{SOUTH DAKOTA} THE MAGIC OF CASCADE FALLS

July 16, 2017

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After hot showers, filling our bellies with blueberry chocolate pancakes + vege-scrambled eggs and downing a couple cups of coffee, we jumped on the road across South Dakota. Halfway there we took the scenic route through the Badlands.

badlands south dakota

Our favorite spot was the one with golden + pink formations. It had been an ocean, then a jungle + then what it was now - gradients of popsicle colors with wide grassy expanses.

badlands south dakota

On our way out of the park, we had a near miss with a huge longhorn ram crossing the road + we stared in awe at the beautiful creature as we careened by.

badlands south dakota

badlands road trip

We drove most of the day and after a night roasting marshmallows, drinking hot chocolate + camping on the hillside in a park in Western South Dakota, we made our way toward Cascade Falls, a place we had mapped out as having rare flowers that could not be found in any other place in the state, including a rare wild orchid. We stopped by the Whitney Preserve, which was full of large bright orange + tiny blue dragonflies. We sidestepped a snake (the area is known for rattlesnakes) and recorded the stream, the birds + the insects singing, while swatting away deer flies.

cascade falls warm spring snakescascade falls south dakota

We were taken aback by the color of the water at Cascade Falls, a teal-colored swimming hole with four different mineral springs that stays an even 67 degrees year around. We put on our suits + water shoes + dove into the blue-green pool at the base of the small waterfall. Magical mineral-rich water that smoothed + healed our skin, we spent some time swimming around + floating on our backs.

cascade falls warm spring

I circled the pool to look for orchids + found an inlet where the local swimmers didn't go. I was so happy to have water shoes, because the mud sank to about a foot deep, my feet getting stuck with each step, while immersed in water up to my chest. Annnnd … sure enough! I found the elusive Stream Orchid, growing out from the rock wall with a rare kind of fern.

rare fernsepic flower essence collection

There were only three flowers left; all the rest were past their blooming time - it was as if they had waited for us to arrive.

stream orchid flower essence

The Stream Orchid is red, green, yellow + looks a bit like an open mouth. As I was making the flower essence a group of cicadas began to sing very, very loudly + the sunshine shone fiercely, burning my bare skin.

cascade falls south dakota orchid

I jumped in the water to cool down one last time. I floated on my back, and as my ears submerged, it was total silence, except for the sound of my breath. I listened to the air filling + leaving my lungs. I felt a tremendous gratitude for this place, the water, the orchids, the cicadas, the protectors of this place + this precious life in general. My lungs let out a quick breath, as the emotion came out in my exhale. I thanked the place + we got on the road again - driving the entire expanse across Wyoming in one day.

grand tetons

By evening, as the sun set, we drove through the Tetons + picked up a dear friend, Lynda Sing, from the Jackson Hole Airport - set in huge expanses of rich green grass at the base of the mountains. We drove to our airbnb in Victor, Idaho, a spacious, light-filled house in the country with a huge fire pit in the back.

lynda sing

We would do an epic wildflower collection the following day.

Love + flower petals,

katie hess


1 Response

WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR EPIC ROAD TRIP

July 27, 2017

[…] plains of Minnesota + South Dakota, the crazy-looking formations in the Badlands, the Black Hills, Cascade Falls, the Tetons, Yellowstone + Glacier National Park, I have totally fallen in love with the wild […]

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