Man climbing over stile.
Ed and I were excited to hike today along Lake Ashtabula. It’s supposed to be a big recreational area here in North Dakota. Also, after yesterday’s rain and wind, the day was supposed to be sunny and lovely.

We dropped Ed’s car near Mel Rieman Recreation Area, where we’ll be camping tonight, then took my car to our ending point and began to hike backwards.

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Heading Out Along Lake Ashtabula

I’ll have to find out from local NCTA members what the deal is here. I assumed the trail would be in extra good condition, since it’s along a popular recreation area. But suffice it to say, there was no discernable trail pretty much all day.

I don’t mind navigating from blaze to blaze; you have to do that on trails Man atop a stile.such as the Continental Divide in New Mexico, where it’s impossible to create a trail in desert terrain. Trails could have been created here but, for the most part, were not. There must be some explanation.

For most of the day, the trail was a mixture of hiking through not-too-dense vegetation, to plodding through knee-high and, in some places, even shoulder-high vegetation that was thick and tough.

Exhausting and Dispiriting Day

The scenery was lovely, although we couldn’t really enjoy it because we were constantly looking at my phone app to see if we were on or off the trail. Thanks to the recent rains, many areas were flooded and super muddy, which further slowed us down.

Cattle skull hanging on a branch.
There was one interesting part where you walk through people’s backyards; I think this is a vacation area, possibly with rules about allowing the trail to pass through backyards.

But when we were just a few miles from our car, we’d had enough. The trail here featured extremely dense vegetation that was hard to walk on/through and some big drop-offs where I had to scooch down on my butt. In the end, it seemed a tad dangerous. (I’ve had three orthopedic surgeries in the last five years and don’t want another!)

Ending with a Whimper

When we hit a connecting road, we decided to take the roads back to the car. It just didn’t seem safe to continue. We’re now hunkered down at a campsite in the Mel Rieman Recreation Area. They say there are beautiful sunsets here. Hope we catch one!

Oh, we did see a lot of pelicans on the lake, which was pretty cool.


ND NCT miles today: 19.8 (31.9 km)
ND NCT miles to date: 176.3 (283.7 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 3,077.3 (4,952.5 km) 
Total NCT miles to go: 1,522.7 (2,450.6 km)

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