Day 97: Biking the Black Hills

36 miles (unloaded bikes)

Last night we actually set an alarm to wake us up today, a rarity on this trip.  We wanted to get to Mount Rushmore before the sun was up so we could get some photos with the first rays of sunlight on the sculpture.  We left our tent set up and jumped in the van to drive the several miles to the monument.  We were a little late, but we still got a few good photos before the sun was completely up.  While there we walked around a short loop trail that takes you below the sculptures.  It was very quiet this morning and we had the place almost to ourselves.  After that we drove back to the campground to break down our tent and have breakfast.

Mt. Rushmore slideshow: 

Our next plan for today was to ride our bikes.  We found out that there’s a 109 mile rail trail called the Mickelson trail which runs north to south through the length of the Black Hills.  We had a map of the trail showing the elevation profile, so we picked a section that would enable us to ride uphill, then turn around and ride downhill almost all the way back to the car.  The trail was really nice and the scenery reminded me a lot of Colorado.  There were trees aplenty, occasional slate cliffs, streams through small meadows, and some remnants of the mining history in this area.

Mickelson trail: 

After the ride we drove into Rapid City where we’ll be staying the night with Tom and Sharon, who are friends with my mom and step-dad.  Tom has been friends with my mom’s husband, Bob, since they both were boys growing up in South Dakota.  It was very nice of Tom and Sharon to put us up for the night.  They drove us through town a little bit to show off their city, and rightly so.  Rapid City seems like a nice small city, especially with the scenic Black Hills so nearby.  After the short driving tour they took us to dinner downtown where we talked about our trip and some of the traveling they’ve done as well.  It turns out they’re going to Australia and New Zealand in November so we joked that we might run into them at the airport there.

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