|The Sand Ramp Trail wanders from Great Sand Dunes to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains|
But like all trips, they also hold elements of the unexpected. We arrived at the visitor center to inquire about our plans. Mags had told me of the Sand Lakes region, but because of severe drought, the sand was incredibly thick and unpassable for most vehicles. We were unable to reach the normal trailhead and to do the extra miles to get there would be too much for us. So we looked at an alternate destination and settled on an alpine lake, Medano Lake, nestled beside Mount Herard. I saw pictures of it and thought it looked beautiful. We could take the Sand Ramp trail from Great Sand Dunes National Park out to a forest service road, hike along the road, through seven water crossings, to the trailhead for the lake and camp in its vicinity at a designated campsite - though the ranger told of campsites along the forest service road should we fall short of our goal.
|Papa Bliss slogs through the thick sand and no shade|
We started at a pretty good time of day - early morning to avoid heat issues, but the trail was all sand and thick sand that rapidly filled our shoes and slowed us to where we had to empty our shoes numerous times. There was little shade either on the Sand Ramp trail, and as our hike continued to slow, the day heated up. I was getting my first taste of true desert hiking with heat, sand and prickly pear cactus, something I had never experienced before. I had hoped to maybe camp at the alpine lake region that night, but it was not to be. Our best hope was to hike as far as we could when we reached the forest service road and get as close to the trailhead for Medano Lake as possible.
|Multiple uses for a bear box - a cooking table and a seat combined|
|Our campsite just before the Medano Trailhead; Papa Bliss hammocks, I tent|
|The trail toward Mt Herard and Medano Lake|
|Made it to what snow existed in this region which did not get the snow pack found in northern Colorado|
|Our goal is reached! Medano Lake, resting at the foot of Mount Herard!|
So a grand adventure in many ways, and my first time overnight backpacking out west.
Part 2 - Our adventure into the backcountry of Yellowstone to our own geyser area!