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Published: September 11th 2007
Morning Mist in TRNP - South
Morning mist in TRNP - South
Posted by: Onaxthiel: The morning came suddenly, as if god had suddenly turned the lights on outside the bags. We crawled out, still shivering, to witness an odd set of sights. A lone buffalo grazed on our butte. The valleys around us were filled with morning mist. On the southern horizon, a host of hot air balloons rose slowly into the sky. The Medora balloon launch was underway. We snapped photos of all this while waiting for our bags to dry off from the morning dew. BOB (Obfuscator adds: BOB stands for big orange ball, a gigantic nuclear furnace, a de-rangers term for the sun. )was helpful in this endeavor on this occasion. Being that we had cleverly placed our camp site only a quarter mile from my car, we had a short and relatively easy hike out. This didn’t stop me from taking my biggest slip of the entire trip, and getting a nice coating of clay on me that I didn’t need. The exit road had solidified some in the night, and though the undercarriage scraped a bit, at least we weren’t sliding or in danger of sticking. Back at the ranger station, we took a quick tour
Mists of mystery!
of the teddy Roosevelt cabin that he lived in when he first started vacationing in the area, and had one last talk with the cute ranger.
On to the north unit. On the way, we ran into a California kid whose alternator had given out, leaving him a dead car in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota. We hooked him up, got him on a cell phone he couldn’t figure out, and eventually got him some tow numbers. They must have come eventually, when we drove past again the next day his car was gone. Best of luck to him. We also saw some spectacular views of the Missouri from above, and saw a monument to the Ukrainians that made North Dakota the bread basket of the US. They certainly had some lovely catholic churches out there. The next stop was a monument to a dumbass who decided to jump a canyon he shouldn’t have, and took a tumble to the bottom. Then into the park. Due to the amount of time we spent in the Roosevelt cabin, plus helping out the cali kid, we were arriving pretty late to start the hike for the day. We settled on
The Lone Buffalo
He called his horse, but only a grunting sound came out, much to his dismay. The horse didn't come.
another 10 miler. The ranger (who also never hiked her park) told us she had been told that the route wasn’t marked very well. She was so right.
We lost the trail within two miles of entering the backwoods. The bison in the area had made so many paths across their turf that you couldn’t tell where the humans were supposed to go. I suspect that they also knocked over all the sign posts that the rangers had tried to set up, so there was no way to know where we should be going. What was worse was that The buffalo in the area seemed to be taking offense at our being there, even though we were giving them as wide a margin as we could. One started snorting and came down his slope towards us at a trot for a moment before seeming to get lost.
That was enough to get us off the plains. So we decided to go climbing. Straight up the best route we could find, clambering up a route no one had hit in years (this was obvious by the number of deer antlers, skeletons, and other parts that were scattered around the
Balloons from Medora
Balloons from Medora, all over TRNP - South Unit
route) to get to the top of the buttes and have a look around. A hard climb, but breathtaking. We then decided to head north and east to meet the trail a few miles away. This was a successful gambit, and we got back on trail for the last 6 miles of our ten mile hike. The point of intersection was right next to a prairie dog community, so we got to see them chittering and ducking for a few minutes before we decided to make time before dark. Heading down into gullies and jumping over creeks we saw the muddy water that was our only option other than what we had brought in with us. Good thing we had planned well this time. About the time our trail crossed the main road in the park, we saw a rainbow on the horizon. A few minutes later, it turned into a double rainbow, and the colors of the second were even more intense. The sunset with the rainbow and storm clouds made for one of the more brilliant evening skies I have seen on the trip. Right at sunset, we saw a family of deer near our path. We made
Obfuscator in the morning
Obfuscator - Big glasses hide the allergy to ND.
camp on a hill right off the road, though we put ourselves on the far side, so we neither saw or could be seen by cars. It was already dark when we arrived, so we basically put our bivys down and racked out. This time we had heard the temps would be around 40 for the night, so we figured it would be worse and packed the winter bags. Heavier, harder to pack, but so…warm… Thanks to cloud cover, the stars weren’t quite as good as the previous night, but still decent.
Lessons learned: Navigation: look at the map at the ranger stations more closely, memorize the route, or buy one of their topographicals, even though they cost 10 buck and you will be throwing it out when you’re done. Getting lost sucks. But when you have GPS back to the car, don’t sweat getting lost. Making your own way is fun, if tiring. Cold weather gear: The added weight of the winter bag is worth the trade off if the temperature is going to be questionable, but if it had been about five degrees warmer I would have been uncomfortably hot in the bag.
Tot: 0.138s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 16; qc: 100; dbt: 0.0204s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb