We got a slow start as usual, but the rapidly rising temps made it easy to keep moving once we started. Nate was a little intimidated by the steep slopes next to the 4WD road, so we headed back to the main dunes area to do some sledding. Sledding? Didn’t this trip take place in August?
Indeed it did. Several places next to the National Park will rent you sleds and snowboards to use on the sand. The boards are made of wood, and with the addition of wax, you can glide on the sand- to a point.
Sand sledding differs from snow sledding in a few important ways. A steep slope is critical; once the angle gets shallower your sled stops suddenly. There is no gliding to a slow stop like you get on snow. You pretty much have to seek out the steepest slopes you can find to get a decent run.
There are no lifts to carry you back up the mountain. You have to climb up on your own. Which doesn’t sound that bad, until you combine this with the previous point that you can only sled on the steepest of slopes.
Finally, when you wipe out on sand, you get a mouthful, an earful, a shirt full of… sand. Sand doesn’t melt into water like snow does. It stays there. It is no exaggeration to state that I was q-tipping sand out of various bodily orifices for more than a few days afterwards.
But even with those facts, we did our best. We did a number of runs, some successful, some not. Dorinna came close to really hurting herself when she did a neck/back flip at the bottom of a steep hill (captured on video, naturally).
We struggled to find a spot away from the wind to eat lunch. Afterwards, Nate announced he was tired, so we headed back to the car. We filled up our water jugs for our next camping trip and picked up Nate’s Junior Ranger badge at the visitor center.
From there, we drove into Alamosa, where we had snagged a hotel reservation for the night. We cleaned up gear, swam in the pool, and got our well-deserved showers. We ended the day with excellent Mexican food.