Dune Hikes

In September, it was my family’s turn to battle COVID-19. We’re not sure who brought it home first, but it hit me first. Hard.

Not as hard as a lot of other people, but I was flat for a couple days battling high fevers and severe muscle and joint aches. Luckily, I didn’t have any of the breathing issues that have hurt so many people. Following me, my wife and kids all came down with positive tests, so we settled in for – what we hoped – would be a relatively short infection period.

Unfortunately, our tests lingered positive. We stayed away from family and friends. We weighed how to safely get groceries (we’re pretty rural, so delivery isn’t really viable), and how to pass the time. The hardest part was when we were all feeling better, but still testing positive.

We ended up finding ways to be outside together away from people. We took trips to local creeks and parks. We spent time working in the garden on the farm, preparing for winter. One of the best trips was to Warren Dunes State Park about 30 minutes north of here.

An expanse of sand dominates the lower half of the image with a cloudless pale blue sky at the horizon. Some scrub grass can be seen poking into the sky in the distance. Five people are hiking on the dune, tiny compared with the expanse of the sand.
The sand stretches in every direction.

The kids hadn’t ever been to the dunes, so this was a treat for us. In the parking area, there is a monster dune immediately across the road and they started running to the top. By the end, they looked like Everest hikers, stopping every couple of steps to catch their breath due to the actual height and an incredibly steep grade.

Warren Dunes is nearly 2,000 acres and has public camping access, so there are trails all over the dunes to different campsites. They weave down, in, and around natural trails through the scrubby dune grass so you move from full sun to shady and change elevation quickly (if you want to). There are also several stretches that cross the ridges of adjoining dunes, so you can move across the area with amazing views out across the lake.

Two children walk across the ridge of a long sand dune which curves away to the right into the distance. In the background, trees are still green against the evening sky.
We chose to stay on top instead of going down and then back up.

We’ve lived in small-child land for a very long time. This was the first time our three year old was almost as independent as his older sisters. He wanted to walk, slide down hills, and climb with the older kids. My wife and I were actually able to walk and talk together while the others explored.

I think this is the start of the next phase of family life – one where we can begin to set and break boundaries at the same time. It also makes me realize how many of the childhood memories I have were created by my parents – and we need to do the same. We’re looking forward to protecting our family time so we can get out and explore more frequently.

No agenda other than showing up.

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