Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Out West day Seventeen

After breakfast we had showers then went to the visitor's center 

A sculpture at the MV visitor's center
to see if there was a movie (no, it's at the museum) then on via Durango, to the Great Dunes Nat'l Park/monument.  Got there early afternoon after having Subway for lunch.  Noticed a 1/2 mast flag in honor of 9/11/01. 

Hummed and hawed about visiting chimney rock close up.  Decided it would take over an hour to drive up the winding dirt road from behind.

We had to be satisfied with a look from "afar".

Beautiful green and lush landscape

From an awesome overlook.  You'll see S's photos of this spot later in the blog - I placed those later than where they should be which is here.

Didn't actually see much autumn foliage at all - these three pics is about it!

The dunes from a distance

Mountains to the right

The 3D map.  Funnily enough, we flew over this area a few years ago and saw the dunes from the sky!  Amazing. (In fact, I just checked past photos/blogs and if you'll look at June 2008 and click on "Monday" June 16, you'll see this very view taken from the other end!)

A microscopic view of the sand.

Looking across the 'flats' to the torture zone
There seemed to be a school group of kids making mud pies.

 After the visitor's Center at the dunes, we climbed the great dunes all the way to High Dune (650ft).  That doesn't sound like it's very high but wait til you climb that in thick, heavy, sucking sand at high altitude! 

People look very small against the gigantic dunes

Getting closer
and closer...

but still so far away...

Who is that so far ahead?

Hey! wait for me!

Looking back keeps the courage up!

Just wanted you to see the red face! (and wild hair, mind you - it was windy!)

Having a rest, playing, whatever!

It's almost like climbing a ridge of snow on the
Matterhorn except this sand sucks, literally!

I hope you can see an appropriate amount of anguish on my face!

Slogging up the LAST SECTION to the top

PLEASE don't run, it makes me look bad!

Noooooo! Stop it!

Looking out over the 'sea' of sand
C and I thought we wouldn't make it but persevered and we finally made it!!  All 3 of us.  What a difficult slog!  Thanks S for filling in some photos from the previous day or so.
Made it! S made it twice - he came back to see where we were.  Then C, then eventually me.

Another couple made it up shortly after us and offered to take our photo.

This stick has signatures all over it.

Looking back at the summit

How this sand supports vegetation is amazing.  The wind is constantly blowing too.

The visitor's center looks so small way across that "river".  Actually, since it had recently rained, the river had been flowing just a day or so before we got there. You can still see the wetness there.

Coming down makes it all worthwhile

Can you see S and C?
A few more of S's photos:

Running down
Another summit picture

One is triumphant, the other barely holding on to the pole.

Look how long that shadow is - looks like the cross...


Back to my photos.
The visitor's center looking towards the dunes

Notice the interesting colours in the next few shots of the dunes.  They almost look painted.

A 360

Left the dunes heading east along a scenic highway through beautiful mountain ranges to Walsenburg.  As we drove through a deep valley area, I said to S that we should look for bear along the road and no sooner had the breath left my mouth when what should pop up from some bushes close to the road but a young bear!  He stood on his hind legs then took off loping toward the bushes nearer the road.  By that time we had driven past and didn't get a picture.  Crazy things happen sometimes!

Mountains of Colorado

Leaving the dunes we could see a large front ahead.

You can see the wooden snow fence - guess they get a lot of blowing snow in winter.

Not too far from Durango
It's possible I have the order of things wrong here. The sky looks a whole lot different than in the valley overlook.  Perhaps the overlook happened before Durango. (yes, it did)

Looking out over a valley.  While there we saw a Mennonite (or Amish, I suppose) family - hadn't realized before this trip that they drive cars too.  I guess that's the only way to see the country (in less than 10 years anyway!).
S's photos of that awesome overlook:

Back to my own photos.  Moving along in Colorado

As you can tell, by the time we got into Walsenburg, the cold front was upon us and we had cold, drizzly rain the next 24 hours.  When we left Walsenburg in the morning, it was 35 degrees and we were glad we had stayed in a motel!

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