In the past six weeks I have written several blog posts about my new job. I had been working on oil well locations in the Fort Berthold Native American Reservation. Once I knew my co-worker/supervisor well enough, I showed him the Bigfoot sighting reports on the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website for Fort Berthold.
Within a few weeks, we were headed to a very remote location where my co-worker/supervisor had in the past gotten so spooked, that he left the location without completing the work. Once it became dusk, he felt that something was watching him from the trees, the hair on the back of his neck was standing up, he couldn’t take it, and he got in his truck and he left in a hurry.
As I was driving the crane truck following my co-worker/supervisor to this location a couple of weeks ago, I was becoming more and more amazed at the number of trees. There are very few trees in western North Dakota, and there are never enough to make a forest, but we were entering a forest. We were winding back and forth around corners, and suddenly we were above a valley that was completely and densely forested with trees. I couldn’t believe it.
When we got to the location, it was at the dead-end of the road. I had a lot of questions for my co-worker/supervisor, I had never seen anywhere like this in North Dakota, neither had he. We got in his crew truck and we drove down a fork in the road, into the valley. The trees were as close and dense as anywhere I had ever seen. In some places you could not see further than ten feet into them from the road they were so thick. We stopped a few places to look across tall grass meadows to the eroded sandstone cliffs on the other side of the valley. We saw a small herd of wild horses.
I knew that I would want to come back to this place when I was not working, but this could be a problem for me because I am not supposed to travel wherever I want on the Fort Berthold Reservation when I am not in a company vehicle with the $2,500 bright orange Taro sticker on the door. We looked at an oil company map, and there was some indication of Bureau Of Land Management land in this area, so I should be able to drive to BLM land legally.
I did not have to work on Friday July 14, so I planned on coming back to this land on this Friday. I purchased a Dash Cam video recorder for this trip, to record the drive into this valley because it might be the only chance I will ever have to come back, no one will likely believe or understand what I am describing, I wanted a video for myself and to show other people.
While doing some reading about Dunn County before my trip, I read that there is an area in northwest Dunn County that has a mini-ecosystem that is like nowhere else in North Dakota. This area is in a valley, and it is densely forested with Burr Oak and Aspen trees. Yes, yes, that is what this area is like, it is like nowhere else in North Dakota.
I also read in the history of Dunn County, that in the late 1800s the U.S. Army/Cavalry discovered prospering Native American villages in valleys on the north side of the Killdeer Mountains. There were several thousand Native Americans living there, hundreds and hundreds of lodges and teepees. The U.S. Army/Cavalry reported destroying most of the lodges and teepees, destroying a great number of their supplies, including “the burning of 200 tons of dried buffalo meat”. The valley that I was in, was so green and lush with vegetation, that I can understand and imagine that thousands of Native Americans could flourish in this area, much more so than on the open grassland.
I was excited about getting back to this valley. I was driving my four wheel drive Toyota truck, I had my Dash Cam video camera on and recording, I had drinks and food, binoculars, rifle, sleeping bag. I planned on staying there overnight. I didn’t take any wrong turns, and I found the road that I was looking for into the valley at 4:00 p.m. I drove slowly because I wanted to look at everything, not miss anything, and I wanted to get good video footage with my Dash Cam. I had plenty of time.
On the way in, I saw some small groups of free range cattle, and some small groups of wild horses. I went further into the valley than I had gone before. About eight miles further in, the valley opened up into an even larger and longer valley, which I believed must have been the Little Missouri River Valley. This was the most beautiful land that I had ever seen. The Killdeer Mountains were the southern wall of this long and wide valley. High on the Killdeer Mountains there were green belts of trees, probably Cedar trees. Lower on the Killdeer Mountains there were green meadows, Aspen trees, and then lower Burr Oak, and I believe Cottonwood trees. You could tell where the Little Missouri River was by the darker green and denser trees and vegetation.
I stayed in the valley and drove in the valley until 10:00 p.m. The whole time I did not see another person or another vehicle. It was amazing to me that I was in the most beautiful and undeveloped spot in North Dakota, and nobody knows about it. I parked my truck behind some trees and I hiked up about three hundred feet above the valley. It was very quiet. I was neither hot nor cold, and insects were not bothering me. This month of July has been pretty dry for North Dakota. But this valley was very green and it had water in it. I could see and understand how this valley must have been very idyllic for the Native Americans who lived here hundreds of years ago. Sheltered from the heat and drought in summer. Protected from the cold, snow, and wind in winter.
Even though this valley is in the Fort Berthold Native American Reservation, plains Indian tribes were probably living in this valley one thousand years ago, way before there were any reservations. I have read and heard the North Dakota Native Americans complain about the Killdeer Mountains being sacred, and not wanting any development here. I sat there and I thought about the word “sacred”. It had in the past seemed to me to be a misuse of the word “sacred” to describe land. Now, I understood. This land was more beautiful than the ski resorts in Colorado, more beautiful than the mountains in Flagstaff, or the red rocks in Sedona. This valley must have been almost a utopia for plains Indian tribes for a thousand years. I can see that now, and I can understand now that it is not replaceable if it becomes developed.
I may give some hints on how to get here, I might have given enough already. It may be better for anyone who is very interested, to find these valleys for themselves. I don’t want to give explicit directions on how to get here because I don’t want the wrong people, like developers from New York or California, or Meth people to get here.
I have more photographs that I would like to show, so I will include these in an upcoming blog post. Here is one video of this area, taken from one of the highest points, but this video does not really show the denseness of the forests below:
This second video, shows more of what the forests look like: