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.