In April I visited White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. I arrived in the afternoon and went straight to the park after checking into a motel in the town of Alamogordo. It was a windy afternoon. I hiked the first short mile loop trail I came across to get an introduction to the terrain.
As I drove further into the park, the wind was blowing sand more heavily, obscuring the sky. With all the sand blowing around, I was afraid to pull out my camera for fear of damage and I was not eager to breath in too much sand after some lung issues I have been healing from. I took some pictures near the road, but with the wind blowing so much and being tired from the journey, I did not stay for sunset that first night.
The next morning, I came back out to the park. The wind was gone and the temperature was not too hot. I started one trail from the center of the park. The trail is marked by markers buried in the sand. Sometimes the sand dunes have started to bury the markers. Without the markers, it would be easy to lose one’s bearings. Photography was a bit of a challenge. The sand was so white and reflective, the highlights tended to overexpose even when the camera was set for proper exposure of everything else.
At mid-day, I drove to the town of Cloudcroft which was 30 miles away and 4000 ft higher in elevation (8600ft). Along the highway, there is a canyon with some views looking back toward White Sands, which is the white streak near the horizon.
There were also a bunch of deserted tourist shops which do not open until summer, including this Apple Barn with its giant apple man statue. I couldn't help thinking about the Stay-puft Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.
Once in Cloudcroft, I had left the desert and entered a land of mountains and pine forests. I walked a mile or more along a rails-to-trails project trail. This was the highest elevation I have been at since last years med issues that hit my lungs, and so I could really feel it on even the short hills. Along the trail were the wooden ruins of the old rail bridges that were built to help the train around some of the sharp curves in the terrain.
After a nap at the motel, I returned to White Sands Park in the late afternoon. The wind was back in the afternoon, but it started to abate as sunset approached. I hiked around some dunes and photographed some of the desert plant life while waiting for the sunset. Without clouds in the sky, the sunset itself was not so spectacular. However the late afternoon light just before sunset made for a few nice pictures.
On this trip, I also hiked and took some pictures in the Organ Mountains from Aguirre Springs Campground, which are covered in an earlier post.