Kelso is an old mining town in the center of the Mojave Desert National Preserve that the Union Pacific railroad passes through. The town’s old train depot has been renovated to hold the NPS visitor center, a museum, and a restaurant. After a short visit to the depot we headed just south of the Kelso Dunes where we camped out in the open. It was a wonderful, remote area and we got to see a spectacular sky after sunset.

One interesting thing I noticed was that after dusk I could see the glow of the moon rising to the northeast. 45 minutes later I could still see its glow but it hadn’t appeared yet. 30 minutes later, the same. Then I noticed the moon had already risen behind me to the southeast – that glow to the north was Las Vegas which was over 90 miles away. Talk about light pollution!

The next morning we hiked up the tallest dune – a task that was deceptively difficult. First off, walking/climbing in loose sand is very strenuous; three steps forward, two steps back. Secondly, judging the distance to and between dunes is tricky. You don’t have the usual landmarks like trees and rocks to help you mentally guestimate distance. Our hike turned out to be a long one that took us most of the morning.

On the hike we met Coline, a young lady who came from a town near Mâcon, France who was on a 3-month road trip across the US. Trey was thrilled to have another companion and she helped motivate him to finish the climb.

The best thing about climbing dunes is that what goes up must come down – and that is the fun part. I’ll follow up with a video post where you can see both the difficulty of the climb and the joy of the descent.

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