Monday, September 17, 2012

The Badlands

My original plan was to spend a couple of days at the Badlands.  When I was there in 1979 it was more of a drive-by visit and I don't remember much.  I wanted to spend a couple of days camping and hiking in the area.

I arrived a couple of hours before sunset.  Looking over the Badlands.  To the right are the highlands and the left the lowlands.   The dark area in upper left is the strap to my camera, I think.  I was having problems with it and wasn't paying attention to the strap.

A slightly different angle.

Walking into the Badlands.

After a short distance, the boardwalk ended and you were able to just walk through the area.  It was filled with gullies and mounds of dirt.

Looking back the way I'd come.

Looking into one of the gullies.  Erosion is the key force here.  Every year this erodes a bit more and things change just a little bit.

Looking back to the west.  Here a couple of people have climbed to the top of a ridge.

The moon rising over the Badlands.

The moon again.

I drove into the campground and picked a camping spot, then headed back to the amphitheater for the ranger talk.  It was on the skies over the Badlands and there was a full moon walk scheduled afterwards.  Like in Grand Teton, this was limited to a certain number of people.  Like in Grand Teton, I didn't have a pass, but I tagged along anyways.

The walk was interesting.  Unfortunately, between the above picture and the ranger program, it clouded up and became overcast.  It was still fairly light, but not the brilliant full moon kind of night they were hoping for.  As we returned to the amphitheater, the clouds broke up and the sky was clear again.

The walk didn't go as far as I thought it would.  At the end we had about 5 minutes to walk about.  I headed off in one direction at the head of a group of people and jumped back when a stick about 5 feet buzzed at me and took off.  It was the first rattlesnake I'd seen.  I called attention to it and it climbed up a rock formation and curled into a coil watching us.

It was between the talk and the walk that I decided I would be leaving in the morning.  It was scheduled to be 105 the next day.  Since the pictures I wanted were in the morning and evening, I knew that for most of the day I'd probably sit in my car with the AC running to keep cool.  I figured that wasn't worth it. 

Since it was now dark, I decided to just pull into the overlook I'd passed earlier and just sleep in my car.  I let the fan run for a bit while I sat watching the moon and fell asleep.  When I woke up, the battery was low enough that I couldn't start the car.

The view I woke up to the next morning.

Since it was early and the visitor center wasn't open, I decided to walk the loop that was at the over look.  I saw these deer.

While cautious and not as fearless as the deer I'd seen elsewhere, they still didn't mind me much.

The Badlands.

The road through the Badlands.  I followed this to the visitor center.

Sunrise over the Badlands.

The view from the visitor center.

Just a closeup of the same rock structure above.

These cabins are available for rent, I believe, and are near the visitor center.  It wasn't open so I spent an hour or so wandering around the area.

The sun had risen a bit and the colors were starting to change.

After getting a jump from one of the park LEOs, I headed west. (I'd come in through the park's east entrance.)  The cloud cover gave a softness to the light that I did not capture well.

Looking over the Badlands.

The Yellow Mounds.  I didn't wander far from the parking lot.  It was already in the mid 80s and I had a long day ahead of me. 

The Yellow Mounds.

Some people walking atop the Yellow Mounds.

Again, from pretty much the same spot.  The light changed a little bit and the colors brightened a bit.

Near the west end of the Badlands looking west.  The road continued to the west, and I really wanted to visit it as I was told that was where there was more wildlife, but I was getting tired of being in the car.  It was going to be hot and I wanted to get home. I made it to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border where I spent the night with friends.  In less than 48 hours, I would be home.

Just before turning north.  The town of Wall, South Dakota, home of the famous Wall Drug, is north of the west entrance.

One last look before turning for home.

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