A friend proposed a road trip, a long day’s drive to Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado. Rather than zip along the interstate highway, we took the scenic route over Guanella Pass and Kenosha Pass into South Park and down through the San Luis Valley. She was a kindred soul; we readily agreed to pull over for interesting sights along the way.
When we went early this week, the fall colors were just beginning. The aspens were yellowing in only a few places, and would need another week or so to don their golden brilliance. The snow peaks were gone, having melted in late summer; no early snows dusting the high mountains yet. And the wildflowers were mostly spent. But there were plenty of spots that caught our eyes along the route.
Shadows from intermittent clouds created dark shapes moving among the green hills. A stream, Geneva Creek, on its way to join the North Fork of the South Platte River, gurgled by.
A yard full of old trucks. And some highlights in tiny towns.
As the wide San Luis Valley opened up, the desert landscape painted yellow across the valley floor. The pale shapes of the sand dunes rose up against the eastern mountain range. The dunes were formed by sediment from the surrounding mountains that settled in the valley. Southwestern winds blew the sand up against the Sangre de Cristo range over thousands of years. The peaks and valleys of the dunes are always shifting with the seasons and the winds.
I exchanged my sandals for the sneakers I brought along, while my friend put on moccasins which quickly filled with sand as we headed out over the dry creek bottom and onto deep beach-like sands. She took them off, delighting in the feel of the sand on her bare feet. I was tempted to do the same, but it’s hard to manipulate a camera while holding shoes. It was mid-afternoon and contrasts in light and dark sculpted the dunes, the shadows of hikers stretched longer than their silhouettes. A few hardy plants took root here and there. We sat down on the side of a hill ribbed with lines from wind. In the breeze, a thin spray of sand slid over the surface, footprints slowly disappearing. Quiet and peaceful, enjoying nature in this seeming unnatural place.
Shadows deepened as we left.
Please do not download or reproduce images from this site. ©
Your comments are welcome!
Email me at: Ruth@RuthRosenfeld.com