I watched the sun sinking lower toward the mountains on the western edge of the Tularosa Basin. And I looked off toward the Organ Mountains, a bit further south, and I marveled at their silhouette. With the sun on the far side, the Organs were devoid of the detail I knew was there, only rough-cut and rugged on the line where their granite peaks met the sky. The sun wasn’t quite low enough yet, and the sky remained untouched by cloud, and so remained that color I can only describe as New Mexico blue-sky blue. And there were tracks in the sand. No, not animals, these feet wore shoes, and sandals, and hiking boots. And the tracks went off in every direction. So, from the heart of the dunes, I picked a random direction, and I just started walking.
I didn’t have very far to go before most of the tracks had turned and meandered back toward the road. But while the sky remained an unblemished, tranquil, liquid blue, there were still enough tracks in the sand to keep me from the scene I was hoping to find—a scene of earth untouched, swept clean of scars and sculpted by wind. So, I kept walking.
I walked toward the horizon, toward silence, and into a breathless late autumn afternoon. I walked across the hard gypsum plain between the dunes, and up and over soft sand, leaving my own tracks behind, my own mark on the world, my own scars in the sand. And as I walked, I focused on my own path, and I reached a point where all I could see was sand, seemingly leaving the world of man behind. It must have taken me some time to notice, but I had lost all other tracks but my own. Now far out and away from the crowds, away from those that had straggled furthest on this day, I had found the untouched scene for which I searched. The sun was lower now, almost ready to touch the ragged horizon. And the low, early evening light caught the sculpted ripples in the sand, casting the space in between in shadow, and creating a hypnotizing pattern on the entire world stretched out before me. And it was untouched, devoid of scars, perfect, and pure—except for me.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
NatureLandscapeDesertWhite Sands National MonumentNew Mexico