When we landed in Crestone several friends said, "You're going to see the sand dunes right?"
Well. It hadn't been our original intention but sure!
We drove out the one road from Crestone to the Cosmic Highway connecting the high San Luis Valley. Given that I had a cold, was stationed in a 4-road town of 150 people, I was partially hunting cold supplies. I wanted tissues. Cough drops. I always imagine a land of no CVSes and no convenience. I can now say from experience: it's AMAZING and should happen but it has it's costs. One is when you have an unexpected cold and are underprepared.
As we approached the Great Sand Dunes national park we happily encountered the one all needs shop. It seems like every park has this place. They'll make you a hot dog. You can buy propane gas. There are weirdly great salves made by a local Indigenous woman. There's kitschy home decorations next to survival hunting knives. And happily, there was ONE PACK OF HALL'S COUGH DROPS.
I bought hot sauce for my Aunts and cough drops for myself. Finally, a store. Errands. Check.
Now, to epic sand.
In Crestone we'd stopped in a shop that sold sacred healing crystals and VHS tapes of movies. Cause, Crestone. The very sweet woman tending shop suggested a few hikes and of course to head to the sand dunes. Kevin asked about how they formed. He loves the sand dunes at Jockey's Ridge in Kitty Hawk so he's sort of tuned into this stuff. She said, "you know. This is a desert. Sand just went there."
We later sat in the park's visitor center and watched a video on the geology of the park. They didn't use that language but I swear, they basically said the same thing.
The main nuance left by those wordy scientists was that the sand plays a huge role in the local ecosystem. The sand blows and drifts as sand tends to do. It blows up the mountain. When the winter snows melt it travels back down the mountains and to these dunes. There's a sweet dance occurring in this particular place. It's rare and beautiful.
On a Tuesday there were an assortment of campers and kids who have sand boards-- basically snow boards to coast down the sand. The sand dunes were crazy high and steep. Just due to a normal respect for heights I felt some trepidation. Then I tested the water on a sand hill and found that the costs of running, rolling, or generally playing in any imaginable way were nill. It's pretty freeing.
I was sort of at the height of my chest congestion here. Between altitude and the winds that naturally whip you this high up without tree cover, I paused a lot. I cared for my ability to breathe. Kevin, as is his nature, played.
He is still finding sand in every bit of his being.
We became creatures of the sand. As we walked back to our car, I paused to shake out my boots. I can't even tell you how long sand poured from them.
Many camp throughout the park. The landscape changes quickly. For those who do camp, at night you can return to the sand dunes for star watching. I can't imagine a closer nor sweeter view of the infinite sky.