Monthly Archive for June, 2020

Centennial Trail

Looking Down On Sheridan Lake On Our Way to Hiking Well Into The Night

A couple of friends and I decided with very little planning to hike the Centennial Trail. I had been eying it since I took a vacation to the area with my family. For the most part it was exactly what we expected it to be. I did not keep a journal or daily notes or anything since all of our phones/batteries experienced issues. Below are the trip highlights (from the best of my recollection).

Pre-trip – The drive up was relatively uneventful except that I swore I saw a mountain lion in the rolling plains of the Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado border. I actually had to look up mountain lion ranges in the area on my phone I was so sure. It was larger than a coyote/bobcat and looked like it was stalking something.

We stopped in the town of Pringle as the sun set to take a look at an odd bicycle sculpture and to grab some beer from the local bar/eatery. We then drove to a dirt road in the National Forest on the way to Wind Cave National Park, pulled in, set up tents, and drank our beer as lightning flashed in the distance. At some point of time Eric mentioned that he found a Tick … neat.

I turned in around 11 I think, and woke up a couple of hours later to lighting striking closer and closer. Eric was pitched under a large pine tree so I called out to him to ask him if he was going to head to Daniel’s car, but did not get an answer. I spent the next 15-20 minutes counting down thunder claps until lighting was striking consistently within 1/4 miles of us … then fell back to sleep as it moved off into the distance.

Day 1 … Bear Butte to Alkali Creek TH – 16.2 Miles: We woke up, pounded down fruit/breakfast and cold coffee drinks, and made our way over to the southern terminus of the Centennial Trail in Wind Cave National Park. There I waited for our shuttle while Daniel and Eric headed out to register the car for overnight parking at that trailhead. While waiting a couple of NP rangers drove in an spoke to me, asked me what we were doing, sounded surprised that we were hiking the whole trail, acted incredulous that we wanted to do it in about a week, and warned me that Bison are dangerous. There were nice though and did offer up some helpful info.

Our shuttle arrived and we began our trip North to Bear Butte. She told us about her day care business and her shuttle businesses which offered services to outdoorsy people like ourselves, as well as people would want to party in a bus and tour the local strip clubs. Interesting. She seemed nice, but turned out to be shady as fuck … more on that later.

We swung by one of her other businesses, a bicycle shop, so she could have her daughter take us the rest of the way. Eric, Daniel and I headed next door to a coffee shop that seemed like it was run straight out of someone’s kitchen. The poor proprietor was completely unprepared for our arrival and we ended up waiting like 35-40 minutes just to get our three coffees and pay. The casual black hills pace would be one of the themes of the day.

Ruth Langmore (as our new chauffeur eventually came to be known), was a sweet local college student working on her nursing degree. She seemed like she was helping mom out and did not know a lot about the area attractions, geography or events other than telling us about the Sturgis layout (insane) and a Snoop Dog concert she attended there a while back (also surprising). She also told us when asked that Sturgis began in the late 1800’s when people just randomly rode their motorcycles there … interesting.

We stopped in the town of Nemo to drop off our resupply bags at the Nemo Guest Ranch, where we proceeded to discuss our route and water situation with the owner, Troy. It seemed like he could talk to us for hours about all of this but we politely excused ourselves after 15 minutes and headed past Fort Mead and up to the Bear Butte park entrance. It was 2 PM.

So this is where it all begins. We finished all the snacks we did not want to carry, used the restroom, snapped some pics and headed up. The weather was a little tricky due to the coolness and high winds, so we had to quickly adjust heading up. We ended up passing everyone on the way up, even a super fit mother and her younger teenage son. All in all I think we summitted in about 50 minutes.

At the top there were beautiful Lokota streamers hanging from the trees and even a local native who was chanting on the East ridge of the mountain. I kind of felt like an ass being there then. We headed down and began our long walk across the grasslands toward Fort Meade.

Lokata Streamers at the Top of Bear Butte.

On the way 2 Fort Meade we noticed that we were picking up ticks on our legs again. A lot of hikers were pants just for this reason, but it was often very easy for us to spot when another one of us had picked up a tick since we are all some damn pasty. We got into the habit fairly early of checking ourselves every few minutes. We did run into a family (husband, wife and young kid) who were just working their way to the Northern finish along with their support vehicle. Very cool.

Fort Meade was a picturesque little historic town, with a beautiful service cemetery up on a ridge. We spoke a little bit about war movies and books and the sacrifices that the all vets, especially and including 20th century war vets made.

Shortly afterward we got lost for the first time and ended up adding about 1/2 – 3/4 miles to our first day. We also learned that given the choice between going from point a to b directly, and meandering sometimes pointlessly, that this section of the trail would choose the latter. We hobbled into our camp site at Alkali Creek as the sun was going down and were excited to have a fire pit, running water and restrooms.

That night I lay in my tent replaying the days’ events and discovered a tick in my tent which for some stupid reason I flicked and could not find, which led to me spending about 20 minutes with my headlamp on unsuccessfully looking for him. Eventually I fell “asleep” but awoke to anything and everything that felt like it was moving.

Day 2 Alkali Creek TH to Bluff Above Elk Creek – 18.2 Miles: I found Mr. Tick in the morning still crawling around the inside of my tent but thankfully not on me. I disposed of him with a special sort of disdain and went about the process of packing everything up. I think this began a long and recurring series of tick related jokes and names. I certainly cannot recall all of them over the course of the trip, but some are below:

  • Names
    • Tick Van Dyke
    • Tick Tracy
    • Tickhole Kidman
    • Tick Perry
    • Tick Offmeman
    • Tick Nolte
    • Tickless Cage (what my tent eventually came to be called)
    • John Tick 3 (The third tick I found on my leg)
    • and of course … Tick James of the “I’m Tick James Bitch” fame
  • Dad jokes
    • Me: “Hey Eric … do you know what my favorite genre of comedy is?”
    • Eric: confused a little … “No … what”
    • Me as I slap a tick off my shin: “slapstick”

You get the idea. They were stupid and relentless and tired and juvenile and absolutely wonderful especially considering none of us were all-to-excited to have ticks gnawing on our tender-bits.

I think this was the morning where I noticed my battery pack that I used to charge my phone overnight had somehow drained juice out of my phone. So here we were not even a day into our trip and I was at like 30% battery. Oh yeah I should mention that Eric and I reminded Daniel to bring a wall wart when we met him at his house in Denver so we could charge our phones when we were around outlets. He did bring it … an then proceeded to leave it in the car at the southern terminus … foreshadowing.

We ate breakfast, did our business and headed out, and already the heat and humidity were pretty bad. We knew from my InReach mini weather report that today was going to be on the warm side (I vaguely recall about 87 degrees and humid).

As we meandered through a beautiful, peaceful section of trail in the pines, we came across a sign informing us that we could ring a bell and possibly hang out with a dog owned by a local family, named Poett. He had a pretty interesting setup with a cool wooden gate. We rang the bell but he did not come.

Poett, the official Centennial Trail Dog

We continued on the steamy trek and had to battle chaffing surprisingly early. I think Eric came across a snake somewhere along this stretch, which was probably our first snake run in. It was harmless though. The heat seamed to be zapping us of energy though and we had to stop to take a couple of breaks after lunch. This was also one of the driest sections of trail and I was completely out of water by the time we reached Elk Creek.

At Elk Creek, we sat in the cold water and enjoyed every minute of an hour or so just soaking and drinking/filling up water bottles. I had experienced this a little during the Padre Island Thru-hike, where I was literally putting down 150 ounces of water a day and still getting dehydrated. The also seemed to occur on the Centennial Trail, where I often approached or exceeded 200 ounces of water daily. On the Colorado Trail (from Denver to Durango, in arid climate often at high altitudes), I rarely exceeded 100 ounces a day.

This is where things got fun … for me anyways. After we got done wading and drinking we all dried our feet and put our socks and shoes back on. We hiked for a few minutes only to come across yet another crossing of Elk Creek. I looked at my phone/map and determined that we were going to have a few of these, so I donned my camp slippers and just powered through. Neither Daniel or Eric brought camp slippers though so they had to go through the shoes+socks off, wade through, dry feet, shoes + socks on process each crossing. I just meandered a head a little ways and enjoyed the view. I shot the picture below while laughing after Eric and Daniel turned a corner only to realize they would have to do this all again.

I could lip-read the “$#%@” from across the creek.

I hurried ahead again and met with a couple who had started on the South end. They warned us about another couple behind them with an asshole dog, and told us that all had been quiet for them for a while on the tick front. They also told me there were good ridge-line camp options 3- miles ahead. I relayed this information to Daniel and Eric and we pushed on toward camp. We were caught in a flash thunderstorm that came about so quick that I did not even have time to get my pack cover out. One minute we heard some thunder, the next we saw rain coming at us across the valley, and by minute 3 we were in small hail and rain, huddled down a ways off the ridge by a rock. It did not last long however and we were on our way soon. It turns out that was 1 of the only 2 times we would get caught in any kind of weather and in both occasions the storms just grazed us while being much worse only a few miles away. There ended up being about half a dozen occurrences on the trip where it storms and even hailed to the point where hail accumulated, even with 75 MPH winds, only a few miles from where we hiked or camped. All said and done we were really lucky on the weather front.

The views along this stretch of the hike were stunning, looking down on impressive bluffs above Elk Creek. When I imagined hiking the Centennial Trail in the past, this was the kind of scenery that came to mind. Quite beautiful.

We found a relatively flat and quiet patch of land where most of the pine trees had been logged which offered great, and surprisingly tick free camping. We had made descent mileage despite the 2 hours of creek time and taking shelter from the storm.

Day 3 … Bluff Above Elk Creek to Nemo – 14.0 Miles: We knew we had a more pleasant hike ahead of us on Day three though we had some differences regarding plans. Eric typically wants to press though and bang out 20-25 miles at all cost. Daniel is often more laid back. I tend to lean in either direction depending on how I am feeling. In the past I have been critical of myself for being more concerned with reaching the destination than enjoying the trip itself. Cliche I know but it is something I contend with.

After about 6 miles of hiking we arrived at Dalton Lake, and took a dip in the creek below the damn. Another wonderful little break. From there we headed uphill and for the second time took a wrong turn. I think we ended up on the ATV 89 trail instead of the regular 89. While we were wondering around in the wrong direction Daniel came across a Grouse that was not at all afraid of human contact.

Shortly afterward I rolled me ankle to the ground and had to deal the adrenaline that comes with that for a mile or so. This section of trail was honestly shitty, often rutted out from ATV and off-road use. We again got off track above Nemo and our GPS tracks were off from our intended route. This probably added a mile to our trek. In the end we decided to follow the tracks we had downloaded on our phones would let us down a gully with older 89 signs. It was apparently that older spur of the trail was no longer in use though.

Once we reached the highway we witnessed an interesting altercation between a couple of birds (crows?) an Eagle, and a duck. The Eagle was trying to swoop in and kill/eat the duck while being pursued by the 2 birds. Not exactly sure what was going on there. The hike into town from there was short.

I headed straight to the gas station once we hit town, and literally bought 4 drinks and fruit flavored Popsicle. They did not have a wall wart so we were still left to our own devices regarding charging our phones. Eric and Daniel were over at the Nemo guest ranch talking with Troy and company. He told us about the history of the ranch, and Nemo itself, and how he had worked as a set designer for Siegfried and Roy back in the day.

Nemo Guest Ranch Back in the Day

Behind the guest ranch is a restaurant. We spent about 2 hours sitting on that porch drinking beer, eating cheese curds, wings, and anything else we could get out hands on. Oddly enough this was one of the highlights of the trip. Truly enjoyable. Eric, who was probably upset inside because we would not get 25 miles that day, even decided to go for a ride on their merry-go-round. The campsites and amenities were nice too. I made my way back over to the gas station before they closed and purchased a Hamm’s Beer Shirt and of course a 16oz Hamm’s because Eric would call me a fraud if I wore the shirt on the rest of the hike without ever having tasted the beer.

Troy Would Not Approve of This

Day 4 – Nemo to Tamarak Gulch TH – 19.15 Miles: Leaving the relative comfort of Nemo was a little hard, but we were all excited to arrive at Pactola Lake later in the day. We had driven past it while being shuttled to the North end of the trail and it was beautiful. It was also the largest lake we would encounter on the trail.

We meandered around 4WD and ATV roads SW of Nemo and if I am not mistaken came across our first snake of the trip, through not a rattler. Storms were again brewing off to the South of us. We cross a road near the Wonderland Cave and entered a really flowy section of trail which allowed us to cruise for about 6 miles or so. We all decided to hike about 1/2 mile to the Whispering Pines campground, where we would purchase drinks and ice cream, as well as some general medical supplies. The owner of the shop was a little difficult to figure out, alternating between being curt and friendly. She told us stories about previous hikers being turned around by floods and fires, and discussed the wildlife with us. I spent some time lancing the blister that was now about a quarter size on the bottom of my left foot.

After about an hour we pushed off to head toward Pactola Lake. We had all but decided there was no real way to camp at the lake without adding a couple of miles, so our camping plans for the night were unknown. I fell into a little bit of a funk and let Daniel and Eric lead as I meandered 50 yards or so behind them. I had mentioned to Eric that we should jump in the lake when we get there, but it seemed as if the trail was doing it’s damn best to stay away from the lake. Eric did manage to sneak away in a little cove and jump in, apparently next to a dead fish, while Daniel and I took a break. We eventually crossed HWY 385 and dropped down below the damn to Rapid Creek. From there we were just looking for the nearest place to pitch, which actually ended up being the Tamarak Gulch TH.

I know now why they called this “Rapid Creek”. The water was really moving and getting down to pump or fill bottles was a bit of a challenge. This was also the buggiest place of the whole trail, though we only had a few tick sightings. It looked as if we were going to get clocked by an approaching storm as well so we all decided to retire to our tents early and eat alone. A couple of odd cars/trucks came through there and creeped us out as well.

The Sun Setting on Rapid Creek as a Storm Approaches

Day 5 – Tamarak Gulch TH to Samelius TH- 20 Miles: We were again awake early due to heat and humidity . I had another all night battle with a tick in crawling on the outside of the tent, flicking him off repeatedly only to watch him start climbing again and honing in on me. Fortunately he never found the dime sized tear in the netting. Daniel was dragging a little in the morning and Eric and I were eager to press. I often like taking off early on my own in the morning at a leisurely pace to allow for the muscle/joint aches to work themselves out while my hiking partners push to catch me. I informed Eric that I was going to push ahead and he stayed behind and waiting for Daniel. After a couple of miles I decided to take a break at a trail junction that wasn’t marked particularly well.

We were supposed to get storms (there was about a 80% chance). The afternoon was incredibly muggy. Opportunities for water were everywhere the first several miles. We ran into another couple of hikers who almost stumbled across me doing my business. After a couple of more miles of hiking we came across an expansive tree-free sections which allowed for 360 degree views. Unfortunately it did not offer us much shade from the scorching sun.

An Interesting Open Section of the Trail

We decided to take a quick food break on the back side of the open section as towering storms approached us. Again, incredibly they seem to split all around us and leave us completely dry. We had about 6 miles to Sheridan Lake and at some point of time both Daniel and I got into a really heavy funk. Everything is always press, press, press with Eric, and I was annoyed at the prospect of finishing the trail without as single lake-side camp. Also my lanced blister was now infected and red and my feet in general were beat up. Add to that some issues navigating the trail to Sheridan Lake (yet another fork between human and ATV sections of the trail) and I was not in the best of moods. Frankly for 1-2 hours I just wanted to fucking punch something.

We finally made our way down to Sheridan Lake on the East end near a bunch of high school aged cliff divers. It actually looked quite fun but I was too gassed to walk back over there and get in line for the jump. I was also a little worries about bruising my feet up anymore by hitting the water from a 25 foot free-fall. Regarding my feet, in case I have not already mentioned, I inexplicably left my superfeet in Daniel’s car, and was just rolling around with a stupid light insert about the width of an athletic sock. I was also hiking in ultralight boots so my feet really did end up taking a beating. After a while I joined Eric in the lake which did feel pretty great on the legs. The water temperature was probably in the mid-60’s. We hung around the lake for about an hour or so and then got out, dried off, and headed to the next trailhead around the bend of the lake.

You Can See the Cliff Jumpers Just Left of Center

We were hoping that the Flume TH around the bend would offer water and opportunities to buy food, but that was not the case. We wandered around a bit looking for water and came across a campground with running water and a bathroom, where we decided to use one of their picnic tables to eat dinner. This was a welcome break even though we had just had an hour at the lake about 1.5 miles back. The next section of trail was the longest climb of the entire hike, which was only about 1200 feet or so (laughable by Colorado Trail Standards) but I was tired enough already to press ahead of Daniel and Eric. Again we had no idea where we were going to lay down for the night.

One of the More Scenic Sections of the Entire Trail

An odd thing happened around this point. As we climbed to reach the high point of the trail around dusk, we had views in all directions and all 3 of us had gotten our second wind. Daniel suggested we push through to the end of the segment which would require a couple of hours of night hiking and take us to about 22 miles all said in done (including the upcoming search for the tunnel at the end of the TH and other missteps) and Eric and I were both game. I again, rolled my damn ankle down to the ground but just pressed on. We arrive at Samelius around 9PM and proceeded to spend what seemed like a damn hour looking for the tunnel under HWY 16. All of our phone were indicating that we would cross using a tunnel that was fenced off and certainly not usable. We eventually gave up looking and decided to pitch our tents on a forest service road behind a gate near the TH. Not the best location but we had put down some serious miles.

The Sun Setting on the Ridge Near Mount Warner (Trail Highpoint)

Day 6 – Samelius TH to Mount Rushmore to Iron Creek Horse Camp – 14.8 Miles: We were all really excited to get to Mount Rushmore and eat bison burgers and ice cream. We were able to find the tunnel about 1/4 East of where we were expecting it, but after crossing we lost the trail again. I was annoyed so I pulled up my GPS on my phone and bee-lined to where I knew the trail would be. I eventually found an older section of trail, still with signs up and headed South for a while. After a few minutes I noticed that Daniel and Eric were gone and that I was all alone. I was fairly certain that I was ahead of them due to my direct approach to the trail so I left a cairn and proceeded ahead to an intersection with a dirt road in case they came out there. I ended up having to wait about 20 minutes for them there. They had doubled back and found, lost, and found the real trail.

Views of Black Elk Peak opened up, and there were some really good rocks/boulders for climbing along this section of trail. We only had about 10 miles to Rushmore so we pushed right along, past some large bolted multi-pitch routes that I drooled over (https://www.mountainproject.com/area/105714435/hornets-nest). We finally arrived at the Rushmore turn-off and made our way up to the park. By then we were all running a little low on energy so we had split up. I think I was the first to arrive and quickly went vendor to vendor looking for opportunities to charge my phone … no dice. I headed over in disgust to the cafeteria only to learn that it was closed … no bison burgers for us. There was a snack stand open so I purchased one of the best Root Beer Floats I have ever had, a bunch of other snacks, and about 3 drinks. Eric and Daniel both arrived and purchased a bunch of snacks after facing the disappointment of the cafeteria being closed. We all sat out of the way of the customers, to the side of where the cafeteria lines would be. About 5 minutes into our rest/gorge-fest we were approached by a man who looked like he would play an accountant in a mafia movie, who told us that we could not stay there an eat due to Covid regulations, and that we needed to go outside, which ironically was loaded with people. I actually thought Daniel and Eric were going to hit him.

Hot, Mostly Closed, and Under Construction

So we made our way out to the scorching west side of the plaza, and all sat in little nooks of shade made by pillars. We only had 4 miles to reach the Iron Creek Horse Camp which was our stop for the night. It started to get a little too hot so we finished our snacks and headed to the East side of the monument, which was completed shaded with unused concrete benches. We started talking to a couple of rangers who were inquiring about our plans. One of them kept mentioning that we had to summit Black Elk Peak (2 of us already had in the past), which was kind of funny. He also spoke a little about a handful of Colorado 14ers he had summited.

A huge storm came rolling in as we made our way back to the trail. We got a little bit of rain but again, the bulk of the storm passed just North of us. The hike to the Iron Creek Horse Camp was uneventful, except for some wonderful rock features along the way. The camp itself was fantastic, with the exception of the hornet living in the registration box. We were all alone next to a creek and well-kept bathrooms. As the night progress the clouds were simply doing thing I have never seen before. I believe I saw clouds at different altitudes traveling in all 4 directions (though not rotating). Brilliant mammatus clouds popped up to our west and approached us. I had the feeling that the luck we have had so far was about to come to a dramatic end. We all hit our tents just around 9, hoping for the best. It turns out, we again had just narrowly escaped a rather nasty storm, which dropped quarter sized hail in depths of 1-2 inches just South of us.

Mean Skies

Day 7 – Iron Creek Horse Camp to Legion Lake to Middle of Nowhere Custer State Park – 20.0 Miles: We had another relatively short hike to reach a rest stop at Legion Lake, where we would eat lunch and relax a little. We ran into a slow but well prepared hiker heading North, who mentioned that he was taking notes and surveys to send to whomever to update/fix trail signage. There were some old, interesting fire vehicles out in the middle of the forest as well.

Legion Lake was very scenic, albeit a little crowded. We drank beer and ate Bison Burgers finally, though they were a little bland. We also bought some personal items at their store, and then pushed off into Custer State Park. This part of the hike reminded me of Austin for some reason. A few miles in we saw a bison about 70 yards in the distance on the trail. As Eric, Daniel and I slowly approached in an effort to determine the best way around, I noticed that there was another one, now rising from his dirt bed, about 30 yards in front of us. His posture was much more aggressive than his neighbor. We gave him a wide birth and passed in the pine trees to his south as he eyeballed us.

The Second Bison Mean Mugging Us As We Skirt By

So that was our first Bison encounter of the trip. Could have gone a lot worse really seeing that we unintentionally snuck up to within about 90 feet of the first one, who was also very agitated since we woke him from his nap. We warned a passing party of 4-5 hikers heading North about the 2 Bison and we crossed paths. The next day we would run into the Wind Cave Rangers again and they would inform us that someone (possibly from that party) was gored in the back of the thigh as they ran and medivac’ed out.

We again got well off trail somehow, at least according to the maps and GPS routes we all had on our phones. We were about 1/2 mile east of the trail when we intersected another trail that led to a small horse camp, which might not have even been on our maps. We found an old road which seemed to head in the right direction for a while, and eventually we were back on our route is we dropped down a steep, rocky, gully toward our last horse camp of the trip (French Creek). By my calculations the map/guide book was off by about 2 miles on this section of trail. Up until this point each section had been fairly spot on in terms of distance. This set up back a little ways.

As we approached French Creek it became apparent that crossing it would be a little more difficult than the other fords, so I just plowed right through in my hiking boots without a second thought. I figured it was warm enough that my socks would be dry before we pitched and just kept walking. Daniel and Eric took their shoes and socks off and took their time crossing. Shortly after I reached an even deeper/more swift crossing and just plowed through again. This put me about 15-20 minutes ahead of Daniel and Eric as I entered the French Creek Horse Camp, right next to a Bison that was casually grazing about 100 feet to the West of the TH.

This Guy Did Not Have a Care in the World

I sat in the grass, snacked, used the restroom and dried my socks/shoes. Daniel and Eric arrived and we walked through camp together taking photos of all of the animals, and filled up our bottles. We had another brief discussion about bedding down there (it was very inviting), but instead decided to get as many miles in as we could to shorten our final day, and 7 hour drive home.

As we hiked South about the camp we entered an old burn area. The temperature had cooled a little as yet another storm was brewing to our South. We watched lighting strike ridgelines in the distance many miles ahead as we took in the expansive views.

A Very Peaceful Section of Trail

Shortly afterward we walked into the friggin tick capital of the world. It might have been the long overgrown grass, or the time of afternoon/evening, but these little assholes were “questing” and grabbing on to our legs constantly. In one instance I stopped, flicked one off me, took 3 steps forward and then had another one on my left calf. It slowed us down a little since we were walking about 25-50 feet, then looking down at the front and back of our legs. We eventually broke through that area (I think we picked up about a dozen ticks there all said and done), and approached a dirt road over a creek, which had crappy drinking water. By that point we were tabbing our water because Daniel’s filter was clogged. We decided we all had enough water to get us to the next creek the following day and kept wandering down the trail looking for a place to sleep. There really weren’t a lot of options though so we opted to bed down at a fire service road junction a couple of miles in. We kept hearing some rather weird and loud animal noised by something about 1/4 – 1/2 mile to our East but never determined if it was a Bison. I remember as I lay in my tent thinking of how terrible it would be to wake up to a Bison stomping on my tent.

Day 8 – Middle of Nowhere Custer State Park to Norbeck TH- 9.03 Miles: Most of our hike out was uneventful. As I mentioned above we ran into the 2 Wind Cave rangers as we entered the park. They were a little surprised/impressed by our pace, notified of us the goring, and asked us if we had run into a man named Yia Yang along the trail. Apparently he had gone missing recently. Unfortunately we had not seen him and could not offer any information. They would find his body a couple of days later (https://www.facebook.com/CusterCountySDEM/photos/a.433137263531549/1524217587756839/). Apparently Mr. Yang died of a self inflicted gunshot wound.

A few miles before the end of our journey we reached another open valley populated with about 6-8 bison. For some unknown reason 4 of them broke formation and sprinted/jogged away and across the valley. It was pretty cool to see them moving that fast.

Running Away From Us … Is It The Smell?

The last mile to the car a weird bee-like fly species kept intentionally flying into my eyeballs, landing on my eyelashes, and later flying into my sunglasses when I put them on for protection. I am still not sure what they were or what they were doing, but there is something unsettling about having a potentially harmful, stinging insect on your eyeball.

When we reached the car, we posed for our end of trip photos, downed whiskey and Gatorade, and heading into Hot Springs for fast food. We ended up having to pull over in Cheyenne Wyoming to avoid driving into a massive 200 mile long squall line of severe cells. Once we dropped Daniel off Eric, who thankfully was paying attention slammed on the brakes to prevent a t-bone (right into me) with a woman who inexplicably flew through a red light. She instead clipped the bumper of a car next to us and we spent some time tending to that matter.

Last Time I would See These Trail Posts
The Collective Smell From This Picture Was Formidable

Post-hike … Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance: It is often hard to get back into the rhythm of things after long hikes. I have even read some interesting publications regarding the increased likelihood of depression following thru hikes. Though this was a shorter hike, there were some interesting dynamics of returning to the world of Covid-19 and riots, especially considered we had really only worried about foot, water, weather and ticks for a week. First world problem I know. I did not feel particularly rested when I got back, and actually felt a little more restless than I did prior to leaving for the trip. This was compounded a bit by the fact that my project at work was falling apart, and my teammates frankly have acted as they did not give a fuck, since the responsibility fell on my shoulders.

On top of dealing with the above and worrying about my wife and kids, the damn shittle/shuttle company we used basically stole money from me. In hind sight it was my own down fault for not insisting on a receipt. The thing that bothers me most is that I am 100% certain that is wasn’t accidental, and that this is their MO. Prior to heading out for the trip I had called around to find a shuttle and after calling about 6 places ranging from $200 – $250, I got a hold of “Rabbit Bicycles” who told me they would charge us $185 all inclusive for the shuttle. I got off the phone, ran it by Daniel and Eric, called them back and asked about the Nemo stop along the way so we could drop off supplies. She told me that would be no problem, and I asked TWICE is that was included in the $185 to which she responded yes.

Fast forward to the end of the trip and I notice I had been charged for a little over $252. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I call and ask where that total came from, and she informed me on the phone that it was $185 + $20 for the Nemo stop (I am already pissed there), and the rest is tax. I did a little math in my head and on the basis of the above statement she said she had charged north of 20% tax. I asked her what the tax rate was, and she said there were 2 taxes, one of 8% and one of 3%. I know this was bullshit because I can do elementary math, so I asked for a receipt. She hung up and emailed me the receipt below (notice the tax lines) with my forged signature (funny). Good times. I notified my credit card company and they refunded the money. She did not answer any of my following calls or messages. I will probably reach out to the state comptroller when I have more time.

Centennial Trail Galleries




© Ahuiz.com 2006-2019