This photograph makes me happy :) Every time I look at my footprints coming down the sand dune, I am filled with the same sense of accomplishment, excitement and peace I felt the day I visited and hiked in Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Six weeks prior to leaving Arizona for Maryland, I had an exercise inhibiting surgery. When I arrived at the sand dunes, I knew I wanted to hike as much as I felt able and possible. I woke up feeling great that morning and the weather was perfect. There were also very few people at the park and on the sand dunes. One school bus of students from Gunnison rolled in, but they mostly stayed on the lower dunes (sledding/skiing down) or playing in the water.
There was an overall serene and peaceful feeling to the park that day. Perhaps this quiet stillness is common, or maybe my timing was just right :)
When I started my hike, I knew it would require some work given my little legs and the deep sand. I laughed at myself, a lot, during this hike. I laughed because of how far I sunk into the sand with each step. I laughed over the amount of clothing I was tearing off my body in the first few hundred feet of the hike. I laughed after being mistaken for one of the high school kids by two older men hiking for their fourth day. And my most favorite laugh was when I reached the top, plopped down in the sand and ate an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies while chugging water :) I had an amazing time!
The views on the way up, while sitting at the top and on the way down were breathtaking. Every direction I looked offered a spectacular scene to take in. I honestly can not wait to go back and hike these sand dunes again and again.
What I love most about the Sand Dune Footprints photograph is the visible path I took coming down from the top of the dunes, and the fact that my footprints are the only tracks to be seen. When I was hiking down, I purposely chose a clean path. I wanted to hike out on smooth sand, untouched for days, possibly longer.
I mostly travel alone and rarely capture photographs of myself in the amazing places I visit. To me, this photograph is more special than my iPhone selfie sitting at the top of the dunes. This captures the evidence of the path I chose and an amazing memory I love to look back on.