Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Badlands National Park near Wall, South Dakota

Hi all, Dianne here.  Another spot we wanted to revisit from our early 1980s trip west was Badlands National Park near Wall, South Dakota.

  One of our favorite all-time vacation photos occurred on that trip, when we weathered a severe thunderstorm in our pop-up camper and were rewarded with a fantastic rainbow as the skies cleared.

This year as we toured the Badlands we had a perfect day to explore; sunny, 70s, gentle breeze.  We packed a picnic lunch and headed out to take several short hikes in the park.

Much of the scenery looked as we remembered from our earlier trip; the difference this time was that we could hike without meeting the needs of two little girls. 

 Gotta say, though, that that trip is etched into our memories as an all-time favorite, for obvious reasons!

Roger will now describe the Notch Hike that we both started and he finished without me, and why!

Roger here...  Ah, the Notch Hike.   We had already taken two short hikes on the east end of the park.  Both provided wonderful views and opportunities to walk on the formations.  Fun.  

However, I was wanting something a little more challenging.  The Notch Hike departed from the same parking area.  It was only a one-mile round trip jaunt, but the literature said that it was a moderate to strenuous hike.  It also said that people with a fear of heights and small children should pass.  Unfortunately, Dianne read the description before we departed.  She has a fear of heights, and a definite fear of ladders.  I knew that there was a ladder on the trail, but since it was not free-standing and bolted directly to the rock, I didn't think it would be an issue.  

After some mutual fussing, Dianne agreed to start the hike with the understanding that if she saw something she did not like, she would go back.  Fair enough.  

Off we went.  The first part of the hike was on a canyon floor and reasonably flat -- a little hopping over some of the formations and some mud, but nothing major.

Then we arrived at the ladder.  As you can see, it was not steep at the bottom, but became much steeper at the top.

Dianne decided that I should go first.  She followed behind.  As I neared the top, the ladder started to sway with each of my steps.  Dianne did not like this.  She told me that I needed to finish before she went any further.  I scampered on up and looked down.  Dianne took a couple more steps, then said, "I can't do this."  She told me to go ahead.  I felt badly, but knew of her fear and knew that she would be much happier waiting back at the parking lot.  I went back down to meet her half-way to retrieve the camera, then climbed back to the top and snapped this picture of her making her retreat.

After walking a few minutes, and turning a corner, I looked down at the trail below and watched Dianne until she disappeared from view.  If you look closely at the center of the picture.  The dot of pink color is Dianne.

I moved pretty slowly on the upper portion of the hike.  Much of it was right on the edge of a vertical drop with only 3 feet of pathway, sometimes covered with loose gravel.  

Dianne would have been miserable.  I am so glad that she turned back when she did.  I found it exhilarating, but I must admit to being a little nervous and more careful of my footing than usual.  

The trail went up and down along the canyon edge.
I spent quite a bit of time on all fours, either climbing or crab-walking -- not trusting my balance near the edge of the cliff. 

Eventually, the "Notch" became visible in the distance.  The final walk to the notch was veered away from the canyon drop.  Whew.

The expansive view was of the green valley below. It took three tries to get all of my head in the self-photo below.
Back at the ladder, I talked with several people about the treacherous sections ahead, including one family with three kids.  I am guessing that they were all under the age of eight.  Very scary.

Dianne again....  We saw some fabulous scenery that day, way too many photos to include in the blog.  Something neither of us remembered from our prior trip were the beautiful colors of the hills on the west end of the park.  We decided that we must not have made it that far into the park in the 1980s.  Here are two more of my favorite photos from this area:

For the complete slideshow of all photos from that day, here's the link to my Photobucket Badlands album:

Of course, no trip to Wall, South Dakota is complete without a kitschy trip into Wall Drug.  Our visit there in the 1980s trip produced an indelible, favorite family memory:  We let each girl pick out a souvenir there, and Amanda (our animal lover) picked out a flocked prairie dog bank.  She LOVED that bank (never used it as a bank).  She slept with it, played with it, and kept it for years, long after all the flocking had worn off.  Roger and I hoped to find one and send it to her in Florida, just for old times' sake, but alas, the only flocked banks now are buffalo or "jackalo" banks; just not the same!  

Here's a photo of Amanda on that trip with her precious prairie dog.  No souvenir this time, but through the wonders of technology, with my iPhone I was able to send her a snapshot text message as we walked through the prairie dog village back at Devil's Tower with a "Wish you were here."  I got an "Awww, me too" text back from that one.

The pet photo of the day is entitled "Some cats have all the luck."  This motor home was parked next to us here at the Sleepy Hollow RV park in Wall.  Check out the outdoor pen they attached to the outside of their motorhome for their two cats.  To say Charlie was jealous is an understatement, to say the least!


Mike and Terri said...

Spectacular scenery, but I'm with you Dianne. I'm petrified of heights and wouldn't have been able to do that hike. Kudos to you Roger.

Nancy and Bill said...

Ok Rocky...enough of that 'living on the edge' stuff;o))

Beautiful pictures...hard to think of such beauty as The Badlands!!

Malone said...

Loved your post today! Those photos of all that gorgeous clear sky were balm to eyes that have seen way too much rainy gray this spring, although now at last it is sunny here as well.

Gin and Syl said...

Beautiful shots but I'm with you Dianne. Those ladders look a bit questionable too.