This weekend, I took a road trip out to New Mexico and Texas. Both were states that I had never been to before. Along the way, I stopped at the White Sands National Monument to do some backpacking.
If you’re unfamiliar with backpacking, it basically means you hike away from your car carrying everything you will need for the night. No coolers or cases of beer on this hike. So let’s get started…
My first impression of the White Sand was “Wow!” I have never in my life seen something this cool (and weird) looking. It feels like you are either walking through a blizzard of snow or a gigantic bowl of sugar. Check out this picture to see what I am talking about:
White Sands, New Mexico
The Hike Begins
The hike to our camp spot was just under a mile so it was not too exhausting. The coolest thing is you walk along the dunes and look for posts in the ground. Once you make your way to a post, you look for the next one on the horizon and start walking to it. A lot different than the other hikes I have done where you simply follow the path. Check out this picture of me walking along the “trail”:
It was a little difficult walking up some of the dunes since your feet sink in the soft spots but overall it was fairly easy. We only hiked for about 30 minutes before our camp spot popped up on the left side. From there, setting up the tent was easy since the ground is hard and there are no trees in site. Here is a picture of our campsite:
The Night Sky
It is dark…that’s all I can say. Supposedly it is some of the darkest skies in the United States and I believe it. I have never seen so many stars in my life. I tried taking a few shots of the sky with a long exposure and this is what I managed to get:
Notice how the stars are moving faster than you would think. I only took this picture for about 5 minutes and you can already see the tails from the stars.
The Worst Sleep Of My Life
It was dark, but that sure didn’t make it easy to sleep. I had the worst night of sleep ever. I literally climbed into my sleeping bag and stared up at the sky for 5 hours before I drifted away.
I think the main problem was the fact that the tent was about a foot shorter than I am. It makes it pretty difficult to get comfortable. That, and I tried going to bed around 7:30 PM and I usually stay up until 2 AM at home.
So now your wondering, why did I go to bed so early?
The answer…sheer boredom. After we set up camp, we basically sat on the sand and looked at a whole lot of nothing. It got dark really fast and from that point on it was pitch black. No chairs, no radio, no booze…but still worth it.
This was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. Where else can you hike in to a remote desert and sleep under the stars in a big bowl of sugar? It was amazing how quiet it was while sitting in the dark. It’s sure a nice getaway from the big cities such as Phoenix.
I highly recommend that everyone gives this a try! If you want to see more photos, head over to the White Sands Photo Gallery.
PS. Tune in tomorrow for another adventure, the Carlsbad Caverns.