Dellenback Dunes Trail (Oregon Coast) 10-Aug-2021

The heat dome returned with a vengeance, ramming air temperatures well into the triple digits (103+ยฐF / 39+ยฐC). Then smoke from a host of local and not so local wildfires poured into our valley, taking air quality to startlingly (200+ AQI) unhealthy levels. It was not a good time to be outside. So it was pure luck on our part that we found ourselves on the Oregon coast, enjoying a few (too few) days of cool, clean, moist coastal air. ๐Ÿ˜ We came home to find that little had changed – still too hot, still too smokey. ๐Ÿ˜’ But least we had those few days on the beach. We’ll always have Paris, etc.

We stayed in Bandon and sallied forth to hikes from there. Finding a place to stay wasn’t an issue (we’d reserved ahead) but finding somewhere to eat was. The restaurants in Bandon haven’t fully bounced back yet from the viral lockdowns (and some never will) and many aren’t open every day – particularly on weekdays – due to supply and staffing issues. And yet there were plenty of people visiting the beach – plenty of people – all of whom went looking for somewhere to eat at roughly the same time. The crowds were WAY ahead of the restaurant’s logistics. But, using the devious tricks that come with age, we managed to eat out all nights but the one when we ate our hiking food for dinner. Crackers and string cheese. Yum! ๐Ÿ™„

Our first hike was a reprise of one we’d done across the Umpqua Dunes in 2018. That had been a good hike despite the fog and clouds that obscured the views from time to time. We wanted to give it another go on a fully sunny day – which was today. Our grand plan was to cross the dunes to the beach and then go out-and-back along the wet sand (so as not to step on the plovers) to Ten Mile Creek. It would have been a good plan – perhaps even a magnificent one – had the wind not had other ideas.

On to the dunes
Beetle tracks
There’s no “trail” – you just follow along the marker poles (upper right)
Dune grass
Wind sculpture
Sand pocket
On the “trail”
A root swept by the wind
Dune grasses
Ocean and coastal forest in the distance
Dune grasses

After about 2 miles (3.2 km) on the dune sand, we passed through a tree island (a strip of dense, impenetrable save for the trail, forest) and a strip of beach grasses, and emerged on to the beach itself.

On the Beach
Looking south from the end of the trail
Heading south

The wind – a breeze really – had been pleasant as we crossed the dunes. But once on the beach, we were exposed to the full force of it – blowing 20-30 mph (32-48 km/h) from the north. Going south with our backs to it wasn’t too hard, but about half-way to Ten Mile Creek it dawned on us that walking back into it would be something else. Something not very pleasant. So we decided to cut our losses, put off Ten Mile Creek for yet another day, and head back. That was like walking uphill through molasses – salty molasses thanks to the wind-driven salt spray.

Going south toward our moment of reckoning
Dead crab (just after this picture was taken, the wind blew the shell down the beach)
Walking back, into the gale
Off the beach, out of the wind, and through the beach grass
Through the tree island (which is a marsh in the winter months)
Back across the dunes
Contrail and sand

Out-and-back was 6.5 miles (10.5 km) with just 100 feet (30 m) of gain. But, what with slogging through the sand and coming back into the wind, it was still a good bit of exercise. But no matter. Our hikes at the coast this year were really just excuses for the chance, however fleeting, to breathe clean, cool air. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Out and back to a windy beach
Sunset at Face Rock
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3 comments

  1. We’ve been keeping track of the air quality in the Rogue Valley. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So glad you got away for a few days of clean air and hiking (albeit in the sand and wind) on the beautiful coast.

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