Those of you who’ve been following me know I’ve been to White Sands several times before. I’ve done the dune drive, I’ve taken pictures with friends, and I’ve recently hiked a grueling, but beautiful 5 miles through the gypsum sand, but there’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do but have never gone through with – Dune Sledding.
I mentioned in a previous post that the White Sands gift shop sells new and used circular sleds which they buy back at a fraction of the cost. Why have I never been dune sledding you ask? Well first of all, I’m not that graceful – I tend to crash and burn majorly. And second, it just didn’t seem like any fun to do on my own. Mom’s visit, though, changed all that.
We bought a used sled for $10 and headed into the National Monument. We had purposefully waited for a day with little wind, cause I knew otherwise we’d freeze out there, but what I forgot about was the sun. Word of advice: Bring sunglasses! Mom and I nearly went blind when we first got to the dunes, squinting our way down the Dune Drive until our eyes reluctantly adjusted.
After getting out of the car a couple of times to walk and take pictures, we found some big dunes next to some picnic tables where a lot of people were sledding. Neither Mom nor I had ever done this sort of thing, and I don’t think I’ve ever sled on snow either, so it took us a bit to figure it out.
Some tips for future dune sledders:
- The steeper the hill, the better.
- All types of shoes are a bad, bad idea
- If sliding on your butt, lift your legs and lean back, like in a pike position.
- Try to sled down the same “path”; it smooths out the sand and makes future runs go even faster.
- Remember, once at the base of the really, really steep hill, you and your sled have to climb to the top again – much easier said than done.
- Have fun and don’t care what you look like.
The biggest and best tip, though, we got from a couple of little kids who had an ongoing race down one of the steepest dunes. They saw us (mainly me) struggling a bit and told us that we could go so much faster if we sled down on our stomachs. After some initial confusion and discussion, mainly about the logistics of our adult bodies face down on these small sleds, we started sledding in this new fashion.
I can honestly say I’ve never had so much fun and simultaneously been so scared out of my mind in my life. On my stomach with my arms out like an airplane made the trip so much faster; I felt like I was zooming at crazy speeds and I was more than a little freaked out the possibility of veering at the last second and hitting someone’s car. We had an absolute blast. We took videos (I still say I looked like a cross between a turtle and a beached whale), snapped pictures, laughed our heads off and sled until we had zero energy left.
Whoever came up with the idea of dune sledding was a complete and total genius. Everybody should get to do it at least once in their lives.
***Sorry for the general lack of photos in this one, but sand and cameras simply do mix well***