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2010-03-14  

White Sands Marsh, NM
2010-03-1419 by
 
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White Sands Marsh, NM  
Hiking13.36 Miles   6 Hrs   30 Mns    2.06 mph
950 ft AEG   
No Route Match
1st Trip Logged
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Bataan Death March is next weekend, so today was to give my legs a taste of sand. Whenever I read accounts of the folks having done the March, they always comment about the sandy sections. Additionally, I was hoping to find a route that moves around the Dunes, traversing through the lowland areas on the perimeter, making it all the way over to the Playa (Alkali Flats) without having to go out into the Big Dunes... setting up a loop then using the lake bed back up to Alkali Flats trail. This hike would move through what is effectively the portions of the sands that look like salt marshes; the areas that house all the animal life.

I felt I was doing well, but with a late start, after around 8 miles I had to call it quits on connecting with the flats... progress was just too slow, and I kept drifting further and further south, setting up a very long loop. Oddly enough, the big Dunes are much faster to move across... while the faces of the dunes are hyper mushy, allowing you to sink in ankle to knee deep, the dune ridges are usually firm. The only factor that can slow you down is that the dunes do not tend to flow long in the direction you may want to go... but, it is still much faster than moving in the marsh areas. There, every step is mushy... not deep mush, but an energy sapping 15-20% of extra effort with each step, and also that tendency to not go where you want. Hitting the dunes back to the car cut off a couple of miles (I simply walked a beeline, lining sight up with Sierra Blanca peak in the distance).

It was a very different desert sand experience to be always below the dunes; I will have to go back out and complete the exploratory route connection. Of course, it will be only available to those with a GPS unit; I cannot imagine anyone with map skills good enough to hold a route out in that trackless void.

I added a 45 pound pack to make the time well vested. Bataan Death March next weekend should be a piece of cake since I'm hiking in the light class this year (first year, want to see what it's like). Their heavy class requires the 26.2 miles be completed with a 35 pound pack. Something to look forward to in 2011?
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223 Photosets
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