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Crooked Creek Road in the Pryor Mountains

August 4, 2017
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Crooked Creek Canyon

August 3, 2017

Today drove 80 miles from Billings up to the saddle between East and Big Pryor Mountains.  Took about two hours via Sage Creek Rd.

We checked feasibility of driving Crooked Creek Rd to return to Billings.  En route, stopped at side road called “Mill Hollow” and walked up about half mile.  Then we nearly lost our dog Gunther on an offshoot when he chased some angus and disappeared into the woods.  Ultimately, he responded to loud whistles and calls.  Returned, tags jingling.  Crooked Creek road was relatively well graded and wide, but man!  It was long.  I’m talking about 20 miles of crude dirt.  Of concern were several low places where rainwater may wash across the road, blocking it.

Turns out Crooked Creek adds significant milage (20 slow miles) if used to dismount from the Pryors.  We ended up at Cowley, Wyoming.  On the other hand, Crooked Creek road had scenery into the C.C. canyon that caused me to grip the steering wheel all the more tightly.  At one point I thought I was looking at a forest of castles of gigantic size.

The best use of the Crooked Creek access might be if Sage Creek  becomes impassable from heavy rainfall.  Part of that road has deep dusty dirt that can turn to gumbo given enough water.  A web place says that even four-wheel drive wouldn’t be adequate.  I believe that.  Another time P. and I had to turn back because a farm’s irrigation water made a muddy lake on the road.

The good news:  camping is permitted everywhere except at the Big Ice Cave picnic area. If need be, one can camp at Sage Creek campground, but the only shade is man-made shelters.  There is water, though, and vault toilets.

The better news:  in the saddle between the two Pryor mountains are a number of primitive campsites.  They are separated by an adequate amount of woods, yet close enough to be neighborly.

Gunther became dirty from wallowing in muddy tire tracks.  We washed him in a kiddy pool when we returned, using shampoo that smelled like bubble gum.

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