North Country Trail

The first steps looked picture perfect. Sunny skies, Lake Sakakawea glittering in the distance and warm temperatures. Wingman’s Mom and Dad waited for us to sign the register a ranger had kindly left in a safe place outside for us, then drove off with a wave as we stepped onto the trail – a mowed path between tall grasses and trees.

We stopped to snap photos at the terminus sign and happily walked along feeling easy and free – since Wingman’s folks had our backpacks. They were going to meet us 16 miles later and hand us our packs before driving home. Seconds later our fairy tale start turned into a two mile nightmare.

Wingman noticed lots of ticks on his shoes and ankles. I looked down and panicked. Four were visible and moving fast on my shoes and socks. They didn’t fling off easily. Balancing on one foot I took off my shoes and checked inside. Two more. I couldn’t move fast enough to check the other shoe, before another crawled aboard. I was horrified! Remembering the first past of the trail is two miles off-road and twenty-one miles on-road, I asked Wingman if he wanted to run for the road.

We took off, but the ticks kept coming. Whether walking or running, they jumped aboard and every ten seconds or so we had to stop and pick them off. It was awful. All I could think about was reaching the road. Once, as Wingman was bent over taking one off, he saw three more in the grass headed straight for him. I don’t know if it’s vibration or smell or what, but those blood-sucking insects knew exactly where we were and kept coming. Dozens and dozens were picked off in those two miles.

Finally I ran onto the road feeling like a character in Jumanji who passed the first obstacle without losing a life. I was never so glad to hike on a road instead of a trail.

When Wingman’s folks heard our tick tales and felt the 30 mph winds swirling around us, they took pity and drove us to a nearby town where we all had dinner and stayed in a hotel. It was delightful! They dropped us off on their way home the next day, and onward we went into the wind and hoping to stay tick free.

In the three days I’ve been on trail now, we have already had a few other surprises, both pleasant and not so much. Overall it’s really good though and I’m looking forward to telling more stories. The best part is that people are stopping to chat with us as they pass by and every single person has been kind and encouraging. A man we talked to coming into a town today even hunted us down at the cafe to give us a bag of food and drinks!

…and if you are wondering what happened to our Pacific Crest Trail plans, well this just isn’t the year for that hike. Here is the path from that plan to this one and a bit about the North Country Trail:

As COVID-19 took us inside and shut down travel plans, I waited and plotted. First, I hoped to start the Pacific Creat Trail a bit later, then I researched the Ice Age Trail and Pacific Northwest Trail, each of which are better to start later in the spring or even early summer. COVID kept coming at all of us and eventually those plans also seemed too risky.

Then I took a look at the North Country Trail. It’s long, the longest of the National Scenic Trails at over 4,700 miles. It crosses parts of eight states stretching from North Dakota to Vermont. North Dakota has a sparse population, very few cases of COVID – and never issued travel restrictions. Wingman and I decided this was our chance. Starting a bit late is fine as I never imagined finishing it in one year anyway. We will simply hike until snow flies and see what adventures we find along the North Country Trail!

24 Replies to “North Country Trail”

  1. Iโ€™ve never seen anything like that! When I spent a summer in big thicket national preserve we put sulfur powder in a tied off old sock to dust our shoes and pants with. Worked for me. Keep the sock in a bag. Good luck man!

    1. Someone had that for us on the AT. We will have to see if we can buy some in McClusky which is the next town about four days away. Thanks for the tip!

  2. DEET is your friend. I spray my ankles every morning when leaving to do ranch chores. If there is a chigger or tick out there it will find me….but DEET works for me. I never leave home with out it.

  3. Yuk! I have had Lyme disease once and that is enough for a lifetime. I miss you already. I am having to do all this ZOOM stuff by myself. LOL Be safe and keep us posted.

    1. Thanks Paulette! Right now we are fight relentless wind and trying to appreciate how it keeps us cool and from mosquitos!

  4. Yikes! Ticks. Well, you are off on another adventure so thanks for taking us along! All the best. Susan & Tex

  5. Hello Lorrie and Wingman! Wow, I canโ€™t stand ticks! I pray you two are safe during this longgg hike. It would be great if ever you could Zoom from your location with us. Hugs ๐Ÿค— Bonnie

    1. I will try to Zoom in next week. This morning I had very
      Little service and needed to leave camp before workers arrived – the trail was right next to major road construction and the best place to camp was by all their equipment! Kind of strange, but we slept well ๐Ÿ˜„

    1. It will be my mission to get him to sing it at least once! I may have to bribe him with snickers and ice cream ๐Ÿ˜†

  6. Wow, you are one brave woman!!! I would have headed right back hone๐Ÿคฃ. Please be safe, canโ€™t wait to hear more!!๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

    1. Thanks Liane, I feel like a panicked woman at times, especially when I see ticks all over my shoes and ankles ๐Ÿ˜ง We are camped near moose tracks tonight. So hopeful we will see one at dawn!

  7. It was such a gift for you to join us live this morning for our Rotary meeting. We are all cheering you on Lorrie and Wingman!

Comments, please