White River Road

White River Road

Returning from a hike at Saddle Pass, I found several emails with comments and questions about my trip on the White River Road. So! Just to give some better details, I’m going to cross-post the map snapshot and my original description, as well.

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I didn’t have a map that showed it, but I knew it was there: a gravel road that wriggled across the 40 miles of grasslands, drainages and badlands between Kadoka and Interior. It turned out to be a beautiful drive. I missed one critical turn because I stayed on the branch that looked most used (and dry!) and it led me down to a ranch down on the White River! Whoops. Rather than alarm folks (I saw a dog by the buildings) I drove backward until I could make a 3 point turn. I might as well have driven right in with Johnny Cash blaring on the radio, however, because the dog had alerted a nice young fellow in a mudcaked pickup who followed me out, to see what I was doing there. He assured me that he knew “some locals were making it across now.” I’m sure there were drainages where the road was in water just a week and a half ago, when the White River was in full flood. There was one bad spot — on a hillside no less! — where I was really afraid I’d get hung up, once I was into it. Stopping and turning around there was not an option, trust me. At the crest of the hill, seeing nice dry road stretching ahead of me, I stopped to scratch my head. Earlier, I’d seen a muddy, low-riding sedan, and it must have come down through the same mudhole, but how? Then I noticed some flattened grass, and realized that some folks had been making a wide “off-road” detour in the field. The light ranged from overcast to overlit hazy. Hard to capture how open and empty that landscape feels. Every so often, the road followed the old railroad grade.

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