Waltzing in the badlands

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been enjoying time with family and friends in the badlands of western ND and eastern MT. Good times on the blackborow, reading, sleeping in the hammock, rock hounding, cutting and polishing rocks, fixing gear, brewing sun tea and ginger ale, doing little projects around the places I’m staying, and just relaxing amongst the beautiful scenery! My computer time has been limited (by choice), except for some various projects associated with my geologic consulting business. Some camping has occurred along the way..

Speaking of books..I’ve been reading one or two a week, all on paper..my kindle seems to be missing at the moment. I had mentioned the “Sixth Extinction” in a prior post, but have been thinking more and more about observations the author had made. Humans are playing an odd experiment on earth that could have a larger impact than climate change..we and we alone have been transporting different species in the animal kingdom around the globe at rates faster than ever before. The author describes how fast animal extinctions are occurring and there is a chance that only 100 total animal species will be on earth by the end of this century..hmm I wonder if humans will be one of them?   I read Michael Lewis’s “Flash Boys” in a few days, his compelling writing always makes for a good informative read on how the American people are being screwed over in the stock market. Essentially big banks and high frequency stock traders were raking in $millions from 2007-2014 by hijacking trades from middle income America and making pennies at a time so not to be noticed easily. If you have ever invested any $ in the stock market including a mutual fund, IRA, or other retirement account..you should read this book!  Now I’m reading Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” a tale of cross country travel in a stage coach, by horse or foot and is set in 1860’s prior to locomotive travel. Twain has a knack for writing that allows me to visualize his surroundings and become part of the book (my imagination is my television). The Nevada silver mining rush is exciting to read about since I spent a few months in that area and know the general locations of mines and rocks associated with the silver deposits. Some stories are embellished a bit, but it definitely makes for a good story!!

I made a quick trip with my brother out to the Gallatin river area near Bozeman, MT for a friend’s wedding. Always good to see the greater family and friends who reside in the Montana Rockies. The following day we all headed to Rock Bottom, a town built by friends in the Rockies near McCalister, MT. The ‘town’ is small but includes a post office, bar, general store, and jail (pretty cool idea instead of just having one cabin). I didn’t have much time at Rock Bottom but wanted to see the area. So I set out for a bike ride, which started with a few mile truck transport up the mountain side to fire rock, where in general it was all downhill back to Rock Bottom, however there was plenty of gullies to explore and even higher peaks to climb. As I cruised around the vast granite landscape overlooking Lake Ennis, I came across old prospecting grounds with several pits and a larger pit, I assume it was a gold mine. The ride was exhilarating, climbs took all I had and definitely pushed my VO2max to higher levels, it was hot out but I was prepared with plenty of water and snacks. The ride was 2 hours in all, enough to get a good taste, will have to come back for more riding and exploring later as we had to load up and head back to eastern Montana.

The next day, I had an itch for more riding, so went back to Medora early and was out on the Maah Dah Hey trail by 3pm. Introduced 2 new hikers to the Deuce trail system at Bully Pulpit TH prior to taking off on the blackborow. My ride was 17 miles going from Bully Pulpit TH south to Plumely Draw TH back on 3 miles of gravel then 2 more on trail all in 3.5 hrs.. with a good break to patch a flat tire in the shade of a western cedar tree. The maah dah hey has seen a lot of water erosion this year, the gullies are rougher and cliffs eroded away, however the grasslands are green which means more prickly pear cactus (easy to run over with 5” tires) and the wildlife is abundant, including one rattlesnake spotting along the trail. In all this was the fastest I remember riding the single track out there at least on the blackborow. Riding in the mountains has definitely raised the bar!

It sure is fun exploring the Little Missouri and Yellowstone river corridors, however I’m itching for an adventure, been watching and waiting for containment of the glacier national park wildfire and hope to head up there yet this week.


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