September 12, 2004 ... a great day to ride the Gypsum Hills of Barber county.

Six riders made the rendezvous in Medicine Lodge. Tom Montgomery came up from Tulsa with his DR650, Craig Roth of McPherson rode his KLR650, Brady Allensworth of Wichita rode his BMW GS1150, Jeff Jelinek of Danville rode his Triumph 955 Tiger, Randy Snyder of Belle Plaine rode his KLR650, and Roger Baugh of Wichita rode his KLR650.

Leaving Medicine Lodge, it was a short sprint to the dirt roads of the Gypsum Hills. Road conditions could best be described as "mixed". The moderately deep "sugar" sand encountered on a good number of sections took some getting used to ... but once acclimated, we worked our way through the hills in good fashion.

We worked our way to the southwest to the ghost town of Aetna. There's no evidence today of the town, but later that afternoon while cooling off in Medicine Lodge, an "old-timer" told us that his grandfather had been the sheriff of Barber county (1890s?) ... and that the town of Aetna had a reputation for harboring women of "ill-repute". Along the road to Aetna, we rode through an open range area that included Ted Turner's Z-Bar buffalo ranch. We weren't disappointed, finding a number of small buffalo herds scattered throughout the region.

To see a QuickTime video of open range riding in buffalo country, click here.

Towards mid-day we arrived in Sun City. We attempted to ride westward through the Red Hills, but were greeted with a barred gate after following a particularly "fluffy" section for several miles. Between the heat, sustained levels of concentration and exertion, and the decreasing hours of daylight left, we decided to start working our way back to civilization.

An excellent day of riding ... all told, nearly three-hundred miles for most of us. The sights of the everchanging hills and canyons, and the smell of wild sage will be long remembered.

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