Tuesday 27 May

Trip Start Apr 13, 2008
Trip End Oct 27, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Monday, June 9, 2008

Tuesday 27 May

We drove out of the State Park and headed for the Great Sand Dunes National Park about 15 miles away arriving about 10 am. The kids started another Junior Ranger program and we didn't get to the dunes themselves until around 11:30 am. We had lunch and headed out to walk to the top of the dunes we could see.

At first we easily walked across a very shallow stream and across a rocky stream bed but soon we reached the now very hot sand dunes. We had to put our shoes back on so that we could keep going. Actually we only had jandals and crocs on so we were not really very well protected. It got hotter and hotter and we started having a bit of trouble trying to climb up the sand. Eventually we realised that we would not be able to keep going unless we had proper training shoes on.

Steve was trying to encourage Holly up a bit higher so she made a run for it and although she reached the top of the ridge, she lost a jandal in the process! It got buried in the sand, never to be seen again. We searched for ages for the jandal but couldn't find it at all. It sounds funny but it was not because then Holly was not able to continue walking on the sand which was a bit of a problem seeing as we were in the middle of a whole heap of dunes in the baking heat. The only way to keep from burning our feet was to bury them in the sand to a cooler spot underneath. Not very practical for walking. So Holly squeezed into Zach's crocs and Zach had to get a piggy back ride on Steve's back. It was a bit of an effort to get back but we had a huge sense of relief when we arrived back at the little creek with lovely cool water to stand in.

The creeks are quite unusual in that they flow from the snow melt from the Sangre De Cristo Mountains to the east. The water flows down around both sides of the dunes in late spring carrying sand deposits back down. As the summer goes on the water dries up in the creeks and the wind redistributes the transported sand back into the dunes. It is such a weird sight. The sand dunes first developed over 12000 years ago when it was carried there in the wind from the west and got trapped behind these snow-covered mountains and has remained here ever since. No more sand is still collecting here, but the existing sand keeps being recycled with the water and wind action.

Because of this unique environment it is home to some unique species of insects. It also has a very unusual way of moving the water along the creek... it washes along in pulses or waves which look amazing. It is due to the way the water creates the sand ripples which in turn trap a bit of water behind them rather like a little dam. When the water gets too much the ripple breaks down and the water surges over the top. This constant action creates larger surges or waves of water across the shallow creek. Great fun for playing in and an odd sight to see.

The kids completed their Junior ranger things and we left after that.

We headed to La Junta for the night and slept really well.
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