Day two of our little excursion landed us in the sprawling metropolis of Mosca, CO and the Great Sand Dunes National Park. I remember coming here as a kid when it wasn't a national park yet. The great pull for me has always been Medano Creek which flows between the parking lot and where visitors walk out to the dunes. It is filled by melting snow from the nearby Sangre De Cristo mountains. In some years, the creek is 50 feet wide, 18 inches deep, and WARM. Not quite what one expects from snowmelt. I took Aeryn there in 2005 and we never even set foot in sand as the water called to us the entire time. This trip however, was a little different.
At Rocky Mountain National Park, we were greeted by a handy square pole in front of the sign labeled "For when you need a helping hand." As such we assumed (ahem) that all the parks would have these mock tripods to help with pictures at the entrance sign. Sine someone (short, adultish, and female) forget to pack the tripod, we were counting on these little poles. The Sand Dunes didn't really have one - but there was a sort of pole off to the side that we decided to enlist for said purpose. It wasn't as ideal as the one in RMNP but it was effective nonetheless.
I like this picture a lot. For many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that 30 minutes before this was taken I thought-I-was-going-to-die trying to climb to tall dune. It was simply 1.25 miles each way but that was 1.25 miles climbing sand upwards of 135 degrees, in flip flops (or barefoot once I realized the heat was nothing compared to the difficulty of keeping shoes on), where on some of the slopes I literally felt like I was taking one step forward and slipping back two. To say it was challenging to the spirit is a bit mild. Once we reached the top however, the sense of triumph was immense and elation was mine. This was even greater once I realized my marathon runner soon-to-be hubby was a little taxed by the journey too. So here we are. Alive and happy to tell the tale, just moments before we jumped and hopped excitedly down the hills of sand in 1/4 the time it took us to ascend them.
Standing in Medano Creek. It was a tad bit chilly this year.
After walking to the car from the creek. Just in case you were wondering if there really was sand there.
After that exhausting little hike, we agreed to keep our adventures much more simplified. This nature walk was an easy 0.50 mile but just what we both needed. Something about that hike in the hot sun sort of wore us both out.
This picture really doesn't do the area justice - for size or beauty considering these are the tallest dunes in North America. Look at the tallest dunes in this photo, then add a few more feet of height, and that's what we climbed. Truly, this park filled me with a serious sense of accomplishment. And then we went back to camp and tried a small town locally "brewed" cream root beer. It was fantastic btw. The park, the camping, and the root beer.