The secret is out. I’m actually an extreme sports junkie. I spent last Saturday trekking across the desert, looking for snakes to fight. And I didn’t wear sunscreen.
All right, now that my mother has fainted, I’ll tell you how I really spent last Saturday. The answer, for the most part, is that I was completely covered in sand. Seriously. So much sand.
You see, some of my treasured childhood memories involve heading out to the sand dunes in one of the state parks that dot the deserts of the American southwest and going sand surfing. What is sand surfing, you ask? Well, it would be more accurate to refer to it as sand sledding, but that wouldn’t sound as cool, and would lull would-be participants into a false sense of security regarding the sand sharks that roam the dunes. (Just kidding. Maybe.) Anyway, basically what you do is hike out into the dunes (think the Sahara), which can be up to 70 feet high, and sled down them on a plastic saucer, much like this kid. If you want to live on the edge, you can (as I have done in the past) use a toy plastic snowboard, which is fun but also increases the potential for hilarious accidents.
On this particular occasion, however, I found myself without a saucer or snowboard of any kind, so my friends and I (we’ll call them… um… Gina and Claire) had to rent a couple of saucers from the park. Unfortunately, the park did not have any chunks of wax with which to improve the slipperiness of the bottoms of the saucers. According to the lady who worked there, chunks of wax simply weren’t in the budget anymore, which should tell you something about the state of our public lands system. I shrugged and figured it would be fine, but it turns out that we went (what seemed to me) significantly more slowly without the wax.
While sand surfing, you get a workout not from sliding down the dunes, but from but climbing up them. You’ve probably heard the phrase “it’s like walking in sand,” or perhaps you’ve been to the beach and struggled through some loose sand before getting to the area compacted by the surf. Heck, maybe you’re a desert nomad and know exactly what I’m talking about. The point is, it is really difficult to walk in sand. Walking 30 feet up a dune is like walking 60 feet on normal land with weights strapped to your ankles. At one point I sang "High Hopes" to my friends to motivate them to get to the top of a dune I was standing on. They made it, but whether it was because of the motivational qualities of the song or because they wanted me to shut up, I do not know. Maybe both.
After a couple of failed attempts, we eventually found a sand dune that was steep enough for my friends to build up a little speed on the way down, but for some reason (presumably sand demons) it simply wasn’t working for me. My solution? JUMP!!!
Yes, in my infinite wisdom I decided to take a flying leap off the top of the dune. Thus the “covered in sand” thing I mentioned earlier. It wasn’t actually as stupid as it seems, because the sand was pretty soft and I had fallen before without injury. I won’t say that my chaotic, rolling journey down the dune was exactly pain free. But hey, it was a thrill anyway. Claire and Gina, instead of joining me, stood by and shook their heads. Whatever, guys. We can’t all be reasonable all the time.
Eventually we began to get a bit overheated. Fortunately, we had brought plenty of liquids (which are crucial, by the way, if you ever want to try sand surfing. It may look like the beach, but the desert does not mess around.) (Speaking of which, I lied earlier. I actually put on 55 SPF sunscreen. My Irish ancestry isn’t much help in the whole “tanning” department.)
And so ended our sand surfing adventure. It was fun, we evaded heat stroke, and there will sand in my car for months to come. Unfortunately, there are only a few places where it is possible to sand surf (although if you’re in the right spot, it’s very cheap to do so), so if you ever get a chance to try it out I would encourage you to seize the opportunity. As I try various sports and activities, I am finding that it is the most unusual ones that are often the most fun.
Speaking of which, join me next week as I try not to capsize my canoe, the Titanic. It’s paddle school time!
Has anyone else been sand surfing? It sounds so fun!
Related post: Adventures in Hiking
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