The first time I visited the great dunes was with my BFF Adam, we came in late and set up camp in the dark. It was only Adam’s second camping trip and he was a little cagey, which doesn’t make for good sleep when you’ve got two pretty large dudes packed into a two person tent. There was some shuffling around outside in the night which we both naturally assumed was zombie grizzles out for our blood. I informed Adam that I would be giving him a debilitating frog punch to the guts to ensure my safe escape, after all you don’t have to run faster than the bear, just the person you are with. It turned out to be elk just passing through our campsite, disappointingly.
I had snowed about seven or eight inches overnight which made for an amazing first view of the Great Dunes. The dunes were formed when sand from ancient dried lake beds is blown towards the Sangre de Cristo Mountains by storm winds. I’ve been in a dust storm there, it was a beautiful, painful and amazing experience.
I went through the park a couple of months ago and hit storm I just mentioned. It was so windy that I could barely set up my tent, but I’d driven all the way there and was determined to climb those things.
Maybe it’s just how otherworldly that place looks, maybe it’s the fact there always seems to be some sort of storm or beautiful cloud formation, but I love this place.
I love going back through my photos, this day in particular was pretty rough with the dust storm. I climbed the dunes to take photos, but the sand was blowing hard, so I was worried about my camera and my skin melting off. I kind of forgot about the photos just because I didn’t have a very good time taking them. It’s nice to see them with a clear perspective.
Grizz reclining, from that first trip out.
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All words and images © Adam Smith 2015.