Today on my head…

Freshly returned (and thawed) from a trip West, today I am featuring a post from a special guest blogger, Mr. KnittingSarah. Enjoy!

20140126_071812On 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.20131122-100220.jpgThe 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.

black_pearl_whole_hat_medium2Being married to KnittingSarah has its perks.

20140127_083358The 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.20140127_090718Walking 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?20140127_085627Along the way, there are signs of wildlife everywhere.  Like this coyote print, frozen in the clay.20140127_104852After 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.20140127_132553The 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.20140128_120115This is a view from the top of the cliff surrounding the little plateau.  20140128_103701See the bighorn sheep in the distance  There was a small group sitting on the rise where the binoculars are pointed.

20140128_102115-1This is a pic from my camera shooting through the binoculars.  I love going deep into wild places and just feeling like I become a part of the landscape.

20140128_135656Another view of the plateau from the cliff rim looking west.  My tent is just visible in a clearing near the center of the picture.

20140127_140240-1Hands 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.

20140129_085027I learned a lot on this trip.  Like fording streams is much easier in winter when they are frozen.

20140129_074425And, that the things that leap fully formed from my wife’s needles take on a life of their own once they go out into the world. Like I said, it is a rather nice hat.

Happy adventures everybody!

Mr. KnittingSarah.

20 responses to “Today on my head…

  1. As a fellow backpacker,employee with the National Park Service and KAL member with Sarah, I enjoyed reading about your adventure to Badlands. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I think we have the same tent, but mine has been languishing in the basement for far too many years, sadly. What a great trip! It’s always heartwarming when the things we make with our hands for others are appreciated so fully. Enjoyed this post immensely.

  3. Wonderful to have such a supportive hubby. I do as well. He indulges my hobbies with frequent road trips. Enjoy what’s on your needles today. I love the socks you are working on over on IG

  4. Gosh, the landscape doesn’t even look like the same PLANET compared to the east coast. So cool. There’s a big part of me that wishes I was the extreme backpacking type, but it’s a little scary (and probably unsafe) to jump into with no experience, so I haven’t.

    • It truly is an amazing place! Start with smaller backcountry hikes if you want to get into it. The best way to be safe is to read up on the place you are going — understand the terrain as well as the wildlife & always feel free to talk with park rangers. Even extreme backpackers start somewhere. 🙂

  5. What a great post!!! And a great guy, I’m sure, to be appreciative of your work of love, like that! I’ll have to try to make that hat for my adventurous son, who would be climbing those steep cliffs, if he had been along. I think he’s planning a trip soon… 🙂 Beautiful photos!

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