When embarking on my Supergraphic challenge, I scan ahead and I see a few locations will take some creative license to complete. Utah Skiing being one of them. I have skied once in my life and hated it. If there is anything I hate more than skiing it’s being cold. I could, however, take advantage of the huge mounds at Coral Pink Sand Dunes for some winterlike fun in the 80-degree sun.
The sand comes from the Navajo sandstone from the Middle Jurassic period and the dunes are estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 years old. The same iron oxides and minerals that give the area spectacular red rock are also responsible for this landscape of coral pink sand.
Snowboarding in June
As I arrive at the park, I see a group with snowboards begin scaling the largest dune. Thinking I’ll take some really cool action shots, I follow up the dune behind them with only Murphy and a camera. The group resides in Chicago so I assume they are proficient with the snowboards. It takes a while, but each of them eventually gets some pretty good runs in. They offer me a board to try but I politely decline. I do decide, however, that I’ll return the next day with a sled or flattened cardboard box to try a more age and balance appropriate version of the downhill.
My turn on the slopes
Sleds are available for rent at the visitor center and am the first one in this morning. It’s awesome to be the only one here with the whole place to myself. I fly my drone over the dunes and let Murphy play in the sand chasing lizards before embarking upon the tiring climb to the top of the dune. Seeing another group enter the parking lot, I hurridly land my drone and head out to the dunes.
I walk out over the dunes and am amazed that time and wind have erased most of the tracks from the day before, much like a giant etch-a-sketch.
The group, five curious Japanese tourists, follow me out to the dunes. I make a couple of attempts down the slope but it’s surprisingly difficult to keep the board from spinning and sending me rolling down the hill.
Now, I understand not a word the group is saying, but they are saying it with joviality and laughing. I don’t think they are directly laughing at me as I continue to wipe out. But the laughing stops when I hand the one appearing as leader the board.
My gesture is friendly and my intention good-natured. I never give a thought to our cultural differences and maybe I unwittingly issued a Samari type challenge that he can’t back away from and save face. A few, now eerily quiet, moments follow as I proceed to wax the board for him.
He straddles the board and begins his descent. After about 30 yards, the board spins and sends him rolling down the hill. He’s laughing much like a school girl at this point. His friends are a pointing ruckus chorus of laughter as he carries the board the short distance back uphill. Pretty much a carbon copy of my first few attempts.
It looks so easy
I could tell he isn’t wanting to quit but he politely hands the board back to me and bows a “thank you”. I motion for him to keep trying, hand him the bar of wax, and point down the hill for another go. After a couple more bows of gratitude, he retreats back to his friends who are now an organized pit crew waxing, motioning, and surmising possible plans of attack. Still clueless as to what they are saying, we are all now fellow combatants trying to conquer this dreaded dune.
Subsequent attempts by him and a couple of others in his posse end in the same cloud of dust after a few yards. Finally, they all give up. Their faces are lit up with smiles and speckled with the coral colored sand.
Each had a camera and motioned if I would take their picture atop the dune posing with the board. I took the first photo and held up 2 fingers indicating I was gonna take a couple more photos. At which point they all flashed back a peace sign to me.
That moment just struck me Only a few decades ago our countries were at war with each other. Now, something as simple as a slick piece of wood and a hill of ancient sand brings us together for a moment of sheer unadulterated fun. With the only war to fight was to beat gravity down that hill. There is a lesson in there somewhere I surmise momentarily, before rewaxing my board and giving it yet another go. Peace!