Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dellenback Dunes

There is just something about a meadow. We hikers have been known to hike all day just to reach one. With acres of green grass and wildflowers, a meadow is indeed a special place. Then, why is it so wrong to have a meadow in the back yard? I posed this question to Dollie as we gazed on the wilderness wonder forming behind the house and got a "harrumph" for an answer. She didn't tell me to go take a hike but I took one anyway, yard work will just have to wait for another weekend.

Castles on the dunes
Joining up with other Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club yard work truants, the weekend began with a trailless trek on Dellenback Dunes. The dunes get a regular workout from not only me, but from the club as well. And just like me, the dunes are large and expansive, with plenty of sand to explore. Since there are no trails in the Dellenback, the route is limited only by one's imagination.

...and they were never seen again
At the start, a large dune runs perpendicular to the ocean and most hikers walk on top of the "whaleback" to the beach. Boots have chewed up a sandy path on top but we veered southwest off of the dune and headed across the sandy hinterlands towards Tenmile Creek. Kevin (and dog Talon) and I lagged behind, our camera shutters clicking merrily on the cool overcast morning. 

Tenmile Creek
After two miles of trudging in sand, we arrived at the banks of Tenmile Creek, the brown waters snaking languidly through the dunes. We followed the banks of the creek and Kevin, Talon, and I walked slower than the other hikers while the pace of the camera clicking sped up. The two events are related.

A former hiker in the deflation plain forest
When Oregon was being settled, the settlers did not like all the sand blowing in the wind so they planted European beachgrass to stabilize the dunes. The transplanted beachgrass was ever so happy to emigrate and now the Oregon shoreline has tall foredunes on it, formed by sand piling up around the beachgrass. The air currents on the shore were interrupted by the resulting barrier so lighter sand particles stacked up at the base while the wind scooped out the sands behind. The resulting depression is called a deflation plain and a forest is taking root behind the foredunes. 

Yup, had to wade across that
So, as we walked along the sandy banks of Tenmile Creek, the sand eventually gave way to thick deflation plain forest, forcing us to walk in the increasingly marshy area next to the creek. When I saw my hiking buddies backtracking towards us, it was obvious that the route had become overly marshy. So we had to splash our way through some standing water and feet got wet on this hike.

Lindsay on the bushwhack
Now we had to beat our way through the forest and in single-file formation, we followed fearless leader John as we worked our way to the mouth of Tenmile Creek. Lindsay, Kevin (and Talon), and I were at the tail end of the line and as we walked down a less dense path in the thick forest we became aware that we could not see or hear our compatriots, nor could we see any of their footprints. To be politically correct, we were not lost, we were just location challenged.

Tenmile Creek was more like a river
Situations like these call for compasses and GPS's and all of those were consulted. We were heading west towards the ocean but Tenmile Creek lay between us and the shore, we really needed to head north. Unfortunately, dense vegetation kept pushing us west despite our best intentions to head north, and we finally wound up on a sandy bluff above the Tenmile Creek estuary. Looking like a bunch of ants on the other side of the estuary were our hiking compatriots. Thanks for waiting for us, guys!

Captain Hook
Another short bushwhack brought us upon the sandy shore of the creek's bay followed by another marsh crossing. I quickly splashed across the marsh and feet got wet. Kevin (and Talon) and Lindsay quickly veered inland in search of a drier crossing. Apparently they will not follow me everywhere and what a shocking display of disloyalty!

Uncaring hikers
Well, we finally caught up to our uncaring so-called hiking friends lunching on a sandy bench overlooking Tenmile Creek as it met the Pacific Ocean. This was a wild place as Tenmile Creek was more like Tenmile River, it was wide and coursing fast. The collision between creek and ocean was quite spectacular with waves exploding violently in random fashion. 

The ever shrinking Oregon coast
According to Wikipedia, Oregon is the ninth largest state, having 98,381 square miles of land. Oops, make that 98,380 square miles of land as we watched our ever shrinking state disappear into the ocean in large chunks. The violent wildness of the place put on quite the show as we dined. Oregon was down to 93,372 square miles by the time I had eaten my sardines, crackers, and grapefruit.

I think we go this way
The shoreline mayhem was pretty much confined to Tenmile Creek as we had no problem walking on the beach after lunch. Periodically, a large wave would move us inland a bit as the dark clouds above kept raindrops to themselves. After a mile and a half, a hiker's sign atop a grassy dune signaled our exit off the beach.

David has a new appreciation for boardwalks
Crossing over the grassy foredunes, the trail dropped back into the woodland marsh. Not to worry, though, an elevated boardwalk kept our feet mostly dry, there were some puddles on the trail once we dropped off the boardwalk.

Me, on my way to yard work
On familiar ground now, we followed post markers back to the whaleback dune from whence we started. From there it was the two hour drive back to Roseburg where presumably yard work is still waiting there for me.

Umbel of manzanita flowers
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Richard, 8 miles was a long one for the Friends, and your blog kept equal pace. Nice.

    1. Are you saying my blog was too long, Lindsay? Oops, I mean, Captain Hook?