With Fall colors (finally!) at a peak, we decided to make good on our “we should do that someday” and headed over to the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota.
At only 3.5 hours from Casper, this weekend trip was a hop, skip and jump in Wyoming drive times and delivers a lot of bang for the buck. The wide trail is built on an old railbed and totals a huge 109 miles of packed gravel with only slight inclines over some sections. The user fee is a very approachable $3/day for everyone over 12 and the trail is open to bicyclists, hikers and horseback riders, although we didn’t see any horses on the trail. What we did see was lots of healthy forest, a river (a major plus for the dogs) and some awesome secnery from some of the 100 converted railroad bridges and four rock tunnels.
For a bike, I choose my Jake, a cyclocross bike from Kona that is basically a sturdy road bike with slightly knobby tires. It was definitely the right tool for the day although a mountain bike with the suspension locked out would work well, too. We rode about 20 miles on Saturday, which started slow as there was some intense dog training happening. What was the training, you ask? 20 miles is a lot for Lab like Wendell to run and Shasta is a 15-year-old border collie/blue heeler. Needless to say, there is no way she is running 20 miles. But since our dogs are our adventure partners, we improvised sometimes they ran, other times they rode- in a trailer (see photo at right).
Wendell was NOT impressed by the trailer. After being bribed in by treats, he nearly had a heart-attack when the bike started moving and gave new meaning to the phrase “sad puppy-dog eyes”. The trailer was specifically designed for dogs and featured a super helpful tie down in the middle which had to be extremely taut to prevent Wendell from jumping out and being ran over. However, an hour and half a bag of treats later, he sat up proudly, unrestrained (but with a watchful eye on me at every second) and learned to enjoy the scenery. A successful weekend for all involved and one that may be repeated on cross-country skis in the winter. Stay tuned for Colby pulling a trailer over now sans bike…
Parting tip: If you go and find yourself a little saddle-sore after the first day, take a day to visit Mount Rushmore. It’s right there and worth a visit once in your life. Also, eat dinner at Sylvan Lake Lodge and get a picnic lunch (or just get food in your tummy after a wine tasting) at Prairie Berry Winery. That’s all folks!
Cooking-site-of-the-day: Gojee.com – put in what’s in your fridge and pantry, and it gives you a recipe. Brilliant.