“where man himself is a visitor who does not remain”

My breath is visible in the early morning, body is stiff and cold from the night. I get my blood moving by heading out along a new, unknown trail. The changing of the leaves on this fall equinox weekend is sublime.

Abandoned camper vans are the only signs of humans, their passengers either still sleeping inside or up in the mountains camping. I silently pass and continue along the sandy trail. The only other signs of life are cottontail rabbits scurrying the path and vultures circling overhead.

I find the Sand Pit, an open area at the base of the Great Dunes. I meditate and stretch muscles as a family of deer pass by.

The trail forks and heads up the mountainside. Shuffling my feet, the journey goes on in this special place. Mixed in with the changing leaves are plants looking like white haired old women, the soft wind blowing their hair off their stem, the seeds floating up into the sky.

The sand is everywhere, between toes, stuck to each hair on my body, in my teeth. I head up to Zapata Falls in hopes of washing away the grit. The trail is nothing but smooth stone. I hear the water before I see the creek, but no waterfall.
Then, to my right, is a cable attached to the rock wall leading up the canyon. Time to get wet….

Holding on tightly, I precariously make my way along the slippery stones up the river. At the final turn, I see the falls before me in the small rocky cave.

The sand gently falls back to the earth from the waterfalls spray.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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