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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Juniper Dunes; April 11-13, 2014
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D. Inscho
Not bored yet...



Joined: 28 Feb 2010
Posts: 742 | TRs | Pics
Location: Bellingham,WA
Post Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:40 pm   
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This area seems to get very little overnight visitation.  Barriers like the need to carry in all water, difficult and variable road conditions, and conflicting reports/signage about access through private property, promote a tendency to just go elsewhere.

Furthermore, any commute from Puget shores makes even a dayhike unappealing; it took 7 hours (driving 60) from Bellingham.  But the dunes, my god, Wilderness dunes!  I had to check it out.

After lots of research about private property permissions, vehicle-access possibilities to trailhead, and an overnight permit mailed to the BLM, I was ready to go.  A folding shovel and tire pump were thrown into the truck as an extra precaution against getting stuck.

My TH directions were complicated by misinformation and missing signage; here is an improved version:

From Pasco drive east on US12 to Kahlotus exit, Turn north onto Pasco-Kahlotus highway and drive 5.8 miles to Peterson Rd. (watch for grain silos and oversized yellow mailbox).  Turn left on unmarked gravel road and continue 4 miles NE; it turns to rough dirt as it transitions to BLM land.



At 4 miles there is a large ATV riding area and parking for RVs, go right on a track that transitions to sand.  One can park here and walk 3.5 miles to wilderness gate.  Those with 4wd, good clearance, and a short wheelbase may continue into loose sand and deep dips (the biggest washboard I’ve ever seen). suuure.gif



At around mile 3 look for an unassuming sandy double-track curving under power lines to right.  If you cross the pipeline road you’ve gone too far.  The narrow double–track delivers one to the wilderness gate. chickenleg.gif

Access issues were reportedly resolved with the privately owned Peterson Rd. access, but a big sign warning of NO TRESPASS was still posted just off the public road. paranoid.gif   Despite this I anxiously ventured onward past fields actively being crop-dusted until being reassured by herds of RVs, ATVs, and their helmeted jockeys.  Missing the unsigned turn at 3 miles caused me to nervously churn about on the sketchy pipeline road for 30 minutes- not recommended.  Tire floatation on the sand was fine at regular pressure. up.gif

Anyway, after WAY too much truck time, man & dog gratefully tumbled out of the buggy at the fenced wilderness boundary (fenced- as in ensuring it does not escape and cause trouble in town) wink.gif   This minimized my water re-supply trek the following day.  cool.gif  Under mid-day sun I lifted a 74lb pack with 2 gallons of water, passed through the gate, and into the trackless grass/sagelands.  I took a compass bearing NE and rambled over grassy hill and tumbleweed dale.  (the reverse of this bearing was to help me to easily find the gate again).  Namesake junipers provided periodic precious shade for Bodhran loaded with his own food and .5 gallon of water.

The destination was some theorized large dunes on the far side of the wilderness area determined from satellite photo.  Three miles later we made a home underneath a shady juniper on a high ridge. redface.gif

The dunes were made possible by sand, wind, and scant water; individual grains leap-frogging one another higher and further.  I resisted putting up the tent, but that same wind kept treating our down bags like tumbleweeds.  At least it ensured they would not end up downslope snagged by something prickly. doh.gif

The days were warm and breezy with meadowlark birdsong; nights were cold-serenaded by owls and coyotes, with the lights of Pasco/Richland below.  The temperature varied 30+ degrees between day and night.  Pre-coffee mornings were spent chasing photos in slippers and early light.  Evenings were the same, except for sandaled feet in warm sand smile.gif

Day 2 required a hike out for water resupply.  Despite the compass bearing, I lost my nerve and veered off toward the west too soon and ended up ˝ mile north of the truck confused.gif   This was easily corrected and I was once again under way with 2.5 more gallons.  The rest of the day was spent exploring an additional 7 miles of terrain in the northern region.  I never located the north entrance but enjoyed good views from dunes toward The Palouse.  I only saw 3 dayhikers for the whole trip.

Bodhran, bless his little heart, quickly learned that the dunes were a “no-go” without permission.  After I was done with photos he was allowed to rowdy-about as he pleased.  Really, he is such a good dog agree.gif

Dune buggies were audible to the west Saturday, but Friday and Sunday were quietest.  I saw lots of ungulate tracks but no beasts.  Several varieties of flowers were blooming, punctuating the landscape with vivid color.  Morning dunes revealed the tracks of nocturnal activity: beetles, kangaroo rat, lizards, grasshopper mice, ant lions.  Jerusalem crickets leapt in waves as we walked the grass.  I saw one Whimbrel.  No ticks or buzzworms.



Juniper Dunes: The Wilderness from David Inscho on Vimeo.


Juniper Dunes, in all of its contained majesty, was well worth the journey and uncertainty.  Those 7000 acres feel big and lonesome for a pocket Wilderness; big enough to contain the most energetic dayhike, and still fall short.  Two nights seemed just about right.

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http://david-inscho.smugmug.com/

There's nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept-- Ansel Adams
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Oliver
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Joined: 10 Oct 2013
Posts: 41 | TRs | Pics

Post Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:11 pm   
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Wow, I'm impressed. And jealous. Nice work getting your car all the way to the gate!
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Redwic
Jack Of All Hikes



Joined: 23 Feb 2009
Posts: 2895 | TRs | Pics
Location: Taking A Hobo Shower At Walmart
Post Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:44 pm   
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This is one of those places I regularly talk to people about going to but rarely find mutual interest in doing so. It looks like a great place to visit, albeit rugged.

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"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." -Atticus Finch
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mbtigger
Sherpa Da



Joined: 14 Apr 2011
Posts: 652 | TRs | Pics
Location: Sucking the dry air
Post Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:17 pm   
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I have been there for a day hike, but the need to pack in water has dampened my enthusiasm  for an overnighter.  Plus I have to park the extra 3 miles out as I cannot drive the van up the last road....
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Hikingqueen
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Joined: 12 Nov 2007
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Post Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:43 pm   
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Loved that video! biggrin.gif
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contour5
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Joined: 16 Jul 2003
Posts: 1654 | TRs | Pics

Post Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:50 pm   
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Great light and shadows on some of these, fantastic sky color, very nice.

Had to google "buzzworms"... eee! snattlerakes!
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 4357 | TRs | Pics
Location: Stuck in the middle
Post Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:50 am   
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The beetles were cool.
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Bloated Chipmunk
Slower than Dial-up



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 2319 | TRs | Pics
Location: The road less traveled
Post Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:54 pm   
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This is a place that I had in mind to go to, but never got around to it before I moved away.  Thanks for the pics & helpful info.  smile.gif

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Home is where the hiking is. 

http://www.meetup.com/Hardcore-Hikers-of-San-Diego-County/

A balanced diet is a margarita in each hand.
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D. Inscho
Not bored yet...



Joined: 28 Feb 2010
Posts: 742 | TRs | Pics
Location: Bellingham,WA
Post Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:00 am   
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Glad people liked the report and video; hopefully the current info furthers anyone's ability to seek out sunshine & sand.

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http://david-inscho.smugmug.com/

There's nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept-- Ansel Adams
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BirdDog
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Joined: 09 Jan 2007
Posts: 1051 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
Post Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:05 am   
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Nice photos of a beautiful place. Thnaks for the access tips, the place is a little hidden by lack of good info.

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"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country."
Teddy Roosevelt August 6, 1912
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silence
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Joined: 25 Apr 2005
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Post Mon May 05, 2014 6:58 am   
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Thx David! great storytelling and pix as always ... love the video. I guess all the reports I've read about getting there were true ... way to get er done though!

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. – Bob Dylan
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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Juniper Dunes; April 11-13, 2014  
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