Share |
Badlands bobcat.
Badlands bobcat.
Hazy August sunrise.
Hazy August sunrise.
Early morning park goers at Panoramic Point.
Early morning park goers at Panoramic Point.
Early morning sun rays peek over Badlands formations.
Early morning sun rays peek over Badlands formations.
First light on the pinnacles.
First light on the pinnacles.
Mule deer fawn.
Mule deer fawn.
American Bison portrait.
American Bison portrait.
Getting the pesky flies off.
Getting the pesky flies off.
Late summer sunflower in the Sage Creek Wilderness.
Late summer sunflower in the Sage Creek Wilderness.
Primordial view looking toward the White River valley.
Primordial view looking toward the White River valley.
First light touching the Badlands with low fog at the foot of the formations.
First light touching the Badlands with low fog at the foot of the formations.
First light touching the Badlands with low fog at the foot of the formations.
First light touching the Badlands with low fog at the foot of the formations.
Badlands morning.
Badlands morning.
Bighorn ram in the morning sunshine.
Bighorn ram in the morning sunshine.
Bighorn ram with starburst.
Bighorn ram with starburst.
Fall colors in the draws of Sage Creek Wilderness.
Fall colors in the draws of Sage Creek Wilderness.
Wild turkey in Sage Creek Wilderness.
Wild turkey in Sage Creek Wilderness.
Fall colors and deer grazing in Sage Creek Wilderness.
Fall colors and deer grazing in Sage Creek Wilderness.

A New Day in the Badlands

Sep 27, 2017

There are few early morning scenarios that excite me. I’m not one to pop right out of bed and feel great. I need time to wake up, get the grogginess out and get the brain functioning at the proper levels. Spending the first hours of the day in Badlands National Park, however, has a way of getting me up and going every time. I haven’t done it a lot, but the rugged beauty, abundant wildlife and overall peace and calm of the new day dawning over the Badlands has never disappointed.

On August 25, the National Park Service commemorated its 101st birthday. They asked fans to submit haiku poetry to help celebrate on social media. I had just spent an incredible morning in the Badlands, where I photographed my first ever bobcat in the wild and witnessed a unique, hazy sunrise caused by humidity and wildfires in neighboring states. All I remembered about haiku was that the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven and the third line goes back to five. I’m sure there are more rules, but I didn’t take the time to look them up. I chose two photos from my late August morning and wrote the following:

 

We gazed at the sun.

The ground was broken and bent.

Song sprang from shadows.

— Inspired by the sun rising over Panoramic Point

 

Ears above tall grass,

Eyes along the rugged ridge.

Hunger gnaws within.

— Inspired by the bobcat

 

Now whether those are good haiku or not is up for debate. For me, the fun came in reflecting on the morning and the images I captured in this new way. With that in mind, I resolved to go back to the Badlands this month, capture what I saw and then present it to you in this column.

Again, the Badlands did not disappoint. The first thing I noticed, just as the sky began to brighten, was what appeared to be a vast white lake in the valley below the formations. A low fog had settled, rendering the views almost primordial. Soon the sun rose, illuminating and coloring the clouds over Norbeck Pass. A little later, I passed a small group of bighorn rams along the park road. I drove ahead to where I thought I wouldn’t stress them as I took photos. They ended up walking right by me. One of them serendipitously passed on the driver’s side where I was huddled down, and I snapped as many photos as I could. One starburst photo out of a dozen exposures was my favorite shot of the morning. I couldn't have planned it or executed it again if I tried. During moments and mornings like this, I can't help but think of a line in a favorite hymn: “All things are mine, because I am His. How can I keep from singing?” (or photographing in my case).

I guess dawn in Badlands National Park has a way of bringing out the awe and wonder in a person. Whether it is a haiku, a perfect photo or an old hymn of praise, the rugged beauty of one of our state’s finest gems continues to inspire … especially in the light of a new day.

Christian Begeman grew up in Isabel and now lives in Sioux Falls. When he's not working at Midcontinent Communications he is often on the road photographing South Dakota’s prettiest spots. Follow Begeman on his blog.

Comments

07:30 am - Fri, September 29 2017
Great magazine article and photos! Thanks! We enjoy seeing all your work- especially the churches.

Share your thoughts, post a comment to this story:

Your Name:
Your Email Address:  
Your Website:
Comment:  
2000 characters remaining
Captcha
Web Design by LVSYS