Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Petrified Forest Loop

by Race Heitkamp | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Outdoors | June 15th, 2017

It was my last night in Medora and I was busy researching the Petrified Forest Loop I planned to hike in the morning. Earlier that day, Dakota Cyclery had dropped off myself and another rider, Paul, on the Maah Daah Hey trail.

We rode rode over twenty miles through the rough terrain of the North Dakota's badlands and opted to take the long way home, by crossing the Little Missouri river at Sully Creek State Park, which landed my 650lb Cannondale Habit above my head instead of between my legs.

I didn't want the boys from Paramount Sports in Fargo, who'd supplied me with the bike, haggling me for getting water in their hubs and bottom bracket.

I had some experience hiking in buttes similar to those north of Medora, but I'd be hiking alone, so I couldn’t afford any mistakes and had little interest in seeing any bison or rattle snakes in the flesh. Starting early meant cooler temperatures, lowering my risk of heat exhaustion and running into venomous snakes. Starting at sunrise would be my best bet. I'd wake up early the next morning and hit the trail.

Nerves and excitement prevented me from sleeping through the night and I awoke hours before my 6am alarm. My mind grew increasingly restless and there was no sense in continuing to fight it. I was already wide awake, I might as well pack up and head out early.

Driving to the trailhead was relatively easy with the use of the park map I'd been provided and local road signs. However, the signage does seem to slowly decrease in size the closer you get to the trailhead, transitioning from large, brown, traditional metal road signs to much smaller trail markers that were difficult to see in the early morning hours. All fuss aside, I was parked at the trailhead in about twenty minutes.

I looked around. No snakes, no bison. The coast was clear, so I signed the check in book and started down the trail.

I was surprised how light it was for 6:30 in the morning but the days heat hadn't yet arrived, meaning I hopefully wouldn’t run into any rattlers sunning themselves on the trail.

I continued down the trail, scanning the horizon for any signs of wildlife when I saw a large brown hump on the prairie ahead of me. I squinted, trying to focus on the mound. "Could it be a bison?" I asked myself. My heart began to race as I slowly began to broadside the then seemingly harmless hump, which had now clearly come into view.

A two-thousand pound bull bison the size of a small pickup truck was lazily grazing on prairie grass, just fifty yards from the trail. Leaving early in the morning prevented me from encountering any snakes but it hadn't occurred to me that the largest land animals in North America prefer to eat in the cool of the morning before finding shade later in the day.

I kept my eye on the bull, who'd now become aware of my presence. Lifting his head but remaining where he was. I stayed on my path and he kept eating, crisis averted.

I picked up my pace a bit. In order to complete my ten-mile loop, I'd need to first make my way through the southern Petrified Forest, then change directions at the familiar Maah Daah Hey in order to reach the much larger Northern Petrified Forest area.

I knew, given my average pace, I could complete the trail just over three hours, giving me plenty of time to head back into Medora for an early lunch at the Maltese Burger joint I'd been craving, barring I didn't run into any more wildlife.

I rounded a corner, dropped into the buttes of the southern forest and almost immediately ran into another fuzzy pickup truck standing in the middle of the trail. I swore at myself for hiking alone, then at the bison for standing in my way. I'd have to wait out the bull, so I found a butte to hide on top of and kicked my feet up.

After twenty minutes of watching the bull walk up and down the trail I grew less intimidated and more impatient. It was already heating up and the rattlers I'd left early to avoid would soon be out and about. I needed the bull off the trail and out of my way.

I didn't know what to do, so I did as they'd taught me the night before at the infamous Medora Musical. I stood up and operatically sang about it. My voice echoed off the buttes and stone forest as I pleaded for the bull to "please leave me and the trail alone," and to "stop being so large and intimidating.” Much to my surprise, the bull agreed. He stepped off the trail and headed north.

Being back on the trail meant I could finally take care of business and make my way to the northern forest. Besides one more hiccup that landed me off the trail and in the middle of the prairie dog towns that surround the midpoint of the Big Plateau Trail (worth the extra miles if you're interested in these little guys!), I was admiring the root and nutrient transport systems of the fossils in the north forest just after 10am.

It had been a successful trip with a little excitement in between, but I had worked up an appetite. It was time to head back south to Medora and grab a burger.

Recently in:

The vibrant life of Ashley Lake Hamilton came to a sudden end on the Sunset Highway between Airway Heights and Fairchild Air Force Base on Thursday, December 10, 2020.Ashley was born on a beautiful Monday afternoon, June 2, 1980,…

By Michael M. Miller michael.miller@ndsu.eduThe late Mary Lynn Axtman, native of Rugby, ND, who dedicated many hours for GRHC, shared this message about ornaments from Joseph S. Height’s section on Christmas in his book,…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

By John Strand jas@hpr1.com21 January 2021Like most of you, we are relieved to be past 2020. What a crazy year!…

By Ed Raymond  fargogadfly@gmail.comWhy Can’t Whites Jump? In 1946 I graduated from Morrison County District #54 with two others, a German boy and a Polish girl. I’m French. I graduated from Little Falls High School in 1950…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

Reviving Rural Grocery Stores in North DakotaBy Annie PrafckeFargo, ND – On October 7th, Gov. Doug Burgum awarded Milnor Market and the Forman grocery store project Main Street Awards, as part of an initiative led by the Office…

When we were growing up we often found ways to rebel against our parents, some more nonsensical than others. Not all of us decided to use those methods as inspiration for the name of a band. Bismarck-based band Spite Nap decided…

By Greg Carlson02 April 2021Kring’s 'End of the Line' Part of North Dakota Environmental Rights Film FestivalOne of several powerful films included in the upcoming 2021 North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival -- screening…

By Jill FinkelsonWe’ve been hearing the word Unrest a lot lately. Unrest in the streets. Unrest in the capital. Unrest in our own homes as we struggle to hunker down in the face of the unseen pandemic. People are restless. They…

Theatre

Digital Dragathon

by HPR Staff

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comDrag shows, for me, feel like a celebration of artistry, esthetic, music, and camaraderie. With a dash of confetti thrown in.The local drag community is a close-knit family. Giving back to affiliated…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Ashlee Nordquisthpr@hpr1.comI've come to the conclusion that not everyone understands why my brother and I went on ventilators for covid and what that means. As I survived and my brother SO FAR is improving, I can make jokes and…

By Faye Seidler   fayeseidler@gmail.com Community Uplift Program Project Coordinator        (701) 732-0228https://www.facebook.com/communityupliftprogram                                                                            …