The last time I was on White Sands Missile Range, on which the Monument is resident, was for annual training with the (now deceased) 153rd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arizona Army National Guard. That was on the south end of post, where the dunes are smaller, but have a lot more vegetation. I somehow managed to lose a battery of self-propelled 155s in the dunes.
Driving in from Las Cruces on Thursday, I had seen a still snow-capped mountain north of Alamogordo, which I am guessing was 11,973 ft. Sierra Blanca Peak. I thought it would make a great background contrast to photos of White Sands’ dunes. Unfortunately, my creative vision was aborted by the 25-35 mph winds that were accurately predicted for Friday in the Alamogordo area. Despite being sand blasted at the Alkali Flat trailhead, I was there to hike, dammit. (No more
?) So, hike I did.
The park recommends each hiker carry two liters of water. (The French couple who died in 2015 carried 1.2 liters, total, for three people, including their son, who survived.) I carried nearly my normal fluid load, 2.5 liters of water and one liter of Gatorade. I drank one liter of water and 250ml of Gatorade.
I never did see anyone behind me, and passed three pairs of hikers doing the loop clockwise. The first two pairs appeared to be less than properly prepared (shorts, no hats, obviously not enough water).
I fantasized about the Rat Patrol [ youtube video ]
flying over the dunes, blasting away with their 50s. When the wind was at its worst, and I could barely see the next pole, I wondered if the Foreign Legion would have to rescue me. Might have helped if I was a fair damsel.
So much sand was in the air, photos were difficult. I was digging sand out of my ears two days later. (Back at our motel in Alamogordo, we could not see the mountains just east of town.)
The next day, it was off to Trinity Site for their semiannual open house!
Hike Video: [ youtube video ] Wildflowers
Hahahaha. You're kidding, right?