Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Jockey's Ridge

Another interesting spot we visited on the Outer Banks was Jockey's Ridge State Park. This is at the northern part of the Banks where there is a lot of commercial development. I did not like that part of the island chain because of the overbuilt construction and auto traffic (and crowds). There is still a lot to see, and I wouldn't want to dissuade anyone from going. It's just that it wasn't the kind of place I generally like.

But it does have some exceptional sights to see, one of which is Jockey's Ridge, the biggest, tallest sand dune on the east coast of North America.

Sand dunes don't generally come to mind when I think of geological formations, but they are. Just as with any such anomaly of earth and physics, they can be as impressive as any mountain or canyon. The height of Jockey's Ridge apparently fluctuates quite a bit, going as low as 80 feet above sea level to as high as 110 feet above sea level. And the dune is enormous, taking up a vast amount of space there in the island. You can see far in every direction from the bare summit of the ridge.

The beginning of the trail to the top of Jockey's Ridge.

Surprisingly, there's a small freshwater pond lodged between several of the big dunes. It was full of minnows and tadpoles. I even saw some birds land there briefly while I was among the dunes.

I continued around the pond and assaulted the ridge.

For a good relation of the size of this gigantic dune (only partially seen in this photo), those tiny dots near the top are people.

Again...if you look closely you can see some figures on the top of the far dune. Those are people with hang gliders waiting for a good wind for launch.

Here is an image that's a good illustration of the nature of dunes...they "walk". In this case they are walking over this pine forest and will, I assume, completely cover it at some time.

As I headed back I had to round the pond again. You can see a crowd of tourists on the wooden overlook, some of them having descended like ants to tackle the Ridge. I had been lucky and had shared the dune with only one family--parents and a daughter.

Almost alone up there!

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