Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 11 - Sand Dunes

When we went to Cape Kiwanda and climbed the dune at the end of the beach we thought it was a lot of sand. Wrong! The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area run for 40 miles down the coast from Florence to Coos Bay and at some points is up to 3 miles wide. They say it was the inspiration for Frank Herbert’s Dune series of books. We went to the visitors center and they recommended some of the better hikes.

Today we went to the John Dellenbeck Dunes Trail. You park in a campground and walk up a short trail surrounded by rhododendrons.




Then the trees suddenly end and it is sand everywhere.


It is very hard to convey the enormity with pictures.  First we climbed up a large dune to survey the scene.



Looking back the way we had come.



Looking towards the ocean. If you look closely at the picture below, just the above center you can see three little dots which are some people hiking ahead of us. Distances are very hard to judge. From the trailhead it was about 2 miles to the ocean, all dunes. We hiked to the grove of tree over Jennie’s head and then turned around. We guessed it was about 3/4 of a kilometer away.



Below, you can see Jennie about half way up, 1/3 in from the right. Distances are very deceptive.


I had to take a picture of this little tree. It was the only thing growing for many 100 ‘s of meters all around.


There was a pond at the little oasis that was our destination.



Walking up the steeper dunes is laborious and takes your breath away.  Going down is much more fun and is like slipping and sliding, sand filling your shoes with every step.  We had a lot of fun starting huge sand avalanches on the steep sides of the dunes.


Being Canadian, I think of this sand like snow; tobogganing down the dunes then dragging the sled back up the top of the hill; sometimes falling down or rolling part way to find snow in your shoes and every exposed crevice on your body.  As cold and wet as snow is, this sand is soft, dry and so warm to the touch.  It gives the same sinking feeling when stepping on the soft stuff.

We decided against having lunch on the dunes with the wind blowing sand into our food, as we did not need the extra roughage.  We drove to the Umpqua Lighthouse and had our pasta salad staring at the Pacific Ocean rolling about.


We go to the lighthouses because they are usually perched on dramatic headlands and they are always interesting to look at. This site was not very amazing but because this one is situated at a Coast Guard station it was never closed and left alone and therefore has never been vandalized like most of the others. It has its original lens and as an added bonus its signal is a red and white pattern.

Stuart took the  guided tour ($3.00) of the lighthouse while Jennie visited the museum filled with fascinating artifacts and historical data and stories. 


The lens is made up of 616 glass prisms and weighs 2 tons. It was very cool to stick my head up inside.


The prisms themselves are not red but there are red glass panels in front of them.



The lighthouse overlooked an area of the dunes that is reserved for OHV (off highway vehicle, ATVs and dune buggies) use. This is VERY popular here. We went down to take a look.





There were literally hundreds of them buzzing about this area. There is no hiking allowed in these areas and vice versa no OHV’s in the hiking areas, thank goodness.

In the evening we climbed up behind the RV park to checkout the sunset again.




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