Most. Stressful. Day. Ever. I was too busy to take any video and the photos I snapped from the van are all on Bradley’s camera – so I don’t have very good visuals to convey the beauty of the Black Hills.
I was driving the water van with Colleen as my sidekick. The first 20 miles went fine, but then it got dicey. We were supposed to turn on a road to take us west between major roads, except it did not exist. The road turned into a campground, which was my first clue. Then a “dead end” sign. I meakly hoped perhaps it was just closed to cars, so I continued to drive. A metal bar stood across the path, a meadow in the distance. Yeah, so much for that route.
To make matters worse the road we were on, Highway 385, had a 3 mile stretch that was down to one lane for both directions of travel because of paving. After spending a good 30 minutes trying to figure out an alternate route (thankfully I have an app I don’t need internet for or we would have been screwed since we have no physical maps) I spent another hour driving through the construction to scout ahead and return to ensure the team they had somewhere to go.
That was mile 20. At mile 40 we again ran into trouble – the road we were on headed northeast to Spearfish but we needed to go Northwest to Sundance. Traveling all the way to Spearfish would have taken us 20+ miles out of the way, but everyone wanted to go that way because they heard some guy say it was all downhill. I made the decision to route them instead through the Black Hills Forest, which was gravel and woukd surely have some climbing.
I thought someone would kill me – it started out okay but turned into pretty messy gravel in the middle of nowhere. You could have went 10 miles in any direction and saw no sign of more than a few solitary inhabitants. And with no cell service we were worried someone would fall or be too exhausted and we would have no way of knowing. We spent a lot of time doubling back and did everything we could to get through the day. It was stressful as hell, but at the end of the day every group made it to the host and no one was mad!
Now I’m just sad I missed the nice climb and epic downhill!