March 9, 2021

Dancing with Buffalos

by Rollie J.

Friends, this is a devo redone from 2017 and taken from my book Paying Attention II. We soon will have a similar trip coming up to the Maah Daah Hey trail April 21-25. Maybe this will inspire you to join us! If interested, shoot me an email and I will send you the 2021 trip brochure. 

To catch a flavor of our trip, watch this short promo video:

Maah daah hey promo '18

The blazing heat had beat down upon us all day long. The 80+ degrees a rare gift for late October, had left us parched on the dusty and dry Maah Daah Hey. The spectacular sights and scenic vistas had not disappointed as every bend and twist in the rugged trail had left us in awe. Golden cottonwoods flashed brightly against the deep dark green of juniper chocked hillsides and the multi-colored horizontal striations of greys, purples, pinks and ochers reminded us we were in classic badlands. We quietly passed alongside strangely shaped formations of wind and water sculpted clay that could have passed for alien fortresses on a far away planet. Our ten-mile hike had taken its toll, making us bone weary and anxious to find a source of fresh water to fill our empty water bottles and quench our yearning thirst.

The sun’s rays were making the peaceful long shadows of late afternoon as we finally found a small system of beaver ponds in the normally bone-dry sand-filled creek bed. We were relieved to set up a cozy campsite alongside the creek and filter-up clean, fresh, cool water. It felt good to be in such a beautiful wide valley with a good source of water and a protected camp.

As we ate our supper, we could hear grunting, snorting, and hoofbeats and much to our surprise and delight rounding the bend of a nearby hillside appeared a herd of buffalo! Unaware of our presence they were headed directly to our same water source! At sixty-some yards they paused briefly, pondering the strange sights and most likely smells of these humanoid creatures. After a tense standoff, they wisely chose a parallel trail that detoured around our campsite and they headed back up into the hills!

Brilliant warm sunshine greeted our next morning. Being our layover day, following a hearty breakfast, we headed up into the Achenbach Hills to see if we could locate the herd. After climbing for a couple of hours and gaining the high grassy plateau we finally crested the final ridge. A stiff warm breeze whipped our clothing and hair and a magnificent 360-degree view of the Little Missouri was our reward. And there below us to the north stood a small herd of buffalo! We had found them.

The small herd began moving up and to our right and appeared as though they would cross our very ridgeline. We began to follow along the crest hoping to intercept and get closer to this small band of bison. We ran along the ridge and headed up a small knoll that marked the apex. Unbeknownst to us, as we topped the crestline, there before us lay the entire herd of buffalo just 50 yards away!

We stood in awe and wonder as each of the forty-plus bison ran over the ridgeline just a stone’s throw away and headed for the grassy bowl we had just come through. We were seated ringside, center aisle, to a magnificent display of power, grace, and natural wonder. A rare treat that few on this planet are privileged to witness. I could do nothing but smile and give thanks and gratitude for being able to witness such a spectacular phenomenon.

We had come to hike the Maah Daah Hey for a variety of reasons. Some had come to test their mettle, to find out what they’re made of. Some had come to explore, some had come to step away from their routines, to break away from their cell phones and experience nature on her own terms. Some of us had come to walk and talk with our Creator, to immerse ourselves in the solitude and quiet of nature. Some just came for the pure fun and adventure of it all. But none of us had expected or hoped to run and dance alongside the buffalo!

I often find that when I say “yes” to one of God’s invitations to step out of my comfort zone, to get outside of my normal routines, or step outside my box of habitual ways, He gifts me with additional blessings and bonus surprises! When He finally gets us to say “yes,” he pours out his blessings and treasures in great abundance! And often in ways or forms that we had never anticipated or expected.

On this particular hiking trip, we received the many blessings of the trip itself; healthy physical exercise, fresh clean air, mind-boggling scenery, tremendous comradery, deepened friendships, solitude, stillness, and serenity for quiet time and reflection, a sense of accomplishment and “I did it!” Many of us experienced a deepening of our relationship with Jesus. But I believe God threw in many bonuses, icing on the cake so to speak.

God is the greatest giver of gifts. He is generous beyond anything we can humanly comprehend. When we say “yes” to His invitation, I believe he smiles, and then he pours out blessing after blessing.

May you say “Yes!” to a Godly invitation to grow!

-- Rollie J.





I have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest. John 10:10

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me

    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. John 1:16

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17



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