Freshly returned (and thawed) from a trip West, today I am featuring a post from a special guest blogger, Mr. KnittingSarah. Enjoy!
On a recent adventure, solo winter backpacking in Badlands National Park, I took along my favorite stocking cap. I have a lot of technical gear, but nothing keeps me warmer than this hat. And when one is solo adventuring, it is quite nice to have that constant reminder that somewhere there is someone who loves you enough to make you a rather nice hat like this.The tale of how this hat was made, has been told on one of KnittingSarah’s previous posts. I wanted to share a bit of how these objects take on life and have adventures after they leave the needles.
The wonder of Badlands is that there are no trails into the backcountry. It is up to you to chart your own course into the wilderness and wander where you like. The reason so few people do this, is that there is no drinkable water to be found. So, along with all your gear, you also need to pack in all the water you need. That works out to about a gallon per person per day. That’s a lot of extra weight to carry in on top of all the other necessary gear, so it really limits how many people trek in there.Walking in from the Conata Basin and heading for a high plateau known as Deer Haven, the temperature on my first day got all the way up to 12 degrees Fahrenheit, but with the wind it felt much colder. At night, it plunged down below 0. Having the right gear is key to enjoying a trip like this (let alone surviving it). Notice that rather nice hat?Along the way, there are signs of wildlife everywhere. Like this coyote print, frozen in the clay.After a long morning’s hike, I reached the juniper-rich plateau of Deer Haven and set up base camp. Not a bad view from the kitchen.The plateau is covered with scraggly juniper trees and they are bursting with frost covered berries even this late into winter. The berries are a source of food for several bird species. There were lots of over-wintering robins taking advantage of the abundant food and Townsend’s Solitaires which live on a diet entirely composed of the little berries. I learned how to take macro shots of vegetation from my wife, who often points out the little things I would otherwise miss.This is a view from the top of the cliff surrounding the little plateau. See the bighorn sheep in the distance There was a small group sitting on the rise where the binoculars are pointed.
Hands down, this was the funniest wildlife close encounter. This little guy was waddling his way through a clearing. I was able to sneak up on him and get some pretty cool pictures. Since porcupines have little to fear from predators, this one was content to just sit there and dare me to come closer. Wildlife doesn’t usually cooperate with a photographer like this.
Happy adventures everybody!