Ascending The Great Dunes June 03 2009, 0 Comments

This morning I ascended the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado for the third time. I have over the last three days learned how to navigate the Medano Creek wearing Glad Tall Kitchen Bags up to my knees to keep me dry while I cross the creek onto the dunes. I have learned to climb up to the ridge of a particular dune to grab the images I want, only to find that it takes me 40 minutes to find a path down from the same ridge! I have learned how to shift the weight of my forty pound backpack full of equipment in order to keep my balance on these very majestic dunes.

My morning climb began around 5:30 am. It was necessary in order to be in place to shoot when the sun hit the dunes at 6:23 am. One only has a few hours before the light goes flat, eliminating color, contrast and shadow. Then one has to wait until about 4:00 pm to climb again.

It is interesting to watch the families who visit here. Some of the children have snow boards and try sledding down the smaller dunes as though they were on a bed of freshly fallen snow. The children too young to climb splash in the same Medano Creek I work so hard to keep from getting wet in. Oddly, I have seen only one other photographer. The poor man had the unfortunate circumstance of having me in his way when I got caught up on a ridge yesterday and couldn’t see clearly as to how to climb down!

Each afternoon it has rained. The lightening bolts shoot down from the heavens. I manage to be down from the dunes before the lightening show begins. I watch from my patio at the lodge. The sand dunes look marbled after the rains. The wind washes away the footprints of the dunes visitors.

The grandeur of these dunes is remarkable. They are a testament to the thousands of years of erosion which has formed them. They are steep, inviting, demanding of physical strength.

The rain is over. Time to climb.