We took a little break from our normal lives recently to enjoy a trip in celebration of our 19th wedding anniversary.
Last September, we stopped briefly at Great Sand Dunes National Park while returning home from our Zion National Park trip. We immediately made plans to return.
The landscape is very interesting. Desert with a large dune field up against a mountain range. I'll spare you the geology presentation, but if you like knowing how areas like this form, this link has the information.
On the day of our anniversary (May 29), we got up before the sun and hiked the dune field early in the day climbing to the top of the two tallest points. High Dune 650 feet (198 m) high and Star Dune 750 feet (229 m). Yes, Star Dune is actually taller than High Dune. High Dune is the one you see easiest from the creek. My guess is it was named first and then someone climbed it and realized there was a taller dune west of it. You have to be out on the dunes to see Star Dune.
This is me hiking up a dune.
You can go anywhere you want in the dunes.
Even though sand blows everyday and covers your tracks, the main dune landscape has changed very little. They had a photo from 1911 and a photo from 2011 that showed the same shapes.
The air temperature was pretty mild, but the sun at the higher elevation really heats up the sand. We were off the dune field by mid day and enjoyed walking in the creek that only runs in the spring and early summer around the east side of the dune field. It is shallow and so fun to play in the sand and water. All ages have a great time in the creek. There were families building sand castles and picnicking.
The next day, we hiked up a mountain pass.
We saw tons of humming birds.
There were a lot of wildflowers blooming.
While some of the trail was open with a lot of rocky areas, parts of it were very lush with beautiful trees and green meadows.
I also saw a black bear, but do not have a photo of it. By the time I saw it making tracks away from us and told my wonderful husband, it was gone. WH didn't even have time to see it. He says his first thought when I said, "bear" was, "how close is it?" I was using our bear bell which rings while you hike; so, you are always making noise to give the bears time to leave. I guess it works as the bear was going away from us. The next day at the visitor center, we were asking about another hiking trail and mentioned the bear. A park ranger asked us to fill out a report on the bear sighting. So, if you ever see a bear and want it documented, make notes! We wish we had made a better effort to note where I saw the bear for the ranger.
Our hike the last day visiting GSDNP was a mix of mountain and sand. We ended it back in the creek. Here's WH cooling his feet in the water. The water is a comfortable temperature because the hot sand warms it up.
I admit that I was a bit worried about the garden while we were gone. I made sure everything was watered well and moved some containers around before leaving. I did not have anyone come to water for me.
I wondered if I would miss the last of the spring crops like the peas and lettuce. I worried that the squash bugs would destroy all the cucurbits. We did an intense squash bug hunt the day before leaving on our trip and found a lot of squash bugs. You can read more about our squash bug hunting here and here.
About half way through our trip, our garden was drenched during a thunderstorm and there was some serious hail in the area, but luckily not in our neighborhood. No hail damage at GonSS.
I returned to a garden that was growing like crazy.
Lettuce and peas in the basket and a nice harvest of kohlrabi.
The flower surprise upon returning was the lavender. It is really blooming.
I hope to get some time in the garden this week and will be by to visit soon.
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