Day 6: Badlands and a Ranch (Beth)

As we were out and about town today, we met up with some awesome folks from the area: Gerald and Sharla.  Gerald is a rancher and he and Ryan hit it off like they were old friends.  He and his wife ended up inviting us up to their ranch. As I understand it, first he had to go move his cattle to another pasture and that worked out because we still needed to get to the Badlands, our whole reason for this stop in SD!  So we all parted ways and were reunited later on…

The Badlands are awesome!  I remember my Dad taking us on a trip to the Badlands when I was a kid and all I could remember was a split second of one of the views so this was almost like seeing them all again for the first time.  Here are some shots:

Looking over the Badlands

Ryan gathering momentum for the steep path back up

This was my favorite section.

The loop that you can ride to get a good view of them all is approximately 20 miles long and everywhere you look is another fabulous view!   You can’t tell in these pictures, but the general layout of the Badlands is particularly unique.  Imagine a spiral staircase with 5 steps, give or take.  We started out on the top step, and from that step we could see the “badlands” or “badland formations” below.  Well, if you keep driving the loop down, you find yourself on a lower step/plain, and from that plain you see the land dip down again to show you yet more formations.  Imagine this happening several different times and each step was a variation on a theme.  Sometimes the mounds were sharp and looked like ancient castle ruins; sometimes they looked like someone took a nail file to them and painted them with stripes of red.  We enjoyed the loop so much, I believe we rode through it three times.  Great experience!

Now back to our previous storyline.  After the Badlands we headed straight for Gerald and Sharla’s ranch.  We got there around maybe 5ish and I think we didn’t leave until 9:30 or 10pm.  They were so friendly and hospitable!  We sat around and talked for a long time, then they showed us around their ranch.  Sharla was telling me that her grandfather was a homesteader in 1908 and settled on land only a few miles away from where they are now.   We got back to their house after the tour and Sharla fed us dinner too!

Just before dinner Gerald pulled up some pictures of their recent cattle branding and filled me in on the basics of the process.  Really interesting.  Didn’t realize this, but SD requires branding by law.  There’s no chance of theft that way.  If you tag an animal, the tags are easy to swap out.  This month seems to be the branding month and everyone pitches in for the process at their neighbor’s ranches.

By the time we set out to go, it was dark and they were worried about us getting back safely on the gravel roads so late at night. They insisted on us taking their car back into town and just coming back in the morning to pick up the bike. What gracious and giving people!

Seriously, anyone else want to move to SD?

This is Gerald riding in the bed of their truck helping to give us a tour.

Their horses

Our gracious hosts.

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