Trip Pictures

Little Missouri River

Little Missouri River

Roosevelt Park

Tracy crossing the Little

Missouri

Tracy crossing the Little

Missouri

Achenbach Trail

Achenbach Trail

Achenbach Trail

Tracy on the

Achenbach Trail

Little Missouri

Roosevelt Park

Grasslands

Grasslands

Grasslands

Grasslands

Grasslands

Grasslands

Grasslands

Bison @ Roosevelt

Park

Missouri River

Kersey Lake @

Beartooths

Kersey Lake

Absaroka-Beartooths

Wilderness

Water Lillies

Lillis Lake

Lillis Lake

Lillis Lake

Beartooths

Bison @ Hayden Valley

Bison @ Hayden Valley

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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Over the Labor Day weekend of 31 Aug 07, Tracy and I headed to Roosevelt National Park in

north west North Dakota.  Of course, everyone warned us that this trip would rank up there

with our Arkansas trip a few years ago, but Tracy had never been to North Dakota, so we were

set on marking one more state off her list.  We decided to drive highways instead of interstates

all the way there.  Well, that didn't work.  After driving through Yellowstone and through the

Beartooths, it had taken us nearly 6 hours to drive from Idaho Falls, ID, to Billings, MT...that

was not a good thing.  So in Billings we got back on the interstate.  We then drove the rest of

the way to the north unit of Roosevelt National Park, arriving around 10 pm.  We found a camp

site in the nearly deserted park campground (remember, this was Labor Day weekend), and

tried to settle down for the night.  I say "tried," because at 11 pm it was almost 80 degrees

outside.  It was REALLY hot, humid, and muggy...this was NOT what I expected out of North

Dakota.  But I eventually got to sleep, and we got up in the morning, and got ready to

backpack the Achenbach Trail.  This was a 17 mile loop I had read about in Backpacker

Magazine, and figured it was as good a way as any to spend the weekend.  Of course, the day

was shaping up to be REALLY hot.  We got to the ranger station before they opened, so we

spread our gear out in the parking lot to repack our packs while we waited on the rangers.

Then a ranger pulls over, rolls down his window and says, "You're not planning on

backpacking, are you?"  The wording of the questions was discomforting.  We told him we

were, and he pulled over and talked to us about the trail.  He said we wouldn't see anybody

else, because no one else ever came out there.  He even asked how in the world we heard

about the park!  He also said we would have a hard time keeping up with the trail because the

buffalo trails were better travelled than the hiking trail.  But we were undaunted and we headed

out after getting our permit.  The first order of business was crossing the Little Missouri.  We

didn't have much trouble with that because the water was only about a foot deep.  Then we

found the trail and hiked on.  The trail was really pretty.  It cut up into the grasslands, and that

was really cool.  But, man, it was HOT.  I didn't have any trouble with it, but Tracy was getting

hit really hard by the heat and humidity.  We climbed up the badlands above the river, and that

really got Tracy, but we kept going.  She told me she was drinking water, but she was getting

visibly overheated.  After about 4 miles, she couldn't take it anymore.  She didn't look good,

and she was obviously suffering some level of heat exhaustion.  So we decided to turn around

and head back.  We started taking it really slowly and resting in the shade frequently, but

Tracy was still having a hard time.  Then we made it back up onto the grasslands plateau, and

the wind was blowing pretty hard, and she started to feel better.  So we decided we would try

to stay out for the night, so we hunkered down under some shade, and read for about an hour.

During that time, Tracy felt a lot better, but it was only 5 pm...we had almost 4 more hours of

daylight, and the wind was blowing REALLY hard.  I knew we would be bored under our one

shade tree in about another 30 minutes, and I was worried the tent wouldn't hold up in the

open grasslands with such strong wind, so we decided to just head out.  So we hiked back to

the river, where I had a much harder time crossing the river about 20 yards from where I

crossed it the first time (note: don't cross the river right where the trail hits the river...it was

MUCH deeper, and I think it was covered at that point with about a foot of bison

crap...seriously).  We didn't see a single person all day long, and the trail was pretty.  I still

can't believe it was so hot (we saw cacti...in North Dakota!), but you couldn't beat having a

national park to yourself on Labor Day weekend!  After getting back to the car, we headed

towards Montana.  The next day we made it to the Beartooths, and hiked some around Kersey

Lake and Lillis Lake.  We actually didn't run into many people on the trail, and we had Lillis

Lake all to ourselves.  We stayed in Cooke City that night (we have decided that we have

stayed in Cooke City more than any other single place out here, and I like it a lot).  I wanted to

camp out, but it got too late, and we didn't have anywhere to camp away from town...and after

reading Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance I'm afraid to camp too close to a town in

grizzly country!  The next day we hiked a little in Hayden Valley in Yellowstone, and then we

headed back home.  It was actually a really nice trip.  We had a good time, and Tracy got to

mark North Dakota off her list.  Now she only needs Hawaii and Vermont...but I only need

Hawaii, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to beat her this spring!