During our road trip in Colorado and Utah last summer, we’ve planned to see Great Sand Dunes, a National Park in Colorado. I didn’t really believe and realize what Great Sand Dunes in the middle of Colorado meant at this time – at about 2,400 m. high in altitude.
We arrive there at night, and don’t see anything at first; we find a place in the campground covered with soft sand, cook some food. It’s almost the full moon, and it is a really bright night. The day after, there’s no shower in this campground, so we just have breakfast – by our neighbor who is recording his diary and talks about the shitty night he just had. He also has an ax, by his camp table.
The weather is great, it’s still early. We reach the dunes by walking through the campground, we take a pretty path with wild yellow and purple flowers, there are also some kind of bushes with cotton flower on top. The smell is delightful. I wear my big hiking shoe boots, but there’s already a ton of sand in my socks.
We walk for only 10 minutes when we cross roads with a guy, who has a weird accent I can’t identify at first. He asks Manu to take a picture of him. He’s French! We don’t know many French people in the US so it’s always fun to meet with one of our own kind. His name is Jean-Christophe, he’s been living in Texas for 20 years, he’s a baker and travels alone on his motor bike. We talk for a while, and now the sun is high in the sky, and it starts to get warmer. We cross a creek – the river is pretty low, it’s the end of summer.
Walking in the dunes is hard, my calves are burning. What a workout. There’s no official path in the dunes, we jaywalk, trying to go as straight as possible. But after 45 minutes, I’m too short in breathe and feel exhausted, I sit in the dunes, while Manu keeps climbing. The silence is deafening – I know it’s cliché to say that, but it’s so true right here. Once in a while, Manu waves at me from far away. I feel good.
We are pretty lazy today. It’s almost the end of our road trip, and we decide to stay another night in the same campground, even though there’s not much to see/do in this relatively small National Park. We listen to a talk at the visitor center: a ranger explains how the dunes were formed – 400,000 years ago. We go for a walk outside the park, in a place called Zapata Falls. There’s a view over the dunes and the mountains, and we can see the huge plaine the ranger talked to us about, where there used to have a lake. A huge storm is coming in the horizon: we can see a curtain of rain, getting closer to us.
It’s the full moon, we go for a walk at night, close to the dunes. But I’m too scared of mountain lions. We see many eyes of deers, shining in the dark, and if they are some deers, they are probably mountain lions as well. I can’t go any further, and I hide myself in my tent, where I’m sure it’s the best protection I can have.