Monday, March 28, 2016

Bruneau Dunes 3-26-2016

We traversed the tallest single structure sand dune in North America.

Partners: Deez and the Lego Master.

Stats: 5 miles and approx 500ft gain to summit elevation 2,937ft in 4 hours round trip from camp.

Gear notes: Barefoot is the way to go. Bring a kite. Be prepared to get sand in and on everything.

Links: Bruneau Dunes on LoJSummitpost page.

Big Dune from the trail.

We had gotten a camp site at Bruneau Dunes State Park. Despite the forecast, we were all set to hike the tallest sand dune in North America, and yes, it is an actual peak with regard to the 300ft prominence rule. There is a short way to the high point starting from the boat ramp. See Big Dan's trip report for that route. We started from our camp site at Broken Wheel. Here is a link to the map of the area to get a better idea of the many options that exist for hiking this area.

Flat Iron Butte.

We started just a bit after 11am. It was a busy weekend with dang near every camp site full and people hiking and sliding the dunes.

Ripples in the sand.

The area is easy to appreciate, especially if you're a geology nerd like me. I really tried to keep my lectures to a minimum and I will skip it here.

Big Dune Lake.

However, these lakes did not exist until the completion of the C.J. Strike reservoir in 1952, which raised the ground water table. As we all know, surface water is coincident with ground water, hence the lakes.

Lower dune.

We knew the hike would be difficult, so we had to be mentally prepared.

Its 60% mental, 40% ability.

Starting up the first dune.

Small steps seemed to be the way to go since we basically slid back after almost every one.

Lower dune.

The slopes are steep and the "trail" just follows the crest of the dune the whole way.

Lake side.

The lakes have lots of birds. We also saw a lot of coyote tracks along the shores as we past them.

First hill.

We neared the first point that was not the top, had a break and regrouped.

We also enjoyed a sand slide, or a sandalanche, if you will.

Making the first high point.

It was a pretty neat experience hiking the crest; kind of other worldly in a way.

A long way to go.

Not many people seemed to be enjoying the full ten course meal like we were. They were skipping straight to the main course and we were still nibbling the appetizer. The actual high point is the peak at the very end.

Vortex Crater.

The Vortex Crater is huge. If one were to slide into it, it would be a difficult task to get back up.

Sand slog.

The wind really picked up about half way through, so sunglasses and shell jackets were nice to have. Going barefoot was pretty smooth walking but we still had lots of it left.

Dune Lakes.

One step forward, two steps back...

The high point.

It might have taken some coaxing to get the whole squad to push up to the high point after all the up-down and sliding around.

Battling the wind and sand to the top.

Replace the sand with snow and this would have been down right epic in the making.
The wind was howling; probably sustained 30-40mph gusting 50+.

Deez topping out.

We weren't going to let a little wind stop us from topping out.

Summit view.

Summit views were surprisingly impressive. Bennett Hills and Danskin Peak to the north, Owyhee Mountains to the west, and far off in the distance to the northwest, the Boise Mountains were visible.

Summit view.

Summit view.

Summit view.

Kite flying.

Then it was time for the kite flying session.

Kite flying.

We were getting a little tired of the wind sandblasting us, we got our summit shot and started down.

Summit shot.

We hiked back to the saddle just below the high point and headed down the slope that most of the traffic uses.

Looking up the short way to the peak.

There was plenty of open space to run, jump and slide down to the lake.

Dune behind the lake.

Then we put on our shoes for the hike back to camp to enjoy some cold drinks and hot pasta.

Best looking tent in the camp ground.

We wanted to get over to the observatory, but the cloud cover did not look promising. We hung in camp, got our Frisbee on and chatted with our neighbors. We'll save the observatory for the next time; adults only. The Lego Master was out cold by the time the stars came out.

Happy trails! Granola, out.

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