The summer of 2017 went down as another year when we seemed to be dodging Western wildfires. In September we drove east from Joseph, Oregon, through Idaho and across Montana, boondocking a few times along the way, to get to Medora, North Dakota, at the edge of the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We’d lost the wildfire smoke about fifty miles west of Medora, but by our fourth day there, the smoke was already closing in.
We took a day off hiking to drive to Dickinson to pick up groceries and poke around, but by the time we headed back, the sun was shrouded in smoke.
We don’t like smoke. Smoke screws up an otherwise nice photo. Most of all we hate what smoke does to our lungs, throat, eyes… But we were also determined to do all the hiking we could.
From the top of the first rise we could see how smokey it was getting. Gone were the blue skies we’d enjoyed for at least a few days 😦
This was another interpretive trail with a brochure that helped us understand something about the vegetation around us. Doesn’t look like much in the open space up here, but if you look closely you can see tiny flowers around my feet. Things grow everywhere!
After climbing some initial steps on this .6 mile trail, we ended up on the trail’s namesake — the ridgeline, where views were remarkable, despite the heavy smoke in the distance.
The out-and-back trail took us to what was, with the smoke, more of a moonscape than landscape view!
And it seemed the more we hiked, the closer the smoke got.
After we left the trail, on the loop road back to Medora, we spotted a herd of feral horses atop another ridge:
We’d seen them around before — usually grazing, never huddled like this. Maybe they didn’t like the encroaching smoke any more than we did.
A little farther along, we saw another, smaller group, this one near a cliffside where they’d found some shelter.