Chasing the Milky Way at White Sands

Some quick words & some memories from a couple weeks back. It was the perfect way to kick off the summer in the desert.

First we rounded up a bunch of friends & headed to the mountains. Always a great combination. Friday night’s get together was so encouraging & inspiring. Hanging around the campfire, listening to live music with great people. Sharing a meal with each other, open dialogue, kindness from the warmth of new friends & strangers alike. That’s what community is all about. The folks over at Organ Mountain are some damn good people.

If the weekend wasn’t off to a great start, it was about to get even better. We were headed to white gypsum sand dunes 20 miles east…

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We set out Sat afternoon with our hopes high & souls filled to the brim with joy. It was a new moon. Which means the Milky Way is the most visible in the night sky. Andrew & I set out with Chris & his son Levi to overnight at White Sands NP. Every prior chance I’ve had to grace this gorgeous & otherwordly place it finds a way to humble you. Challenging you to live within your own imagination. But, completely at the mercy of your surroundings.

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Andrew ,  Chris , & Levi from left to right.

Andrew, Chris, & Levi from left to right.

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The goal was to pack light. Set up camp before the sun went down. Take in an amazing sunset. Orient ourselves with the surrounding dunes. Then snatch up our tripods, some grub for a glorious midnight meal, strap on a headlamp, & go hunt down that milky way & the thousands of stars coming to life.

Andrew  taking in blue hour not too far from camp.

Andrew taking in blue hour not too far from camp.

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Beauty that shakes you to the core. Something that demands your respect & admiration. Not a bad spot to see the sun go down.

Beauty that shakes you to the core. Something that demands your respect & admiration. Not a bad spot to see the sun go down.

Kenny  & his loyal pup Sabu. Who were kind enough to share their camp site with us.

Kenny & his loyal pup Sabu. Who were kind enough to share their camp site with us.

Strolling through White Sands for the first time,  Ryan  was another talented photographer & friend of Kenny’s who allowed us to use their site.

Strolling through White Sands for the first time, Ryan was another talented photographer & friend of Kenny’s who allowed us to use their site.

So far so good. Thanks to Kenny & Ryan we hadn’t been turned away without a permit. Instead circumstance gave us some like minded, kind hearted folk to satisfy our milky way cravings alongside! Now it was time to get after it. We regrouped & wandered into the night around 9pm…

One of the first exposures I captured that night.

One of the first exposures I captured that night.

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Jupiter (top right) shining bright above the Milky Way.

Jupiter (top right) shining bright above the Milky Way.

Approximately 1 am. The moment that left my stomach & my soul extremely satisfied. We found ourselves on top of the highest dune we could see for miles. Making some cowboy coffee & Ramen with grilled spam. Just us, nothing but the stars overhead & the distant lights from small towns on the horizon. We talked for hours. Contemplating our decisions, the goals we have for ourselves, the details all around us. Bonding over a warm meal in the middle of nowhere.

Photo by  Chris Lang , Founder of  Organ Mountain Outfitters .
A visual of us wandering around in circles throughout the night. Thanks to  Strava .

A visual of us wandering around in circles throughout the night. Thanks to Strava.

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We woke up the following morning bright & early. The winds were below freezing, whistling & hounding on our tent all night. & frankly our sleeping arrangements were poorly planned out (elected to not bring a sleeping bag, decided to ditch our ground pads as well, terrible mistake). Regardless, we walked away fulfilled. Satisfied. Humbled. It was an incredible weekend in one of the most beautiful places on earth. One of New Mexico’s gems, we hold so dearly to our hearts. Because of experiences like this one.