This photograph was taken in the spooky moments just before darkness falls at the Sand Dunes National Monument—a bizarre anomaly occurring in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
I had been scouting locations around the sand dunes to find the perfect observation point to capture the changing faces of the incredible dunes.
It reminded me of the Sahara desert, without the camels.
After days of photographing in the arid and dusty wilderness, I felt I had assembled a great portfolio of images.
The urge to explore the backcountry more was too strong to resist.
I had learned from some off-road motorcyclists that there was an ancient Indian trail that led away from the dune area, up over the mountains, then leading down into the next valley.
I decided to explore . . .
The rutted track was deep sand, so I had to keep my trusty old truck moving at a steady pace so that I would not get stuck.
Then I saw the sign . . . “Point of No Return, reduce tire pressure to 15 PSI”.
I could not reduce the tire pressure, because I had no compressor with me to re-inflate. I continued moving forward—the sign had the same effect as a red flag to a bull!
I negotiated the off-road track with some difficulty—eventually, the sand dissipated and the track changed to rocky ruts and boulders haphazardly strewn in my way.
As I climbed the narrow alpine trail, the landscape changed, and I found myself in a rocky grove of venerable scrub oak, pinion, and juniper.
The gnarled wind swept trunks of these trees, a magnificent witness to the tenacity of their growth and survival in this harsh environment.
Driving back in those boggy, sandy roads was even scarier, tens of miles from anybody or anything.
The first sign of relief was when three girls on horses came around the corner and walked by.
Eventually, I made it back safely.
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