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Extreme hiking in the badlands, and a cool discovery.





ocalhoun
Just last weekend I decided to do some cross-country hiking in the Badlands national park. That's actually an ambitious goal in itself, given the terrain there, but I decided to try to get to one of the peaks there. Here's the story:

My path starts off relatively easy; all I have to contend with is small mounds, melting snow, and extremely slick mud created by the melting snow.


I get the first good look at my goal, the peak in the center of this picture:


As I progressed further on, this is the last time I was able to see my jeep before coming back. From there on, I had to use whatever navigational skills I had to get back to it. It is the little black object in the center of the photo:


My hike becomes a little less easy at this point; now I have to do more zig-zagging to avoid obstacles:


Still, this is a good path to follow. Because of how steep it gets around here sometimes, it is impossible to make a straight-line path:


Then, my chosen path starts to get a little complicated; I have to backtrack occasionally:


Around now is when I realize how desolate a place this can be. I'm glad I packed emergency food and water in my backpack:


Then my path starts to actually get challenging; I sometimes have to spend time planning my route, and occasionally have to make a risky jump over a gully:


About here is where I spotted one of the many tiny caves that are all over the place here. Most don't go very far in at all, but who knows?


I scramble up and take a look inside:


After that, the trail becomes a real challenge; I'm using hands and knees sometimes:


An example of the obstacles I faced; on the way in, I straddled my way over the top with one foot on either side, but on the way back I was more tired, so I walked through the mud at the bottom and squeezed through:


I then get a view of the final ascent to my destination; it doesn't look easy... what path would you choose? I chose the one to the left, leading towards that tree:


As I near the top, the path becomes an extreme challenge; at this point I'm almost always on hands and knees, while sometimes sprawled out using my whole arms, legs, and any handy vegetation for traction:


As you might guess, I'm very aware of the danger of falling at this point. There is absolutely nothing here that can be trusted to hold your weight; the clay/rocks crumble and the bushes sometimes are dead and will pull right out or break easily. That's bad enough climbing a small incline, but its a long way down from here:


As I try to plan my route onwards, I make a very interesting discovery. This whole area is a very rich fossil bed, and I've now made my own find:


Only a few more yards upwards, the path becomes absolutely impossible without climbing gear I don't have, so I decide to stop at this point:


So, I come to terms with the fact that this is as high as I'm going to go:


Still, I'm rewarded with some spectacular views from the top. It gives an idea of how isolated it is here that despite my huge field of view here, the only sign of civilization I can spot is a small part of the road I came in on. If you look near the center of the photo, you can spot the cave from an earlier picture:



I then return back the way I came, using a controlled slide to get down most of the last parts.
In all, it took me over 4 hours to travel less than 2 miles.
jiangshan
very wonderful pictures!I wonder how did you take these pictures?
Fatality
That looks like an awesome adventure. I particularly like how you layout the pictures as in a way to tell the story. Nice work. I myself have been to the Badlands a few times just on vacation, but have never attempted anything such as this. I'm there to camp and never thought to make a day of adventuring. I usually just play around the hills and mound near where we park. Thanks a lot for sharing the journey with us.
ocalhoun
Fatality wrote:
That looks like an awesome adventure. I particularly like how you layout the pictures as in a way to tell the story. Nice work. I myself have been to the Badlands a few times just on vacation, but have never attempted anything such as this. I'm there to camp and never thought to make a day of adventuring. I usually just play around the hills and mound near where we park. Thanks a lot for sharing the journey with us.

You should try it if you go there again; its a lot of fun.
jiangshan wrote:
very wonderful pictures!I wonder how did you take these pictures?

I have a ruggedized, impact resistant and waterproof camera. (While there I found out it is mud resistant as well.) Its nice to know that if I dropped the camera while at the top there, and it rolled down the slope and ended up in the stream, that I could go down and find it, then keep using it.
Hogwarts
ocalhoun wrote:
I have a ruggedized, impact resistant and waterproof camera. (While there I found out it is mud resistant as well.) Its nice to know that if I dropped the camera while at the top there, and it rolled down the slope and ended up in the stream, that I could go down and find it, then keep using it.


Hehe. I have the same camera as you (if you still have the same one as when you posted those attemps of you trying to get a picture of a fish Smile)

Maybe you could geotag your photos and map your route/include the photos on Google Maps? Something like this would be useful
dickyzin
Nice photos and very nice place for hiking! It's very isolated and I love the bones and fossils. Great post.
Ghost900
Nice Photo story, those are some really great images.
Those fossils must have been cool to see. I imagine that must have been a fun four hours.

Did you take a GPS or something with you so you knew where you were and where your car was so that you could get back to your car?

Thanks for sharing the photos, quite an adventure. Very Happy
ocalhoun
Ghost900 wrote:
Nice Photo story, those are some really great images.
Those fossils must have been cool to see. I imagine that must have been a fun four hours.

Did you take a GPS or something with you so you knew where you were and where your car was so that you could get back to your car?

Thanks for sharing the photos, quite an adventure. Very Happy

I took a GPS for safety's sake, but didn't need it. I did use it to mark the location of that fossil though, so I'm glad I brought it.
Possum
Great Pictures..

What do you think the fossil is.

What Fossils are usually found in the bad lands and what age do they usually come from.

I would love a Google earth Link to where you are..

Cheers Possum..
ocalhoun
Possum wrote:
Great Pictures..

What do you think the fossil is.

What Fossils are usually found in the bad lands and what age do they usually come from.

I would love a Google earth Link to where you are..

Cheers Possum..


The fossils in the badlands are nearly all pre-ice age mammals. The one here is either a very early ancestor of the horse (back when they had three toes), or a tapir-like animal, not enough is showing to know which.

If you are really interested in the exact location of this specific one, the best I can give you would be some very approximate GPS coordinates. Otherwise, just do a search for badlands national park.
legion
Wow. Great area to visit. I wonder how the sunrise looks there Cool
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