The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Adventures at 8200 Feet

Today we made our way from Santa Fe to Mosca Colorado, home to Great Sand Dunes National Park. This park has to be one of the best kept secrets of the National Parks. It is fairly remote and there is no lodge inside the park. We are staying in a motel just outside the park, which closes for the season at the end of October. This place is beautiful and fascinating. Basically the winds have piled the sand against the mountains, creating dunes as high as 750 feet off the valley floor. There are no restrictions, you can walk, hike, and/or surf on the dunes 24/7. At this time of year, the temperature hovers around 60 on a sunny day and the fall foliage contrasts with the colors of the dunes. The Sangre de Christo Mountains which lie on the eastern edge of the park are already dusted with snow. DH and I went on 2 little hikes today and I don't think we saw more than 5 people.

We started at a trailhead a few miles outside the park to hike to Zapata Falls. The hike started at about 8600 feet and I could feel the paucity of oxygen molecules as soon as we started walking up. Even though we were in Santa Fe for 4 days, the elevation really made it tough. When we got to the creek, 1 of the 5 people we met on our adventures today told us that we had to hike IN the stream to get to the waterfall. So we had to skip across the rocks and scoot around the edges to get to the waterfall inside a little cave. It was a little bit challenging but we made it without getting wet. It was a fun little adventure.

Our second hike started at the Point of No Return-- the furthest point on the "primitive road" unless you have real 4 wheel drive (our Toyota RAV4 did not qualify). From there we hiked a half mile through the sand to the base of the dunes. We hiked up onto the dunes a bit. This was hard work! (Luckily we did not bite off more than we could chew). But standing on the dunes beneath the snow capped mountains was awesome. Tomorrow we will hike up to the top of one of the tallest dunes to view the entire dunefield. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Change of Venue

Change is good, especially when change involves traveling to incredibly beautiful places where you spend time exploring, and challenging yourself in new ways DH and I are in New Mexico. Yesterday we spent time at Bandelier National Monument, experiencing the culture of Native Americans who lived in and around these striking volcanic cliffs and canyons. Our hike took us to a cave dwelling 140 feet above the floor of the canyon. We had to climb a series of ladders, which wasn't easy at any elevation, but especially at 6000+ feet. DH and I were both huffing and puffing going up those ladders. I am glad that I was up to the challenge. It never occurred to me that I couldn't do it. It was a wonderful experience, to be up there looking down the canyon, and thinking about the people who made their home in those caves.

Today's adventure had us exploring Santa Fe on foot. We walked.... and walked.... and walked. We saw some incredible art and learned about the history of New Mexico. Both of us are now sitting around with our feet up! This was much harder on our feet than going out for a run. We're loving being out here.