The woman walks through the deserted landscape. Around her she sees nothing but white dunes, as far as the eye can see. Here and there a plant frantically tries to keep the sand under its feet. The sky is bright blue and the moon is still visible. It is morning and the sand feels cold. She took of her shoes after climbing two dunes, irritated by the amount of sand she got in her shoes. Left the shoes behind to pick them up on the way to the car. A crow caws when he flies over. She continues undisturbed, completely in her own world. Enjoying the large amount of nothing and nobody around her.
The softness of the sand between her toes and the ease with which she can walk over the sand continues to amaze her. Nobody can see her, so every now and then she does a little joy dance. What do people miss a lot if their whole life consists only of work, she thinks. The same crow is flying by again, or is this another one, she is not sure. At a yucca she stops for a moment to see if there are seeds in the fruit. Deep black slices are neatly stacked in the old flower pod. The seeds are so light that a strong wind can carry them. She sees the holes in the fruit where the larvae of the yucca moth has eaten to get out. The admirable collaboration between plant and moth is something that appeals to her imagination. She lets the stem shoot from her hand and a few seeds fly through the air and land on the white sheet.
Looking back, she sees her footsteps sloping over the dunes. Fortunately, it is a quiet day and she can easily follow her footsteps back to the car. She thinks, a little bit further before it gets too hot. It is still winter, but the sun is doing its best to warm up during the day. At the top of the next dune she sees a large sand construction in front of her in the next interdune area, formed by the pull of water by a plant that once grew on the top of a dune. The wind has ensured that the rest of the dune has slowly shifted over time, creating the special pedestal constructions. The plant has since disappeared from the top, but part of the construction is still there. In the course of time, it will be broken down to sand again by wind and rain. Suddenly she notices that there are several crows on top of the pedestal. They seem to be embroiled in a fight. Curious, she descends towards the pedestal.
When she gets closer she sees that the crows are eating something. Would there be a dead coyote or kit fox? But how did it end up on top of that? She cautiously comes closer, she is startled when the crows suddenly take off. Step by step she gets closer. Now that she is closer, she sees a scarf hanging down the pedestal. Desperately she stops. Who will leave a scarf here? Or is it not a wild animal lying on top of it. Slowly she begins to feel panic. She walked more than an hour and there is nobody around, right? What should she do, call 911? But what does she have to say? There is a scarf hanging on a pile of sand, and there were just some crows eating lunch there? And how on earth should she explain where she is? There is only one thing to it. Have a closer look. She creeps closer with small steps. Hoping that she let her fantasy run wild, but that nothing really happened. The crows are circling over head waiting for her to leave again. From a distance she starts walking around the pedestal. Halfway she utters a soft cry. She sees a bare foot hanging over the edge, the toenails are painted with a bright red nail polish. Softly she says “Hello? Are you awake? “She shuffles closer and repeats herself, this time slightly louder. But there is no reaction. The fear takes over from her and slowly she walks backwards. Suddenly she stands still, something is pricking in her side. She turns cautiously. A nervous smile escapes her lips. Unnoticed she has walked into a yucca.
Awakened from her trance, she takes off her little daypack to grab her phone. She opens the front pocket where she always puts her phone. But it is not there now. Has she been so stupid to forget the phone just this day? She falls to her knees and begins to empty the bag. In no time the sand around her is covered with her belongings. First aid set, two bottles of water, a few snack bars, compass, map of a previous hike, a holder for all her bank cards, sunscreen, car keys and a camera.
She cautiously puts everything back in the bag and thinks about what to do next. There is no other option than to walk back, and to find someone at the road with a telephone and to call the emergency services. Luckily she has her camera with her, so she quickly takes some pictures of the area and a picture of the foot. Then she starts to follow her footsteps back in high speed. Ten minutes later she stops sweating and completely out of breath on top of a dune. If she doesn’t drink it can also mean the end for her. And who will find her? Hopefully the rangers who make sure that everyone leaves at the end of the day. Because her car is parked on the road they know that a person must be somewhere in the dunes. But the park is big and she could have gone anywhere. She pushes away the thoughts with difficulty. She quickly empties one of her bottles, she has to take care of herself first, then she can help someone else.
A gust of wind causes it to cool slightly, fortunately she feels better again. She quickly grabs a snack bar from the backpack, puts the bag back on her back and continues her way. The quiet windless weather of a quarter of an hour ago has now made way for a breeze. Now she won’t be so hot. So far to the south the sun is very powerful, but because it is still winter, the air is pretty cool. At a firm pace, she follows her steps back to the car. How could she be so stupid to forget her phone? Oh well, there is nothing to be done about it. Not much further she notices that she is starting to get cold. The wind has further swelled. She sees that the first grains of sand are taken away by the wind. That’s a bad sign. If the wind blows just a little harder, her footsteps will disappear. She looks at the mountains that protrude above the dunes and chooses a clear landmark on the mountain. As long as she arrives on the road, it’s going to be fine. She knows that the road through the dunes roughly runs parallel to the rock formation. Both follow a north-south direction. Continue, she thinks, before the wind starts to blow so hard that she ends up in a white-out because of all the fine sand in the air. As long as she can still see the mountains, it is not that complicated. With the wind in her back, walking is fortunately not too heavy. A tuft of hair continuously blows in her face, but she has no time to worry about it. Slowly the vision begins to become vaguer. Her watch says she still has a quarter of an hour to go. By then the mountains are probably completely hidden from view. She quickly searches her compass to see which direction she should follow. Now she is very glad with her extensive experience with compass reading. First she reads on the compass at how many degrees the chosen mountain peak is. Then she continues until she hardly sees the mountains anymore. There she stops and searches with the aid of the compass a landmark that is closer and in the right direction and starts to walk there. Once there, she searches for the next landmark with the compass. She keeps repeating these steps until she suddenly finds herself on the road unexpectedly after ten minutes.
There is no car to be seen, not that strange of course with this wind. Now that she is standing still she feels how the grains of sand hit her legs, a feeling that is not exactly comfortable. Besides that no one is on the road, her car isn’t in sight anywhere. Where would it be? Left or right of her. Her feeling says that with her wandering through the dunes on the way there she has walked a bit more towards the north. What should mean that by her straight way back she would have to be north of her car now. Full of hope she starts to follow the road south. After a bend in the road she sees her car. She makes a mental note about how far she had to walk back to the car. Who knows, somebody might need to know that.
Visibly relieved, she jumps into the car and drives towards the visitor center. The quarter she needs to drive back to the entrance she doesn’t see anyone. Who would visit this park in this weather? When she comes to the tiny building, which stands in the middle of the road for paying the entrance fee, she suddenly thinks that people should be there. She quickly parks the car and runs to the building. She hits the window hard, “I need help” she calls. Two surprised faces appear. She tries to explain as quickly as she can what is going on. Surprised the rangers look at each other. One of the two walks to the door to let her in and let her sit on a chair. She sees that the other person is talking in a radio. They give her a glass of water and try to calm her down. Five minutes later, two other men appear in the booth. They wear a belt with an arsenal of weapons and handcuffs. They also have a bulletproof vest on. They ask her to tell the story again. As soon as she has finished telling, the men briefly discuss. After which one of the two leaves. The other man, long, with dark hair and a beard of a week, asks some extra questions. Where did you park? What direction did you end up going to? Then she remembers that she had taken pictures. She walks to her car and gets the camera out. Back inside she looks for the photos and shows them to the ranger. He does not recognize the place, but it can help to find the right spot there.
A little later the other ranger drives up with a trailer behind the car. On the trailer is a quad with space for four people. The tall, handsome ranger asks if she wants to come back to find the place. She hesitates for a moment, would she want to see what exactly is going on? But the idea of driving through the dunes with a quad wins it anyway. A few moments later they are back in the car in the car. She already gets a warm coat and a helmet to wear during the quad ride. Where her car stood before, they now park the car with trailer. The men are working quickly to get the off road vehicle of the trailer. In the meantime she puts on the jacket and puts on the helmet. She walks to the men to tell them where she came from the dunes. The blonde ranger explains that it does not matter that much. With the quad they have to zigzag more to cross through the dunes. They can not cope with the steep slopes of the dunes, so a different route will have to be found.
Not much later, the three of them drive into the dunes. They drive as little as possible through the interdune area, where grasses and other plants grow. They make considerable speed on the white sand. This is a completely different experience, she thinks. They fly through the dunes and quickly cover a great distance. After fifteen minutes they slow down to come to a standstill on the highest dune in the area. They all step down to see if they are already in the area. The men ask if she recognizes a landmark. She cautiously walks around the dune, it is very difficult to walk in that strong wind. Everything is so different now compared to when it was still nice and calm weather. Then suddenly she sees a few footsteps at the foot of the dune. She calls the men. Apparently her traces in that calm spot have not yet blown away, assuming that these are hers of course. It makes the men positive. They get up again and drive towards the next dune. There are also a few steps visible. After climbing the next two dunes she suddenly sees the pedestal. She points to the spot and they slowly move closer. Then they all step down. She tells them that she saw the crows from there and concludes that the scarf would have to hang there. The three of them walk in that direction. But the scarf seems nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the wind blew it away, says the blonde ranger. Then she explains where she saw the foot. Because she doesn’t really need to see that again, she stays behind while the men investigate. Not much later they come back, there is nothing to be seen, they say. Surprised she starts walking towards the spot where she saw the foot. Nothing. Bewildered she looks around, how is that possible? Did she make this up? Are they in the right place? She sees the yucca where she walked into. She grabs her camera and looks for the photos she took of the foot. She clearly sees the foot with red nails on the photo. She looks for the exact spot where they took the photo and beckons the men closer. She gives them the camera. The photo is exactly the same as what they see, minus the foot. They look confused at each other. The taller ranger walks down towards the pedestal and climbs up to the spot where the foot should be seen. Everything looks normal, everything seems unaffected. The men debate for a moment, after which one takes pictures of the spot and the other makes a pinpoint with a GPS.
Defeated they get on the quad and find their way back to the car.
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