San Luis Valley, Southern Colorado (USA) – Last day of February 2015
Nice chilly winter weather. ;-) I heard on the car radio that more snow was on the way for this area, 3″ to 8″ of fresh snow, and it would start coming down last night. “Hmm…, I thought, it might be nice to wake up this weekend in a snow-blanketed Great Sand Dunes National Park…“
It was already getting dark by the time I was done transcribing & translating a piece of Belgian TV news (re. them cracks in two Belgian and possibly many more other nuclear reactor vessels…) in a cool coffee shop in the little town of Del Norte.
By the time I got there, the Great Sand Dunes N.P. Visitor Center was already closed. Luckily, I found a Park Ranger. Or: he found me. ;-) As the only visitor in the park, he seemed to think I was lost. “Can I help you find something?” ;-) He gladly wrote me a backcountry camping permit and off I went in the snow-reflected dim moon light.
For wilderness camping here, you have to hike past the first upper dune horizon, say, an hour or so hiking in, minimum. Pitched my tent in a flat spot that was not too wind-swept, and slept well. Some geometrical mandalas, but no dreams… Some coyotes howling in the early morning.
It did snow, but less than 1″. (1 inch is 2.54 cm) Oh well, was still véry beautiful.
When the wind died down, that’s about a close to ‘true natural silence’ that I know. Always good to spend time in “my backyard”. ;-) A couple days ago, my 3 months of rent-free winter living (in a foreclosed home that the bank just demanded vacated) did not come to an end, but the comfort of radiant floor heating and a bath tub that was part of that streak of lucky awesomeness did. On the upside, however, my view got even better, ;-) at least this morning: Home sweet home in the snowed-over Sand Dunes. LOL ;-D
That tent there, my current piece of “prime real estate” ;-), is a 4-season 2-person MSR Fury. I’ve been véry satisfied with it. (It replaced a cheapo bullshit Jansport tent that was unable to withstand gale force winds in a 12+ inch of torrential rain storm, and subsequently got shredded to smithereens, almost killing me in a Lost Coast (California North Cast) storm in November 2012.)
Bonus: This time of the year, even on weekends apparently, there’s practically no one there. Not sure why… It’s exceptionally pretty in winter. :-) And in case you wondered, it’s not the accessibility. The roads are fine, kept clear by crews working days and nights: I look forward to the surprise of running into you in that 30 square mile giant dune field some future snowy day, perhaps… ;-)