This is the second installment in a series detailing (sort of) the 106 mile hike recently undertaken from Agate Fossil Beds National Monument to Edgemont, South Dakota. Once again all photos are courtesy of Ken Ilgunas.
We awoke in the cold, windy dawn at our campsite at Fort Robinson State Park, which is a gem of a place and highly underrated. Kevin dropped us off at our finishing point from the day before (Yes, we did use some support vehicles for our trip in order to accomplish all of the things we needed to accomplish). We hiked north and soon were amongst a sparse forest of Ponderosa pines. The road wound down for several miles until it came to a “T” at White River Road. From there we proceeded east discussing the possibilities of the Great Plains Trail when we came across a woman working the brush near the road.
“Hey, are you that guy working on the Great Plains Trail?!”
“Yeah! That’s me!”
“Well, we think it’s a wonderful idea!”
Scott and Nancy Kile, also known as the Millennium Pioneers live in the “town” of Glen, Nebraska, which is really just a loose configuration of houses, but beautifully tucked in a tight valley and nestled along the banks of the White River. They’ve chosen this place because of its beauty, and are happy to share their knowledge and love of the area.
Wow, what a change from our first encounter the day before. It turns out they had just found us on Facebook a few weeks earlier. We talked for a while about how important it was to share the beauty of this place with something as adventurous as a long distance trail. They even suggested that they could convert one of their buildings into a hostel for thru hikers!
This is the kind of support I always thought was possible, but I didn’t expect to meet it so quickly on the trail. Hostels and other possibilities will take a long time to develop, but it’s awesome to know there is solid support out there for those kinds of things.
For the rest of the way back to Fort Robinson, we were met by a few curious stares, but mostly a lot of friendly waves. I can imagine this area anchoring a lot of support and enthusiasm, and maybe serving as a catalyst for other areas to get involved as well. All of that is in the future, but the future of the Great Plains Trail never looked brighter!