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We trudged up the steep slope, our shoes filling with sand with every step forward. My legs were on fire, and I could feel the crunch of sand in my teeth, but I was determined to make it to the top. My friend, however, was less enthusiastic, falling dramatically to the ground and crawling on her hands and knees, shouting, “Go on without me!”
The location was Kelso Dunes in Mojave National Preserve, which is part of the Mojave Desert, the driest desert in North America. And my friend Amirah and I were the characters in an epic saga in which we were attempting to summit the tallest sand dune in the 45-square-mile expanse.
The object of our desire — the largest dune in Kelso — rises some 650 feet above the surrounding landscape, but as anyone who has been to the beach knows, walking on sand — even when the surface is flat — is a real rough go.
So, I forgave Amirah’s dramatics and instead snapped Instagram-worthy shots of her as she made her way toward me along the ridge of the khaki-colored dune. When we finally made it to the top, we were rewarded with panoramic views of Kelso Dunes — the largest field of eolian (relating to wind erosion) sand deposits in the Mojave Desert — and the peaks of the preserve beyond.
Then, undoing all our hard work in mere seconds, the coup de grace: a roll down the dune.
We laughed hysterically as Amirah rolled like a ragdoll, sending sand every which way. I ran after her taking a video, the sand making a unique “booming” sound as it slid under my feet. At the bottom, we dumped what seemed like gallons of sand from our shoes and took in an otherworldly sunset. Our daring saga may have come to an end, but it would live on forever in our hearts — and on Instagram.