Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hiking the Sand Dunes

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is pretty amazing.  I was there back in 2010 I think and went back this month with visiting family.

what you see as you approach the park
As we drove up, I was slightly disappointed, they looked so small from my memory.  But it is pretty nestled up against the mountains.

But I remembered how difficult it was walking up them, and how I wanted to go farther but we weren't prepared.  At that time, I didn't know about elevation sickness, and we did this the day after we arrived in Colorado.  We also only had one water bottle between the two of us.  So, I prepared a little more for this trip.  I told my family to start drinking water before they flew out, it was not on the itinerary until day 3 or that would help.  I also got a few extra camel backs.  Originally it was scheduled earlier in the day when the sun wasn't as strong...but it ended up being midday the day, I'd figure it out.

Medano Creek
We arrive at the park and the Medano Creek was wider than I thought.  Some family seemed annoyed with me that they had to cross this and didn't want to get their shoes wet.   Two went back to get flipflops...but how far can you walk in hot sand in flipflops?  The others crossed the creek in their sneakers no complaints, and a handful of smarties took off their shoes walked across and put them back on.  It was only about 1 - 3 inches deep in certain areas.

Probably doesn't look as steep as it was
The walk to the beginning of the sand dunes was a bit away from the parking lot.  A handful of my group did their thing at the closest dunes.  I left one water pack with them and the rest of us carried on.  It takes a while to walk across the sand...and which of the boys were pushing their limits and out challenging each other to climb not across the crests, but up vertical that took a while.  They climbed up....I ended up climbing horizontal to meet them...which I thought would be faster than hiking up the crests, which would have zigzagged back around and would have taken too long to the parched kids.

The highest dune in the park is Star Dune at 750 feet.  I'd say that my brother-in-law and a nephew made it to 725 feet to one of the peaks.   I probably made it 680 feet or so...but stayed behind with some of the other kids who were exhausted.

Then we headed back down.  Going down was easier than going up of course.  I wish I thought to bring/rent those sand boards because it looked fun...and cardboard didn't really work so well.  There is a restaurant/visitor shop right before the entrance that rents don't need to go as far as Alamosa first.

Our little sand hike took about 2 hours.  Our trip ended right before the afternoon rain.  I wish we got there earlier so we had more time...but it was another fabulous trip!  One I know the family will talk about for a while.

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