Hiking Roosevelt National Park

Early morning at Theodore Roosevelt National Park


I left Belfield, North Dakota early in the morning and drove north on highway eighty-five. I had an extra day and planned to spend it exploring the north unit of the Roosevelt National Park. I had been past it several times and in the surrounding area, but never actually in the Park.

Today I planned to change that. There is a fourteen mile scenic drive that goes through the park. I drove about half way to the Caprock Coulee trailhead. According to the information sign there was a prairie dog town about one and half miles down one trail. It was still cool, so I decided to walk there and back.

 A half hour later I was taking pictures of prairie dogs. The prairie dogs I had seen before were always very skittish. These were apparently more used to people and allowed me to take several close up pictures.

I finished taking pictures, but I was not ready to return. The trail continued further along the prairie, skirting the hills. Two things stopped me from continuing along the trail. First, I always prefer to go my own way and not follow marked trails. Second, there were large hills to the west and when I see a hill, I just naturally want to climb it.

 The hill was quite steep and I was trying to find the best way up when I came upon buffalo tracks leading up the hill. Buffalo roam free within the park. Daniel Boone and the early pioneers followed the woodland buffalo trails through and over the Allegheny Mountains. Today I would follow the buffalo tracks up the hill. Wild creatures seem to instinctively know the best and easiest routes.

After a couple hours I was getting hot and thirsty and I was now a long way from my truck. I had not brought water along, thinking I would only be gone an hour or so. Not a bright decision on my part. Most people think of North Dakota as being cold. In the winter it can be very cold, but with the long days in the summer it can get really hot. Today was turning out to be one of those days.

So far it had been a great day. Not only had I visited the prairie dog town. I had seen buffalo and jumped a couple mule deer while crossing a draw. It always amazes me how well mule deer with their grey coats, blend into the surrounding vegetation.  

I hiked by many petrified trees, lying where they had fallen so long ago. One tree in particular puzzled me. It had been nearly two feet in diameter. It was still very much intact. The limbs, some quite large were still there, although broken and scattered. The part that puzzled me was that such a large tree was on top of a ridge. This is a dry country. Most trees are along streams or in lower areas where there is moisture. The higher elevations are mostly brush covered. Maybe there was more moisture here at some time in the past.

The scenery had been outstanding. I had viewed numerous caprocks. It was a great day of exploring God’s great outdoors, except for being so thirsty. I had found a pebble, wiped it off and put it in my mouth. This is something I had done before and it helps for a while. Rolling a pebble around in your mouth activates your salivary glands and the moisture keeps your mouth from being so dry. In reality, it does nothing for your thirst. It just makes you feel less dry and thirsty. Eventually as you become more dehydrated you will stop producing salvia. I still had the stone in my mouth, but it was doing nothing for me anymore.

When God created us, he created us with a hunger, a thirst for fellowship with him. There is a vacuum in us that only God can fill. We can try to fill that vacuum with our jobs, toys, false religions, alcohol or even drugs. There is no end to the things that we can replace God with. But just like with the pebble in the mouth, they may satisfy for a while, but they are not the real solution. Only Jesus Christ can satisfy that thirst.Who is Jesus

There was nothing wrong with the pebble. The problem came when I depended on it to fulfill my thirst that only water can fulfill. It is the same with most things in our lives. They are not bad in themselves, the problem is when we depend on them to fulfill that inter thirst for a relationship with God. They are only a temporary fix. Only through a relationship with the Lord, can we know everlasting peace, joy and fulfillment.

The first thing I did when I arrived back at my pickup truck, was to grab a bottle of water from the cooler, and enjoyed a cool refreshing drink. Without water our physical bodies will perish. Water is a necessity for life on earth. Without Christ our very souls will perish. Jesus Christ is a the way to everlasting life in Heaven.

Roosevelt National Park

Read More from Jerry Blount at www.jerryblount.com


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