Day 1 (Monday): Our hiking leader, Josh Bleeker, spearheaded a day hike to the mythical and mysterious sand dunes of Colorado. To get to the dunes we took Mosca Pass. There were 6 of us that were brave enough for the journey. Josh, Sebastian, Lora, Nick, Catherine and myself. This was not the only way to get to the sand dunes. The dunes are an official state park, and you can drive there, but from where we were staying, it took about 4 hours to get there. You would have to drive all the way around a couple mountain ranges to get there.
It was quite a trek to get to the trail head of the path. We had to drive for an hour and a half just to start walking. This was mostly because a good portion of the road to the trail head was gravel and very winding.
Josh is pointing out our coordinates on the trail map at the trail head of Mosca Pass.
Mosca Pass – Elevation 9,750 ft
Located on the west side of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range in Central Colorado, lies a truly bizarre sight – Massive sand dunes surrounded by 14,000 ft mountain peaks. Josh built the anticipation by telling us that it looks as though a portion of desert has been dropped right in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. We were quite excited to see this phenomenon.
Apparently, if you had a jeep small enough, this was as far as you could drive it.
This fallen tree was huge!!
Nick, balancing on a log. What skill!!!
We walked through a clearing for about a kilometer before heading into a forested area.
Nick and I keeping pace.
Catherine and I usually end up at the rear of hikes/treks. We LOVE to take a lot of photos and not everyone likes to wait for us. Which works for us because then we can be more silly if nobody is looking!!
It’s always more fun taking the road less traveled!
At the beginning of our week in Colorado Josh gave a message about Gods beautiful creations. His advice was for us to appreciate and see everything for how magnificently it was created. We thought about this while we were hiking, and there certainly were many reminders of this along the way to the Sand Dunes.
Great shot!! Catherine was way behind the rest of the group, so she could get photos like these!
The scenery changed within a few seconds. From this…
The first portion of the hike was not very strenuous. It was almost all down hill. We lost quite a bit of elevation…
That was, until we got to the rocky portion of the hike.
All of the sudden we turn a corner and off in the distance we see such an amazing sight!
An ocean of sand in the middle of the mountains.
We had to go downhill for a while to reach the road to the sand dunes.
We spent the whole week in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range.
After this bridge we reached the “start” of the walk to the visitors centre. It was a short distance from here, especially when compared to the 4 hours of walking that we just did.
There were camping grounds nearby. This would be a great place to come camping!
Not far to our destination – We could see the dunes in the distance however we had to cross a road and enter the visitors center.
This tree had recently been struck by lightning.
Displays, exhibits, and information inside the Sand Dune Visitors center.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve -Elevation: 8166 feet
Never too old to try out the the gadgets.
The visitors centre was quite far from the dunes however the distance provided a good full view of them.
We sat by the shade of the building and while we rested and ate our lunch.
After eating our lunches prepared by the Hermit Basin Conference Center Staff (Ham+Cheese sandwich with chips, an apple, and some juice), we sat and stared at the sand dunes. Lora and Catherine wanted to walk to the dunes. All us guys received enough satisfaction just basking in its presence.
This deer was quite close to Catherine and Lora as they crossed the plains to reach the sand dunes.
The entrance to the dunes resembled a path leading to a beach.
However, instead of being faced with sand slopping downwards, you are faced with a mountain of hot sand that only grows as you get closer to it.
To the right of the dunes you can see the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the background. It really does look as if these dunes have been superimposed here. They don’t look as though they belong among these blue mountains. It really is a SPECTACULAR view!
Here is a view of the dunes which shows just how magnificent they are:
(Picture taken from Wikipedia)
The closest people look like ants. This shows how massive these dunes are!
The Great Sand Dune National Park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America. Researchers say that they started forming less than 440,000 years ago. The dunes are formed from sand of the Rio Grande and its tributaries. As the years go by, winds pick up the sand from the river flood plain. The wind loses power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, and the sand then falls on the eastern side of the valley. As this continues to happen, the dunes are slowly growing. The shape of the dunes change daily depending on the wind.
Catherine and Lora took a few pictures, and then headed back to us (shoes filled with desert sand).
The view back towards the visitor center was totally different.
Catherine says that she had to constantly turn back to look at the dunes again,
because the sight was bizarre!!
After the girls returned from “the desert” and the guys had finished relaxing, so we headed back to the trail to begin our journey home.
Luckily we just had to walk back the same exact way we came.
We added our rocks to the stack.
Rock stacking is an art, discipline or hobby in which rocks are placed on top of each other in various positions. This is a very common sight in Asia and Catherine always stops to add another rock to stacks like these. Once again, you can tell why we are at the back of a hiking group. We like to take it all in 🙂
Nick and I just enjoying the crisp mountain air.
Catherine is a PRO hiker!! I don’t think she even broke a sweat… As I was gasping for air and needing rest stop. She was prancing around taking photos and joking around.
Hey, this is my tree!! Someone carved my initials into it.
The way back through the rocky part of the trail was quite a bit harder than the first time a couple hours earlier. I don’t know whether it was more difficult because I was more tired or because it was uphill this time, but I struggled a bit. Nick had a previous injury that made the hike quite difficult for him. Thankfully, since Nick struggled more with the hike, my difficulties were masked by his.
There she goes… Skipping ahead of us like she has all the energy in the world! 😉
Being the great guide that Josh is, he allowed small breaks to catch our breath, but he knew that we didn’t want to get stuck in a rain storm that was slowly creeping our way so he tried to keep us going at a good pace.
The skies started to darken above us.
When the rain started falling Catherine didn’t stop taking pictures.
At this point the rain was falling in big drops and we felt instantly refreshed by them.
The thunder rolled above us… It was a beautiful experience!!
This old truck has been here for awhile….
When the sun broke through the trees again, the sight was breathtaking!!
God’s work is undeniable visible here.
Such a good hiking team!
Wow, look at that storm behind us!
Even though the lightning was crashing in the distance.. Catherine stopped to take pictures of the flowers. She just can’t get enough of these beautiful creations!!
On the way home we stopped the car to take a look at the storm heading our way.
Keeping up with Josh on the road proved to be as difficult as trying to hike at his speed! 😉
His motor goes the same speed at everything he does.
Our first full day of adventure in Colorado was created and guided by our fearless hiking leader, Josh. We were so grateful to have been able to go on this hike and spend time with Josh, Sebastian, Lora, and Nick.