Through the Dunes

Colorado,Great Sand Dunes
Sunset Ripples : Prints Available

Sunset deep in the Great Sand Dunes.

The Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado are perhaps the most unique landscape in the Rockies, with 700-foot tall sand dunes nestled at the foot of 13,000-foot mountains. Winds that blow across the vast San Luis Valley carry sand grains which become trapped by the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the streams that flow out of the mountains keep the sand in one place, resulting in the tallest dunes of North America.

Last week we spent 3 days trekking around and through the Great Sand Dunes. Similar to a trek I did back in March 2009, in which I circumnavigated the entire dunefield, we hiked up the Sand Ramp Trail along the east side of the dunes, then this time instead of circling around the entire dunes we cut directly through the dunes from north to south back to our starting point.

See lots more photos and the whole trip report below! Continue reading “Through the Dunes”

Dunes and Sangres

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, June, clouds

Stormy Dunes : Prints Available

Ominous clouds brew over the dunes - June.

This last weekend we went on a little road trip to the Great Sand Dunes, followed by a couple nights of camping and hiking in the Sangre de Cristos. We arrived at the dunes in the afternoon on Friday and started the hike into the dunes under a sky full of wild ominous clouds, along with sandblasting winds.

Great Sand Dunes, sunset, Colorado, fiery, Sangre de Cristo

Fiery Dunes Sunset : Prints Available

A fiery sunset over the Great Sand Dunes with the Sangre de Cristo mountains behind - June.

With the heavy clouds above and a clear horizon to the west, I knew that we were in store for a special sunset. I was not disappointed! We found a high west facing dune with a nice vista over the ocean of sand, and waited in the wind until the sun dipped below the clouds and illuminated the scene with intense sunset light. Pretty freaking amazing…

camping, Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, June

After sunset the clouds cleared and the wind calmed down enough for us to stroll around under the moonlight and enjoy our bottle of wine! Not the best night of sleep, though, with sand blowing in our sleeping bags for most of the night. But it’s hard to beat waking up in the middle of the dunes on a glorious bluebird morning!

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, hiking

Hiking out in the morning. I was excited to show Claudia the Great Sand Dunes, one of my favorite places on the planet. She was impressed, and is already looking forward to our next visit.

More photos below! Continue reading “Dunes and Sangres”

A Night in the Dunes

Medano Creek, Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, clouds

Medano Twilight : Prints Available

Spooky clouds hang over Medano Creek and the Great Sand Dunes after sunset. 

On Monday I headed to the Great Sand Dunes for a quick overnighter. I hiked in at about 10pm, slept on a dune for about 4 hours, then woke up around 3:30am to shoot the setting (nearly full) moon, followed by sunrise.

I had a blast out there with the camera… so much fun! And the hike out with Pink Floyd Meddle playing on my iPod was pretty groovy too! Here are some photos from the trip.

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, moonshine

Dunes Moonshine #1 : Prints Available

A setting full moon illuminates the dunes with dim alpenglow, enhanced by a long, high sensitivity exposure.

 
Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, moonshine

Dunes Moonshine #2

A setting full moon illuminates the dunes with dim alpenglow, enhanced by a long, high sensitivity exposure.

 
Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, moonset, San Luis Valley

Dunes Moonset : Prints Available

A nearly full moon sets beyond the San Luis Valley, as seen from the Great Sand Dunes. 

 
Blue, Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Blue Dawn : Prints Available

A deep blue early dawn sky casts a luscious blue hue on the dunes during this 2-minute exposure.

 
Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, sunlight

Touch of Sunlight : Prints Available

These shades of color lasted only for the brief moment when the rising sunlight was just beginning to touch the dunes.

 
Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, sand

Sea of Sand : Prints Available

Waves of sand crash onto the mountain shore.

 
Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, ripples

Two Ripples : Prints Available

Two patterns of ripples catch the morning light in the Dunes. 

 
Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, shadow

Sand Shadows : Prints Available

Morning light and shadow play in the waves of sand. 

I’m Covered in Sand!

Self Portrait in the Great Sand Dunes

After three completely sedentary weeks at the computer, this last weekend I was desperate for some wilderness action, so I headed out on a backpacking trip in the Great Sand Dunes. My initial plan was to do a simple three day hike up and back the Sand Ramp Trail along the eastern side of the dunes. But on the first night I was feeling ambitious and decided to hike all the way around the dunes! Read more about the trip below, and be sure to check out my gallery of photos from the trip.

Continue reading “I’m Covered in Sand!”

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