Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Shaking Bum in a Bad Land

The Badlands (Saturday, June 13th – Day 3)

After we completed our short hike with the Ranger that culminated the year-long wait for their Badland Junior Ranger badges, we did the unthinkable.

We took a drive.

In spite of the interesting scenery, you can well imagine that the children had an interest in another hike.

“Can we please, please, please, climb a mountain, Mom?”

I took Andrew and Gladys up a small ‘badland’ near the campsite, while Jay prepared dinner (and George probably colored at the table). If you are a Ranger reading this, please know that it was that little hill beside the amphitheater that is climbed every evening by evening program watchers. My Junior Rangers would never climb a badland that was outside of a trail. The kids yell at me if I get off the trail to take their picture.

It doesn't really look that steep.

But, it is pretty steep. That is our truck down below.
The hike was very short. I promised them a ‘better hike’ before we left for Yellowstone the next day.

I promise.

Sunday, June 14th – Day 4

We had a full breakfast that morning in the camper. After Gladys and Andrew came back from throwing away the trash, we drove to the Notch Trail.

I probably should have read this sign more carefully before we started. On the other hand, we could have followed the GPS and read our gas gauge as well.

Gladys and Andrew bounded off down the canyon. I ran after them snapping pictures and barely finding my footing. Within minutes, Jay and George were left in our badland dust.

When the fairly narrow canyon took a left and became narrower, the trail turned right up a log-and-wire ladder to the top of the ridge.

Gladys and Andrew scrambled up the ladder.

That is Jay and George at the bottom of the ladder.

I followed fairly close behind Andrew once it became steep, encouraging him up the tall stairs until he was hoisting himself up the log ladder, one rung at a time. He seemed fine. Gladys dangled her legs down at us from the ridge until we made it to her level.

Andrew looked at me with an unusual expression.

“Mom, my bum is shaking,” he said with a nervous giggle.

“Are you a little nervous, Andrew?”

“No. My bum is just shaking.”

“Maybe you should sit down here until it stops,” I recommended.

It was a steep cliff. Andrew was born and raised in the flat lands of Ohio – with a mother who likely pleaded for him to 'please be careful' every 3 minutes for the first couple years of his life.

Now, in spite of his stoic bravery, his bum shook with fear.

He did sit for a moment, but his enthusiasm for the hike and a wellspring of bravery he probably never knew he had kept him pushing just a little farther down the path. We did continue a short distance down the knife-edge cliff, but it soon became very narrow and I became concerned for safety. The rocks were quite loose. Andrew could have fallen from fear (I was concerned he would succumb to it eventually) – Gladys would have fallen due to fearlessness.

We could see Jay and George looking down the canyon, but I don't believe you can pick them out in the picture above. That is the trail we hiked.

"Daddy's waiting with George, let's go back."

We returned to the ladder. Andrew seemed a little nervous, in spite of his claims to the contrary, so I backed down the ladder in front of him one rung at a time. I went back up for Gladys and helped her down in the same way. She had to hang from one knee in order to reach all the way to the next rung with her other foot.

They bounded back down the trail, proud of their ascent to the summit.

It was 11am in South Dakota. Our next stop longer than 20 minutes would be in Western Wyoming, long after dark.

While we were on the cliff, George had fun with his Dad. He jumped streams, found flowers, animal tracks, and discovered some unusual cliff-dwelling birds.


Badass Geek said...

I hate it when my bum shakes. =)

Brigette said...

Those are some gorgeous pictures -- and that is one steep trail!

Indy said...


*Moi* said...

Oh, wow. That's so funny! I especially liked George jumping over the stream!

Flea said...

Good night Irene! And what adorable wee feet! I think I would have swallowed my tongue, watching my kids crawl a mountain face like that. You're one tough mom!

AreWeThereYet? said...

You earned the "mother of the year" badge of honor for 1) allowing them to ascend up the huge ladder trail, and 2) for patiently walking them down it, one at a time. My bum is shaking for you and all I had to do was read your post! AMAZING!!!