Woke up, drove to Alamosa to get bomb lengua and fish tacos, visited my arch nemesis at Great Sand Dunes (aka sand ... so much sand 😦), drove endless miles along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and ended up in the badass small mountain town of Salida, where of course we had pizza and beer. So yeah, we had a pretty badass Colorado day.
Alpenglow, Mount Herard Above Dunes
Though it's been a dry winter season so far, the mountains have been blanketed with snow a few times. At moments like the one in this photo, the reason for the historical name of this mountain range becomes apparent. At evening, sunlight shifts toward red on the color spectrum as it shines across atmospheric haze in this vast valley. Early explorers, moved by this phenomenon, gave these mountains a unique name: "Sangre de Cristo" - the Blood of Christ.
These mountains are also unique in that they rise dramatically from the desert valley floor to over 14,000 feet (4267m). Beyond being a stunning visual backdrop to the dunes, the Sangre de Cristos are an important geological barrier to form the dunefield, and a setting for multiple ecosystems with incredible biological diversity.
Great Sand Dunes National Preserve protects the portion of this range that is the dunes' snowy watershed, the source of refreshing streams that wrap around the dunefield each spring!
So, I thought I was done with bagging new 14er summits this year 🤔 NOPE! Summited Blanca Peak (14,345’) today, Colorado’s 4th highest mountain. Took 12 hours total. Slog fest. Suffer fest. 😭 Almost cried. Lots of loose loose rock and fresh snow, so you know what that means! Yep, POST HOLING!! 😫 But we made it!! 🗻🗻🗻 14er #36 !
Can you have a cattle ranch without a beat-up Jeep? I think not. I cannot but help #talkingexcitingly about the history preserved at the Chase Ranch, a working cattle ranch and one of many Philmont trek starting points.