Friday, January 4, 2019

Backpacking Great Sand Dunes National Park: Sunrise beneath the ponderosa pines

An early October sunrise greeted us as we unzipped and crawled out of the tent on Sunday morning. 

While temperatures weren't as frigid like the numbers we experienced in the exposed dune field, it was still chilly with remnants of frost seen about in this subalpine forest that surrounded us. There's something calming about waking up in the wilderness to this kind of stillness. After sipping the dwindling supply of coffee Richie prepared for us, we tore down the tent, loaded up our packs, and said goodbye to our backyard of ponderosa pines we had for night two. Sunday marked the final and third day at Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park and we began our last trek back to Richie's white Volvo caked in dust and mud.
At the start of this year, I made a goal to visit three National Park properties by the end of 2018. On our last hike back to the trailhead, I stayed behind the others, silently taking in the heavenly surroundings. It was a time for reflection too, feeling grateful for surpassing that goal by three. Five national park properties and one national grassland in 10 months is an accomplishment I can surely smile at. All of these cherished public lands are places that feel like home to me.

What national parks, forests, monuments, or wildlife areas are you striving to get to in 2019? Which state parks are on your list?

Cheers,
Robby

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