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Colorado's giant sponge

The Monitor's Ben Arnoldy went to Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

Where did you go? Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, home to the largest dunes in North America.

What did you do? Climbed the 710-foot "High Dune." The hike is a Soviet shuffle – two steps forward, one step sliding back. Socks are the footwear of choice because boots fill in seconds and bare feet burn on the 140-degree F. surfaces.

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What did you learn? Mounds are classified by shapes: crescentic, linear, parabolic. Particles of magnetite give the dunes a five-o'clock shadow; you can "shave" off the black specks with a magnet. The dunes look drier than a lecture on geomorphology, but they are actually one huge sponge. Dig down only a few inches and you'll hit wet sand.

Who did you meet? Matt Morscher of nearby Colorado Springs, who was strapped to a snowboard and carving soft-butter turns. "The sand is so fine it just takes off the layer of wax" on his board, he says. Jeff Aslan of Boulder, Colo., brought a makeshift toboggan. Despite spraying lube on the bottom, the sled went nowhere fast. Neither surfing device looked as cool as the tricked-out dune wheelchair available for handicapped visitors.

Where have you been? What did you do. Write us at Weekend


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