Three Days on the Centennial Trail

This week I have been feeling great. The soreness from Kettle Moraine went away quickly, within only a couple of days. Then again all I did was only a 41 mile training run instead of a complete 100 kilometer race.

I decided to do some trail running last weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. My legs felt good. The only sign that I had done something out of the ordinary the previous week was a little sluggishness going up the hills but that is it.

Otherwise, I feel surprisingly well.

Friday June 13th Samelius Trailhead South

7.8 miles

I started at the Samelius Trailhead of the Centennial Trail and headed south to the Big Pine trailhead before turning around and running back.



We have been in an 8 year drought. But then this May has been the wettest since 1905.

The ponds and streams are full. Our drought is almost over…as long as we continue to get rain and don't have a summer that is too dry.




The spring wildflowers are in full bloom. It is absolutely beautiful here; I wish that I could bottle up the fresh scent of the flowers, green grass and pine trees and post that here for y'all to enjoy as well.


Many of these ponds were dry only a few weeks ago.




Saturday June 14th Samelius Trailhead North

5.0 miles

I parked at the Samelius Trailhead again. Today I went in the opposite direction from yesterday, I went north up the Centennial Trail.

The weather was hot- in the 80s – but at least it was dry unlike last week in Wisconsin.




This section of the trail was rocky.

I wanted to look at the view but had to pay attention to where I placed my feet to keep from biting it. I've learned the hard way to not gawk at the scenery when trail running over rough ground.

These peaks are located in the Black Elk Wilderness. I decided to run them Sunday so I could see them up close.

The Black Elk Wilderness area was named after Lakota spiritual leader, Black Elk (c.1863-1950).  He fought in the Battle of Little Big Horn at the age of 12 and was injured at the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. In 1932 wrote the book: Black Elk Speaks, with John Neihardt, an account of his experiences and sacred Lakota rituals.


This curious lil' guy let me mess around with my camera and snap a few photos before he had enough and ran up the tree out of sight.


Sunday June 15th Big Pine Trailhead South

6.3 miles

I parked at the Big Pine Trailhead where I had turned around on my run Friday.

It was cooler than yesterday, a pleasant change. I headed south into the Black Elk Wilderness and towards the granite peaks I had glimpsed yesterday.

Most of the first half of the run was uphill.



Someone must've spent a lot of time making these trail blazes. The Centennial Trail is known as Trail #89 because it was completed during the year of South Dakota's centennial in 1989.



I ran up the Centennial Trail until it connected with the Horsethief Trail. Then I turned right and ran towards the top of the ridge.

Along the way, I met some horse and mule riders who asked me for directions. This was my first time in this area and I told them so. Still, they were completely mixed up and all turned around. They had no idea where they were. They showed me their map and I pointed out the way for them. 

Apparently, my map reading skills were much better than theirs. They should be: in 1998 my wife and I spent 6 months riding our two horses along with our two pack mules up the Continental Divide Trail from the Mexican border through New Mexico and Colorado towards Wyoming. It was just the two of us, along with our two dogs.  That was an amazing journey- I consider it my greatest "ultramarathon" adventure to date.

Perhaps the seeds of my love of ultrarunning were sown on that trip without me even realizing it? 

I rested for a few minutes at the top of the ridge before turning around and heading back.

The next 30 minutes were all downhill… a pleasant change after the slow going up hill to get here. But I couldn't go as fast as I would've liked because of all the loose round rocks.



You can see a few of the rock outcroppings I had seen yesterday. I was not able to get as clear a picture as I would have liked because of the trees and vegetation.

Instead of taking Trail #89, I decided to take the Horsethief trail on the return trip. My plan was to run to the Horsethief trailhead from which I could loop back to my car parked at the Big Pine trailhead. 

On the way down, I was surprised to catch up with the horseriders again. It was good that I did… they had missed the turn off that I had told them to take. They were lost yet again.

I got them turned around and finally on the right trail. 

I wonder what would have happened to them had I not been here? 

Here is a sturdy foot bridge. I have never seen one constructed like this.

Was it built this way or is it made out of an old flume or water chute?

After getting to the Horsethief trailhead, I ran less than half a mile  on the side of the road before I returned to the Big Pine trailhead and my car. 

This week, I have felt good. Of course, these were only short pleasant recovery runs- nothing long or arduous.  In a few weeks I should be ready again to try some longer training runs or even another race. I need to be careful now and allow my body some more time to recover, otherwise I could end up with an injury.

There are endless miles of trails here, I am looking forward to exploring more of them in the future.

Inyanka yo!

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4 responses

  1. oh thats beautiful!

    June 18, 2008 at 6:46 pm

  2. Thanks! It's even prettier in person.

    June 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm

  3. South Dakota looks much more beautiful than I ever imagined. Great pics of the trails, and for that matter, awesome trails! I have a definite case of trail envy. Not many places to get out and run by yourself down here in Tampa right now. Vicarious running, it will have to be.

    June 20, 2008 at 6:51 am

  4. When you come out to visit, bring your shoes and we shall run some of these. I have today off of work so I am getting my gear packed to go out for a trail run right now.

    June 20, 2008 at 9:26 am

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