Douglas L Perry, The Author blog

December 23, 2008

Boys will be Boys

Filed under: Stories — douglaslperry @ 9:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

This has to be one of my favorite stories from the midwest. Perseverance in face of great danger. 

I worked for my father’s electrical business while going to school, so I never really got a chance to take the summer off. So, we would save it up for a big blowout during some of the last weeks before school. This one year we decided to take our dirtbikes out to Sturgis, South Dakota, sight of the now infamous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I think today’s attendance figures number in the hundreds of thousands, but at that time, it was more like 20 thousand. 

We stayed at a cabin in a little town called Rochford, SD. A town so small that you can count all of the buildings using just your digits, and that doesn’t include toes. It is located out in the Black Hills at the conjunction of Rochford Rd, and North Rochford Rd, basically the middle of nowhere.

Early one morning we decided to ride our bikes out to Castle Peak. (I find it amazing that every mountain range no matter where I go, has a Castle Peak). The peak was located up tree lined slope that rose a few hundred feet above the valley road. At first we thought we might be able to take our dirtbikes to the top, but a quick reconnoiter of the slope revealed that it was much too steep, had too many trees, and there were large boulders that would be difficult to get around. We decided it wasn’t possible. 

However, that didn’t stop the explorer urge in every one of us to conquer the mountain. We parked our bikes on the far side of the road, and took off on foot. The lower part of the slope wasn’t too steep and we made good progress. As we neared the halfway point though, we were slipping and sliding on the remains of decomposed rock. We pulled ourselves up using the trees that ranged from six inches to eighteen inches in diameter stopping to catch our breath every few minutes. 

From time to time we came upon small rocks in the trail, that jutted out from the ground. We found that with a little effort we could break them loose. We made sure everyone was out of the way, then pushed the rock down the hill. It was great fun to watch them start slow, then roll faster and faster until they hit a tree or another rock, and stop. 

You’ve heard the phrase boys will be boys, and this was a clear example, but of course what we were really trying to do was validate the laws of physics. Uh huh, sure. 

As we got nearer to the top the trees started to thin slightly and the loose gravel became more loose. The slope also became increasingly steep. It was almost to the point that we had to climb on all fours, but not quite. We came into an area where there were almost no trees, and in the middle was an enormous rock perched precariously on top of another flatter one. 

At once we identified it as a target and set out to push it down the hill. However, it really was enormous. We were five young strong men. Some of us were wrestlers, others football players, all of us were physically in our prime. We got behind the rock and pushed with all of our might. It rolled up, but only a little. We turned around backwards, put our backsides against the rock so that we could use our powerful legs. It moved a lot farther, but still not enough. We were stymied. 

We tried to work out other ways to push, but nothing worked. Then I saw it. A large tree trunk of a newly fallen tree up the trail about fifty feet. I quickly explained my plan and we set off in pursuit of the tree. Even with the five of us, and the fact that it was downhill, it still took a half an hour to muscle the tree into place. We placed the end of the tree under the edge of the massive rock, rolled a smaller rock underneath the tree, and all five of us hung off the far end of the tree trunk. 

It was a comical scene as we levered the rock up almost to the tipping point, but it would fall back down. We needed to get the tree further under it. On one session we levered the rock up, and one of the guys ran down and rolled a smaller rock underneath to hold the big one up. It gave us the room we needed. On the next push, the massive rock rose up, tipped over, and started rolling down the hill. 

It started slowly, making a thump, thump, thump, as the uneven shape dug into the slope on every turn, but it rapidly gained speed. It ran over smaller rocks either as if they weren’t there, or smashing them out of the ground to roll with the big one. The smaller trees were like toothpicks and flew in the air like leaves as the rock cut them off in its wake. Even the larger trees were no match and the rock blazed an eight foot wide swath down the mountain while we whooped in delight. 

Then we saw it. The path down the mountain led straight to our bikes. Even worse, a car appeared on the road from our left. Our delight turned to horror as the car approached from the left and the rock bore down on it. Sickening glances shot between each one of us as we started yelling at the car to stop. We waved our arms and shouted as loud as we could, but they didn’t seem to hear us and continued toward their doom. 

Luckily the hill leveled out toward the bottom. Luckily the dirt was sandy and loose. As the rock reached 100 feet from the road, it started to slow. At about 50 feet it thumped about as fast as a heartbeat. Not ours, but a normal one.

Just before the road the rock rolled up on one edge, teetered for a moment, then fell back the other way, and lay still. It was only then we could breathe properly again.

We traced the path of the rock down the hill and marveled at the devastation. It was as if a bulldozer had driven through the trees. 

Was it dangerous? Yes. Should we have done it? No. Was it fun? Absolutely.

To this day whenever I see those friends, all I have to say is the rock, and they know exactly what I mean.


  1. hey there! i was able to log in this time (to my wordpress account), but your blog still requires a log in –> so i think that means that if you haven’t a wordpress account, you can’t comment.

    Now. Where was I w/ the comment I intended to leave some days ago? *sigh* can’t remember. but i love the post 🙂

    Comment by alexmoorewrites — December 29, 2008 @ 12:40 am

  2. I was there!………. and will never forget the trees flying in the air!
    what a bunch of dumbasses!!

    Comment by Keven — December 30, 2008 @ 1:19 am

  3. Okay, you need to sit down with my Dad and exchange stories. 🙂 I think he would have been your sixth team member!

    Comment by mousewords — December 31, 2008 @ 4:23 am

  4. Your dad sounds like a fun guy.

    Comment by douglaslperry — December 31, 2008 @ 4:51 am

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