This evening I headed out to the White Sands National Monument. What makes this special? Well, in the middle of the New Mexican desert are an enormous set of sand dunes that are much closer to the imagery the word ‘desert’ brings to mind.
Out one side of my truck- absolutely nothing taller than a foot until you reach the mountains 20 miles away Out the other side of my truck, giant sand dunes that just spring out of nowhere
I found a hiker’s entrance and walked up onto the dunes. It turns out that is not the primary access point- that’s about a mile further down the loop. That explains why I didn’t see a single other person on the dunes until I was leaving.
I was in complete isolation while on the dunes. No animals, no people. You’re a 30-minute drive from the city, so you don’t hear city noise. When I climbed to the top I could occasionally hear a car as it drove down the road by the dunes. That’s it. When you get down below the windline, it’s simply silent. Not just quiet- silent. You can shout and the sand kills your echo, so you don’t hear anything bouncing off your surroundings. If you stand still, you hear a very intense ringing in your ears as your brain struggles to find anything to listen to, and only finds the sound of your blood flowing through your veins. It’s a quite the experience!
While trying to reach dunes the lack of footprints told me nobody had been to in quite a while, I managed to very easily step ankle-deep in sand, filling my shoes. But the sand was so fine and soft that I didn’t really care. A far cry from my trips to the beach! There were some signs talking about kit foxes, but this is the only animal life I saw on the dunes. The tops of these plans are composed of dry pods with some rattly bit inside them. When you shake the plants they sound like rainsticks. Cool!