In a lonely corner of the Red Desert flow the Killpecker Sand Dunes, aptly named for the unfortunate effects the brackish water can have on…. ahem. Right.
Despite the intimidating name, the sand dunes themselves hide a dry tenderness that only the desert can extend. Crevices in the sand are filled with ponds and young, green plants with enough audacity to face the long summer head on. The evanescent sand castles hide the scars of oil and gas and agriculture and ancient battles.
Local adventurer John Mionczynski takes us from mountain to dune to butte to plain, pointing out fossils and burial sites and places that simply make him stop and breathe. He knows this area inside and out and tells us stories of crocodile heads the size of truck beds and mummies and encounters with the ghosts of cowboys.
Every mystery is gossiped about but never solved, from the ethereal vistas…
… to the tiniest blade of grass that pushes through thousands of years of scarcity. Nothing is left unwondered.
Not even the mystery of the sand angel.
As the largest active sand dunes in the United States, Killpecker has a lot to account for. Lost campers, mountainous reserves of fuels, free play areas sprinkled with ATVs. The bodies of prehistoric warriors and the lost souls of pioneers. You could set up your tent at dusk one night only to wake up and find the entire desert has changed entirely, right underneath you, when the sun rises.
It’s easy to feel alone out here, utterly desolate and lost. The sun parches the land of sweat, and only the brine of salty earth remains.
Footsteps are soon swept away in a monsoon of Wyoming winds. You head into the dunes alone, your camera your only goal, and hope to find… what? To find you?
And there’s nothing left, but nothing.
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