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T H E B A D L A N D S - D A Y # 2
Monday, August 23, 2004
My first full day in the Badlands was going to be a good one. Today's drive would take me into the heart of the National Park. But before I could partake my scenic tour I had to drive back to Wall, SD to pick up 2 disposable 35mm cameras, a Band-Aid for having broke my digital camera the day before.
I figured I'd take a limited set of pictures at 27 per day (with my digital I was used to taking an upwards of 250 pictures) and when I developed the film, I'd go for the CD option. That way I could pull the digital images off the CD and effectively fill the photo-void the broken digital had created. I had plans to shop for a digital camera later, when I arrived in Minneapolis, MN to visit friends.
I started my tour. Yowza, look at that color! Looking at this picture, you'd think you were visiting a different website. It just goes to show how washed up my old digital was.
Believe it or not, these formations are made up of crumbly clay and soft wormhole sandstone. Due to their fragile nature, they erode at about 1 inch per year. So geologically speaking, they are on the fast-track to oblivion. Compare this to Mount Rushmore's erosion rate of 1 inch per 10,000 years and you get the idea.
The red horizontal layers represent decayed vegetation due to the iron deposits they've left behind. All the lush, green vegetation you see was deposited by birds that have passed through the area throughout the millennium. For as dry as the Badlands are (15 inches of rain per year) it supports some amazingly large and diverse plant life.
This little ledge is a spot where native Indians used to herd buffalo, only to drive them over. The buffalo would fall over the ledge and either fall to their death or be critically injured. The archeologists know this due to all the bones and human cutting tools found at the bottom of the ledge.
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