Badlands National Park South Dakota, what a treat. Having never been to the Badlands, I had no idea what to expect. Being from New Jersey, all I know of “Badlands” is a Bruce Springsteen song, which remained stuck in my head most of the day while hiking. Badlands…ohhh ohhh badlands, these badlands have treated us good. I took lots of pictures of the unique geography, but it is one of those places that must be seen to be fully appreciated.
The park also has its share of wildlife. We saw big horn sheep, mountain goats, very large birds, hawks, I think, and of course more prairie dogs. Although we spent most of the day hiking and visiting many scenic overlooks, the most memorable and challenging trail was “The Notch” which features a giant wooden ladder supported by thick metal cables laid up the side of a steep incline to help hikers navigate to the higher elevations. The signs at the trail head all warned that this would be a challenging hike and not for the faint of heart or those with any fear of heights.
While the views and the hike were a bit dangerous it was also most rewarding. After scaling the ladder and working our way around the steep cliffs to big wide-open vista at the end of the trail we turned and headed back. On our way back I was a little worried about the decent down the ladder. Climbing up is always easier than climbing back down.
As we approached the most dangerous cliff on the trail, we waited for hikers coming from the other direction to clear the edge of the cliff as there is barely enough room for one person on the ledge at a time and no guard rails. This is where we found inspiration. A family of four, a mom dad, and two small children, a boy and a girl were coming around the cliff in the opposite direction. The mother held the little girls hand. The father held the little boys hand. The boy was friendly and polite and so happy, not a care in the world. He had just ascended the ladder and walked around the steepest of cliffs. What made this boy amazing is that he is blind. He navigated this treacherous path guided by his faith in his parents. And the parents, they seemed pretty amazing as well. We talked for a minute or two then I asked if they would mind posing for a photo. They obliged. This, this is my inspiration from Guatemala. I am honored to have met this family.