Mako Sica, “Land of the Bad” Day 2
Five thirty in the morning came earlier than wanted. But I crawled out of bed, and opened the curtains of my hotel room to discover it was still pitch-black outside. I quickly got dressed, gathered all my camera gear, and drove to Door Trail. The previous day I did some research to find out that this was a great spot to watch the sunrise over Mako Sica, which is the native name meaning “land bad,” and from where English speakers get the name “Badlands.” I followed the trail out into wind carved canyons, careful to watch my footing in the dark. A false step could have landed me in a lot of pain. After finding a spot that I thought would give me an excellent view facing east, I waited.
As I sat still, contemplating the beginning of a new day, I was overwhelmed by a deep silence. There were no sounds of cars or people, and even the wind was calm. It was a silence so quiet and empty, that it was in fact loud and full. It wrapped around me and drowned me in a peace-full tranquility. Out in the wild, away from all distractions, I basked in the glory of God’s holy presence. It was a moment of intimacy with my Creator that words just don’t give justice.
With the sun up in the skies, and clouds covering most of its rays, I packed up my gear and headed for breakfast. My plan to solo hike the twelve-mile Castle Trail today would require all the calories I could get. After stuffing down carbs and calories, I loaded my pack and began my trek around 9 am. Because of the rains that occurred last evening, my hike began under cloudy skies.
Thirty minutes into my journey, the clouds began to break up, and the sun shined through. At that point, I knew it was going to be a great day for landscape photography. There’s nothing like cumulus clouds to add drama to compositions.
I really couldn’t have asked for a better day for hiking and photographing. The temperature was a cool sixty degrees (f), and the wind dried any perspiration exerted while making the long trek. As in the quiet I found myself during the sunrise, my whole day was bombarded with a full silence. I only passed a few people along the way. The rest of the time, I was alone with God in the wild.
At six miles, I stopped in the shade of an overhanging spire to rest and replenish some calories. Cliff bars never tasted so good! Rested and refilled, I slung my pack back over my shoulders and pressed into what I knew was going to be the more difficult part of the trek. The return journey is always harder than the going.
9:00 am start, 5:00 pm finish. Twelve miles and who knows how many burned calories. But the eight hours in wild silence and scenery was totally worth it. After dinner and a good night of rest, I’ll be ready for Day three: the forty-mile loop drive in and through Badlands National Park.