MANDAN, N.D. (AP) – A group retracing the steps of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark moved into North Dakota on Friday, finding the weather nearly as much of a challenge as the explorers faced 200 years ago.

The group camped along the Missouri River south of Mandan with temperatures around 40 degrees and a brisk north wind that made it seem colder.

Scott Mandrell, an Alton, Ill., teacher who portrays Lewis, said the weather conditions seemed remarkably similar to those that greeted Lewis and Clark during the winter of 1804-05 as they made their way west.

“It’s still cold in North Dakota,” Mandrell said.

The re-enactors were dressed for the weather, in wool and buckskin.

Gary Ulrich, 65, of St. Louis, joined the expedition in May, portraying a crew member. He said the journey has been difficult at times.

“Remember, these guys – a lot of them were half our age,” Ulrich said of the original expedition.

Robert Frazier of West Virginia said the re-enactors were trying to stay within two days of the original journey. The river today is moving three times faster than it did 200 years ago, he said.

The re-enactors launched a replica 55-foot keelboat and two smaller boats from St. Charles, Mo., in May. The boats are equipped with modern engines.

“This has been hard going,” Frazier said. The original explorers, he said, were “men of iron.”

The South Dakota National Guard has helped the re-enactors portage through the river’s dams and given them support. On Friday, that job was turned over to the North Dakota National Guard.

No protesters were on hand at the site near Mandan. In South Dakota, Indian protesters confronted the re-enactors, saying they were celebrating a trip that led to the end of traditional Indian culture.

Mandrell said he spoke Thursday with the tribal council on the Standing Rock reservation, which borders North Dakota and South Dakota, and did not expect a protest.



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