Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Mickelson Rail Trail (MRT) Day 1: Deadwood to Rochford

What a day! After following the weather for a few weeks, we woke up to a sunny day.

The local tourism group has a fun photo challenge called "Wild Bill Me!" .... and we can never leave a challenge unattempted. 

 After 25+ photos and a fun walk around the downtown, we headed off on our ride.

When you look at the trail map,  you will notice that there is an alternate route between Deadwood and Rochford. You might also notice that one of the routes is shorter and the other has more switchbacks.

Not thinking too much about it, we opted for the shorter route. Let me tell you about that...arriving on the trail four days after a snow storm dropped 2' of snow that melted quickly means that you will have a very wet trail.

When we got to the steep part, there was no way we were riding up -- even if it had been paved. Now imagine pushing your fully loaded bike up a trail that is wet, your tires sinking down into an inch or two into wet, sandy, mud. We were all thinking the same long is this day going to be? After about a mile, we got to the top where we merged with the other part of the trail and found a sign with the grade: 13%. We talked with another cyclist later on our trip and she told us that it would have been hard either way. But I do wonder if we would have had to push our bikes up the other trail...

The day was fantastic! Although we had our camping gear, we had made arrangements to stay with Betsy at the Moonshine Gulch Saloon because quite frankly, we had been worried about snow on the ground!

Snow on the side of the trail.
As you near Rochford, you have to take the bridge across the river before you reach the Rochford trailhead. Two of our riders were up ahead and missed the turn off --- not only that, but they passed up the trailhead as well! Eventually they realized, turned around and went back to the trailhead. By this time, we were a little worried that we had lost two of our people...and we were tired. So, we didn't really want to ride out looking for them. Betsy had greeted us and must have known that we were pooped because she offered to drive on down to the trailhead to see if they were there. Sure enough they were.

Of course the highlight of our stay in Rochford was Betsy. She's a tough little lady -- not sure how old she was, but we'd guess late 70s. Tough, kind-hearted and ready to help, when she noticed that I had a cold, she told me she had just what I she went and when she returned she had a shot of honey whisky which she promptly provided instructions on how it should be held in one's throat when one has a cold.

Her saloon was something...I think she'd been there something like 40+ years...and there were things in that saloon that probably hadn't ever been moved since they arrived when she got there. The dust was thick, but the company and her burgers were good. We had a few drinks, chatted with her and her son, and made our way back to the trailer that we had arranged to stay room, three beds and a bathroom all in about a 12x12 room. Clean sheets and clean towels. We were set! 

And yes, she sent me back to the trailer with a dixie cup of whiskey for my nightstand.

Total mileage for the day: 26.4 miles

Tip: If you need a place to stay, call Betsy at the Moonshine Gulch Saloon and ask if you can stay in her trailer. She does not advertise and the only way to reach her is by phone. The saloon is open until the wee hours, so if you do call, wait until mid-afternoon or you might wake her up. In addition to the room we stayed in, there was a second room with a couple of bunk beds and bathroom.

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