Hiking in 100 degree heat ...

Trip Start Jun 29, 2010
Trip End Apr 07, 2012

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Where I stayed
The Pine Ridge Reservation

Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Friday, July 23, 2010

After another long night drive we woke up to see the sunrise over Badlands – which was an incredible sight. We set up camp on the roadside and spent the first few minutes trying to wake up whilst  cutting fruit for the breakfast feast. 

The plan for the day was a hike across the Badlands National Park which we thought sounded cool, that was until we realised it was a 6 mile hike in 100 degree heat!  Needless to say we packed up lots of supplies and headed out with full enthusiasm just as the bus headed around to meet us on the other side.  One third of the way across we started to run into rattle snakes ... our first reaction was to freeze and start screaming.  We were later told, when you see a snake you are meant to stamp your feet on the ground as the vibrations scare them off!  This information has been banked as we're sure to come across a few more on our travels.  Never having been hiking before, we’ve never had to follow a trail, but we embraced the challenge and really enjoyed it.  Something we saw throughout the hike which was great were the carins.  These are piles of stones stacked on top of each other, created by hikers to help future hikers follow the trail.  It was so nice to see as there were a few sections where it was difficult to see the trail post, but we could work out the direction by following the cairns.  We commented that that sort of thing would never work at home as you’d get a ASBO wielding youth moving them just to be 'funny’.  Throughout the hike, we took some great shots and made our mark for others to see on their way past!  Eventually we arrived at the finish in a very respectable 2hrs 15mins.  Annabelle has now found a passion for hiking so we both look forward to future hikes on the trip.

We then headed to the local town of Wall which is famous for its Wall drug Store, an endless string of gift stores all under one roof, and as our driver says, ‘is a huge pie of Americana ...’ (when we quote our driver you have to imagine a bleach blonde tall guy who sounds like bill and ted).  The store  practically takes up the full length of the street.  We indulged by securing a magnet and postcard and had a nice cooling ice-cream.  We had parked the bus in a local park which had a pool so we were able to take  a quick dip in before heading on to our camping spot for the night.

We arrived at the Pine Ridge Reservation which is the 2nd largest Indian reservation in the US.  So the story goes, about 35 years ago the founder of Green Tortoise broke down in the reservation on their way back from Badlands.  A native American family helped feed and look after them for a few days, until they could back up their supplies and the tours have stopped there since.  Now it was our turn.  When we heard we were going to be eating at an Indian Reservation we were so excited.  We expected tipi’s, half naked people wearing feathers and Chief Wallabo coming out to meet us.  One too many Cowboy films possibly?!?!?  The reality was quite a bit different.  We arrived at a very windy shack on the side of the road in the middle of a prairie and waiting for the family to arrive.  We eventually saw a truck and a car heading towards us – this seemed normal until the drivers came into view.  The truck was being driven by an 8 year old boy and the car by an 11 year old girl.  Incredible!!!  The boy could hardly see above the steering wheel.  The menu was beef or refried bean taco’s ... both of which we delicious followed up with brownies and sponge cake – all homemade.  It was a lovely meal, it was just unfortunately there seemed to be a 100mph gale trying to sweep our dinner plates away.  After a quick trip to the open roofed porta loo we hoped back on the bus to make our way the 1 mile to the camp ground. 

We arrived in another field, this one a little less windy which had knee high grass, buffalo poop and a huge fire pit – very nice for our camp fire (the pit not the poop).  Fortunately, Colin & Susan had picked up a tent for us at a store in Chicago as the night drives had become so intensive we needed to get some space from everyone.  We put up our tent in good time and made it like a home from home.  The only downside being that there was no river to jump in and the grass seemed to stick to every part of you as you walked, it especially liked our socks (it took us 2 days to pull it all out!!!)

We had good fun at the camp fire that night as we got a group together for some drinking games.  We introduced the ‘Vegetable’ game and the ‘Humming’ game – both of which were hilarious.  But  the funniest moment being when Gary had to keep ‘drinking while thinking’.  As he lost concentration far too often the vodka and coke from his water bottle almost knocked him out!  A highlight if the evening came at 4am, when Annabelle heard the call of nature – after walking Chris up as she was scared they both went outside (after a 5 minute issue with Annabelle losing her contact lens, but finding stuck to the side of the tent) we both looked up to see a sky full of stars.  They were so bright and beautiful there was no need for a torch.  It was one of those moments where we appreciated, more than ever, what we are doing. 
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Geraldine on

Annabelle, I am loving this. I look forward to reading your blogs because I feel almost as if I were there!!! They make up for only going to Scotland this summer - though we will catch some of the fringe. Keep up the great work.xxx

Kankle on

You're always onto a winner with the humming game!!! Xxx

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