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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

High Dunes Hike, Great Sand Dunes National Park


August 19, 2012


M and I arrived at Great Sand Dunes National Park around 2:30 pm ready to tackle Star Dune, the highest sand dune in North America. We waited for a couple of hours before starting our climb because it was inadvisable to go during the midday as sand temperatures could reach 140 degrees F. In the meantime, we set up our tent, made some food to eat, and prepared our backpacks for the hike. We resolved to start the hike around 4:30 pm.

We parked near the dunes where there would be a creek if we were there in spring/early summer and if there was no drought. The beginning of the hike was flat with a few mounds of sand to hike over. We came to the base and started the ascent. M and I learned to hike on the side of the dunes where the wind was hitting the hardest, as that packed down the sand. We also struck the ground hard with our toes to get deep in the sand so we wouldn't slip down with each step. We took breaks, drank lots of water, and made it to to the top of High Dune in an hour. 

With the winds coming in at 30 mph and it getting later in the day, we felt it wasn't safe to continue onto Star Dune. It probably would have taken us another 3 hours to get to the to Star Dune and back, so with the sun setting, we headed back to the car. I was sad that we weren't able to hike to Star Dune, but we were more worried about our safety. The winds picked up and blew horrendously and didn't stop blowing until the next morning. We also didn't have goggles and had gotten sand in our eyes, not to mention our ears, noses, and mouths. The biggest mistake and probably the only mistake I made on this hike was that I packed 4 L of water. This made the hike harder for me with the extra weight but I survived and wasn't too tired afterwards. It was fun and we will have to visit the park again to climb Star Dune.

High Dunes Hike


Campsite

The hike we took up to High Dune

In front of the dunes

Hiking up the sand

Half way to the top

Half way

View from the top. Star Dune is the tallest peak in the background.

Made it to the summit of High Dune

Summit

The view around us


On the way down


The dunes with the mountain range in the background

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