Bear Butte, known as Mato Paha in the Lakota language, is a sacred site in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Photo: Jerrye & Roy Klotz MD

John Taylor: Sturgis, UTVs and anachronisms…

Call me an anachronism: I ride a real four-legged horse, not an iron one. I paddle a canoe across Pactola Lake instead of a power boat. Maybe I’m weird. Maybe there are other anachronisms out there too. I have an axe to grind about what’s currently happening in He Sapa.

This past weekend, my wife Nancy and I took a hike in He Sapa to get some peace and quiet. Home --  between Interstate 90 and SD 44 -- is normally fairly quiet given that it’s on the edge of Rapid City and near shopping areas, but the roar of those cycles Friday night, the first day of the Sturgis rally, until about 2 a.m., then starting up again Saturday morning about 7 a.m., same on Sunday, was driving us nuts.

So we traveled down South Rockerville Rd., exploring, looking for a National Forest road where we might turn in, find a quiet side trail to hike.

At the first road, we were immediately greeted by two roaring, sputtering UTVs, traveling the gravel fast, like they owned it. We pulled off to let them pass and as we did, lead knucklehead pointed his upraised index finger at us. No. 1? What does that mean? I wanted to point another finger at him.

Traveling down the road a little further, one, two, three other vehicles; then from a side trail another trio of vehicles came bouncing out. Geeze, I told Nancy, this place is packed, let’s get out of here.

The second forest road had similar traffic.

The third road seemed to offer peace. We parked, started hiking up the road towards an even less-traveled side trail. Just as we turned in, out roared the same two UTV-loads of idiots we’d passed on the first road, again with the No.1 salute.

Continuing up the side trail, we spotted a mule deer doe 15 feet away. She didn’t move while we walked quietly past. I wondered if a fawn was involved.

As we climbed the side trail, fresh UTV, ATV or Jeep tracks abounded. The Forest Service put concrete crossing blocks in three brook crossings to protect the water from vehicle abuse. I wondered how many times vehicles crossed those pretty little waters and what sort of impact that had on the small wild trout – I saw one dart upstream when we crossed -- who live there.

Further uphill, in flat spots, we witnessed foot deep ruts filled with water – the result of vehicles traveling this trail when it was wet. Why, I asked Nancy, would anyone bring any vehicle up this trail when it’s wet? She shook her head and looked at the black-eyed Susan’s blossoming yellow along the trail.


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