WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
During our time in New Mexico, we had to visit a National Monument we both have already seen. When I worked in Las Cruces and Eric came to visit right after graduation, I took him to sled down the gypsum slopes of White Sands National Monument at sunset. He claimed for years that he missed a ton of stuff, so we had to go back so Eric got the full experience. I am happy to formally document he said that for a one day, sledding at sunset was a good call since temperatures can be hot even in winter. We also had to visit White Sands again because sledding is just too freakin' fun.
For this visit we were in the beginning of spring, and daytime temps got to about 92 degrees. We arrived in the morning and secured a campsite for our short 1 mile, 1 night backpack. Thanks to the hail storm from a few nights ago, we came prepared with a free sled that a family left behind in their rush to abandon Aguirre Springs and not get pummeled by ice rocks from the sky. After watching the park video (can't miss!) we headed into the dunes for some new experiences.
There are not a whole ton of hikes or activities throughout the park. There is plenty for a full day of fun, but the real joy is just seeing the largest gypsum sand dunes in the world (and sledding down them.) We did the short nature hike before getting our first runs in. I was still mentally exhausted from hiking dunes in Great Sand Dunes National Park so I was not keen on doing the long 7 mile loop trail. Even with our lazy day, we saw whip tail lizards, birds a plenty, and cool insects.
The heat of the day was spent lounging in the retro style picnic area, where I made a crappy mini-painting and Eric played guitar (but mostly napped.)
Once the sun went down we hiked the arduous and extreme one mile through the dunes to our camp for the night. Turns out, backpacking is way better when you can sled downhill. There were also plenty of bleached earless lizards who exhibit unique white camouflage only to this area, since the whole environment is white gypsum sand. Once set up, we took a million photos of the incredible sunset over the vast landscape and ate dinner.
Night time was very still. We had many spider visitors to the vestibules of our tent, and were able to find crickets and bats out and about. Seeing the full moon create shadows through the dunes made the landscape transform at night. It was absolutely worth the extra time.
In the morning we dragged ourselves out of bed for sunrise which never disappoints. Packed up and back to the car before the heat of the morning, we were out of the park before 8:00am.
It was another way we fell back in love with New Mexico. Being able to reminisces about our time when we were younger and create new and equally wonderful memories as old and gray (almost for Eric) 30 year olds.
Song: My silver lining– First Aid Kit