June 17, 2013
Sage Creek Campground, Badlands, South Dakota
Distance traveled: 1721
When they say rustic camping at Sage Creek campground I see now that they really mean it. Looking around the small circle of adventurous tenters out here nothing else is in sight. No cars, no billboards, and no other people. Right now I'm sitting under the mini shaded picnic tables provided by the park at each site, and except for the clicking of my tablet the only other sounds to be heard is the softly blowing wind, and the birds calling back and forth to each other. It's truly majestic and I'm so happy I didn't skip it in favor of moving forward.
The trip in today was a simple 21 miles, but I paid my dues for the free camping. What the guide book doesn't tell you is that it's a ten mile ride in on unpaved rutted roads though to be far they have kept the coffin of the roads very well. Remembering my last experience off the pavement I decided to test my skills and make the trek knowing I could only improve. To be honest I was completely terrified at what was to come and could just imagine myself driving 8 or so miles in to find the road totally washed out from the previous day's storm only to have to turn around and make the white knuckled trip back in defeat. But I imagine that settlers making their way slowly west must have felt somewhat similar. Not knowing if they were going to make it, the fear of what was to come next, and the total uncertainty of the conditions in what lay ahead.
This time though I started out with no bravado keeping the speed down between 15-20 mph. After watching a show yesterday on riding dual sport bikes I knew to keep my elbows loose, my head up, and to always be planning my path. With this in mind I slowly crept forward mile by mile, past buffalo grazing happily at the side of the road, a park ranger out tidying the park, and a few other cars that must of thought I had broken down and started pushing her due to my incredibly slow pace.
At a little under an hour and only stopping once to snap some pics of the buffalo I finally made it to my site unscathed. Victory was mine and I celebrated by setting up camp and changing into some cleaner clothes as my riding gear has grown a somewhat pungent aroma already (laundry will have to be soon). The camp is beautiful though, and after this I expect to get some lunch then hiking in. The weather is a perfect 70 degrees with a light breeze making it more then comfortable. I can't help but notice the thunderstorms predicted for the next two days but I guess I'll just have to take those as they come. For now though victory, serenity, and the glorious Badlands of South Dakota are all mine.