The beach is a wonderful place: the salt water, the waves, the wind in your face . . . and the sand. The beach is a great place to spend time with loved ones, get a tan, or even relax alone.
Now imagine the greatness of the beach—but without the wonderfulness of the water. The sand on your clothes. The salty wind in your face. And imagine spending the night in this place. That is pretty much camping at the Great Sand Dunes. It sounds pretty horrible the way I’m putting it, but it was actually really enjoyable. We had a swell time and made some great memories in the process.
I would like to take the time to mention that sand is not my friend. Yes, I live twenty minutes from the beach and I see sand all the time, but I hate all the negative aspects of sand. The grit in your teeth—or in your car and clothes for days afterwards—is no bueno. So while visiting the Great Sand Dunes sounds like a fun time, I wasn’t as stoked about the experience as some people. I was going to experience something great, but the sand was still a little iffy for me.
The sand dunes are pretty amazing works of art. God’s creation is always incredible, and these dunes were no exception. They’re so huge and marvelous. I figured we’d just be camping out beside them and maybe walk through them a bit, no biggie. I had no clue that the camping crew had plans to hike to the summit of the dunes. From far away, it doesn’t look like a horrible hike. But when you get closer, it’s harder than it looks. Guys, walking in sand is no easy process. Can you imagine hiking in it? Going up thousand foot hills of sand that sinks to your knees if you step in the wrong place? It’s not a hike for the faint of heart.
Climbing these sand dunes was a really great reminder of God’s wonderful power and strength, and the inability to do things without God. Hiking up those dunes was incredibly difficult, and if I had done it without the support of Summit friends, or without asking the Lord for his power and strength, I would’ve stopped when I reached the first 200 foot dune. But each time that I felt like giving up, I stopped and asked the Lord for strength, and kept pushing on. Singing songs and motivating each other, as well as taking many breaks for prayer, is what we had to do in order to make it to the top. And with our calves and toes burning from the sand digging into our feet, two and a half hours later, we made it to the summit of the Great Sand Dunes. I reached the top, dropped to my knees, and cried. I thanked the Lord over and over for his strength to get me to the top of those dunes. I was so proud of myself, and the Lord’s power in me. I was told that the view would be pretty wonderful when I reached the top, and it was true. Watching the sun set on those dunes was a magical experience. I probably have not hated the sand more than I did in that moment, but I remembered that the Lord made those sand dunes and he gave me the strength to climb them, so I thanked God for those dunes and kindly asked him if I could never have to do it again.
The hike down was pretty rough as it got cold and dark and my feet started to hurt again, but with the help of flashlights and the Lord, we eventually made it back to our smelly, sandy, Summit Semester vans. I can speak for everyone on that trip when I say that we had never been happier to see Summit vans than that moment.
I thank the Lord for this experience to see the Great Sand Dunes. The track up to the summit was hard, and the track down to the parking lot was difficult as well, but that wasn’t the entire camping trip. We ate red hot dogs, climbed trees, slept without pillows, had mud fights in the creek, sank ourselves down to our knees in the sand, laughed our heads off, burned our feet off, and had a blast together. While I will probably be okay with never visiting the Great Sand Dunes again, I will gladly experience the things on this trip with my Summit Semester family over again in a heartbeat.