Over the holiday weekend, we explored Badlands Park–an easy hike that follows the coastline above Laguna.
Hard to image that these sandstone bluffs were, at one time, a stretch of sandy beach.
Why do they call this the Badlands? I traced the origins of that term to the Lakota people, who called the weather-exposed, rugged terrain of the Black Hills “mako sica,” or “land bad.” French-Canadian fur trappers also called it “les mauvais terres pour traverse,” or “bad lands to travel through.”
Hardscrabble trails…prickly cactus…venomous snakes and who-knows-what-else, hiding in the underbrush…no shelter from the elements or fresh water to be found. This is unknown territory, pockmarked with uncertainty and trepidation.
But also, excitement. Because once you get your bearings, you can follow the trailhead to the ocean.
We wore face masks on our hike, to protect ourselves and others from the ever-present risks associated with COVID-19. We tried to keep at least 6 feet between us and other travelers, even when they got sidetracked by their cell phones and veered into our path. Everyone’s going through a rough patch right now, so while we remained vigilant, we made allowances.
That’s the nature of our journey, in this global pandemic. We’re traversing unfamiliar ground with untold risks, exposed constantly to unseen dangers. It’s a perilous trek, one that challenges our strengths and exploits our weaknesses. The Badlands, if you will.
But while most of us are more cautious, now, we remain curious. No way will we allow COVID-19 to steal from us the joy of discovery!
What magic does this place hold at different times of the day, for instance? We saw the angled shadows of late afternoon, but I also want to see the golden glow of sunrise from those bluffs, and a fiery sunset over the water. Badlands or no, there’s always another “just around the bend,” always new vistas to explore.