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Old 05-11-2015, 03:08 PM   #1
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Getting humbled in Colorado...

We left Los Alamos to explore the Enchanted Circle north of Taos, New Mexico. Wed heard good things about this tourist destination and looked forward to spending a week or two hopefully dry camping in the area. We came up the circle from the south and so bypassed Taos by continuing in a counter-clockwise fashion, thinking wed visit Taos on the way out. The Enchanted Circle along the southeast segment is a narrow forest road that follows along Moreno Creek. We didnt find any spots to dry camp because of the narrowness of the forested area, and the campgrounds were still closed.

We reached Eagle Nest, a small town located at 3 oclock on the circle. The town was largely closed but a cabin builder there recommended we visit a small campground eastward on Highway 64. Fortunately Maverick Campground was open and affordable at $10/night but with no drinking water or dump available. Its a small campground adjacent to a creek and a small fishing pond with steep mountain walls on both sides. We spent two quiet days there with only one other camper onsite.

We drove up to the small ski resort community of Red River with high hopes but it, too, was largely closed and waiting on Memorial Day. The RV park was a bit overpriced and all the campgrounds on the north end of the circle were closed too. We couldnt find a dispersed campsite and so decided to bid NM farewell and head into Colorado.

Our original plan was to head towards Durango but we saw The Great Sand Dunes National Park was a couple hours directly north and so decided to check it out. New Mexico has a distinct beauty but we got excited with our first glimpses of the Sangre De Cristo Range and our first 14er, Blanca Peak, rising to our right off Highway 160. It was getting late in the afternoon so we thought wed save some money and boondock at the Alamosa Walmart, but we first took a peak at the Sand Dunes from afar. Its a rather unique geomorphic feature that offered a bit of excitement to think about while parked on asphalt below a security camera and light tower. (Note: you can get propane at the Big R Farm & Ranch Supply near the Walmart.)

The next day we arrived at the wonderfully situated Pinyon Flats campground, east of the dunes. The CG is set up for both tenters and trailers alike with decent spacing, some pull thrus, drinking water, and restrooms. The sewage dump was not yet open but a dump was available at a RV campground just outside the park. Pinyon Flats is a bit steep at $20/night but the views of the dunes were worth it. We turned in after witnessing a beautiful sunset behind the dunes.

In the morning I woke up to a beautiful blue sky with pillowy clouds and a view of the sand dunes outside my window. You can hike to the dunes right from the campground. As I took off my boots to cross Medano Creek's pulsing snow melt, I looked at the Sangre de Cristo range to the north and San Luis Valley to the south. The dunes are a result of the Rio Grande River and its tributaries depositing sand and soil, and prevailing SW winds meeting up against winds coming down off the mountain range, pushing up the sands over 400,000 years. It was a nice cool and windy day with not too many people on the dunes as I started up.

It took me about 90 minutes to get to the top of one of the dune peaks - about 723 feet. I had to rest a lot while doing bear crawls up a steep slope - I felt going straight up would cut down the distance if I just took my time. I was all alone while hiking up except for a couple guys at the top hiking from the west - they had spent the night in the dunes. This National Park perhaps isnt a destination spot like Yosemite or Yellowstone but what I observed from the top will be something I'll never forget. I could have stayed up there all day.

One of my favorite films is Lawrence of Arabia and the depicted vastness of deserts. Im pretty sure Ill never make it to the Arabian deserts, so I pretended to be at the edge of a great desert, plotting my own Aqaba - it wasnt hard to do.

There are those that seek to be the biggest, the baddest, the most important force in society - the height of power. I have no idea what that feeling, that awareness is like but history shows us its fleeting. But what happens when one goes in the opposite direction? To go somewhere and feel so small and be made aware of ones seemingly insignificance in the scheme of things. Thats what the great outdoors can offer you. You could argue one risks losing his or her soul pursuing the former. You definitely can find it when humbled by the latter.
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:15 PM   #2
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Beautiful pictures and a very nice description of your trip.

I share your "being humbled" experience. I love being outdoors, and I love the way nature puts things in perspective.
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:28 PM   #3
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More Great Sand Dunes...
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:30 PM   #4
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Beautiful pictures, and I understand the humbling experience.....Mother Nature can do that to you.


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Old 05-11-2015, 03:37 PM   #5
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The first and last time we were there was in 2004. Wow, 10 years, where has the time gone. We were on our way to Vail to stay at a condo with family and stopped at Grand Sand Dunes Natl Monument, as it was designated back then, for a couple of hours. We managed a hike up one of the closer dunes. Now that we have an Airstream we will get back there to camp and spend a few days. Its definitely an awesome place.

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Old 05-11-2015, 03:40 PM   #6
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Beautiful! I think 'humbled' is the right description, I felt the same way at Yosemite earlier this year. Seeing it in person was unbelievably moving compared to the pictures I had seen. I thought I knew what I was going to see, but I had no idea until I was there. There are places in this world that are so unique, and so beautiful, and we are so lucky someone before us saw fit to fight to keep those places safe so we could go enjoy them.
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:45 PM   #7
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Been close to there many times but never made it, now I know I must go there.
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Old 05-11-2015, 04:40 PM   #8
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Very nice articulation and images. Will have to try and get there someday.

Cheers
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Old 05-11-2015, 09:56 PM   #9
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.. Drooling
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:12 PM   #10
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Well said…spot on…powerful photos
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:19 PM   #11
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Great post!
I live not too far away, and have only been there once. Need to go more.
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Old 05-11-2015, 11:02 PM   #12
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Living in Colorado....I share the love of your visit! It's one of the places in Colorado that surprise many folks....but the surprise, the views, the historical and geographical significance makes it all the better. Signed, I so love my state!
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:49 AM   #13
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Fantastic!

We are not scheduled to go until September but your words make me want to go right now! I love Colorado and Utah's ability to make me and my perceived problems feel so tiny. It's so refreshing and calming at the same time.
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:29 PM   #14
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Picked a great time to visit other than everything still shut down for the winter. We were there but it was like 99f and windy mid Aug..

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