After two long driving days now I’m at base camp, ready to head to the mountains tomorrow. Rain was the story for Saturday’s drive, at times so hard even high setting on windshield wipers weren’t enough. But the storm was moving east and I was driving west so late in the afternoon I seemed to have gotten passed it.
This morning in Rapid City was beautiful, completely blue sky, not a cloud anywhere. Warm but not hot. The only trouble was the mob of tourists who are already showing up. So I truncated my driving plan for today, which was good because my eMaps failed to find actual routes through the Wyoming section of the Black Hills National Forest. It was touch-and-go for a while trying to follow confusing road signs instead of my familiar orange line (the route) and green dots (my path). But eventually, after ignoring several No Trespassing sign (in Wyoming that seems to apply to the land around the road, not the road itself) I suddenly saw Devil’s Tower in the distance. At least I got out of Forest Service roads and onto mapped roads.
Devil’s Tower was a zoo. Mobs of RVs and trailers, the parking lot full. I almost got discouraged and left, but I’d come a long way to see it, so I wasn’t going to give up. Eventually I parked in the overflow lot and headed to trailhead. A nice hiking loop around the Tower and I was done. Then mostly, after an aborted geodash (cattle and locked gate on the “county” road), it was the steady chug across Wyoming dry country. The stage of the drive from Buffalo to Sheridan was beautiful, incredibly green, with mountains glowing with snow in the west. I noticed that I hadn’t seen any pronghorns (on previous trips seemingly everywhere) and, boom, there were two, then some more, soon too many to count.
And finally Sheridan. Only mishap was while getting my camera out I put the case on the roof of the car. Anxious to snap pictures I forgot it so it’s lost somewhere in the Black Hills. My main problem is that I won’t be able to upload photos (and delete them for storage space for new ones). So I’m on my fallback of the iPod Touch, which hardly takes very good pictures.
Now if my campsite is available and the road is open and I can get my tent up you shouldn’t hear from me for a week (no communications up on the mountain). Last year’s trip was a weather disaster, plus too much staying online (even back in Sheridan one night to avoid snow), so hopefully I’ll get the peace and tranquility I seek.
Check back to see.