The US, and I imagine the world, needs more trails like this. Strictly speaking the MDH has national park caliber scenery, as it passes through two units of a national park. Theodore Roosevelt is an obscure national park, getting as many visits in a busy year as Glacier does in an average June, and probably wouldn’t have been designated at all had it not been so intimately associated with the most important conservationist in American history. And that is the point. The terrain of the Little Missouri badlands is subtle and immensely nuanced. It is an easy place to overlook, and as the huge increase in gas pads and roads between this visit (in April 2019) and my first visit (October 2005) indicate, an easy place for the wild mind of the nation to forget, and by extension, neglect. Long, immersive trails in other such locations would go a very long way towards fostering appreciation of and interaction with the many wild places that are still left, sandwiched between civilization.
That trip two years ago was a big deal. It was an idea that had been rolling around in my head for over a decade, and is still unfinished. It was the first big trip after a difficult winter acclimating to life as a parent of two kids, rather than one. Due to fitness, I elected to walk rather than bike, and that slower pace, in theory less stylistic, made for a slower and more contemplative journey. There isn’t much flat on the MDH, but even so the walking is easy and relaxing. Floating the Little Mo is similarly simple right up to the edge of dullness, and thus all that trip I had hours to look and think, even more than usual on a solo backpack.
I’m looking forward to getting back, sometime.