Saturday, February 26, 2011

Of pinnacles and dunes . . .

Pictures do not do justice to the Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona. Apaches called this the "land of standing up rocks". We hiked 4.5 miles through this "sky island," meandering trails down into Echo Canyon, and appreciated the vista at every turn. Towering pinnacles and crevices reminded us both of the movie "127 Hours." We were not so adventurous in this land once dominated by fierce Apache fighters Cochise and Geronimo.

We next drove north to the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico on our way to Albuquerque. This beautiful national park is at the tip of the Chihuahuan Desert where we could explore white gypsum sand dunes, the largest in the world. Since we are so far from snow (for now), we were fascinated by the purity of the sand, pure white.

The sand dunes continually move and yet a few desert plants have adapted with deep root systems that actually grow deep into the dune. We might be looking at just the top of a desert cottonwood that may have three-quarters of the tree buried in the dune. My favorite was the soaptree yucca with its delicate blossoms and spiky base. These pictures may give you a flavor of our hike. Without very clear trail markers, we would have been lost quickly!

White Sands National Monument

We're resting up in Albuquerque tonight and tomorrow to avoid the snow that seems to be everywhere. May the sun shine where you are!

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