LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Biking In The Autumn Haze Of 2020

I have been cleaning storage areas, putting away patio pots and such and taking out snow shovels, my customary practice this time of year. In doing so, I unearthed my bike carrier and thus made a pledge to myself to ride my bike every day I can this fall until it snows. In order to not lose sight of this, I loaded the bike and will leave it on the Jeep.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park Visitors Center, built by the CCC.
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park Visitors Center, built by the CCC.

Bismarck and Mandan have invested in miles of wonderful trails, and I’m exploring those bit by bit. One day, I went to nearby Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, after a picnic visit to my Dad’s grave at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery. Another beautiful Sunday, when most everyone seemed to be home watching football on television or on the Missouri River with their pontoons, I had the trails at Harmon Lake, north of Mandan, nearly to myself.

The Harmon Lake area has been improved using North Dakota Outdoor Heritage money and a damned fine use of that fund, I’d say. There were a few campers and one family picnic and no one at the beach (blue-green algae and cooler weather, the explanation). The trail around the land winds through native shortgrass prairie. I stopped frequently to admire the view, watch geese and ducks on the lake, and observe the fall forbs — and to take pictures while I rested (I’m not a gonzo biker). The haze from the Western fires was sobering to observe, yet provided exceptional light for photography.

Harmon Lake scenes

As a finale, I offer this, a short video of the healing peace of this piece of the northern prairie. My spirit was restored, and I returned home to face the challenges of life.

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