Rippled Dune

A white sand dune with a gently sloping top. The sky is a deep blue with white clouds above it. The dune's surface has ripples in it forming a geometric pattern. The vertical ripples go from the bottom of the photograph to the top and cover the entire surface.

Deep within White Sands National Park, far away from the crowds, the dune field stretches before me until it reaches infinity. The unending dunes of bright white gypsum, undisturbed by humans, offer mute testimony to the forces of wind and time. One rippled dune, however, amongst all the others caught my attention and bears closer inspection.

This one lone dune arches toward the sky, endeavoring to touch the clouds above. The dune comes close, but never quite achieves its goal. Its face is contoured and rippled, each ripple interlocking with its neighbor, yet never touching, forming an intricate pattern. The unrelenting wind creates a shifting design and rearranges the ripples constantly. Not so quickly that you could see the change, of course, but the design ebbs and flows on the dune over time.

The dunes are constantly moving, grain by grain, alive with a sense of purpose and motion. The lines reflect the movement, albeit in a way that is easily seen.

The white of the gypsum crystals makes a stunning contrast with the sky’s deep blue. The serene scene is a mesmerizing moment of nature. Rippled Dune is one example of many, but a sensational one to share.

In the end, I resisted the compulsion to walk up the dune, leaving it pristine so others might enjoy the same view.