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jdthor 08-04-2011 05:31 AM

Running from the heat
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Just returned from a 10-day road trip from Louisiana to South Dakota and back. Our route took us across Texas to I-25 northbound. First night was a stop in Quanah and 107 degrees at 6PM. Then Pueblo for one night. Followed by 2 nights in Snowy Range Wy (both nights got down to low fifties), and FOUR very comfortable days in Hill City SD at the Rafter J Bar Campground. Raced back across Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma for one final night near Mena Arkansas and back home to the furnace.

Uploaded are two pictures of the campground, pricey but very nice. Wife loved their pancakes. One picture of my dog Mika at the top of Harney Peak. In the distance just to the left of her right ear is the field in the center of the campground where our Bambi was parked for the third and fourth day of the trip. Good luck looking for the Bambi.

Finally is a dorky self portrait of yours truly. I am a jogger and I did a speed climb to the top to Harney in under 2 hours to celebrate my 61st birthday. Of course now I am still paying for it with sore muscles, busted ankle, blisters, and so forth, but I do have bragging rights with my fellow runners that only run the flats.

If I recover we plan to return in a month or two so I can ride "The Big Mick" 109 miles bike trail, one of the best Rail-to-Trail bike trails I have ever seen. My goal is to do it over two days. My wife's goal is to take a first-aid course to deal with her crazy husband, and to enjoy some more Rafter J Bar pancakes in any event.

moosetags 08-04-2011 06:47 AM

Sounds like you had a great trip and Airstream adventure. Thanks for sharing your trip.


HiHoAgRV 08-04-2011 08:37 AM

Thanks for posting your trip...running from the heat has been on my mind also!

Jim Clark 08-04-2011 09:14 AM


Originally Posted by jdthor (Post 1027757)
Finally is a dorky self portrait of yours truly. I am a jogger and I did a speed climb to the top to Harney in under 2 hours to celebrate my 61st birthday. Of course now I am still paying for it with sore muscles, busted ankle, blisters, and so forth, but I do have bragging rights with my fellow runners that only run the flats.

My birthday was the 29th,I turned 62. I too celebrated by running, not up a hill. It feels good to still run at 62. I had stopped for years due to raising a family it took a year and half to get back to actually running, lost 35 lbs. in the process. Keep it up and post about the bike ride.


Goal15 08-04-2011 09:22 AM

so jealous! 113 here in Dallas yesterday.

Jim Clark 08-04-2011 09:25 AM


Originally Posted by Goal15 (Post 1027832)
so jealous! 113 here in Dallas yesterday.

ouch !

Janie Q 08-04-2011 09:34 AM

Only running in our plans is to finish our airstream reno and get to MN and visit with family. We are a few months behind schedule :(
We have stayed at Rafter J twice.. Great place.. and yes, tell your wife the pancakes are good :)

klattu 08-04-2011 10:25 AM

down to low fifties...why did you leave?

valmog 08-04-2011 11:11 AM

Love seeing your photos...hope you post more! We live in Portland, Or, but our family is in Rapid City. We make the drive to Rapid every year and love the Black Hills.

We just got our 16 ft Bambi 2 weeks ago (so love seeing your bambi photos:) and are already planning our trip to the Black Hills next summer. We are thinking we would like to stay at Sylvan Lake...except the tunnels up there seem a bit intimidating. Did you take your trailer with you up there when you hiked to Harney's Peak, or did you stay parked down below?

We have actually never hiked to the top...made it about 3/4 up last spring but had to turn back because there was just too much ice and snow on the trail still and it became too dangerous.


jdthor 08-04-2011 02:43 PM

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Harney Peak is 7,244 feet high. The trail system is quite good, and I did the "climb" from Sylvan Lake and reversed back from the tower. That route is the easiest, and is just over 6 miles round trip. I have also run from Sylvan up to the tower and then on over to Horsethief Lake, but not this time. The bugger is to remember to take water and first aid kit and even a stainless steel water bowl for my running partner Mika the Wonderdog. That requires a daypack. I am also an insulin-dependent diabetic and am connected to an insulin pump, which requires some care when running hard. That means I have to take a glucometer, test strips, glucose tab, syringe, insulin, etc. The right kind of snacks, carbs counted and measured by my wife. Since I am also an active-duty peace officer I am supposed to carry some sort of handgun and credentials, but I left those back in the car this time. And I run leashed to Mika the Wonderdog, we use a 10 foot lead, and she thinks I am some sort of goofy sled.

vswingfield 08-04-2011 03:31 PM


Originally Posted by Goal15 (Post 1027832)
so jealous! 113 here in Dallas yesterday.

Same here in Little Rock. Cooler weather sounds great right now.

Great photos too! Thanks for posting.

jdthor 08-04-2011 10:23 PM

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The last four pictures were taken in the Snowy Range of Wyoming, all near or in Lincoln Park Campground. These three pictures include one more shot at Lincoln Park, and one from Guernsey State Park in Wyoming, and one at breakfast in Saratoga Wyoming. Note Mika licking her chops in anticipation of stealing a piece of toast or bacon.

Splitrock 08-05-2011 12:43 AM

Motorcycles are in the hills now. Hill City is biker place for 2 weeks.

jdthor 08-05-2011 01:02 AM

The bikes were showing up the day we left. I will be back after they leave. My bike is a Trek 24 speed and I hope to pedal from one end of the Michelson Trail to the other, all 109 miles. I've been told I can also do the ride with my roadie, but I will need to put some fat tires on it. I might bring it also just to see if it works on the trail.

SteSpot 08-05-2011 08:21 AM

Great to hear about your trip
Thanks for posting......we too have suffered the heat in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio (not so bad) finally get relief in Michigan....we are enjoying Cedar Lake in Oscoda, MI........enjoy! paula

Splitrock 08-05-2011 05:05 PM

During the rally they put about 6 tents on one campsite. If there's a place to stand, there'll be a tent there in 10 minutes. The rally's like going to a movie, but you're in it . . . and it lasts a solid week:-) I don't go anymore, when I did I camped at a private campground by Bear Butte. It was lights off and quiet at 10:00 PM. We had White Knights, and Chapter 7, all mixed in with about 200 of us, all clean and sober.

Many of those guys packed heat. BIG guns, like 44 magnums. I saw a preacher shoot a goose out there one night with a 44 magnum. He had just married a couple. I went to the wedding. They were all from Florida. Somebody went into Sturgis and bought a whole trunk full of burgers for dinner and we had roast goose for desert.

Quite a few of those guys had missing body parts. They'd work a heel/toe shifter with an artificial leg with no problems at all and they'd take time to help one of us with a mechanical problem. It was quite an experience.

Many of my biker brothers and sisters don't ride sober and they'd just as soon blow a pedal bike off the road. Much of the hills is not a family environment during the rally.

jdthor 08-06-2011 07:53 AM

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After leaving the Snowies we headed eastbound, stopping at Sierrra Outpost in Cheyenne. That retailer has gone from being a small mail-order outlet in 1985 to a huge operation. Lots of good outdoor stuff there. That night we stayed at Gurnsey State Park, very warm temps, but a nice campground, mostly catering to boaters. The next morning we drove on over to Hill City and set up at Rafter J Bar. We then did the circuit past Pactola Resovoir into Deadwood and Lead and back.

In the mid eighties we lived on the north side of Terry Peak and I worked in Lead. We tried to find our cabin but another gold mining operation bought the property and removed the cabin and about 2/3 of the entire mountain. There's just a big hole there now.

Hill City, on the other hand, has grown into quite the little, or not so little, tourist attraction. The steam train station is there and doing very brisk business. We enjoyed every place we ate, and all of the people were very friendly. The bikers were just starting to trickle in.

Weather was perfect, comfortable days and cool nights.

polarlyse 08-06-2011 10:47 AM

Nice PIX. Glad you enjoyed your trip to the " cooler " parts of the country.

Some years ago the wife and I were tent camping out west. We went to see Mt. Rushmore and the area. A day trip took us to Sturgis in late July. We picked up one of the tourist flyers you see everywhere. In it there were the dates for the biker ralley in August. They said " SO YOU CAN JOIN US, OR AVOID US ". I thought that was thoughtful of them to advise the travelers just what they'd be getting into during that week.
A spectacular part of the country. :bb:

PS: I like your hiking companion.

jdthor 08-06-2011 11:32 AM

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Mika The Wonderdog was a 2-pound undernourished and very sick little 4-week old puppy when I removed her from her unhealthy environment here where I work. She has grown into the perfect jogging companion, all heart and speed, and being part husky and having all-husky attitude, is constantly testing my patience. Like a very smart-ass 13 year old teenager that happens to be smart in school and a good athlete as well.

We have spent about 65 nights and days on the road in the two years we have had her and she travels well, if strangely. She spends two or three hours at a time sitting up looking out the back window, and sometimes sleeps in this position. Go figure.

In the two years I have been running with her I have only managed to tire her out one time, after several miles of jogging in very hot and humid weather. She recovered a lot sooner than I did.

We visited Lead and Deadwood twice on this trip and drove through Spearfish Canyon once.

Attached are two pics of Mika, the first the day I got her at two pounds and four weeks, and the second as she is now. Also are two pictures of the Lead Post Office where I worked in 1987. I had to re-visit the lobby where I mopped those marble floors and I took a stroll around back to look again at those steep streets where I delivered mail.

Splitrock 08-06-2011 02:37 PM

Nice dog! The post office is a beautiful building. I've visited Lead often over the years. My mother's uncle worked in the gold mine there.

jdthor 08-06-2011 08:35 PM

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A few more pictures to post up. Sylvan lake at the trailhead to Harney Peak, and the mandatory pictures of the Presidents and of Needles Highway. We found Keystone to be waaay too crowded for us, as we remember it as a tiny little outpost. Mount Rushmore is in its third rennovation since we knew it in 1986. Indeed, when we lived on Terry Peak back then we would often drive over to the cafeteria and eat Sunday breakfast by the big windows under the monument. Sometimes it was just the two of us and the four Presidents looking down on us. Very different now.

We also drove through Horsethief campground and the other NF campground just south of Hill City. They both looked pretty nice. I wasn't real impressed with the SD State Park campground at Sylvan Lake, probably because it was jammed. We walked through the lodge and liked that ok.

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