Basically, since we finished last year's trip my son, heretofore I will refer to as "The Boy", has been hounding me about when we were gonna do it again, which was exciting, telling me I did a good job making the trip a fun one for a 7 year old. This year the Boy wanted to camp more nights but not having the time off of work to ride more and/or farther than we did last year, we went to the northern terminus of the trail in Deadwood the night before the ride and camped at the Whistler Gulch campground.
We woke up on Saturday morning to a soaking wet tent and gear from the dew and 6 or 7 big buck deer across the road from us. A nice way to start the adventure. I had it in my head that we would roll out before 8 am and after a tiny bit of prodding, we actually did roll out at about 10 minutes to 8. The journey had begun!
The first day had given us great weather, not too hot, a very slight tailwind and no severe weather. As we pedaled on we needed to hit the first big trailhead at the Kirk powerplant for a break. The only reason we took a break at this trailhead is we didn't have a place for breakfast before we took off, so we stopped for a granola/jerky/granola bar breakfast. After fueling up, we were off.
Understand that the Mickelson trail is a rail-trail, so none of the grades are very steep, but some a very long, so even though you're not in the granny gear grinding it out, you can be spinning a easier gear for a long time. We got to the top of the first climb and we knew we were moving along at a good clip, at least for a tandem loaded down with gear. A couple more stops at trailheads and we made it to the Dumont trailhead for the long downhill to Rochford.
Ahh, Rochford. The tiny little town in the middle of the Black Hills. It is a fun little place to stop and grab a little grub at the Moonshine Gulch Saloon. The Moonshine is a place you'd see in old time pictures or paintings. There is a bunch of weird stuff outside and inside it has hundereds of ball caps tacked to the ceiling, hundreds of pictures and curios on the walls and shelves. It has old wood floors that aren't flat and it is kinda dirty inside, but it is a great place that we make a point to stop at. It is definitely a time warp.
After fueling up, we hit the trail again continuing onto the Mystic trailhead where the last climb of the day was going to begin. The last climb went really, really well. I enjoy this climb as the trail takes you through a few tunnels on the trail. This is where I discovered that the Boy was not fond of the Lord of the Rings movies. Going through the tunnels, I said "I need my precious" in a bad, but my best Gollum voice. The Boy got mad, telling me to quit as it made him think of the big spider that captured Frodo and wrapped him up in a spider web. Understood and I was done with the Gollum jokes.
We hit our first day's destination of Hill City in good time, picking up a couple of needs in town before pedaling to our campground. We stayed at the same place as last year since it is literally right on the trail. We set up camp, got cleaned up and headed out on the bike to an adjacent campground to meet up with my boss and his family who happened to be camping there for the weekend. My boss' grandson, that is close in age to the Boy, was there so we went so they could play together and have some dinner. The Boy got to swim, play in the woods and have a good dinner that had no jerky.
We pedaled back to camp just before 8 pm. I grabbed a beer at the campground store and we sat around and relaxed a bit before hitting the sack. A big day was over, but the next day we needed to get up and do it all over again.