White Sands, New Mexico — Day 2

Day 1 at White Sands was a play day. Day 2 was set aside for some serious hiking.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

If you’ve never been hiking or exploring in White Sands, there is one thing you have to understand. While most hiking areas threaten, “Do not leave the trail!”, in White Sands, there isn’t much of a trail. There are posts. That is all. When you are at one post, you seek out the next post; if you find it, you proceed, but if you don’t, you turn back. We don’t always find the post. We do always proceed. Shhhh.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

The posts aren’t always highly visible.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

If you’re a little savvy, you can mark your position by the mountains, which makes it significantly less dangerous than it sounds. Still, when you unleash seven kids in that enormous sandbox and say, “Have fun!”, it’s nothing less than incredible.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

The five-mile hike requires hikers to sign in and out, so the rangers know you’re not dead.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

As you can see, this hike took us six hours, which seems like a long time for something listed as a five-mile hike, but it’s much better than Luca several lines above us, who didn’t emerge from the sand until “years later.”

There are several reasonable reasons (as opposed to unreasonable reasons, which are lame excuses) for our six-hour five-mile hike timeframe.

First of all, we hiked about six miles, not five, so that bumps our speed up to one mile an hour. Hold onto your hats!

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Second, this is dune hiking; that’s nothing like your leisurely state park trek or neighborhood stroll!

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Definitely not a neighborhood stroll.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Third, sometimes someone needs a little boost, which slows down the booster significantly.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Really, Emily Rose? Really?

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Marissa is nothing if not a good sport.

Fourth, we have this little one, who really thinks White Sands is a giant sandbox. Just for today, let’s call her Digger. As we hiked, she scouted out the softest sand she could find.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Any chance she could (and many chances she shouldn’t), she stopped to dig. Then she would carry the sand in her hat to another part of the dunes and swap it out for softer sand.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

It was a tedious, time-consuming project, but she was committed to it.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

There are, of course, the big hills.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And the independent climbers. See this, Emily?! Yup.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And the snack breaks. Those definitely slow a hiker down.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And then there’s the sudden inexplicable compulsion to work out math problems in the sand.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And there’s lunch. That’s an hour right there!

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Don’t our kids eat lunch in the best cafeterias ever?!

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Yes. Yes, they do. Blessed lunch-eaters!

Then there’s this strange after-lunch ritual.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Plus there are the sand chips to collect. You can’t not pick up sand chips! (Of course, we didn’t take any sand out of the park, except for the masses that collected in shoes, pockets, undies, and crevices.)

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

We had to take time to curl our toes in the sand. Of course, since most of us hiked barefoot, this wasn’t as time-consuming as one might think.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

There was the obligatory twenty minutes spent playing with the new selfie stick.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Again…

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And again.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And you’ve gotta take time out to sit on a pedestal, which is sand impacted into the roots and branches of a plant, usually a yucca.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

You can’t leave without checking out the tiny details, like the plants.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And you have to stand in awe of the alkali flats…

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And put your shoes back on to cross them or go around.

and put your shoes back on to cross them.

There were daughters that needed hugging.

and put your shoes back on to cross them.

There were dangerous feats that needed feating…

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And re-feating.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

We had to go on a major hunt to find this child hiding behind the impressive berm she built.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Yeah, we thought we lost that one for, like, .000001 seconds there.

Some of us had to nearly die oh-so-close to the mile markers.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

And we had to experiment with all sorts of different ways to scoot down the hills.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Then, when we finally reached the “Only one-quarter-mile remaining” marker, this little wonder sat down on her tiny heiny and pouted, because she wanted to go back the other way–bring on another 4.75 miles!

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

All things considered, our six-hour, five-mile trek was pretty reasonable, right?

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Of course, right.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

The last thing we heard as we left the dunes on day 2 was the ranger on the megaphone: “Park closing! Return to your vehicles!”

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Yup, we closed down the park.

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

Nine in, nine out. Success!

White Sands, New Mexico--A Family Adventure

As much as we love White Sands, it’s not about the place–it’s the people that made this day extra special. As always.

 

Comments

  1. Tammy

    WOW! What a trek! It looks amazing there and you look like you had a blast!! Makes me want to take a trip to New Mexico!! Love you all bunches!

  2. Nancy

    Thanks for sharing! Would have loved to play too!

  3. Elijah

    On day two I actually threw my bombs.

  4. We visited White Sands for only a short time a couple of years ago. We were chased out by a nasty storm. I loved your write up of your time there — I have added a return visit to White Sands to my list for our next trek west.

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