Dancing Sands Greet Us

Let’s just face it – I’ve been a little delinquent with blogging this fall.  Now that fall is about to turn into winter faster that I’d ever imagine, I guess it’s time to catch up – no excuses!  (Plus, doing all of this catch-up on a new computer that replaces the previous one that was 5+ years old will make it all go a helluva lot faster.)

I think last we left off we were nearing our annual trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park for a weekend of camping.  Of the trips we’re fortunate enough to take most years, we probably look forward to this one most of all.  And once again, the park didn’t disappoint.  (Does it ever, really?)  As soon as we got camp setup, I grabbed my camera and went out to play for the afternoon.

Driving into the park, I had my eye on the skies and saw the clouds building – might be thunderstorms, might just be happy puffy white clouds Bob Ross always so effortlessly plunked down on canvas on PBS back in the day.  No matter because, for me, the clouds meant drama.

The muffling of the sun that afternoon scratched any chances of getting late day shots of the shadows as they set in on the dunefield.  The trade-off though was that they created shadows on the mountains in the distance, making highlights pop a little more vibrantly than usual in the hills.  I was just happy the clouds and the highlights held on long enough for me to get in position and play a little.

An unwelcome partner with the clouds though was the wind.  Wind is one of the key ingredients in why the Dunes are there in the first place, so as annoying as it can be as it’s sandblasting your ankles, you learn how to deal with it knowing that it’s just nature at work rebuilding and shifting the piles of sand.  For me, it provided some opportunities to catch the grains in motion.

One of the most common ways to catch the sand shifting is simply on a ridge within the dunefield.  The wind blows up one side and the sand goes clear off the top and somewhere else in the field.  Over long stretches of time, that’s how the dunes change their shape.  Each day though, the wind acts as nature’s Etch-a-Sketch shaking things up and erasing the footprints left by folks scampering the hills.  I caught that Etch-a-Sketch shake at work knocking out some footprints left earlier that day…

Windy March

Later on, we dipped down into one of the valleys in the dunefield and I turned around and saw the winds swirling just the right way to make the sands dance along a slightly dampened surface.  The sand in the shade hadn’t quite dried out from showers earlier that day or the day before, letting the lighter, drier sand twirl across it in the sweetest dance.  It was truly mesmerizing to sit and watch, and even harder to capture that grace on film…

Dancing Sands

Hard to believe that this was just the start of our long weekend at Dunes!  It was a really promising beginning that didn’t disappoint the rest of our stay.  (More on that in future posts – consider yourself teased!)

 

-JC

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