Teddy 2012

Bison Crossing 2012
Bison Crossing 2012

My 17th Teddy – Heavy Breathing and Long, Long Trails A-Winding

by Marion Perry

Seventeen consecutive Teddy Tours! Nothing beats being warm and snug in sleeping bags while the temperature plunges below freezing; sitting dry under a tarp while it pours; sharing the campground with only one or two other parties and the campsite with some of your best friends; watching the illusion of the full moon moving as the clouds drift across the sky; keeping a careful eye out for bison and other wildlife; walking around the campground after dark with no lights; inhaling the wonder of it all. And then there’s cooking with the friend you came with, sharing Ron’s Saturday French toast and ham, savouring his wonderful camp sushi with Southern Comfort after the ride, going out for supper with the group, enjoying Easter treats – we are an eating club, right?

Enjoying Ron's Camp Sushi
Enjoying Ron’s Camp Sushi

This year, five Thursday night campers in the North Unit: Ron Keall, Grant Theis with daughter Kyla, Carol Fonger and Marion Perry enjoyed one of the warmest nights we’ve had at Teddy. I had fallen asleep listening to my ipod. At about 1 a.m. I woke up to noisy exhalations. Heavy breathing in my ear? I removed the earbuds. HUFF… HUFF… HUFF….. OMG! Right beside my head! Lie still!

About 20 bison grazed among our tents. Ron watched through his open tent fly, hand on his gazillion lumens new flashlight, but he exercised restraint and didn’t spotlight any of them.

After breakfast Carol and I hiked the Caprock Coulee and Upper Caprock trails which meander through 8 miles of varied mini ecosystems – grasslands, juniper filled gulches sprinkled with crocuses, sandstone hoodoos embedded with petrified wood, windswept ridge tops – up and down and around until you’re up at the River Bend Overlook. Here Grant and Kyla overtook us and Kyla did the trail finding back to the parking lot. I’d highly recommend this hike in dry weather.

This year, five Thursday night campers in the North Unit: Ron Keall, Grant Theis with daughter Kyla, Carol Fonger and Marion Perry enjoyed one of the warmest nights we’ve had at Teddy. I had fallen asleep listening to my ipod. At about 1 a.m. I woke up to noisy exhalations. Heavy breathing in my ear? I removed the earbuds. HUFF… HUFF… HUFF….. OMG! Right beside my head! Lie still!

About 20 bison grazed among our tents. Ron watched through his open tent fly, hand on his gazillion lumens new flashlight, but he exercised restraint and didn’t spotlight any of them.

View  - Caprock Coulee Hike
View – Caprock Coulee Hike

At 2 p.m. Jim Marcia, Arleene and Gord Arnold, Lana and Pat Klein and Janet and Grant Gibson joined the

After breakfast Carol and I hiked the Caprock Coulee and Upper Caprock trails which meander through 8 miles of varied mini ecosystems – grasslands, juniper filled gulches sprinkled with crocuses, sandstone hoodoos embedded with petrified wood, windswept ridge tops – up and down and around until you’re up at the River Bend Overlook. Here Grant and Kyla overtook us and Kyla did the trail finding back to the parking lot. I’d highly recommend this hike in dry weather.
Thursday campers as we assembled for the ride to the Oxbow. Riders chose their own speed and distance enjoying the car/truck-free riding as the road was closed because of slumping near the River Bend Overlook. A headwind with a little rain thrown in for some, and bison that chose to sprint down the road ahead of the cyclists sending hikers scrambling enlivened the return trip.

Heavy rain dumped on us as we drove to the South Unit and for about an hour after we arrived. Six folks stayed at the hotel, and 6 camped. Friday night the campers hunkered warmly in their bags while the winds gathered strength down the valley, roared through camp, began again in the distance, increased again to a roar, shaking tent flies and flapping loose tarps, dissipated and began again, and again. In the morning Jim christened these wind gusts the “Teddy Rollers”.

2 Grants & Kyla
2 Grants & Kyla

During the Saturday ride the wind teased and tormented us. Headwinds up to Wind Canyon, make the turn and get a boast up those long grinders. About halfway up the second one, Grant & Janet Gibson were off the road. The derailleur hanger on Grant’s Cervello had broken. Carol happened by in her car and provided support for rider and bike. At the bottom of Buck Hill the bison herd blocked the riders for a time. Only Jim, Grant & Kyla rode to the top dealing with cross winds on the way up and down. After Buck Hill, headwinds for a considerable distance, then unpredictable winds because of the terrain – cross winds, side winds, quarter winds – we had it all; yet we were in camp for sushi by 1:30.

Sunday, most folks packed up, did a short hike and then returned to the Easter winter wonderland in Regina. Carol and I chose to do the longer (10 mile) Petrified Forest Hike which includes about 5 miles of grasslands where buffalo roam and love to rub and scratch against trail marker posts. About 3 hours in, we noticed the marker posts had changed from PF (Petrified Forest) to LT (Lone Tree). We had missed a junction, but LT also looped back to the parking lot, it just meant hiking for 16 miles instead of 10.

About an hour later we knew we were going the wrong direction, and the signs changed to a turtle symbol – we were now on the Maah-Daah-Hey trail. Obviously another junction sign was down and on grasslands full of game trails, following an unmarked trail seemed plain foolish. Onwards, now following the turtle, we arrived at a sign “Elkbom Junction”. We had 2 maps; no Elbom Junction or Trail on either of them.

Marion, Carol & ND Saviour
Marion, Carol & ND Saviour

Follow the turtle. Through a long coulee; at last we filed through a draw between the hills to behold the Little Missouri River. The campground and the club tent appeared on the other side of the river. We searched – no fords. Follow the turtle. Eventually, transport trucks appeared and disappeared way ahead on highway 94. Finally at the highway, we were fenced in with the bison. Fortunately there was a gate – padlocked but with shallow ruts under it. Carol was first to inch her way out on her back. She turned to see me like a zoo critter about to escape and cracked up.

Another long mile beside the highway back to Medora where we our saviours, oil workers on Easter break, were viewing the remnants of the Marquis de Mores’ meat packing plant. They generously drove us back to the car. We started hiking at 10 am and were back in camp by 6 pm. How far did we walk? At least 16 miles, maybe 20. When we reported our adventures to the visitor center the next day, we were high-fived and told they have to rescue people all the time, in fact, they had rescued someone the previous night. Carol and I were proud and happy it wasn’t us!

Monday morning at 7 am, I was thinking about getting up. HUFF… HUFF… HUFF!

"Huff, huff" - Bison Grazing in Campground
“Huff, huff” – Bison Grazing in Campground

So that was my 17th Teddy. If it sounds grueling and scarey don’t be misled. It was wonderful! When everything’s perfect, there’s no adventure and no stories and why would you do it more than once?

Teddy 2012 Summary

  • Number of participants: 12
  • Thursday Night: 5 campers in the North Unit
  • Friday: North Unit Weather: Overcast, windy, rain in the late afternoon Distance cycled: varied
  • Saturday: Route: South Unit, Theodore Roosevelt Park Weather: windy Distance cycled: 43 km
  • Sunday: Weather: sunny; Hiking: Petrified Forest Hike Distance: 2 to 20 miles.