South Dakota Centennial Trail Days 4 & 5
Once we were hydrated and had four liters apiece, we set off to get more miles in and intentionally dry camp. At the end of Lake Sheridan, we walked across a grass-covered earthen dam wall. It ended in a stone stairway that led to a wooden bridge, which crossed the dam’s outlet stream. While approaching we saw a couple people dive off the nearby cliffs into the water below. Soon we were walking old logging roads and the miles went by easily.
This is one of the best maintained trails I have been on, though it seems under utilized. The trail marking is frequent, with arrow or extra markers at turns. At one point, we came to a newly constructed road that obstructed the trail with a huge earthen wall. A tunnel of pre-cast concrete had been built in for our access and orange barriers directed us to it. So considerate!
I felt a sudden tiredness come on while we were playing cards. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep yet and it is catching up. Back on the trail, I walked through a patch of brush that made me itchy, my pack started squeaking, and my shoe had a rock. I stopped briefly to adjust the physical items and remind myself that I can choose my attitude. A few minutes later and I was walking along filled with excitement and joy.
The next section of trail was a bit funky. We climbed up & up until we could see Pactola Reservoir in the distance, then curved right back the way we came. Pretty soon we came upon Hwy 385, found a gap in traffic, and darted across. I felt like a deer trying to get back to the woods. Then the trail took us near an inlet of the reservoir where boats were lined up at dock.
Our end goal was Deer Creek trailhead. It contained Brendan’s car and our resupply. As we got closer, I was thinking about the bag of potato chips that I saw Jenessa slide into the resupply box. However, we kept walking and were soon past our destination with the trail continuing upward. The map showed the trailhead directly on the trail, but it had apparently been re-routed. We came up with a plan, Brendan and Jenessa would walk down an old logging road back to the car. Meanwhile, Mike and I would speed walk to Pilot Knob another three miles up the trail.
The rendezvous worked exactly as planned. The car team picked out an excellent campsite and filled our extra water bladders at a campground on their drive over. We excitedly sorted through our resupply food and ate potato chips (turned out Mike also put chips in the resupply). We ended our day at 70 miles so our new goal is to finish the trail in nine days.
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