Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tenmile Creek/Dellenback Dunes

The coast has been calling me lately, with possible hiking destinations ping-ponging randomly in my head like lottery balls bouncing around before they make somebody other than me quite wealthy. At random and for no apparent reason, the idea of hiking along Tenmile Creek in Dellenback Dunes popped out of the lottery machine that is my brain, leaving all the other destinations percolating in my skull waiting for the next draw at some future date.

Ideas emerge from my brain
Dellenback Dunes is one of my favorite little playgrounds on the coast what with plenty of square miles of scenic sand dunes set aside for the hiking crowd. However, I've been there a couple of times this year already and the hiking club has a planned hike there coming up. Favorite place or not, it needs some changing up to keep things interesting and that's where Tenmile Creek came in.

Sand, everywhere I look

Tenmile Creek runs between many-armed Tenmile Lake and the ocean but not before wandering along the southern edge of Dellenback Dunes. A nice hike can be had by taking the dunes trail to the beach and going south to the creek's delta. A tough bushwhack through the wilds to the dunes then completes the standard loop. Been there, done that, yawn. So, this time would be a brand new exploration of the expansive dunes.

The hinterlands beckon

When I arrived at the trailhead, a contingent of hikers from the Obsidians out of Eugene were also lacing up their boots. We left at the same time but I quickly fell behind as the forest floor was sprouting a varied and prodigious amount of mushrooms. Darn camera slows me down every time! After the mycological photo shoot, I continued on to where the trail spits hikers out at the base of the "Great Dune". A hiker-churned track led straight up the massive sand pile but this time, I worked my way around the bottom and headed due south away from the standard route.

The world is not flat

A large expanse of sand stretched ahead with a tree-covered hill in the distance marking the opposite bank of Tenmile Creek. The sands were pristine with only critter tracks sullying the perfect surface.  It was easy to imagine that I was the first human to set foot in the area. Besides being perfectly smooth, the route ahead looked sort of level. After a  mile of walking through the "level" sand, the point was made that looks can be so deceiving as the sands were as level as say, the Himalayas. Actually, I am exaggerating as I am sadly prone to do, the sands were relatively level but there were a few moments going up and down dune faces.

Pastoral scene, sort of

A wooded canyon marked the edge of the Dellenback Dunes with Tenmile Creek hidden below in all the vegetation. After several miles of climbing up and down dune versions of Mt. Everest with the occasional bushwhack mixed in, the coffee colored water of Tenmile Creek finally came into view as the creek snaked its way through the dunes.

Happy place with no OHV'ers

And now for a bit of rectitudinous ranting: The other side of Tenmile Creek is set aside for the OHV and dune buggy crowd and I could hear the whine of the motors as I walked. There is no reason that they have to cross Tenmile Creek and sully the Dellenback Dunes but there they were, tire tracks all over the pristine sands. There were even tracks upon the "Great Dune" which is well beyond the pale in what could be conceivably construed as an incidental incursion. I know there are many OHV'ers that follow the rules but there is an element that doesn't give a damn and they suck. End of rant.

Tenmile Creek
At the two mile mark, I was able to follow the creek without having to deal with dense forest. Periodically, flocks of ducks fled the scary hiker, taking flight in quacking panic. There had been what I thought were dog tracks all over the sands but since there were no human prints nearby, I'm not sure what animal runs all over the dunes when we are not looking. There were occasional piles of bear poop in the grasses, but the prints were too small for bear.

This sort of reminds me of my bike crash last year

The creek horseshoed its way south and it would zigzag through the dunes before reaching the sea. Easy for the creek to do but it was getting harder and harder for a certain hiker to follow the creek. Random hummocks of beachgrass and dunes caused tedious sand climbing while a dense brushy growth deterred easy exploration. Because I was in a good mood and preferred to remain that way, a retreat back to the dunes was effected.

Hikers go in but never come out
In the middle of the Dellenback Dunes, there is a large and notable "tree island" that serves as an effective navigation tool in the trailless dunes. Accordingly, I headed straight towards the tree island, skirting the edge of the deflation plain forest providing a formidible obstacle between the dunes and the beach. However, there is a trail cut through the forest that allowed for a quick beach visit.

On the boardwalk
The trail here has seen some love, what with sturdily constructed boardwalks delivering dry-footed hikers to the beach when all this forest is a big fat marsh during rainy season. It was slow going, not because of the dense growth encroaching the trail but because of all the mushrooms that entertained the camera all over again. It was not time to tarry at the beach because it felt and looked like rain was coming, a cloudy mist limited views to several miles only.

Dunes as far as the eye can see (but I wear glasses)

The rain held off thankfully on the return as I slogged up and down the formidable "Great Dune" which pointed directly to the trailhead. There were other hikers on the dunes and I could see the Obsidians about a mile ahead of me. A class of teenagers were sliding down the dunes with all the boisterousness of youth while their dog appreciated a behind-the-ear scratch from yours truly. All in all, a nice way to spend a Saturday and I'm dune sated, for the time being.

Get your red-hot mushrooms right here!
For more pictures of the hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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  1. Nice shots Richard, love that red mushroom :) Cheers Robyn :)

  2. You're in top form this time ... great pics