29 January 2017

Ma-le'l and Manila Sand Dunes

Bureau of Land Management

I headed a little further down the sand that cuts off the bay from the ocean for more sand dune adventures. For Ma-le'l Dunes, parking is on either side of the gun club with a bit of fenced off area in between. Lots are locked a half hour after sunset to sunrise and the north side is only open to the public Friday through Monday. The map shows established trails, but keeping to these can be difficult. Plenty of other trails exist and this time of year, the established ones have a tendency to be under a bit of water.

sand hill capped in small trees
There is a bit of sandy hills topped in brush.

low and sandy and full of water
The low spots often have no drain so there are plenty of pools in this wet winter.

dog tracks
A good place for tracks, but most of them are dog or human.

After a little false starting finding myself with pools to cross that were difficult to deal with because anyone going that way started at a different spot in the parking lot, I find myself wandering southerly on a main trail that has easy bypass spots for the deep pools.

trees hung in Spanish moss
There are some quite pretty trees hung in Spanish moss.

sand and trees shield from the gun club
The gun club is an active place over there past the trees and down the other side of the sand.

pool beneath the brush
Some brush is established in the low spots and currently swimming in pools as well. Maybe I will not go this way after all.

Once on the main trail, it is easy to just get into traveling, but there are some little things it is nice to take in. Plenty of big things, too.

tiny mushrooms on a log vanishing in growth
A log in the sand hosts quite a bit of growth.

sand dunes and a little interruption by man's works
Over the dunes and to the crashing waves. Someone has written, "Welcome to the eternal now," on a large cement piece and the waves do seem to create that feeling even as they create a sort of ticking of time.

dunes stretching on for quite a ways
The dunes stretch on and on.

A sign marks the edge of BLM land and the start of Friends of the Dunes where there is another collection of trails winding up and down the dunes. At a particularly large bit of lake on a junction between trails, I go for something going a little higher than what I have been on.

fir tree crown
Low and twisted fir trees top the hill beside the trail.

I can see Manila below. It has a base and I seem to be getting close to it as there is fencing out into the dunes. That is the end of my southerly travel for now, so I wander down to the beach to return. The tide is high and there is easy walking on the shelf above the beach, so I stick to that slightly higher land.

five waves crashing at once
Each wave may be a tick, but they are so drawn out that five or six tick at once and a few ticks come from a different clock. It does feel like an eternal now.

I watch the little sand pipers for a moment as they dance with the waves. They become a line running from each wave as it comes in the last few feet. As falls back into the ocean, they rush it, flying over the foam left on the beach and into the water to grab their food. When the waves are far out, they are scattered all over the beach until a new wave comes up high and sorts them again into a line leading the edge up the beach.

sandpipers turning on the last wave
Collected into a tight group by the last wave, the sandpipers all turn to it as it starts to fall back into the ocean.

very active feeding
The attack and feeding once the wave is in retreat.

a wave does something a little unexpected
Sometimes those sandpipers find they are somewhat rushed by an unexpected motion of the wave as it comes in.

Eventually, I take to the dunes again and continue northerly along some high trail. The gun club sings and no one seems to worry about it. More people are playing in the dunes as the day gets later. There is fencing blocking further movement in this direction too.

sandy sand dunes
Another look out over the sand dunes.

pools among the dunes beside the gun club
Still battling pools along the trails through the sand dunes beside the gun club.

It is a short drive south along the road to access more dunes south of the fences. The access is at the Community Center and signs show another set of trails. Signs also point out efforts to eradicate invasive plants and point out that most of the grass on these dunes is an invasive English beach grass that stabilizes them much more effectively than the native dune grass. There are also photos of four rare area plants that you agree not to step on (or so the sign hopes) when using this area.

a very clean beach
Back on the beach with a few oyster shells and a little drift wood and very little else.

Starting down a trail and finding nothing looking particularly official other than continuing down this one quite wide stretch, I find myself on the beach again. The tide is going out, so I stroll along on the sand this time as I head southerly. A low spot in the cliffs leads to trails around on the dunes again.

trees from a lush spot on the other side of the hill
A low spot in a hill also leads to a trail, which is handy for traveling through the lush growth on the other side of this hill.

red and green and very furry leaves
These seemingly common plants often reward a close look.

nearly blank sand
Just two sets of footprints and numerous animal tracks once a fair distance from the Community Center.

constant wave action
The ever present ocean continues to pound the beach.

Coming back does seem to be on a smaller trail that may be unofficial, but it passes by a dilapidated circle of interpretive signs at the top of a dune. The platform they stand on looks unsafe, so they are fenced off. Someone must have decided that they could not keep up the repair of this display, but there is more information on these signs (somewhere underneath the graffiti) that is not presented below.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 1 February 2017