We arrived eventually at a creek in Custer State Park, and decided that this is where we were going to camp for the night. We quickly set up camp and got to filtering and cooking. Being so tired, there was not much conversation or anything. We were in bed before the sun went down completely.
I was in all my clothes plus thermals, in a 20 degree bag, in a bivy, in a hammock, with a tarp tented over me. Princess was in all of his clothes, in a SB liner, a 20 degree bag, a bivy, and under a tarp.
I’m here to tell you that it was THE MOST misreable night I have ever had in my life. The cold was absolutely unbearable come about 2/3 am. The night was spent tossing and turning, shivering and literally yelling because the cold hurt so bad! After about 2/3, I maybe had a total of 30 minutes of sleep. Talk about rough….
We got up fairly early the next morning to find anything that had water in it was frozen completely solid. Anything with a battery was dead. My toes were a curious white/grey and completely numb. No more pain was great, but that level of numbness is not a good thing. I thought Princess was going to tell me he slept okay, but he basically reported the same type of night that I did.
We were able to thaw some water and make some coffee. Finally warming up, we decided we needed to have a conversation about this trip. We concluded that we definitely didn’t have the cold weather gear needed for the nights out in the hills, and couldn’t afford to go completely overhaul our whole loadout. We were going to have to call for extraction…
Our ride showed up to take us back to Rapid City. It was very nice of him and very much appreciated. It was embarrassing to have not been able to keep going, but at the same time we knew that as far as safety goes, we definitely made the right decision. Plus, we got to stop at a restaraunt on the way back and eat a plate of bacon for free!
We decided that we were going to go back to Rapid and regroup, then head back to the hills the next day. The plan was to establish a base camp at a campground, and do several day hikes in the hills. This way we could bring more layers and what not, to combat those cold nights.
What followed was one of the best weeks I’ve had out in the woods. We were somewhat disappointed that we didn’t continue the trail, but that disappointment dissipated fast with every step of every hike we took the rest of that week.