Doc & Marty seeing me off on another journey to the North Unit
Coyotes on patrol
The flooding in the Little Missouri River last week rafted huge blocks of ice onto the floodplain adjacent to the campground. In reality, the campground is also on the floodplain, but on a tier that is a few inches higher than the part immediately by the river. As you walk from the campground toward the river, the trees abruptly stop and you step down a few inches into a wide plain with scrub brush that continues for about 100 yards or so until you reach the river channel. The river is much closer to the campsites on the southern loop, which is closed in the winter, and where the channel is somewhat deeper. It is in this scrubby plain between the other loop of the campground and the river that the water can go when it undergoes periodic flooding, and then into the campground in a serious flood. There were impressively large chunks of ice that, when covered by the fresh snow, looked as though they might have been boulders alongside a mountain creek. It was a little bit of an alien landscape, and a strange feeling to walk among the boulders of ice that aren't normally there.
I continued up the road and encountered a fairly large group of pronghorns in an area that typically doesn't have any large mammals in it. They're such a unique and interesting creature, the only surviving member of a family of ruminants called Antilocapridae that once lived across North America in prehistoric times. People often mistakenly refer to them as "antelope," when they are indeed an entirely different animal, just as people mistakenly call bison "buffalo." Having seen a variety of species of true antelope and true buffalo in Africa, I can tell you that they are not the same. Let's stop calling them colloquially antelope and buffalo, and give them the unique identity they deserve!