Photo Shoot: The Dunes

Biking teaches me something new every single day. I didn’t really know about dunes before embarking…only that on New Jersey and NYC beaches, certain sections of the sand are cordoned off. There might be a sign that says, “Dune Restoration Zone” but there is rarely more than one species growing, and it’s usually just grass. In California, I started to see dunes with structure. They became bigger and bigger as I rode up the coast. They also became more complex, and displayed much more biodiversity. In Oregon, I camped at Honeyman State Park and had the opportunity to witness enormous dunes. Forests on dunes. People actually rent sandboards and ride down the dunes. ATV’s roar in the background. You can find yourself lost, surrounded by towering dunes on all sides, with wind throwing sand into your eyes. The dunes I have seen have all been interesting and phenomenal, but were each pretty different from each other. Here is a sampling of the West Coast’s dunes.

PCH II 068Some of the first spectacular dunes we encountered were in Fort Ord State Park. The colors were breathtaking. Reds and oranges and yellows, all on a sandy background.

PCH II 077The dunes complement the Pacific as they descend into its frigid waters.

PCH Northern Cali 051Later, we found ourselves in Bodega Dunes State Park. The grasses grew like little hairs sitting within a balding man’s hairpiece. The wind threatened to expose bare beach but, in the end, naturally made the grasses conform to the contours of the land.

PCH Northern Cali 056They feign hillside against the ocean. Don’t let those dunes trick you!

PCH Northern Cali 066Not many people stepped onto the beach at Bodega Dunes–and if they did, the water quickly washed away their footprints. We had it all to ourselves.

Norcal into Oregon 199Here I reached Honeyman State Park, I found the unlikely convergence of forests and dunes.

Norcal into Oregon 203Many species of shrubs, grasses, and trees inhabited this dune ecosystem.

Norcal into Oregon 204These pretty bushes had snow-pea shaped pods.

Norcal into Oregon 206The dunes went on for a long time. I followed only my own footsteps.

Norcal into Oregon 208Norcal into Oregon 216The dunes are ever-changing. Here you can see the pattern the wind has created in the sand, and the larger incline slowly melting into the surrounding hill.

Norcal into Oregon 222The view from the top.

Norcal into Oregon 237Norcal into Oregon 243My feet slid downwards every time they tried to move uphill. My footprints did not stay there for long, though–the sand quickly covered them back up with the aid of the wind.

Norcal into Oregon 250In the center of the photo, you can see a tiny black speck of a person walking up the hillside with his sandboard. He will then attempt to ride the board down the hill. (I don’t think anyone is very successful at sandboarding.) This image might help understand the scale of how enormous these dunes are.

Norcal into Oregon 257This lone tree was unaided by surrounding forest. It somehow was continuing to survive, despite the uneven terrain and forceful winds. Totally exposed to the elements, it holds strong.


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