Friday, May 20, 2011

Adventure dashed

After our adventure filled ride near Cable WI we did indeed make it to the Crosby-Ironton MN area later that day, Thursday May 19th. Somehow, after a bit of orienteering the pack found a MN DNR camp ground where the new IMBA built, highly publicized (by IMBA and MORC anyway) Cuyuna MTB trail runs near. The orienteering was necessary because of the lack of any sort of good maps to be found online or even once we got to the area. Even the camp ground did not have a sign on the road, only on the driveway, so we drove past it and came back. Upon entering the camp ground, the only person in sight was a DNR Park Ranger working on the shower house water supply. Oh, was he friendly! I almost got him to throw a stick for me. Anyway, the pack chatted with him quite a while. The friendly DNR ranger said that the camp ground was not quite open yet, as he was just getting the water supply up and running and the power was not yet turned on. Yet, the garbage cans, pay pipes and registration envelopes were out. So although we couldn't get any services at the campground, friendly DNR ranger didn't see why we couldn't stay there. Arly specifically asked him, if we set up would there be any chance we'd get kicked out later, being they weren't fully open yet; friendly ranger assured us that wouldn't happen. And regarding the trail, he did show us where it was, that technically speaking it wasn't officially open yet, and we didn't hear it from him, but have fun.

So after some debate about what to do about showering later (friendly ranger said they could swim in the water filled mine pit -  I can't see why they didn't want to try that - it is so refreshing!), the pack donned riding gear and off we went for a short adventure on the soon-to-be unveiled Cuyuna MTB trail. Our idea was to check out the trail going one direction, then the next morning the other. Since rain was to start Friday afternoon, we thought we had it made to catch a couple rides before it started. And after that, a very quiet, peaceful evening was ahead.
Getting ready for adventure.
 Off we went! Nothing too exciting but within 100 yards we went by an abandoned mine building and a pile of old culverts, giving us the idea that the trail would be full of historic artifacts from the iron ore mining that occurred here years ago. The promise of gentle but not boring terrain appealed to the humans of the pack, given this was their 3rd ride of the season.
On the trail with scenic rusty culverts in background.
In less than a mile, we crossed the paved road which led to the campground. The trail looked newly built, and then we happened upon the work crew. They were putting a bridge in and offered we could cross over to the other side if we wanted. We opted to go back, thinking the trail was probably in "new" (soft and not so fun to ride) condition over there too.

Within minutes we were back to the road where we were met by another DNR Park Ranger. It did not take the pack long to figure out that this ranger was the friendly ranger's boss. For as welcoming and helpful as friendly ranger was, boss ranger was irate that we would have the gall to be upon his trails and camp ground when "that guy back there TOLD you the trails and the camp ground are CLOSED". Explanations of we're just passing  through, wanted to see these great new trails that have been promoted while we're here, we won't have the chance to be at the grand opening only pissed off the boss ranger more. Guess now we know why there was no signage to be found anywhere regarding the new MTB trails. Then again, there were no "trail closed" signs either...

So back to the car it was, with a hasty removal of cycling garb and repacking. Cuyuna Park lost a day camp and vehicle pass fee plus donation for the trails; the little town of Motley just down the road got our $ for a night in the Motley Motel (it wasn't actually that motley) and 2 meal in the next door restaurant. And EVERYONE in Motley was so friendly! Of course, trail dogs find most everybody to be friendly...other than crabby bossy DNR employees.
 As we drive in the rain, next stop is to the Stately Ellery Mansion in Rugby, ND, where our friend resides.

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