Devil's Canyon Overlook, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, MT/WY

The Pilgrimage: Day 20

Reluctantly, I left the awesome Casey and Hilary in Billings, and made my way down to Bighorn Canyon. I was already in love after only being their an afternoon, plus there’s wild horses
I talked to the ranger at the visitor’s center about Artist Residencies for a bit and it’s very very tempting. I could totally spend two weeks here doing my thing, I may apply for next year. 

Devil's Canyon Overlook, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, MT/WY

You can’t resist views like these can you? 

Devil's Canyon Overlook, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, MT/WY

The Pilgrimage: Day 21

Did a bit more exploring of Bighorn Canyon today, including walking down into the historic ranch site that once belonged to Caroline Lockhart -who is my new hero.

Lockhart Ranch,  Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, MT/WY

She was a writer/jounalist in the late 19th/beginning of the 20th century. She lent some money to man to buy a ranch and when he couldn’t pay it back she took over. At her height she controlled about 7,000 acres of ranch land and homesteads, she owned her own newspaper for a time, wrote seven books, and she was just a general bad ass who had boyfriends, but never married. She didn’t sell her ranch until she began to loose her eyesight in 1950 at age 79. 
Yes. Freaking bad ass women for the win. 

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, MT/WY

Bonus: Wild Horses. What did I tell ya? They’re beautiful. 

Bear Creek Saloon & Steakhouse, Bearcreek, MT

The Pilgrimage: Day 22

I reluctantly left my new playground of Bighorn Canyon and made my way into Red Lodge. I was headed here so I could witness the famous Pig Races held at the Bearcreek Saloon. I arrived a little early so I had time to kill. 

I decided it would be a great idea to go find a camp site, and set up camp so I could just go to bed after the pig races. I wandered over to the Forest Service office, and the nice woman at the counter gave me a map of all the dispersed camping sites and I went off to find myself one. 

I went up one road, and decided half way up this mountain that the ground was going to be too steep. When I tried to turn around I caught the front tire in a wash out. The bike fell just right that my ankle got trapped under my bike. 

Gasoline was leaking out from under my gas cap and I was laughing at myself, getting trapped under my bike. I tugged and pushed but couldn’t get free. I was figuring out how to wedge my helmet under the bike to give me enough room to get free, when a car came down the mountain. A woman who was 7 months pregnant stepped out of the car. 

She hollered to ask me if I was ok, and I laughed and said ya, I was just trapped. She walked over carefully, and said that she didn’t think she was going to be able to pick up the bike. I told her if she could just grab the handle bar and lift it an inch or two, I could push on my side and wiggle free. Between the two of us I got free from my 900+ lb beast, thanked the wonderful woman and waved her on her way, saying  I could pick up my bike now. 

I stripped the bike again and got it up. Then faced the daunting reality that I was still buried in a washout. I dumped the bike twice more, before I managed to get Lazarus and myself free of the terrible washout. 

While I was putting all the gear back on the bike, I noticed that I had destroyed my left turn signal. I laughed again, beyond done with my misfortune, and lamented to the bike aloud that I didn’t think anything on her right side was going to survive this trip. 

I made my way back down the hill, took the other fork and finally found a good place to camp behind a couple trees that hid my tent from the road. When I finished setting up camp it gave me just enough time to head back to Bearcreek to have some well earned dinner and pig races. 

I’m pretty sure I told the story about my trip at least four times that night, and I met some nice people. One couple stood with me while we watched the races and gave me tips about how to remodel my Shasta (trailer). 

I left the Bearcreek Saloon after the last pig race, and made my way back to the campsite in the dark. I made it all the way back to the rough road into where my tent is set up with no incident. 

Then, I got it in my head that it would be a great idea to turn the bike around so I wouldn’t have to do it in the morning. I ran over two big boulders (that I couldn’t see because it was so dark, and my headlight leaves a little bit to be desired) before I dumped the bike for the fourth time that day. In the pitch black.

After taking everything off of the bike by feel, a few deep breaths, and three tries, I got the bike up. I put a little rock under the kickstand so she wouldn’t sink, and I’ve determined not to push my luck and deal with it in the morning.

But hey. Pig Races were super cool.