Spearfish Trail Exploration
This is mainly a video post, and the video presented is not for entertainment purposes since, if it were, it would be just 5-8 minutes long. Instead, it’s a punishing 42 minutes in length – all of it dashcam – which means that few will watch it all the way through. That’s okay. What this is for is to show anyone who is interested just what I typically do to hunt for undocumented boondocking campsites along relatively easy trails that do not require 4WD. (Token high clearance is needed here.) This particular hunt is unusual because it happens to be quite successful. Two campsites on two trails, and not all that far from each other!
Why bother watching? Well, if you live vicariously through this blog and dream of getting out there to the kinds of places I do, this video may kick an assumption or two out of place. It might make you want to stick to published and popular campsites, or to RV parks. Or it may add to your wanderlust – I don’t know. I find the ever-changing scenery quite appealing as an incentive to keep watching, but I’m kinda weird that way. It may also serve as a reality show for hardware, in that once you get into 3/4-ton pickup-based rigs and above, you won’t be the one flying down untamed trails.
And aside from the nice unfolding scenery, that’s what stands out in this clip: the slow travel speed combined with the violence inherent with the F-250’s high-pressure tires and high-rate springs, even beyond its rated cargo load. Speeding up to try to make it smooth out a little simply doesn’t work. That just magnifies the violence, and decreases traction to boot. Lowering tire pressures would help a bit, but at the distances involved, I didn’t feel it would be worth the half-hour it takes to air back up.
Once you’re in the trail section of this video, you may wonder what all the whining is about. After all, the horizon is mostly steady as a rock, and the e-bike and hood in front bounce around a bit, but “you” in the camera’s vantage point, seem to be gliding along nicely! In reality, the iPhone, shaking and bobbing in its windshield mount, heroically decided to stop the crazed whirlygig video footage and fixate on stabilizing the horizon instead. It was commendably successful, and resulted in smooth scenery with a little e-bike and red truck hood moving about at the bottom of the frame. That keeps your eyes from dancing while the trail and trees shake. Just keep your eye on the bike seat for awhile. That’s easiest. Notice how it dances up and down, the distance and speed being notable. It’s notable because that’s also you moving about in your cab seat, as well as the camper strapped down in the truck bed. The comfy but firm foam seats don’t compress much at all. There’s no spongy floating involved here. Watch the bike seat. Notice that the bike carrier is not flexing or exaggerating the bouncing. At all. That bike seat is your petute, and the quickness of its rise and fall can make a “fast” trail speed both unpleasant for you and risky to the camper mounts. These problems do not exist in half-ton trucks and less, but then again, they can’t carry this much of a load in an identical body and drivetrain configuration.
The first three minutes are part of the jaunt up scenic highway 14A or 14 Alternate. There are lots of rustic but comfortable lodges along the way, well-equipped enough that one can just stay and relax for a week, or tour the area. Not shown is that the highway skirts a fast-flowing river to the right. There were many viewpoints to pull off at, but I had a full complement of errands in Spearfish to get done before improvising a new campsite…somewhere. The remaining footage is all trail, with a few inane comments and some waffling on making a decision. Sleeves right in with the rest of the blog!
UPDATE: By the way, since this post is presented on a time-delayed basis, I’ll mention that a 5-6 day heat wave is moving back in today. Holding a steady 90º is at 5,000′ elevation is surprising (to me). Because this particular area has proven to be warmer than one would expect at this elevation, back I go to the area of Hanna Creek. Since that is a cellular-free zone and points west are still even hotter than here, I’ll relate now that I have made the executive decision to completely abandon my Wyoming-Montana tour and switch back to Plan B, which is a commute to even higher elevations in Colorado. Despite its Rocky Mountain High hype and PR image, I expect Colorado to present a few unpleasant practical challenges for me, along with its cooler temperatures. Of course, should this seasonal heat wave unexpectedly end while I’m there, that could prove interesting too! Adventure! I will get back online when I can. Until then, be well, and at least make a token effort to behave yourselves! You know who you are. 🙂
Adventure indeed! I will be on one of my own shortly. Oh my! Enjoy your time off-line. Sorry to know Montana is going to have to wait, but rumor has it, that particular state should still be there next summer. Surprisingly hot there! You could complain to management, but, I know you know better! Lol
it seems that I have enough signal at some times of day to comment, but not post or check weather, etc. I wouldn’t like to think that this heat trend will repeat next year, and the next. This is where rooftop A/C and RV Parks pay off, I guess, if one has the funds!
Thanks for the awesome ride and for the inspiration!
And thank you for piping up, Mary! I honestly figured that not a soul would suffer through it. When I come cross (shorter) drives that give my own interest scale a buzz, maybe I won’t be so quick to assume, and will capture and post it. After all, it’s easy for readers to not click on stuff as a matter of preference, but at least it’s available.
Buzz, indeed :-). It’s been too long since my last camping/road trip. Thank you again for sharing.
HAH!!! Those roads are certainly doable, though I may divvy my research up into “heavy camper” and “lighter camper” categories. LOL
Actually, Allen, on my way back out days later, I had forgotten that the road through the “Wildlife Production Area” was technically worse, being moderately rutted and eroded by heavy rain washing across and down it. I didn’t capture that in video because I didn’t want to get crazy with this stuff, but it would have illustrated that, to a point, picking the “right” line can help make do with a more limited vehicle, and eliminate a lot of unnecessary drama. There was nothing that even a big top-heavy truck camper couldn’t handle, though.
The photo below illustrates a fortitude I don’t have. It’s from The Feral Blog, who seldom posts and is currently having problems with their TC literally coming apart. It’s a nice read, though.
Looks like he should have hugged the road to the left some more!
I’m really considering the same beefy truck with a lighter camper, maybe one of the bigger Northern Lites. We shall see. 😁 This blog is certainly fueling the fire.