It has been my great fortune to have made two retreats to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park these past few weeks, a place in the Bad Lands that is very dear to my heart. The North Unit is the heart of wildness in North Dakota and is, right now, awash in autumn glory.
My first outing was to attempt to fulfill one of my daughter’s wishes (for her birthday), to find her first bighorn sheep. Bighorns are more active in the autumn, and I’ve frequently seen them in the North Unit and surrounding environs over the years. Chelsea and I tented in the Juniper Campground at the North Unit, a place where one is completely off-the-grid. It was a salve for our souls, and we sat by the Little Missouri River sharing lifetime memories of happy times spent in these wild places.
Just when we’d given up hope of seeing the bighorn sheep, she spotted one, and then another. I’ve raised Chelsea to love wild places and animals, and we thoroughly enjoy when we get a chance to go on explorations.
Many of the birds have migrated, but we saw several different species of hawks, wild turkeys, and a belted kingfisher, along with this northern flicker probing for ants.
Turns out, this campout was the final hurrah for my trusty green Eureka tent, the zipper broken beyond repair. Identical to the tent I used for backpacking in my 20s, I bought it about 18 years ago for $1 at an auction, I could erect it in a flash and have made countless good memories with it. Fortunately, although it will be missed, we have several tents in our stock of camping gear.
Renew your wild spirit with a trip to the Bad Lands before the snow flies. You’ll go back again and again.
“If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate.” — Terry Tempest Williams