I'd visited Great Sand Dunes National Park four times before this past Saturday, but had never actually hiked out into the dunes any appreciable distance. When opportunity arose, I decided to take advantage of it and hike to High Dune.
Unfortunately, weather conditions when I arrived seemed to conspire against me a bit. I'd thought I'd arrive by 3:00. Instead I didn't make it until around 5:30 and late afternoon thunderstorms were doing their late afternoon thing over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
I asked a ranger if he thought I'd be able to get to High Dune and back by sunset. He hemmed and hawed, clearly not wanting to have to state the obvious as lightning crashed to the north. "What's the worst that could happen," I asked, already knowing the answer.
"Well, you could get hit by lightning," was the matter-of-fact response. Super.
Medano Creek and following the clearly established tracks. The moisture actually seemed to make the sand a little easier to walk on, and added an interesting visual dimension to the footprints.
HDR feature to blend three exposures of this scene. Not bad. But with that break between the lowest clouds and horizon, I felt that there was a chance for a spectacular sunset. The problem was that sunset was still about 45 minutes away. What to do ...
Duh. I stuck it out, hunkered down below the ridge line for the most
part to try and stay out of the strongest gusts. A couple of young guys
joined me, one of whom was wearing just shorts and a tank top. THAT
dude I felt bad for.
It's really true that anything worth having is worth working for. The drive, the hike, the hesitancy over the weather, the stinging sand. Sure, I've gotten some great shots just pulling my car over and leaning out the window. But this ... this was something I felt I'd earned. I didn't just have a shot; I had an experience. A memory. A story. One I'm delighted to get to share with you. :)