The Oregon Dunes Loop Trail: In The Company of None-6 Month Solo Road Trip
The next day, I check out of the Sunset Oceanfront Lodging hotel in Bandon, OR and continue on my journey north to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The description peaks my curiosity so I decide to explore it. The dunes stretch 40 miles from the Coos River in North Bend to the Siuslaw River in Florence. Millions of years of constant battering of wind and rain have created these sandy hills some reaching up to 500′ above sea level. I choose the 1.8 mile Oregon Dunes Loop Trail because it has direct access to the beach and it’s quieter.
My idea of traveling is to be unencumbered by people and to be one with nature. It’s the solitude that I crave. I avoid the motorized vehicle areas. Why would I want to hear the constant whining of motors in such a beautiful place?
I see the entrance to the Oregon Dunes Day Use area off of the West side of Highway 101 (11 miles north of Reedsport). It costs $5 to park. I put the money into an envelope and put it into the box. Then place the tab on my interior window so the ranger knows that I have paid. I grab my knapsack and walk towards the viewing area to the Oregon Dunes Loop Trail.
The sky is overcast but the air is dry. As I follow the trail it widens to hills of cream color sand and outcroppings of grass. I see a hill and decide to climb it. Boy, I think I’m in fairly decent shape but this is a killer workout. My leg muscles are tensing and my breathing intensifies. Finally, what feels like an eternity, I reach the top, panting as though I just ran a marathon. Catching my breath I look around at the sea of sand and distant trees. What an amazing sight to behold. I can see and hear the ocean in the distance and my heart races. With a sigh, I descend the sandy hillside, walking and sliding, until I reach the bottom. I continue into the coastal forest, which is the last leg of the hike.
The forest opens up to low-lying grassy dunes. I hear the waves crashing on the shore. This is my heaven, my Zen. Wow, what a sight, miles and miles of wide open beach. There are a few people walking in the distance but I feel as though I am the only soul. I stop and look both ways and decide to walk north along the shore.
Large chunks of tree trunks, root balls and branches lie on the beach. Some of the wood is still pink, fresh from a recent storm. Others have been in the ocean for a while before washing up on the shore. Their bodies worn smooth from the elements. I love how the wood feels as I run my hands along the wood. The wind, sand and water sculpt the wood into unique shapes. One looks like a hippo with a gaping mouth. Another looks like a prehistoric bird. I feel as though I’m at a zoo with all these strange-looking animals.
It’s getting late but I don’t want to leave, I could stay forever. I slowly walk back turning and looking one last time. I breathe in the salty air before heading back over the sand hills.
Even though the sun never shined, it was a great day to explore the coast. Its time to drive the three hours back to Jacksonville. I drive the 101 North to Florence, then take route 126 E through the rain forest to Eugene and Interstate 5 south back to my Airbnb apartment. I’m glad I have the opportunity to explore the southern coast of Oregon. With resolve, I enjoy the remaining time at the retreat.