After all the planning we’ve done over the past year, David and I have decided to abandon the Colorado Trail and go to South Dakota instead. It’s been so incredibly hot here, and the fire season is going to be awful. We could still run into fires in South Dakota, of course, but it isn’t as likely.
This trail is much shorter than the CT, so we don’t need to take as much time. I won’t have the worries about finding water or having access to ice, so that’s a nice benefit of our change in plans. The scenery looks beautiful, and David will get to see some things that are new to him: Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon, etc. I introduced him to the Deadwood series, and he’s a big fan now. So that part of the trip will be really fun for him.
As of right now, our plan is to leave July 16. We’ll spend the first night outside of Sturgis, then camp that weekend in the Spearfish/Deadwood area before heading up to Bear Butte State Park on the 19th to start the hike. Since we’re meeting in South Dakota (David lives in Utah) and won’t have a chance to work on our gear together ahead of time, this will give us time to consolidate our gear to fit into my van (we’re leaving David’s car at the BBSP visitor center), make sure everything works, look over our food (and alcohol!), and shop for anything we might have forgotten.
It’s a little more difficult to plan camping on the Centennial Trail, since some of the state parks allow camping only in state campgrounds, which will probably be full. (I tried to make reservations, but that’s no longer possible. The campgrounds do have a few first-come, first-served spots that they don’t reserve, but I’m not holding my breath that I’ll be able to get one. Best be prepared for the worst.) From what I’ve read, the campgrounds will make room for a through hiker even if they’re full, but I won’t be that lucky in my van. Once we get out of Bear Butte State Park and into the Black Hills National Forest, though, I can camp pretty much anywhere, so I’ve been scoping out potential dispersed campsites on iOverlander, freecampsites.net, and other sources. I think we’ll be OK.
After David finishes the hike, we’re going to camp for the weekend down near Hot Springs and wait for the high weekend motel rates to drop. Then we’ll spend Monday and Tuesday nights in Deadwood. I got us rooms at a great resort right next to a creek. We can hang out, have someone else cook for us, walk around Deadwood, etc. It’s a good way to finish off our trip. We’ll head home on Wednesday, August 5.
So watch this space for posts about the trip and pictures. It’ll be a new experience for both of us, and we’re really looking forward to it.