Today started off perfect. We woke up around 5 AM and caught a fantastic sunrise. The pictures of which are actually on yesterday's blog post. The morning meal consisted of some coffee and a package of oatmeal. We then milled around the campsite for a bit to wait for the morning sun to burn off the dew. It took a few hours and by the time the dew was gone the clouds rolled in. We were planning on hiking for a few hours, but because of an impending storm we cut it short and only walked around for about an hour. It was worth it though because we were able to see two pronghorn antelopes grazing in the meadow. Once we got done with our walk we packed up camp and headed to downtown Pierre to do some writing and upload some pictures. Unfortunately, everything is closed on Sunday in Pierre. That made our next choice apparent. Off to the Badlands for the next leg off our journey.
It was a long and rainy drive, but we made it to Wall, SD. Home of Wall Drug. A giant tourist shop, which also happens to have wifi. We decided to set up shop in the back cafe. Right night to their animatronic dinosaur exhibit. It made for an interesting four hours of working.
At this point in the trip the only thing I'm concerned about is our budget. Of the $2200 we had remaining for the trip we spent a little over $500 in the first six days. The majority of that was on gas, but I feel like we could conserve a little bit more. I'm of the firm belief that if we can be a little more conservative in the beginning we can splurge a little more at the end. I think we could cut down on some of the extras we're buying for dinner. Ideally I think if we can keep our food bills in the range of $12 for lunch and $15 to $20 for dinner we'll be fine. I've talked to Connor about it briefly and he's not as concerned. It will probably end up being an non-issue now that we are slowing down and staying in the same place for a few days. I think if I were to go back and do it again I would try and budget a per day cost for the first week or so. I would have allowed us to have something to follow.
I want to finish off this post with the best part of the day. After the rain tapered off we left Wall Drug to set up camp at Sage Creek campground in Badlands National Park. While pitching our tent we were visited by an overly friendly buffalo. Apparently, this whole area is filled with them. It's amazing to see use a large beast at such a close range. I look forward to having more encounters with them as we hike over the next few days.
Today we went on our first long hike. We started off from our camp at Sage Creek in the Badlands and wandered around the countryside for around five hours. Hiking in the plains is very different from hiking in a forest. You can see where you're going and where you've been at pretty much all times. You can also just venture off the path and chart your own path. In the woods doing something like that is a little more tricky. During the trip I compiled a map by taking our GPS location every 10 or so minutes. Along with that data I took the elevation and a quick note about what we experienced. You'll find a link to that map below along with some pictures from the hike.
LINK: Badlands Hike Map #1
For the first time all trip we stayed in the same place for two days. It was a nice change of pace to be able to relax at night and in the morning. The only thing that happened that was out of place was a close encounter last night with a buffalo. At around 9:20 Connor and I were in the tent getting ready to sleep and a grazing buffalo decided to eat the grass about 5 feet away from our tent. It was like being in a monster movie. All you could hear were the sounds of it breathing and chewing. It was strange having such a large beast so close to you. The real treat though was right before it wondered off it took a huge dump right behind our tend. This caused an uproar of laughter from the others people at the campground.
After sleeping through that we woke up to a slow morning packed up and headed out for a hike in the more rocky region of the Badlands.A like to route we took can be found below. The only major note from the hike was how hot and tiring it was. We were pretty much wiped afterwards.
The last experience of the day involved a quick stop to the Minuteman Missile Historic Site. This region of South Dakota was at one point full of nuclear missiles during the Cold War. The tours were full, but we were able to drive up to a silo with a training missile in it.
Our day wrapped up with a short drive to Rapid City, SD for a much needed night in a hotel to was some clothes and recharge before we tackle the Black Hills,
LINK: Badlands Hike Map #2