Sledding has become a tradition for the Trapp family as part of their Bataan Memorial Death March weekend the past three years.
The tradition changed somewhat, however, with an unexpected snowfall on Saturday that dropped a blanket of snow on campers at White Sands Missile Range.
Instead of heading to nearby White Sands National Monument where 12-year-old Michael normally sleds down dunes of brilliant white gypsum, he was able to put his orange plastic sled to use on the gentle slope of a nearby former golf course. But keeping with family tradition, his father Kevin said they still planned to make their annual sojourn to the dunes.
"It's kind of fun to sled both in the snow and the sand," said Michael, who had traveled with his parents from Tucson, Ariz., to march his third Bataan Memorial Death March.
"It snowed two weeks ago in Tucson, but this is not normal for us," said his father Kevin. Not normal, but not bad, either said his wife Kristin.
"It's wonderful. We don't get to see this very often," she said. And her thoughts for the following day when sunshine was scheduled to replace snow in the forecast? "I think it's going to be a muddy mess, but that's better than hot and dusty. I think it would be kind of cool if it was like this tomorrow."
Across the street in a makeshift tent city, Mike Bailey and his wife Jennifer were like most campers and took the surprise weather in stride as they jogged, threw footballs and gathered around (perhaps a bit closer than usual) barbeque grills for lunch.
"This is probably the farthest thing from what we expected," said Mike, but noted that after three trips to participate in the march, they're ready for anything. Two years ago, he said they dealt with insane heat, and last year they were one of the many whose tent collapsed due to extreme winds.
So were they equipped for snow? "We had equipment and we dealt with it -- a lot of adapting and overcoming on this one," he said laughing.