This camping life...
Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
20Trip End Jan 04, 2011
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While camping in the high desert, we've been reflecting on how our daily routine is dictated by when the sun rises and sets. During the day, it's typically in the mid 70s to low 80s (24 to 28 centigrade) - so we're climbing in shorts and t-shirts. But come sunset at about 6:15 pm, the temperature suddenly drops by about 20 to 25 degrees, so that by 7:30 we're bundled up in lots of layers with hats and gloves on. Then, instead of vegging in front of the TV for a few hours, we sit and watch a campfire - those cold autumn nights just fly by! We usually go to bed at about 9:00 pm, because it's so cosy in our new sleeping bags in our new tent. Temperatures overnight have been going down to the low 40s to mid 30s (6 down to 3 centigrade), so in the morning before the sun comes over the mountains at about 8:15 am, it's gloves and hats time again. Then, once the sun appears, within an hour we're back in shorts and t-shirts. At first, the extremes seemed really strange - so different from England - but now we've settled into a rhythm.
Anyway, enough of all this reflection stuff and on with our latest news... We stayed at Shelf Road for a week and did some great climbing. In fact, Amanda discovered that the typical vertical, balancey climbing on positive holds here was her forte, managing to toprope a couple of routes given 10.b/c (about French 6b). Darrell also did some enjoyable routes, but his favourite so far is definitely the steep, juggy climbing at Red River Gorge (and probably always will be).
On Sunday, we moved on to the Great Sand Dunes, about 150 miles away - unbelievable! They're these massive dunes, covering about 35 square miles on a plain between mountain ranges with 14,000 foot peaks. The tallest dunes reach 700 feet above the plain - it's such a bizarre sight. We hiked up to one of the biggest ones, which took over an hour - a really hard slog in soft sand - 2 steps forward, 1 step back. The views were amazing and the walk back down was some of the best fun we've had - running, jumping and slithering down the dunes. There were people up there with toboggans, saucers and even skis, and we saw one guy kayaking down a dune!
We camped last night at Pinon Flats campground in the Great Sand Dunes preserve. Our site looked directly out at the dunes - so peaceful and quiet, and the dunes looked eerie in the bright moonlight. Our only fear was....bears! There were loads of warning posters all around the campsite about being "Bear Aware" - not keeping any food, toiletries, rubbish, etc. in your tent or lying around. They provided a big, lockable metal box on each site to put stuff in, but that doesn't stop you thinking that you'll get eaten by a bear who fancies a midnight snack. And here's a real sign of true love - when Amanda needed to go to the toilet at 2:00 am, Darrell voluntarily got up and walked up to the toilets with her!
Today we woke up to a cold, grey morning with some snow on the highest peaks and drove another 150 miles to Durango, Colorado - but more on that later...