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May 5, 2010

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Getting Sandy in White Sands NM

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Getting Sandy In White Sands NM

7:48 PM – Sunset in White Sands National Monument.  It says so right here on the permit for my backcountry camp site. All visitors have to be out of the park at 9pm.  You’re the only person camping tonight.  The largest gypsum sand dunes in the world all to yourself. Ok, I’m in!  Let’s see this sunset and maybe even a few critters coming out to do their thing later on.

Sadly, the best laid plains don’t always turn out.  And even I’m not going to call my plans more thought out than glancing at a map and thinking lets head that way.

I left Roswell at a decent time for a two hour drive west to White Sands.  Still fighting the wind that hasn’t gone away from earlier in the week.  Despite being May and in southern New Mexico, I went through sleet and snow for half an hour while above 7,000 feet on the way over.  Thank you heated grips!

White Sands is much lower than that and of a more brilliant white than snow.  Or it would be if the sun were out and there weren’t 30mph winds.

Clear Morning

Close

Clear Morning

 

My optimistic side decided to go ahead with a backcountry permit.  Not car camping this time, hike your gear in and bring water with you. Given nearly criminal directions by the park service to the camp sites I managed to find mine after cutting across the path they gave me on a gut feeling. With that stroke of luck and a lull in the wind the tent was set up two hours before dark.  Thank goodness too.  As soon as it was up, here came the wind.

Off I go into the tent and there I stayed until 8… am.  The wind didn’t last that long, no, the rain took over for it after a few hours.  Here’s my sunset view of White Sands.
Yes, that’s my tent being sandblasted.

The morning turned out nice at least.  Gave me a chance to look around take the pictures I couldn’t last night.  That novelty wore out before long knowing that I had sand in and on all my stuff.  I did find a massive animal track not 30 feet from my tent.  I sure didn’t see anything about big animals in the park.  I decided to assume that someone walked a dog before I got to camp.  Glad I didn’t stumble into whatever it was.

 

I’m going to start working my way towards Albequerque where I have a few packages getting shipped to.  Hoping to have shorter travels days along the way and that the wind dies down soon. Tough for me to give White Sands a fair shake under the conditions I had. All I can say is that if the wind is up you aren’t going to want to do much.

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lisa Neely
    May 5 2010

    WOW! It’s beautiful as well as desolate. Thank you for going to this place for me as I wouldn’t be able to stand the quiet (minus the wind) and taking these outrageously cool pictures.

    Reply
    • May 5 2010

      Lisa, you are quickly becoming my #1 fan 🙂

      Reply
  2. Marsh
    May 5 2010

    Bri,
    I agree with Lisa it is quite beautiful! The dunes look like snow. Good to chat tonight, I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes.

    Reply
    • May 7 2010

      Sounds like it may have gone well!

      Reply
  3. Kirsten
    May 6 2010

    Dog track? haha. You are so optimistic, because that is clearly a mountain lion. I’m a wildlife expert you know. Good call on not leaving your tent during the sandstorm, I ruined my camera that way. Great pics though, the red tent really makes good photos.

    Reply
    • May 7 2010

      The more I see it the more a mountain lion sounds right. I really like the tent in there too think I picked all of the tent pics to upload.

      Reply
  4. May 7 2010

    That place looks amazing, great shots!

    Reply
  5. Debbie T
    May 7 2010

    Where are you going after NM? I might be compelled to offer a few more suggestions if I know your general plan…

    Speaking of: http://www.taospueblo.com/

    And:

    http://sccc.acomaskycity.org/

    And:

    http://www.sierrablancabrewery.com/alien.html

    Are you drinking thematically along this route? Any breweries on your tour?

    Reply
    • May 10 2010

      Your multiple link comments keep getting put in holding to ward off spam. I’ll try to figure out how to let them know that they’re good suggestions. Keep ’em coming.

      I did have a Rio Grande Amber. It hit the spot.

      Reply
  6. Julie
    May 11 2010

    Umm, yeah, I’m going to guess that’s not a domestic dog print. It’s hard to tell by the angle and no scale but your possibilities are either coyote or mountain lion and it wouldn’t have been that crisp of a print after a wind/sandstorm, so you had a morning visitor. 🙂

    I’m reading your blog in chunks when I have enough time to really sit down and read through it, so you know, you do have a silent audience out here. We’re watching you…

    Reply
    • May 11 2010

      I can’t fault your reasoning at all. In my opinion is was too big for a coyote, especially a scrawny desert one. And yes I thought about the sandstorm as well. Still without seeing a mountain lion I’m not going to say definitively.

      Reply
      • Julie
        May 12 2010

        The only reason I say possibly coyote was because of the nail marks but based on the width:length and also behaviorally, this screams mountain lion. Trust me, if you see it, it’s a bad thing.

        Reply
  7. Julie
    May 11 2010

    And by “we” I mean me and your wildlife friend. 🙂

    Reply

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