Greg Hatten visits Badlands National Park

img_4280Ed. note: Our friend Greg Hatten took a small detour to Badlands on his way home from Oregon this year. And since our #pendle10park explorer has shown us so many photos of spires and stacks, we thought we’d share Greg’s beautiful prairie shots, as the prairie is a huge part of this beautiful South Dakota park. Enjoy!

In the Badlands National Park, there is a Wilderness Area where bison, coyotes, prairie dogs, and snakes make their homes. You can be a guest there and share this space with them – at least for a night or two.

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Look closely; there be prairie dogs in this photo.

img_4291We love the bison here, but we also love the national park stickers on Greg’s windshield. These were an enticement to the early motorists traveling from park to park. Like this (this is not Greg, though):

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Now, back to Greg’s story in the present day.

It’s the primitive camping area at Sage Creek in the North Unit of the park and if you take the rutted dusty “rim road” on the north side of the Badlands park you will find it – tucked between the gentle bluffs and rolling hills of buffalo grass in South Dakota – just southeast of Rapid City and the Black Hills.

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As I pulled into the area, it was a warm day for October and the only signs of life were a couple of bison calmly grazing who didn’t even look up as I rolled by in my FJ Cruiser pulling my little wooden boat. A ring-necked rooster pheasant was quite a bit more shy but still curious about the sound of loose gravel crunching beneath the tires. My window was down and I took a quick photo just before he put his head down and disappeared in the tall grass.

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While there are no rivers to “float” in the Badlands, I was towing my boat through the park on my way to the midwest for a little off-season repair work. I’m so used to camping next to the boat on the river, it somehow seemed to “fit” in this rustic setting. If nothing else, I figured it would be a nice wind break for my campsite. I picked a level spot for the tent that was in-between buffalo “pies” that were stale and crusty and no longer smelled. The canvas tent blended with the terrain and when camp was “set”, I pulled out my lap-top and did some late afternoon writing as the sun set and the temperatures started dropping.

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Greg’s post has a lot of beautiful photos and much more story. Read the rest here: Find Your Park in a Wooden Boat: Badlands

See Pendleton’s Badlands National Park items here: SHOP BADLANDS

 

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Volunteer Profile: Paul Ogren for the Badlands National Park

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Ed. Note: Our Badlands volunteer was nominated by Katie Johnston, Executive Director for Badlands Natural History Association. She wrote a charming letter to us about Paul Ogren, who works at the park’s front desk and in a variety of park programs. Katie’s words follow.

Dear Pendleton,

When you inquired about notable volunteers, an instant smile came across my face as I thought of Paul Ogren, a volunteer we have here at Badlands NP.

I grew up in the Badlands. My grandmother was in my current position here at the Association for 40 years previous to me. I came to work with her often, and grew up seeing the park rangers and seasonal employees that have been through this park for the past 30 years. I have gained so many friendships because of this park. One that hits near the top of my list is Paul.

As the non-profit partner to the park, we are responsible for helping with the volunteer program. When Paul arrives every spring, we say “We know our busy season is soon upon us when Paul arrives.” I can’t venture to guess how much time at the front desk or program time in the park Paul has put in the eight years he has been coming back, but it’s so much more than his volunteer time that Paul brings to our park. He brings us laughter, stories, knowledge, and the feeling of how much love someone can have for one place to keep returning to it year after year. In a park where every season has different employees, it’s nice to see some consistency.

Whether it be answering the common question, “What is that black and white bird outside with the long tail?” or “Where can we find the bison?” Paul is prepared to help in any way that he can, and the best part is, he is happy to do it.

I know that there will come a day where Paul won’t be back for the summer, and a great number of us will be very sad. However, he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon. He is planning to return this spring, and for that, the Badlands can be grateful.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on such a valuable person to Badlands National Park. He doesn’t volunteer for the fame, and sure as heck not for the money. It is for the love of a location and the people he works with.  I believe that volunteers across the park service deserve more credit than they get. ..but you won’t hear that from them either!

Best Regards,

Katie Johnston
Executive Director
Badlands Natural History Assoc.

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Emmanuel_Beltran_NP_Badlands_Home_Acc-(25).jpgPhoto of Paul Ogren courtesy Badlands National Park (NPS Photo)

Additional photos by #pendle10park explorer Emmanuel Beltran