Entries to Win Afghan

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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Western Meadowlark ? - Day 212

  There are both western and eastern meadowlarks here. Pretty hard to tell which one this is since it only showed me its backside and was flicking its tail. I'm going with western unless someone has a good reason to change my mind. western meadowlark

For the whole time beside the canal, I've been seeing an occasional large fish flopping along near the banks, but I didn't know what they were. Here's the answer. Carp. Sorry for the icky picture, but it shows you that I do mean big. Not the most desirable fish, but now I do remember being told there were carp in the canal. dead carp

I keep telling you it's hot in North Dakota. Now I have "proof." temperature sign

Actually, today's temperature was much better, but I hiked short miles as part of the recovery effort from yesterday. The tendon in the side of my leg that I angered yesterday is still not happy, but it's not worse. Tomorrow, I'll up the mileage a little. We are also going to try to get me hiking earlier so I can be done before it gets too hot.

We moved the trailer today, and we want to thank Pastor Steve from Turtle Lake where we last stayed. friends

Sunny had a nice grassy spot beside the church. We were given a key and use of the bathrooms and kitchen. It was really nice. travel trailer

Here is today's lonely North Dakota picture.

Miles today: 10.3. Total miles so far: 2543.9

See Bird Day

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Bird Day - Day 211

  Hiking today got a delayed start due to a pop-up thunderstorm in the morning. That had consequences that I'll tell you about later. There were more beautiful lakes with campsites, still part of that Chain of Lakes. This is New Johns Lake. New Johns Lake

There are birds galore. I don't know a lot of them, but if I catch a picture of something then I have a better chance for the ID. Interesting ones I know, but got no pictures, are bob-o-link, and ring-necked pheasant. Of coures, herons, robins, mallards, geese, kingbirds, killdeer, etc. There are tons of terns and gulls, but I haven't even tried to sort out the kinds.

A very common bird along the canals is the bank swallow. You can see a whole bunch of them swooping around the bridge. They look like spots on the photo. bank swallow

Almost every bridge has a contingent. Why? They like to build their nests under the edge. bank swallow nests

These are female or juvenile Brewer's blackbirds. This is a new species for me. Brewer's blackbird

But the very best bird find is this. I could only tell it was something strange (to me), but I got pictures! It's a sharp-tailed grouse. Common here, but new to me. sharp tailed grouse

Today's lonely North Dakota picure. You are probably saying, "It's just another picure of the canal. But look at it. There are no clouds, trees, fences, trucks, hay bales, utility poles, or rock piles. There is only sky, grass, and the canal with its road. I paced that distance, and it is nine-tenths of a mile to the next bend. lonely canal

The rest of today's story. I started late, and there was such a strong headwind for the first two hours that the sides of my calves were getting sore trying to walk against it. Then it got hot. High nineties. I did the miles I had planned, but I'm here to tell you I won't be doing this again. On hot days, I need to be done hiking by 3 pm. I managed to finish by keeping my head and shirt wet (that nearby canal is surely good for this). So I didn't finish until almost 5 pm, and the recovery time is long. In fact, I'm probably going to cut back the miles tomorrow becauase I am just beat. Yes, I drank enough. I just can't do heavy exercise in heat like this any more.

I may do a short day tomorrow. We have to move the trailer anyway. It is supposed to be much cooler, but I may need to recover a bit more.

Miles today: 16.2. Total miles so far: 2533.6.

See Chain of Lakes

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Chain of Lakes - Day 210

  The McClusky Canal seemed unusually beautiful to me this morning. The water was deep blue, and the shadows were cool and inviting. McClusky Canal

In 1995 there was a section of canal that was caved in and the watergates had been shut so it only had a trickle of a stream in the bottom. It was a difficult section to hike through. Now, at long last, that is being repaired. The trail takes a road detour around this. canal repairs

The wildlife report of the day is that I finally got a fairly good picture of a marbled godwit. These are new to me, except for the name. I'm sure I saw them when I was here before, but didn't know what they were. They are very territorial, and quite a few times now I've been escorted out of their space with a loud "scree, scree, scree" in descending notes. They fly around me, but don't dive bomb.
marbled godwit

Here is a pair flying. They are going right to left. Their long beaks look more like legs sticking out.
marbled godwit

Now for the Chain of Lakes. There are places where the canal widens into lakes that are somewhat developed for recreation. This is West Park Lake. I'm pretty sure we camped on it in 1995. West Park Lake

A sign informed me that there were designated campsites. (I don't think these had been created in 1995.) Did I dare hope? Yes! You can't imagine what a treat it was to eat lunch at a picnic table instead of sitting on the ground on hot gravel. picnic table

One more little lake, East Park Lake, and I was done for the day. East Park Lake

Here is today's lonesome North Dakota picture. North Dakota

Miles today: 17.7. Total miles so far: 2517.0

See McClusky Canal

Monday, June 27, 2022

McClusky Canal - Day 209

  Flowing right out of the east end of Lake Audubon is the McClusky Canal. McClusky Canal

This is a huge irrigation project that was never completed. It's going to be my compainion for 73 miles across the plains of North Dakota. The NCT uses the service road beside it. This road is not open to the public, so it can be certified as trail.

What can you say about 73 hot miles of gravel? You need to think about the water. There is always water right beside you. Access isn't the easiest, but you never have to worry about finding a water source (do filter). There is something refreshing about having the water there, even if you don't use it for anything. When we hiked this in 1995, we went swimming every night. It was probably the main thing that kept us sane on that horribly hot trip. It adds blue to the lower landscape. You have stripes of sky, grass, water, grass that are appealing. McClusky Canal

Sometimes there are even extra blue stripes from prairie potholes. And there are low hills in the distance. prairie potholes

It does attract birds. I saw Upland Sandpipers several times today. We once had one nest in the field in back of our house, so I got pretty good at identifying them. upland sandpiper

The first turtle of the trip. It's just a midwest painted turtle. I left him sunning in the gravel. He's pretty safe on this road. turtle

I was a little surprised to find a droid from the Jawa scrap transport and factory. Looks like it got lazy and lay down on the job. pipes that look like a droid

The thing about walking along the canal is there is absolutely no shade. I walked and took a few quick rests to eat. Fast miles.

I just liked this scene- North Dakota lonesome. North Dakota

Miles today: 17.7. Total miles so far: 2499.3.

See Audubon NWR

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Audubon NWR - Day 208

  Almost all of today's walk was through the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. This is a pretty special place, and it's not every national wildlife refuge that allows the trail passage. Audubon NWR Sign

In 1995, the refuge did not have a nice building and visitor center. It had a self-guided auto tour road. Hikers were not really supposed to be on that for some reason, but we got away with it. We only saw maybe 2 cars in the whole distance. Now there are really nice displays, educational programs, and offices. The Central Flyway Chapter of the NCTA keeps a designated trail mowed. They just mowed 7 miles of it on Friday. Audubon Building

The refuge takes its name from Lake Audubon, which is the eastern portion of Lake Sakakawea. There is a two-mile causeway that serves as the dividing line between the lakes. You can just see it in the distance in this picture- the light colored line that goes all the way across. Lake Auduon

I DID see lots of wildlife, and I took a ton of pictures. Not all of them are so good. I'll only show you a few today. I might get better pictures of some of these critters yet. The wildlife doesn't stay inside the refuge boundaries.

The yellow-headed blackbirds are like old friends to me. I first encountered them in the summer of 1993 when I was working at a wetland project in Illinois. I think they are really lovely birds. Yellow Headed Blackbird

This little one was standing tall in the trail ahead of me. I wasn't sure what it was until I could see the picture on my computer. It's a 13-lined ground squirrel, the same as I have at home. That was a little disappointing, but this one seemed very tall to me. Perhaps they grow a little bigger here.
13 lined ground squirrel

This is a duck I've also seen at home, but not very often. And this is defintely my best picture of one. This is the male Northern Shoveler. Northern Shoveler

There are deer everywhere- ho hum. I don't find them very interesting unless they are doing something a little special. This one was enjoying a nice drink at the lakeshore. deer at a lake

The trail doesn't follow the lakeshore the entire way, but it gets close often enough that you can really enjoy the views of the water. I took way too many pictures- all of them poor substitutes for the real thing. Lake Audubon

My most interesting "wildlife" encounter was with the cattle, er "beef," as they say out here. It's not uncommon for the trail to go through a pasture in North Dakota. Usually the beef just ignore hikers. When this herd saw me, they briefly moved farther away. cattle

Then they turned around and came TROTTING toward me. Cows are curious creatures, but they were very interested. Perhaps they thought I was bringing them some fresh hay. With all this grass, I wouldn't think they'd get hay delivered to them very often. cattle

I mean, they got really close! Several stood right in the trail. I walked slowly and talked a good line- I addressed them by ear tag number and made suggestions about the kind of behavior I expected, or complimented the mamas on their babies. I did suggest that 7707 not smear the foot-long mucus drip he was working on all over me. Did I mention they were close? At any rate, they did let me pass, although I had to walk out in the grass.

Miles today: 16.2. Total miles so far 2481.6.

See Sakakawea Wind

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Sakakawea Wind - Day 207

  The day began with a really strange coincidence. When I got to Lake Sakakawea State Park to sign the register for the Western Terminus, there was another young man there who was beginning a hike of the NCT this exact same morning. His name is Patrick. He says he'll be posting on Instagram. Here are the two of us at the sign. But he'll be moving much faster than I am. He's young with long legs and a lot of hiking experience. He plans to do 40 miles a day. Western terminus North Country Trail

Someone snapped a picture of Omer and me there. Western terminus North Country Trail

Speaking of the register, there were "historic" entries by Ed Talone; Sue Lockwood and her brother Gordon; me with Marie, Mathilda and David in 1995; Chet Fromm, Dan and Ruth Dorrough; Shane Peltonen; and more. Very cool stuff.

The trail is a grassy mowed path through the State Park to this gateway. On "my" side, it said "Onward to Vermont." On the other, it has "Gateway to the Western Terminus." You can see the lake beyond it. gateway

For safety reasons, we no longer walk across the top of Garrison Dam, but drop down the face, and then climb back up, on a service road. This does give a good view of the huge dam itself. When this was built in the mid-1950s, it was the largest packed earth dam in the world. It holds back the waters of the Missouri River to create Lake Sakakawea (suh-KA-kuh-WEE-uh). The lake is about 14 miles long and 2-3 miles wide. Garrison Dam

Here's a much better view of the Badlands, across the Missouri River. I think the answer to why they look so different from the rest of the state is that they were not glaciated. badlands

The challenge for today was wind. Serious wind. 40 mph wind that made it difficult to stand up. As I was walking along the east side of the lake, the wind was picking water up from the surface and spraying it as horizontal rain. It was wet enough that I had to put the camera in its plastic bag.

When I stopped for lunch, I was sitting surrounded by grass waving in every direction. I could not see the road. It was surprisingly disorienting.

It was overcast and downright chilly, so the water was not sparkling blue, but here's the picture of the lake I like best from today. Lake Sakakawea

Once I left the shores of the lake, it was soybeans, corn, wheat and grass forever. Several of the roadwalks were nice farm lanes. rolling road

I was very glad to be done for the day and out of that wind. It will take a few days for my feet to get happy about 15 miles a day again, but I'll get there.

Miles today: 15.0. Total miles so far: About 2463 (will be updated when I have the exact number)

See 3 Miles that Don't Count