Jun 17

Wild Wild West! Day 8 Hiking The Dunes and Making New Friends!

by in Camping, Colorado, Nomadic Life

 

Good morning brisk 54 degree air. It is a pleasure to wake up with fresh air and a view of the mountains. Getting to this site just before dark was fantastic timing that was completely out of my control.

Mountains of Colorado

After packing up camp and paying for my campsite I rode back to Walsenburg, CO which was about three miles back from the way I came in. I needed some gas and sunscreen because today I’m off to see the Great Wizard of Oz… Wait I mean the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado! After getting what I need I am on my way out of town and pull in to see who BMW guy is in the parking lot. It turns out to be Eddie Price and he is from Madison, Ga!! Who would imagine two Georgia boys on BMW’s in the same little town at the same time. So we talked about bikes, routes of where we were headed, and where we had been. Upon Eddie telling me about his route I ask if he wanted my Butler Map for Arkansas. He said sure and I informed him that I probably wouldn’t need it. He said thanks and I ask him if he wanted to ride out with me since we were headed the same way. Eddie was good with that and said ” Isn’t it funny two Ga boys had to come all the way to Colorado to meet up for a ride.” This comment made me chuckle and reflect on the depth of this simple statement. I was glad Eddie and I met as he was a fantastic guy! He even invited me to church in my riding gear if I ever came through Madison on a Sunday. We are all saddled up and off we go towards Alamosa, CO via HWY 160 west.

Eddie and I had a beautiful ride across Hwy 160 that took us over one pass. The views and the valleys were spectacular.  Once we got to the road that turned off to the Dunes I headed right and Eddie waved by and kept on rolling. Thank you again for letting me ride with you Eddie! I hope you and your boys have fun up in Yellowstone. The road to the Dunes is about 16 miles long and once the dunes come into view you are awestruck by their massive size and the fact that they lie at the foothills of mountains.

There is only one campground inside the park and before I reach the gate there is a sign that reads “Pinyon Flats Campground Full”. Talk about a disappointing message. I’ve come all the way from Ga to camp here today and even battled thunderstorm yesterday that delayed me and they are full? So I ride up to the main gate and confirm that the campground is full and the ranger confirms they are. I’m going to the park anyway so I pay the three dollar entry fee and decide to ride into the campground just to see what happens. First a quick stop at the visitors center to see if they can help or squeeze me in. It is a busy Saturday and the parking lot of the visitors center is packed. I walk in and ask the volunteer at the front desk and she says as of 9:45am they had 13 spaces left in loop 1 and that was it. She suggested that I hurry over but the sign and the ranger at the gate seemed to know more so my hopes weren’t high that any were left. However I did bolt over to loop 1 and rode through. Not a single site available. So I decided to do two things. The first was to ride through again and the second was to ask God if he wanted me here and if so to provide a place. I’m now halfway around for the second time and I see a couple packing their car with the last few items of camping gear. I just passed here and didn’t not see them and these loops only take about sixty seconds to go around. I stop and ask if they are leaving and she says yes BUT the lady standing over to my left by the bathrooms has already claimed it. Disappointing. I was so close. Then I notice the lady walking towards me as I’m sure to say this is my spot but instead she says hello. Then she informs me that her son and her are sleeping in their car tonight and setting up a real camp tomorrow so I am free to use the site as they don’t need anything but parking. Okay Wow God is totally in control of this world! I’m so thankful and surprised about this but I quickly accept the offer, park, and go put my tent on the site. So I got a site and the couple that left had already paid for two nights and only stayed one so camping by the sand dunes ended up being free. Plus I have two new friends to share it with.

Meet Sherri and Augustus. Two fantastically awesome adventurous people who were kind enough to let me hangout at their site!

After setting up my tent I realized I haven’t eaten today and it’s 2:00 so I ride out of the park to a little store/restaurant to have lunch. I’m not sure what this is that the waitress recommend but I know it wasn’t healthy but tasted fantastic!

I finish up lunch and head out in the parking lot to see a crew of real KTM adventure riders rolling into the parking lot. They come up and talk for a bit and give me some advice on dirt roads to ride in the area. I tell them my Beemer can’t go the places their KTM’s can and they respectful inform me that the BMW is a good bike that can get the job done. I really appreciated these guys and their friendly demeanor. Plus the fact that they were seriously riding almost all dirt roads across the state! 

Notice anything special on the bike in front?

I gave this gentleman who was from Denver a sticker and he walked over and slapped it right onto his bike! Plus he has the same “Freedom” sticker on his bike that Croley and myself both have! Rock on! I apologize for not remembering your name but I hope you had a safe ride and thanks for all the helpful advice!

They KTM guys roll out and so do I. They are headed to ride more and me I am headed back to camp to change. It’s time to hike some Great Sand Dunes!

I am headed over to see another BMW rider who I noticed was camping a few sites over from me. It doesn’t appear he is around as most people are down at the dunes but I stop for a picture with his bike. The Mule deer are clearly around with not a care in the world.

I’m off to hike to the top of the dunes! A creek crossing is part of the journey just to get to these massive things.

It is a long way up these guys and the wind is starting to gust. 

Maybe I could be a dune tour guide because hiking around on these things is seriously fun! What an experience.

As I am resting about a third of the way up a couple comes hiking up my way. I start talking with them and we just keep hiking and talking. This is AJ and Naomi. He is a veterinarian from Denver and she is from Cost Rica. They are one awesome couple who I am happy came along the trail.

They were nice enough to let me hike with them. I hope this wasn’t a special couples hike. If it was guys I apologize but truly I enjoyed hiking together! You two are both fantastic people and my Great Dunes hiking experience would have been lacking had I not had the pleasure of hanging with you guys. Also Naomi I appreciate the insight into your life and your wise words of wisdom. After meeting your mom I can see where you get your vivaciousness from! She was so sweet! Together we made it to the top of the dunes. I was so happy to be there that I forget to take a picture looking over the edge. At one point on the way up the three up us had to kind of huddle up and wait out a serous rain/wind storm that had all the sane people heading off the dunes asap. Not us though. We waited it out and got sandblasted because we were halfway up and nobody wanted to wimp out. Even though the wind was about to blow us off the dunes! AJ and I after running down the dunes full speed!

I met some girls from the west coast while out playing on the dunes. Strike that pose!

Once we return from the dunes hike I get to meet Naomi’s mom and she is wonderful! She begins to tell us how she was watching us hike but didn’t understand why we didn’t come off the dunes with everybody else when the storm came it. Luckily it passed after about thirty minutes and ended up being perfect weather to finish the hike with. She said she figured if something happened to AJ and Naomi at least they were together. I informed her if it wasn’t for them I would probably be buried in sand up to my neck stuck forever in the dunes. She laughed and I’m pretty sure thought I was crazy. They gave me a lift back to my campsite and I headed back over to meet the BMW rider and hear his story. This is Stretch Gilbert from Laos, New Mexico. He was a friendly guy camping out with his daughter and grandkids. Stretch if you are reading this I want you to get some new tires! Stay safe.

Back at camp my new found friends are making dinner and offer me some. I accept the offer.

Augustus the chef in training goes to work and makes one of the best PBJ sandwiches I’ve ever had! Thanks Augustus. 

After two sandwiches Sherri drives us all down to the Mars Walk. This is a sunset guided tour that tells about how the Great Sand Dunes are being studied and compared in order to figure out Mars.

Some people from Switzerland that I met on the Mars walk. His name was Beat and I don’t recall her name. I’m sorry. They were such a neat couple and I enjoyed laughing with them. They rented and RV to trek across the western part of the USA for five weeks.

I am so thankful for all the friends I have met today. We survived a storm on the Great Sand Dunes, gave away a sticker, got a free campsite, and just had a wonderful day. I’m looking forward to a cozy night in the tent. Wherever YOU are get out there and live your life to the fullest. Check out the quote below and be mindful of others who are traveling. These could be your new best friend! Goodnight.

“A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill

One Response to “Wild Wild West! Day 8 Hiking The Dunes and Making New Friends!”

  1. From Cathy Carpenter:

    Glad to see all is going well for you! Continue to experience life and make a difference in the lives of those you meet for Christ. Last day in GUATE, headed back to ATL tomorrow, and then on to Colombia.

    Posted on June 19, 2013 at 2:01 am #

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