Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday Vignette: Barren Beauty

I've been looking for some excuse to share these photos. Wednesday Vignette, hosted by Flutter & Hum, seems like the perfect venue to show you the picturesque wasteland of Badlands National Park, in South Dakota. These photos were taken in early April, when we stopped for a detour during my move back to Washington. The alien landscape of the Badlands are such a contrast from anything I've ever seen, terrifying and awe-inspiring in their jagged emptiness. But even here, life found a place. Grasses and prickly pears, insects, small birds, bighorn sheep and others all call the park home. I might be stretching the concept of Wednesday Vignette a bit by including so many pictures, but the rock formations were almost endlessly fascinating. Almost. After awhile, my eyes began to ache from the unrelenting sun shining off of the pale landscape, and it was time to cover more ground before stopping for the night. I did manage to narrow it down to these ten photos, at least. We reached the Badlands at just about the worst time of day, with the sun just about at its highest point. If I could teleport, I would go back just to take pictures at sunrise or sunset. The harsh daytime sun washed out most of the subtle reds, yellows, and other colors that would be brought out in the "golden hour," but as we drove through the park, we did find some spots with interesting shadows.



A short boardwalk takes visitors out onto the edge of a wide stretch in the badlands. Signs at the end warn more serious explorers of the lack of water and the ease of getting lost in the twists and folds of the landscape. Beyond the boardwalk was a maze of narrow gullies winding through the rock to the distant peaks.

Water and wind have carved the soft stone into myriad peaks and columns.

A welcome swath of thin cloud provided some variation in the otherwise oppressively-open sky. Most people would probably prefer a clear blue sky, but I've always been more at home with trees towering overhead or fog and clouds blanketing me in.

Does anyone else see the face in the rock? Perhaps a relative of the man on the moon?

This formation was especially striking to me, with the smaller triangular peaks fanning out at the base of the larger one.

Stepped pyramids top this formation, with a series of smaller peaks in front creating a winding path of light and shadow.

The face in the rock shares the Badlands with other creatures. Anyone see the Egyptian cat on the right with its back against the rocks?

Just to show that not all the residents of the park are mineral in nature, we did see a small herd of bighorn sheep. The ram was kind enough to pose for me. 



15 comments:

  1. I enjoyed seeing this without having to experience the heat that goes with doing so first hand.

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    1. That was the nice part, actually. Since this was in early April, it was just pleasantly warm. I'd hate to visit in summer.

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  2. Great pics! Could well be in Egypt, moon, or even Mars!

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    1. Thanks! I guess I can cross those places off my bucket list, then! lol

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  3. Such incredible shapes wrought by nature! The first picture brought to mind an Egyptian sphinx.

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    1. Alright! We've got a sphinx, The Mummy in the rock, and an Egyptian cat! Who knew South Dakota was so cultured?

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  4. What an amazing place! Thanks for sharing these. I do see the face, but it looks to me more like a relative of The Mummy.

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    1. Now all I can see is The Mummy! Isn't there a scene where he's a huge face in the sand or something? Or was that one of the sequels? Or maybe the Scorpion King?

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  5. Fascinating place! I have always wanted to visit, but have yet to do so. This was a great preview, and I will follow your example and go in the cooler season. I could totally hear you when you said "oppressively-open sky". I'm the same way - I don't like that exposed feeling of a too open landscape, other than in small portions, where I know I can leave. Great Vignette, Evan.

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    1. Ah! Someone who understands! If you can, visit so that you can see it around sunrise or sunset. I'd love to see those pictures.

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  6. This is a place of its own beauty. It would make me appreciate my comparatively lush landscape.

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    1. It really makes you appreciate the natural forces that shaped the formations. Beautiful in it's own right, it also makes you appreciate more lush regions.

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  7. This is a place of its own beauty. It would make me appreciate my comparatively lush landscape.

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  8. Holistic landscape. For native americans this is sacred ground.

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    1. I can see how such an awe-inspiring place would be considered sacred.

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