My first all-girl camping trip!!!! Other than Girl Scouts, I can’t think of a time that I have gone camping with females only – sham on me! This weekend changed that when Tori, Amalia and I drove south 4.5 hours to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
We arrived to the park Friday afternoon as the sun was setting. I had seen pictures of America’s highest sand dunes before and thought the mountains in the background were enhanced to look closer than reality. Not true. These enormous mounds of sand are tucked up right against the Sangre de Cristos Mountains. A river (dried up this time of year) separates the mountains and the sand dunes.
When we got to the park we asked a ranger where the free camping was. He gave great directions and then after looking my car over, he asked if I have 4wd. I confidently informed him Eeky (my Chevy Equinox) was All-Wheel Drive. He strongly recommended 4wd but I didn’t think twice about it and we started into the back country for some free camping via an all-sand road. I have never driven on an all-sand road. Several huge yellow signs told us high-clearance 4wd only, lower your tire pressure to 20PSI (whatever that means), and $400 wrecker fees.
I wish I could say the three of us were cool, calm and collected but the tension in the car was high (even from Kona) as we barreled down the single-lane sand road. Ignoring all signs… we finally got stuck. Petal to the metal, all 4 cylinders cranking, the girls jumped out and started pushing my poor car of the sandy hill. Although their strength was weakend by the all the laughing, they managed to give her (Eeky) just the umph she needed to make the rest of the drive!
I am SO glad we persevered because we (Amalia really) found the most perfect little spot to set up camp. We made an incredible dinner, drank a lot of wine, told ghost stories (kinda of), and enjoyed the cool mountain breeze and fun company!
When morning came I was so happy it was just the ladies. Camping with boys usually means wake up early, quick breakfast, even quicker camp-site tear down, and to the trail head ASAP! Girl camping is sleeping in, taking your time making and drinking coffee, cranking up the music, reflecting on the previous days adventures, and dreaming about the rest of the day. Ah.
When camp was finally all packed up, it was time to explore the dunes! Think about walking on a sandy beach with tennis shoes on. Now think about walking in that sand uphill with no Ocean Breeze and no coastline as your goal. HARD.
Poor Kona had a really hard time. Apparently the sun heats up the sand to 100+ degrees….who knew? Ok, so i am a horrible puppy-mom and really thought my dog could do ANYTHING. I did forgo the hike to the tippy-top to take her back down to cooler temps. Tori and Amalia however made it all the way to the top! I had a blast watching all the kids (and adults) strap whatever kind of contraptions to their feet or bums and slide down the sandy hills… so fun!
After the girls came back down and we rested, ate, and cooled off – we took another necessary stop in these mountains, Zapata Falls. It was definitely a confusing day of extreme temperatures coming from SUPER HOT sand dunes to an EXTREMELY COLD ice-melt water fall but Kona was sure happy to wade around in the icy water. A short .5 mile hike up a path and through a cave takes you to Zapata Falls.