particular cut-off that leads between our work and home. As soon as it opened up for the year we started exploring. It's a rough ride but quite beautiful and we actually get cell phone coverage. A rarity on these back roads.

We had taken an off-shoot from Hideaway Rd last week and after about 4 miles ended up in snow and mud, as always. During that adventure we had noticed an off-shoot on the Off-shoot that we had surmised was a snowmobile trail. The other day we went and investigated. The road itself is a little two-track. It's predominately downhill and heading into a valley. We should have thought more carefully about that. After about a mile we crossed over a maintained dirt road that isn't on any maps and lead to private property. Interesting, we thought, where are we? So, like fools we crossed this decent road and continued on down our two-track. After four minutes of cruising we rested at the top of a knoll and surveyed the road. We tried to back out but we were already spinning. So, my brilliant mind says "Let's go down the hill and turn around and then drive our way out." It would have worked, too, if there hadn't been 8 inches of mud at the bottom and a good foot of snow to climb back up through.

The fun had just begun. We had made it about 30 feet before we really got stuck. Out came the hatchet and we laid pine bows under the tires for grip. We used old logs and leaves for traction. Not enough. We had manage to get just above the snow when we hit mud & boulders on a 20% incline. Then it rained.

We had already been there for about 2 hours when it rained. It definitely was working against us. But like good little worker bees we didn't give up and tried for another 2-3 hours to get it out. We tried so hard and for so long because the walk out was going to suck. Eventually the sun was starting to drop in the sky and we decided that we had better start walking out. Every so often I'd check the cell phones and finally up on a ridge we had signal. We let our friends know where we were, what we had been doing and the direction we were walking. Thank goodness for good friends. Nate Hayes attempted to come pick us up but his Hombre wasn't having the dirt road. Tyler Bachand made his attempt and was successful in finding us. We weren't surprised since he's a local. When we told him where we had been all we got was a long laugh.

The next day we had decided to go out in the afternoon to try to get the Jeep free.

Nate said that he'd come out and help. I ended up looking at the forecast and rain was heading our way. We booked it out there armed with 2x6's. We used everything we had. Our towels over the wood, more bows. Nothing was helping. After about an hour and a rain shower, Nate suggested that we back it up down our mud run and onto a dry hill and to just hammer it out. I had actually suggested this the day before but it was too wet. I backed the Jeep up, it gripped and went up like a charm. I was a little nervous about the run, it's not my vehicle but also my seatbelt wouldn't come out to latch.

I hammered on it anyway. I hit the rocks that we had been stuck on and it felt like the Jeep bounced it's way right through. Before I knew it I was unstuck and at the top of the hill. I heard the guys let out a holler and I answered it. Freedom at last and all before 1PM.

It all turned out better than we had anticipated so we headed to Mystic Hills for lunch and beers. Both delicious and a perfect ending to a hellacious adventure.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Black Hills NF Experimental Forest

While I was at work today I met a couple who told me about their adventures in the Black Hills over the last thirty years. They were a great people and really charming and told me about a cemetery back in Galena. There is supposed to be a razed mining town behind the town of Galena. Galena is one of the original mining towns that was settled in 1876. It's just one road that runs Northeast through a gulch. We had seen a picture taken while the mine was still in operation. It was a beautiful meadow with a church and school and several houses all along one dirt lane. The church was still standing when we found it today. It's nestled up the slope in a setting of evergreens and looked to be completely restored. We attempted to go off of Galena road onto a offshoot but didn't make it very far. Snow and mud were abundant.

We cruised through town to get over to Boulder Canyon and started taking whatever road interested us. We were abble to get this picture of Deadwood Gulch from looking Southwest. Eventually we found a road called Two Bit and I recognized the name. The road we take from work has a Two Bit offshoot. There was a Dead End sign but we went on. We've found that those signs often mean "for the truly devote off-roaders" and end up coming out somewhere. It was a beautiful ride. There were deer everywhere. We'd jump them and then watch as they ran up the cliffside. Mostly Whitetails today, not many Mule Deer.

Eventually we ended up finding an Experimental Road that led us through the Black Hills National Forest. There were more deer here than anywhere. It was relaxing to ride miles of dirt road and never see another person. We've decided to picnic here tomorrow.

To finish our adventure we hit up the Moonshine Saloon in Rochford. The locals had gathered and I almost felt like we were interrupting something but that soon passed and we ended up enjoying our beers and having good conversation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gilt Edge Road

Josh & I have been so busy planning our wedding that it's been hard to spend non-wedding time together. Who knew it would take so much time and effort thinking about the details? So we started taking the Jeep out and doing some adventuring & off-roading each day.

Today we explored a road off HWY 385 that we'd never been down before. I knew that there was an active mine at the end but our journey was all about finding a great view of it. We found a road called "Last Chance" and ventured forward. It was rutted, muddy and snowy. Some hills are nearly bare from the wildfire a few years back but most were green and starting to bloom.

Right away we found a beautiful turn-around that had two log seats. I took this opportunity to use my monkey claw stand for my camera (a Christmas present from Josh) and get some shots of the both of us.

We ended up tooling around for another hour. We did see a few old mine shafts that had been closed and collapsed. But after running into deep snow we did the smart thing and turned around. I know Josh was itching to get that run in but we'll save it for another day.