Friday, November 12, 2010

White Sands

“One final a paragraph of advice. Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am—a reluctant enthusiast…a part time crusader, a half hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for natural land and the west; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizzly, climb the mountain, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over your enemies, over those deskbound men with their hearts in a safely deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculations. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards." - Edward Abbey

I may not be in Edward Abbey land (Moab, Utah) but I love this quote. If you haven't read Desert Solitare you should.

I visited White Sands National Monument in New Mexico on my way to Tucson. The dunes were pretty awesome. I've been to Great Sand Dunes NP in CO, but this was a little different. For one thing, unlike dunes made of quartz-based sand crystals, these dunes are made of gypsum which does not readily convert the sun's energy into heat and so you can walk on it in bare feet, even in the hottest summer months. Of course I didn't know this at first and I was later amazed that the sand was actually cool to the touch. It was the first place I had ever seen people sledding on sand.

The dunes constantly change shape and slowly move downwind, covering the plants in their path. Its pretty cool to look out at the shape of the dunes and know it was completely created by wind and is always changing. 

I love the textures that the winds create on the surface of the sand too. Just really beautiful.
I saw some cute little footprints--possibly from a kit fox.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Gypsum dunes... how cool! I'm constantly amazed at how many phenomenal ecosystems exist beyond our fundamental expectations. Travel, particularly nature exploration, really expands one's horizons.