Bone Collector … A Photo Treasure Chest
Many people mentioned the Bone Collector Trail when I asked for trail recommendations. So I went to the Strava site, did an activity search, and came up with all kinds of different trails called Bone Collector. I chose a loop (yes I always prefer a loop or a shuttle) with enough miles to give me a workout. What I came up with was a ride posted by a girl named Brittani, which called for 9.9 miles and 1,311 feet of climbing. I loaded her track onto my Garmin 800 Edge and headed up Highway 44 for my afternoon ride (I had done a little riding up on the Skyline Trails right in Rapid City). At that point in time I had no idea how I would drift off of Brittani’s path!
After bouncing across a plateau on Log Porch Road (also called FSR 173) for at least a mile I found Brittani’s starting point, in a grassy field just across from a huge pile of logs.
While getting all my gear on I began to think about the origin of the name Bone Collector. “Why was this trail called Bone Collector?” I thought. Had paleontologists found a bunch of dinosaur bones buried in the banks adjacent to the trail? Had human skeletons been found in some crevice? Had riders broken bones or died along the way … the trail collecting their skeletons?
Once I was all prepped I set out to the south. Less than a mile from the trailhead I did come across some rocky trail sections which could cause problems to a rider’s skeleton.
One such place had a skinny ladder (two foot wide) spanning two boulders followed by an abrupt drop off of the second boulder. Next to the ladder sat a six inch wide ramp, balancing on one of the boulders but not crossing the gap. I am not sure how I was supposed to ride that set-up!
Near the southern end of the ride I had a lot of trouble seeing the trail . A thick blanket of downed branches and pine needles were spread out for hundreds of feet in all directions due to loggers. Thank goodness for the blue streamers hanging from an occasional tree!
After making a turn toward the east I spotted some wild turkeys. I was not real excited as lately I have seen many of these birds on my home trails in San Diego.
Once again, just like my ride the previous day (Victoria Lake), I had to find the trail without signs. Actually, the only sign I found marked the trail just after crossing a fire road. I shot across the road, feeling good about seeing such a nice, clear trail marked with a fairly new sign. However, after riding the trail for about a half mile I looked at my GPS only to find I was way off track! I turned and retraced my path only to find I had needed to ride up the fire road instead of following that nice sign.
I don’t like having to backtrack, especially when I have to go back up a climb! However, this miscue did allow me to see the most perfectly arched tree I have come across.
I managed to lose Brittani’s trail two more times during my ride. Both times the turn-offs for the trails were almost invisible … having been very lightly traveled and, of course, not signed. But, if I had been paying closer attention to my GPS I would not have erred.
The blue track represents Brittani’s ride, the gold one is mine. The green baloon is where the car was parked.
One of my gaffes put me on a trail through forest of a million tightly paced trees and took me right up to the edge of a cliff … allowing me a tremendous view of a grassy valley below.
Once back on the proper trail I soon found myself riding across that enormous green carpet. I must have taken twenty photos while riding in that valley. Boy was I glad I had not given up on Brittani’s track and biked back to the car after losing my direction!
Thunderstorms threatened the whole time. I felt a few drops a couple of times but never had to break out the old Gortex jacket.
The final part of Brittani’s ride took me from the valley floor up a very smooth fire road to the top of the plateau.
While cranking up the incline I came across another pile of logs which formed a silhouette against the sky.
After topping out onto the mesa sped south down FSR 173 and soon caught site of the car.
While on a mountain bike ride I try to pay attention to the trails, scenery, people, , landmarks, artifacts, and any other unusual event worth recording. I can tell you nothing about other trail users on this ride since I saw no one. Yup, I saw no other humans on this ride! Not a single sole! But as you can see, I have plenty of nice photos to make up the difference. Thank you Brittani for the wonderful track!
But lastly … Bone Collector … do any of you know how this trail got the name?
During most visits I take many more photos than I can place on a page. To view every image I captured … 33 photos in all, please visit my Photo Gallery site.
My other rides in the Black Hills are listed below: