APRIL 16, 2005 — VALLEY CITY, ND
(Andrew has hiked 5326 miles, 69% of his 7,700 mile hike across the continent)
There were four defining moments this past week. The first was that Andrew had three full days of rain. Each day was all rain, falling every way but vertical. That made for a tough beginning of the week. The second was that Andrew crossed the border to North Dakota on Tuesday, April 12, 2005. The third is that he crossed from the land of lakes to the prairies. And finally, he has been pushing all week to get to Valley City. Andrew hiked 178 miles in five days to reach his destination. He was enjoying a nice B&B in Valley City when he called home last night.
Sunday, April 10, 2005 found Andrew in the Tamarack Wildlife refuge. There is a high concentration of waterfowl here and Andrew saw a bald eagle swoop into the lake and grab a fish right before his eyes. The Chippewa Indians have deep history in this region and Andrew found it interesting.
Monday, Andrew made the dramatic transition from the lakes and hills to the prairie. Andrew said that he reached the top of a ridge and the prairie was in front of him and all of a sudden he could see for miles. It was quite dramatic. On Monday it was still raining and Andrew was hiking in the Red River valley. He said that he has never seen such sticky red mud as he found in this valley. Some of the roads are un-maintained dirt and after hiking miles in the red sticky mud, his shoes weighed a ton. This is also the first time Andrew had an unpleasant encounter with the police. He was getting water from Jeff and Heidi Sell when a local sheriff drove up. The sheriff reported that someone had reported a stranger walking through the area with a backpack on his back and he was there to check it out. Andrew explained the hike and where he was going etc. The sheriff allowed him to continue but was not friendly and continued to treat Andrew suspiciously. Heidi and Jeff allowed Andrew to camp on their land that evening, but the encounter left Andrew unsettled. He was upset that anyone would report him as suspicious because he has worked so hard to represent hikers in a favorable light and this town is on the North Country Trail. He finally reconciled the incident as realizing that these are small, close knit towns and he is a stranger.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005, Andrew entered the state of North Dakota at the town of Abrocrombie. It was still raining.
Wednesday, the weather cleared and Andrew hiked 25 miles through the Sheyanne National Grasslands. The soil here is very sAndrew as opposed to the rich organic soil in the river valley. This land is owned by the government and used for grazing of 11,000 cattle in the summer. At this time of year, the grasslands are empty and Andrew felt he was the closest he would ever be to seeing the prairies in their original state. The grass was anywhere from ankle to waist high. There were no roads or noises. That night, Andrew slept out at the Rotenberger farm. He enjoyed his conversations with Doug and Charles, who own the farm.
Thursday, the 14, Andrew entered the town of Lisbon. He entered a local café for the early lunch and as he entered, the entire café stopped talking and looked. He smiled and gave a general “good morning” and the crowd resumed eating and talking. The rest of the day, Andrew hiked along the Sheyanne River Valley. This valley was settled in the late 1800’s, and was the major roadway for the early settlers. He reported that the valley is 100 to 300 feet deep. Farming occupies the bottom and grazing the sides of the valley. The plains are high above you. The road has been declared a “scenic byway”, so the history of the area has been preserved in the form of old farms and machinery etc. He has enjoyed this section. At one point the valley is very deep so a negative ski area has been built. People ski further down the valley towards the river.
Andrew arrived in Valley City. His arrival was announced in the local paper without his knowledge. He was recognized as he entered town. Last night he stayed in a nice bed and breakfast. He had the entire house to himself and loved it.