Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dellenback Dunes

It's not too often I hike a mere 3 miles and it's even less often I tell the world that I did so. Three miles is not a Richard Hike and, besides which, it's embarrassing. However, several weekends ago I had were two good reasons for hiking short: Grandchildren Aiden and Coral Rae, ages 9 and 5 respectively. Aiden had hiked with me before but this would be Coral Rae's first hike with Grandpa.

"Wow!", personified
Dellenback Dunes are, in my humble opinion, the best of the dune hikes and this hike no doubt would impress young impressionable minds. So, after several hours in the car listening to "I'm bored", "Are we there yet?", and "Can we stop and eat?", it was eminently gratifying to hear them say with all the awe in the world, "Wow!" at their first gander at  the dunes.

Death welcomed us to the dunes
It was a cold frosty morning and the temperature would never rise over the mid-30's; ice and frost rimed the leaves on all the bushes and trees when we started. The first half-mile wandered through coastal woods, lakes, and marshes before suddenly spitting us out onto the dunes. There was sand everywhere with large dunes undulating up and down with the sea on the horizon. Aiden was already off and running, which would be a recurring theme on this hike. A friend noted Aiden hikes like Maggie (the Hiking Dog) and I couldn't agree more.

Little girl on a big dune

Alas, Coral Rae's stubby little legs did not let her keep pace with her older brother, although she gamely tried. What she did do, however, was hike. The path we took required we climb atop a large dune, no easy task in soft sand, and she did so without complaint. From there, we stayed on top of what I euphemistically refer to as the "Great Dune".

Coral Rae art

It was probably unfair to plop Coral Rae in the world's biggest sandbox and ask her to walk without interruption; she periodically dropped to her knees to run sand through her fingers and make sand paintings. We were heading to a tree island and while Aiden scampered up and down and to and fro like a dog chasing scents, we walked at Coral Rae speed. Slowly and surely, we covered the miles as she prattled on about princesses and unicorns, not the usual topic of discussion I encounter on the trail.

This is how I walk downhill
We ate lunch overlooking a small pond where rainwater had collected. I had warned Aiden about quicksand and unclear on the concept, he wanted to find some and walk in it to see what it was like. To that end, he explored a grassy peninsula in the pond. The pond was well below us and Coral Rae wanted to join Aiden at the pond so she butt-scooted down the sandy dune and proceeded to play in the sand while singing songs to herself, lost in her own little girl world.

What passes for a desert in Oregon
It had been a gloriously sunny but cold day and as we ate, a small breeze began to blow with the temperature dropping noticeably so we trudged back up to the top of the dunes; well, to be clear, Coral Rae and I trudged while Aiden ran. Coral Rae found a small plant that she wanted to take to her Mommy and at every camera stop she would sink to her knees to obtain damp sand for her plant. Cute, but it was slow going.

Oregon Dunes ski resort
The north side of the dune was in shade and a layer of ice frosted the dunes. Visually, it was strange to see white where normally there would be shade. The allure of icy dunes called to the kids and they slid down the slopes sledlessly. 

Nobody else will hike with me
After a well-deserved dinner and pie in Reedsport, we headed back to Roseburg. When I returned the children to their home, they both gushed excitedly about the hike and then asked me "Can we do that again?" I think I have two new recruits!

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


  1. Great sand art! (and photography)

  2. good for you, Grandpa! start them early & don't forget the reward at the end. missed you at the SS office last week, but your collegue was very efficient & explained that you were off hiking.