Badlands Sense of Place Adventure
In the mid-1950s Edward Abbey took a job as a seasonal park ranger in what is now called Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, and from that experience wrote Desert Solitaire. This work is considered by many a classic now—often compared to Thoreau’s Walden—for our time and will serve as our conversation piece for Think Outside’s second annual Sense of Place weekend at Elkhorn Ranch Campground, August 18-20. Let yourself be provoked, impassioned, and inspired by the landscape, the experience, and the discussion of Edward Abbey’s ideas around the campfire and hiking. Some of his ideas might make you angry; others will move you with their beauty, such as
The wind will not stop. Gusts of sand swirl before me, stinging my face. But there is still too much to see and marvel at, the world very much alive in the bright light and wind, exultant with the fever of spring, the delight of morning. Strolling on, it seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life as in other places but scattered abroad in sparseness and simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.
Join Tayo Basquiat, your intrepid facilitator for this experience, at Elkhorn Ranch Campground for a weekend of thinking about our sense of place, the landscape of the Badlands, and the book Desert Solitaire.
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Friday, August 18
Please arrive in camp prior to 7pm so you can set up your tent and get settled in for the weekend.
8pm Campfire Session 1: Desert Solitaire, from the author’s introduction to the section “Cowboys and Indians: Part II.”
10:00pm Enjoy the fire and conversation some more or put yourself to bed, depending on your individual preference
Saturday, August 19
8am Wakeup, breakfast, and get ready for our hike
9am Departure for hike of the MDH trail
This will be an out and back
11:00 am Solitary time on the trail—we will break from our hiking and spend an hour alone. Journal and meditation exercises will be offered but you can use the time however you like.
12:00 pm Reconvene for lunch and conversation
1:00pm Resume our hiking—some may return to camp, others may go on a longer expedition.
4:00pm Return to campground
Nap, freshen up, pour yourself a happy hour drink
7:30-9:30pm Campfire Session 2: Desert Solitaire, from the section titled Water to the end of the book.
9:30 Enjoy the fire and conversation some more or put yourself to bed, depending on your individual preference
Sunday, August 20
8am Wakeup, breakfast, get ready for our hike, and break down your camp.
9am Hike to Elkhorn Ranch and explore.
10:30 am Shorter solitary time to use as you wish.
11:00 am Reconvene for “Sense of Place” discussion
12:00 pm Lunch and conversation.
12:30 Begin return hike and depart for home (no later than 2pm)
Suggested Packing List
Suggested Packing List: [If you prefer to bring your travel trailer for sleeping, that’s fine, but this is a primitive campground—no electrical hookups—and we ask that you leave the generators at home]
Tent w/ rainfly
Sleeping bag and pillow
Headlamp, flashlight or lantern
Water bottles/bladder—make sure you can carry at least 32oz of water with you.
Wet Ones (or something comparable) or washcloth and towel and jug of water
Personal care items and medications
Clothing that allows for layering depending on conditions
Hat--sun shade but also one to keep you warm if the day cools
Cup, Bowl, Plate, and eating utensils
Camp stove, meals that don’t need cooking, or foil/pans to do your cooking over the evening campfire.
Personal first aid kit
Notebook/pen (for thoughts and/or sketches)
Camp chair/lawn chair
Your favorite camp beverages
Backpack for your lunch, snacks, water, and personal items
Good hiking shoes or boots and shoes for after hiking (loose/comfortable/dry J)
Bundle of firewood to add to the pile
Food: we are NOT providing meals or beverages, so you’ll need to bring those supplies as well for yourself. In the previous iteration of this, the group enjoyed sharing potluck style a few items and snacks but basically brought food sufficient for personal needs. If you need meal ideas, send Tayo an email and he’ll share his backcountry cooking ideas with you.
Dogs are allowed on this section of the MDH trail and at the campground. You will, of course, need to control your dog and he or she should be friendly—with other dogs and for people who may be afraid of dogs or don’t like dogs.
Backpack for your lunch, snacks, water, and personal items
Good hiking shoes or boots
Hat and clothing (for sun protection and weather adaptation)
Capacity to carry 70-100oz of water/hydration: pack system (like a camelback bladder) or water bottles
DIRECTIONS to Elkhorn Ranch Campground:
From the Camel Hump (Sentinel Butte) exit 10, on I-94, go west and northeasterly 15.5 miles on County Road #11 to Road # 708. Then travel 11.5 miles north and east on road #708 to road FH2; then travel east for 1 mile to the camp entrance.
This fenced campground has a handicap vault toilet, 8 camp spurs and 1 pull through camp spur.
Features a scenic canyon (2.5 miles west) of the Theodore Roosevelt Elkhorn Ranch Site.
GPS coordinates: Latitude : 47.228405 Longitude : -103.669277
We will be doing a portion of the Maah Daah Hey trail on day one that goes south from the campground. Length of our hike will be based on group ability. For those participants wanting a shorter hike, they can turn back to camp after our lunch break. Other participants wanting a more lengthy hike will continue on and then return to camp by about 4pm. On Sunday morning, we will all hike to the Elkhorn Ranch site itself.