March 12, 2004

New Mexico – Snow, Caverns, and Sand Dunes

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 5:15 am by diandy2004

Our first activity after arriving in Carlsbad, believe it or not, was not the Caverns, but to drive back into Texas to hike in the Guadalupe Mountains.  We hiked in Dog Canyon, which was more remote and generally used for backcountry hiking.  We were surprised to find snow on the ground!  We hiked the Lost Peak Trail/Tejas Trail.  It was beautiful with lots of conifers and canyon views.  The rangers were two of the friendliest Park Rangers – well, they are either naturally friendly, or maybe they were just bored and lonely since this section of the park doesn’t see a constant stream of visitors.

Diane hiking Dog Canyon

Diane hiking Dog Canyon

We also visited Carlsbad Caverns, of course.  The caverns are huge.  Which was part of the beauty and part of the drawback.  Formations were so far away you couldn’t see detail, but the size of the caverns was awe-inspiring in itself.  We chose to do the Natural Caverns Entrance and the Big Room.  Carlsbad has “backcountry” caves, but it sounded as if most only have vertical entries.  If we ever get into serious caving, it would be interesting to come back and try those.

Leaving Carlsbad, we drove through a town called Cloudcroft.  As the name suggests it was a summit pass.  The elevation at the pass was 8,650 and we had a 6% grade with turns to maneuver.  We’ll be confident RV drivers in no time with these types of challenges.  We could start seeing White Sands NM in the distance once we crested the summit.  At first you couldn’t tell what the “white area” was – clouds? beach?  White Sands was much larger than we anticipated.

We rented sledding saucers at the visitor’s center and went sand-sledding.  I think it’s the best way to experience White Sands.  We spent hours playing.  Crawling back up the slope of the dunes though was a killer.  Remember sledding as a kid (or even skiing)?  2 seconds down, 10 minutes to get back up.  Same thing.  At least we had one good day at White Sands, because then it rained for 2 days.  Yes, it rained in the desert.

Sand Sledding in White Sands

Sand Sledding in White Sands

Andy Sledding the Dunes

Andy Sledding the Dunes

White Sand and Blue Sky

White Sand and Blue Sky

The other thing we enjoyed about White Sands was stargazing.  We’d sit out at night and enjoy the immensity and brightness of them all.

Some more of our “Firsts” (not mentioned in the posts):  Dirt Devils; using public restrooms to conserve on water; having to drive around to find a spot with cellphone service; having to worry about layers of clothes for constantly changing temperatures.


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