For those of you longing for a “Best Hikes With Dogs – North Dakota” book, wait no longer. Susan Wefald, recently released her guidebook, “Spectacular North Dakota Hikes – Bring the Dog.” No word on why the good folks at Mountaineer Books didn’t get to Susan first (as they don’t have a North Dakota book yet) but here’s an article published in the Bismark Tribune with more details on her latest hiking publication:
The book is a profile of the best places to go hiking across the state, covering 50 hikes organized by eight regions. Of the 50 hikes, 43 allow leashed dogs to accompany the walker, which was a good thing for Wefald whose trusted goldendoodle, Sandy, accompanied her on her adventures and took a starring role in the publication.
“Sandy is such a special part of my hiking experiences,” Wefald said. “I knew other dog owners would enjoy learning about all of the wonderful places they can go hiking with their dogs.”
As part of her position on the PSC, Wefald drove across the state for 16 years, and in that time she saw many hiking opportunities. Unfortunately, she never had a chance to stop.
“As I was driving around, I would see all these state parks that I really wanted to stop at,” Wefald said. “And I never had the time.”
Retirement changed all that, and Wefald suddenly had plenty of time to pursue her passion. She and her husband, Bob Wefald, enjoy hiking not just across the state, but across the nation and even other countries. As they explored different parks and trails, Wefald noticed a lack of information to accompany the trails in North Dakota.
“If we would go to Oregon, I would get the hiking book for Oregon,” Wefald said. “I realized that there really was no book like that for North Dakota.”
That prompted Wefald to embark on writing her own North Dakota hiking book, a process that involved not only visiting and hiking trails across the state, but compiling research and writing about her experiences. Wefald would head out with Sandy in tow, bringing along a sack lunch and her notebook to hike and to record her experiences.
“As soon as I got home (from a hike) I would type (my notes) up on my computer, and then I’d have that rough draft,” Wefald said. “Then I’d go on another hike.”
As she hiked, Wefald would look for “spectacular hikes” that either offered a special view, varied terrains or a chance to experience North Dakota’s natural prairie.
“I think it’s important for people to see all the beauty North Dakota has to offer,” Wefald said.
With each hike in the book, Wefald includes basic information on the trail, practical information on terrain and elevation, a trail map, area attractions and information, and her own personal notes on the hike.
“I learned a lot by writing the book,” Wefald said. “And I included details that I thought would be interesting to the general public.”
Wefald also worked with the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department to gather information about various state parks and trails.
“She came in early on to see what help we could give her,” public information officer Gordon Weixel said.
Overall, the task of researching, hiking, writing and editing the book took about 2 and 1/2 years, and she received the last proof in the middle of July. The editing process and the process of developing uniformly styled maps for each trail, sometimes requiring Wefald and map-maker, Tom Marple, to start from nothing more than a Google Maps image, took almost as long as the original writing process. Those challenges, Wefald said, were the most difficult part of producing the book.
But she said it was all worth it.