Thursday, September 29, 2005

Custer, SD - Centennial and Mickelson Trails

Well, today we attempted to bike a portion of the Centennial Trail which is a 111-mile trail that starts at Bear Butte State Park in the north and winds south all the way to Wind Cave N.P.. We knew we weren’t permitted to take our bikes on the trail in Wind Cave, but in Custer State Park it is considered a multi-use trail (hikers, bikers, horses) and we were really looking forward to getting on a section of this trail. We finally found Badger Hole trailhead and got on the trail and headed south, deeper into Custer S.P. where there are no roads. We didn’t get too far, though. The trail was deeply rutted and too narrow for our bike pedals. It is very hard to go up hills without pedaling. So we bagged it and went back to camp to do another portion of the Mickelson Trail. We might’ve had better luck trying another portion of the trail, or we could’ve biked the interior gravel roads. But we didn’t want to spend our time searching, we wanted to ride. The sun was out and the temperature was a toasty 80 degrees. Considering we were in fleece and gloves yesterday, and this morning was in the 30’s, we were eager to enjoy this warm day!

From our campground we rode our bikes to the Mickelson trail in town. We got on around MM45 and just rode a little over 5 miles north to where we could see the Crazy Horse Monument and then turned around. This time we were luckier. It was uphill on the way out and an easy downhill coast on the way back. Along the path we came across a couple of horses near the fence in their pasture. One large paint and a chestnut foal enjoyed our petting, but then Momma Chestnut put her ears back and came stomping over and scattered everyone including us. But once she realized we didn’t do her baby any harm, she let us get a few more pets in before we left. A foal’s coat and mane is so incredibly soft (I can’t even think of anything to compare it to). The horses here and in Colorado have seemed so happy. We think it’s because they have such large pastures to roam around in and usually there are several horses together (they are very social creatures). After our bike ride, we took a rare moment to just sit at our campsite and read and enjoy the birds who came to visit.

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