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Maah Daah Hey Trail Thru-Hike

Saturday, June 3, 2023 - Sunday, June 18, 2023 -- $2100 ★★★


It's a thru-hike!


The North Dakota Badlands are a seldom visited, visually stunning playground that we plan to thru-hike on a 145 mile long trail called the The Maah Daah Hey Trail. The Maah Daah Hey Trail features tallgrass prairies, ubiquious bison, panoramic plateaus, picturesque buttes, free roaming wild horses, chattering prairie dogs, a petrified forest and the Little Missouri River. Most of the trail is found on the Little Missouri National Grassland while much of it also traverses Theodore Roosevelt National Park


Theodore Roosevelt himself visited here in 1883 on a bison hunt. Fortunately, bison remain in the park as do mule deer, prairie dogs, elk, wild horses and even bighorn sheep. There are also owls, eagles, woodpeckers and orioles. The often unobstructed views give us a wonderful opportunity to look around instead of at your feet while hiking. (This also means to expect sun exposure). June is one of the best times to thru-hike the trail.


Much of the trail will be flat(is), exposed to the sun and possibly very muddy if it rains. However, expect unobstructed views, grassland and warm weather.


Here is our proposed route.



Weather

Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Historical September weather averages 60s and 70s during the day and 40s and 50s at night, perfect for backpacking. However we might experience blazing heat or rain during the day or cold nights. Obviously, you never know until the week of the trip. Bring lots of sun protection and water containers that add up to 8 liters of capacity.



Probable Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Any Other Guide(s) TBD

Difficulty


This is a 150 mile thru-hike. We will be hiking almost all day, every day in order to get to the next campsite and must average over 10 miles per day. While we feel this is attainable given the not-so-steep terrain and good trail condition, two weeks is a long time to hike without a 'zero' day. Plus a rainy day could change the trail into a slick, muddy slog. There is little tree cover and in June the temperatures may swing wildly between freezing and 100 degrees.


Still, we feel this is readily attainable for those who can stay mentally positive and will be an experience you'll always treasure. Be ready to stray from the proposed itinerary depending upon weather, trail conditions and even the participants who may hike longer (or shorter) mileage on any given day.



Cost

$2100 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the hotel night in Dickinson. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Dickinson, ND (DIK), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.


Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 14 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from the trail, National Park permits, National Grassland permits, campground fees and awesome guides.


Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.



Important Notes


Important! Unlike typical Fitpacking trips, we will only infrequently obtain or treat surface water. Instead, the guides will cache water (and food) ahead of time that we'll pick up in various locations along the way. We will pick up water and/or food about every other day or more. At times, be prepared to carry 8 liters (16 pounds) of water in your pack that must last until the next water cache. Although this is burdensome when we encounter the water, by the time we reach the next water cache, we'll be carrying little no water all (0 pounds).


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Itinerary
Weather
Guides for this trip
Cost
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)

Itinerary


Saturday, June 3, 2023

Fly or drive into Dickinson, ND (DIK). The best time to arrive is between 9AM-2PM, but since the airport is small, flights and arrival times are limited. If your pre-trip virtual shakedown was thorough, and you are "ready to go" by 5PM, you may arrive later.


Call fpr a free airport shuttle that will take you to our local hotel (TBD)


Although you have already had the online equipment shakedown. We will ask questions about your gear and try to economize the weight while making sure you are outfitted properly and prepared for the elements.


Make Your Own Trail mix bar from our selection of nuts, fruits and sweets (as well as jerky and trail bars)


"Before" body composition measurements taken


We will place all your off-trail stuff in storage for two weeks. Please keep this to a small amount


Buy common last minute and forgotten items at Runnings, 2003 Third Avenue West, Dickinson, ND 58601, 701-483-1226 (open until 7PM)


Shuttle about an hour and a half to Burning Coal Vein Campground,


Along the way, go out for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant (Cost of dinner not included in trip cost). If we haven't already done so, shuttle to Medora, ND to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park visitor's center to pick up the backcountry permit.


Camp at Burning Coal Vein Campsite which has 8 sites that are first come, first served with vault toilet and water pump


Sunday, June 4, 2023

Start hiking at Burning Coal Vein Campsite, elevation 2530'


Hike 6.5 miles to Third Creek Water Cache, elevation 2490'


Have dinner here. Pick up water and food.


Hike around 1.5 miles, elevation 2680'


Dispersed camp here practicing Leave No Trace Practices, elevation 2680'


Mileage Today: 8.0. Total mileage: 8.0


Possible bailout: Third Creek Rd.


Monday, June 5, 2023

Hike 7.7 miles to the Tom's Wash Water Cache, elevation 2490'


Have dinner here. Pick up water and food.


Hike about 2.3 miles to a dispersed campsite, elevation 2540'


Dispersed camp here practicing Leave No Trace Practices, elevation 2540'


Mileage Today: 10.0. Total mileage: 18.0


Possible bailout: Tom's Wash Rd


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Hike 4.7 miles to Bear Creek Water Cache, elevation 2580'


We will most likely NOT cache water here


Hike 5.8 miles to Coal Creek Access Trail, elevation 2600'


Hike 0.6 miles to Coal Creek Campsite, elevation 2725'


Coal Creek is a First Come First Served front country campground complete with picnic table and water pump


Camp at Coal Creek Campsite, elevation 2725'


Mileage Today: 11.1. Total mileage: 29.1


Possible bailout: Coal Creek


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Hike 0.6 miles back to the Maah Daah Hey Trail, elevation 2600'


Hike 4.7 miles to Plumey Draw Water Cache, elevation 2690'


It's possible that we will NOT cache water here and instead carry 2 days worth from Coal Creek


Hike around 5.3 miles to a dispersed campsite, elevation 2425'


Dispersed camp here practicing Leave No Trace Practices, elevation 2425'


Mileage Today: 10.6. Total mileage: 39.7


Possible bailout: Plumey Draw


Thursday, June 8, 2023

Hike 8.7 miles to Sully Creek / Whitetail Flats front country campsite, elevation 2270'


Sully Creek / Whitetail Flats is a front country campground complete with picnic table and water pump


Cab or Uber into Medora, ND


Have dinner at a local restaurant (cost of dinner not included in trip cost)


Cab or Uber back to Sully Creek


Camp at Sully Creek / Whitetail Flats, primitive group campsite, elevation 2270'


Mileage Today: 8.7. Total mileage: 48.4


Possible bailout: Medora, ND


Friday, June 9, 2023

Hike 7.1 miles into Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the Little Missouri River across from Cottonwood Camp, elevation 2240'


If the water level on the Little Missouri River is low enough, we will wade across it to get water. Otherwise, we will continue hiking to the petrified forest plateau, using water from the Sully Creek camp or if necessary, treating the Little Missouri water (not necessarily recommended).


Please Note: If we wade across the Little Missouri River, make sure to bring water shoes. We must be prepared for high water. We will be monitoring water levels on the USGS site


Hike 3.2 miles to the Petrified Forest plateau (might be windy), elevation 2690'


Dispersed camp here practicing Leave No Trace Practices, elevation 2690'


Mileage Today: 10.3. Total mileage: 58.7


Possible bailout: Medora, ND



Saturday, June 10, 2023

Hike 7.0 miles to Wannagan front country campground, elevation 2460'


Have dinner here. Get water from the pump and pick-up food cache.


It's possible that we will NOT cache food here and instead already be carrying tonight's dinner


Hike around 6.0 miles to a dispersed campsite on a high point, elevation 2628'


Dispersed camp here practicing Leave No Trace Practices, elevation 2628'


Mileage Today: 13.0. Total mileage: 71.7


Possible bailout: Wannagan


Sunday, June 11, 2023

Hike 6.5 miles to Roosevelt Water Cache, elevation 2400'


Have dinner here. Pick up water and food.


Hike around 4.0 miles to a dispersed campsite, elevation 2300'


Dispersed camp here practicing Leave No Trace Practices, elevation 2300'


Mileage Today: 10.5. Total mileage: 82.2


Possible bailout: Roosevelt


Monday, June 12, 2023

Hike about 5.0 miles to Elkhorn front country campsite, elevation 2310'


Fill water from pump here.


Hike around 8.0 miles to the Little Missouri River, Elkhorn Crossing, elevation 2110'


Dispersed camp on the East side of the river practicing Leave No Trace Ethic, elevation 2110'


Mileage Today: 13.0. Total mileage: 95.2


Possible bailout: Elkhorn


Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Hike about 4.0 miles to Magpie Rd / Water Cache, elevation 2510'


We will probably NOT cache water here


Hike around 7.5 miles to the Magpie Campground Spur, elevation 2270'


Hike 0.3 miles to the Magpie front country ampground, elevation 2225'


Camp at Magpie front country ampground, elevation 2225'


Mileage Today: 11.8. Total mileage: 107.0


Possible bailout: Magpie Water Cache Rd.


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Hike about 14.0 miles to Beicegel (Be Ice Gel?) Creek Water Cache, elevation 2570'


Although it's a long day, there is an optional 1 mile round trip to see some ice caves along the way


Dispersed camp near Beicegal Water Cache practicing Leave No Trace Ethic, elevation 2570'


Mileage Today: 14.0. Total mileage: 121.0


Possible bailout: Beicegel Water Cache Rd.


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Hike about 3.0 miles to a trail intersection, elevation 2575'


Hike 6.9 miles on the Bennett Trail to Bennett front country campground, elevation 2190'


Camp at Bennett front country campground, elevation 2190'


Mileage Today: 9.9. Total mileage: 130.9


Possible bailout: Bennett Campground


Friday, June 16, 2023

Hike about 3.2 miles back to the Maah Daah Hey Trail, elevation 2150'


Hike 11.0 miles to Long X Water Cache, elevation 2540'


Camp at Bennett front country campground, elevation 2540'


Mileage Today: 14.2. Total mileage: 145.1


Possible bailout: Bennett Campground


Saturday, June 17, 2023

Hike 5.0 miles back to the CCC camp, elevation 1970'


End of hiking. Congratulations, you have just thru-hiked the Maah Daah Hey Trail!


Mileage Today: 5.0. Total mileage: 150.1


Possible bailout: CCC camp


Shuttle back to Dickinson


Check into local hotel (TBD)


We will retrieve your off-trail items from storage


"After" body composition measurements taken


Dinner and Awards ceremony at a local restaurant (cost of dinner not included in trip cost)


This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.


Sunday, June 18, 2023

Take Free Airport Shuttle or we will drop you at the airport or we wil pay for a shared cab/Uber


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