Traveling onward thru Colorado,we stopped to hike for a few days in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Prevailing winds have backed up massive dunes against the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The name is spanish for Blood of Christ.
Snowy dune fields
The morning that we arrived at the sand dunes,it was cold and a chilly wet snow was falling. I decided to visit the dunes anyway to see whatever I could and fortunately shortly after we arrived the snow stopped and clouds began to break a bit.
Icy moon of an alien world
Some imagination with my photo program and the last photo. Sometimes when hiking in unique places such as this,one almost feels as though you are on another planet!
Wind on the Dunes
We climbed to the top of a high dune ridge and began to hike along it. Winds were fierce up here and Wes and I were almost blown off the ridges as we hiked. His leash is being blown by the wind here.
Wind driven snow
It was bitterly cold with the strong winds. At times it was even a bit difficult to breathe. Our hike along the dune ridges was thus shorter than originally planned.
Blowing snow on the dunes
Wind and Wes
Poor Wes is being blown sideways here!
Windy ridge walk
Beginning of the sand ramp trail
The high winds limited our dune top hiking that day,but I really wanted to explore a bit more so we hiked out along the sand ramp trail. This trail circles the dune field and then climbs a bit into the Sangre de Cristo Mts. It provides good views of the dune field from various angles.
View from the sand ramp trail
Hikers on the Dunes
Telephoto shot from a high viewpoint on the sand ramp trail. The tracks of the hikers can be seen ascending the dunes. Hiking up the soft sand takes a good bit of effort.
High viewpoint on the sand ramp trail
The sand ramp trail circles the base of the Great Sand Dunes for about 11 miles. Isolated campsites are dotted along it.
the main dunefield seen from a high viewpoint
Dunes and snowcapped peaks
another view from the sand ramp trail
Sand Ramp trail scenery!
light snow in the dunes
Day 2. It snowed lightly in the early morning and while hiking at the base of the dunefield,it reminded me of hiking in Antarctica. With a little imagination,the dunes were transformed into the Trans Antarctic mountains!
Early morning cold
Driving back to the dunes near Alamosa Colorado. I was desprately hoping that it would drop another 2 degrees just to see a minus sign appear on my Subaru`s temp gauge,but no luck there.
Colorado rt 150
Sangre de Cristo mts
this was a view taken from a trail that led to a high alpine lake. The lake is South Zapata Lake and supposedly it sits in a beautiful alpine bowl. After hiking about 4 miles,I felt that we were getting close to the lake but the snow covered trail became difficult to follow. Alas we never reached the lake. Will try again perhaps in warmer weather.
another view from the trail
view from the Zapata lake trail
on the hike back,there was a run down cabin with a fire pit. I got a small blaze going and Wes and I relaxed and warmed up for about half an hour.
Great Sand Dunes
the trailhead for South Zapata Lake sits high up in the mountains. The entire dunefield can be seen at a glance from this point.