Sand Dunes at Wickaninnish Beach

One of the places that my wife Jocie and I love to return to again and again are the sand dunes at Wickaninnish Beach. For the botanist, these dunes are the home to many very interesting plants that are adapted to the shifting sand of the dune ecosystem.

Dunes at Wickaninnish Beach
Sand dunes at Wickaninnish Beach from a vantage point high in the back part of the dunes.

While I enjoy photographing flowers and plants I find that landscapes are a challenge for me. I usually end up moving closer in an attempt to convey the nature of the greater landscape by examining a smaller part of it. Such was the case in the dunes. I took a number of “grand scale” images that just didn’t seem to work very well and then began looking closer at the details – the way that the wind had sculpted ripples in the sand and the signs that other visitors to the dunes had left behind.

Sand Ripples
Sand ripples show that the wind is constantly shaping the dunes.
Deer Mouse Tracks
Deer Mouse tracks were everywhere in the dunes, starting from the forest edge and making their winding way across the sand.
Bird Tracks
These tracks show that a bird (probably a Song Sparrow) paid a visit to the dunes.
Insect Tracks
Mysterious insect tracks - a caterpillar? a beetle? something else?

After spending some time in the dune looking at tracks and patterns in the sand I realize that I now have more questions than when I began. Sometimes, the bigger picture isn’t nearly as interesting as the smaller stories that you see when you shift your perspective a little closer.

To learn more about the plants in the dunes, read Jocie’s article The Dunes at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve or take a Parks Canada guided walk with an interpreter during the summer months. Keep in mind that the dunes are a very sensitive ecosystem and care should be taken when exploring them. Avoid trampling on any plants and leave as little trace of your visit as possible. The dunes can be accessed by a short walk from Parking Lot “E” at Wickaninnish Beach in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.