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Experience Cape Cod - Dune Shack Trail, Provincetown

There are a few moments where we have both felt this experience in a location that can only be described as spiritual. One was last April in Sedona, another was on this day in Provincetown out on the Dune Shack Trail.

By: Shaun Logan + Save to a List

Sand Trail to Artist Shacks

It was a grey gloomy day on the Cape but it was one of the only days where it was not going to rain nor the temperatures drop down into the 30’s over the next few days, so I wanted to get out to explore another trail.  I have been exploring the trails on the Outer Cape to prepare for Logan Kinei Nature Experiences.

One of the reasons we moved our family to Cape Cod was to get out into nature more often.  So, as much as these walks/hikes are research, they are for us. We are reaping the many benefits of spending time together and hanging out in nature.

This was my fourth hike in five days, three of which I had carried my son in my wrap.  He’s about 18lbs now and it just adds another challenge, and today it was the most challenging.  I started out a bit fatigued in my legs and my shoulders, and we chose to go out on Dune Shack Trail or Sand Dune Trail — same trail, just have seen it referred to both ways.  As the names suggest, the trail is through the dunes of Provincetown which means it is 100% sand.  

Most of it being soft sand.

The trail, pretty much immediately, ascends up a significant incline of a dune.  The muscle burn onsets very quickly!  Once we got up to the top, we were taken aback by the incredible vastness and beauty of the dunes.  The beauty continued all the way through the walk.  If you stay on the primary trail, it is approximately a 2.5 mile loop, but there are a bunch of other trails where you can get lost a bit.  So of course that is what we took the opportunity to get lost. 

At some point after we had gone over the large dunes, we went right, which is East and we went pretty far East. We ended up walking around for about two hours, but it’s a bit slower because of the sand.  It was great.  It wasn’t like we lost a trail at all, we just took much less traveled trails, which we love.

Path to the Beach

We made our way to the beach.  Wow, what a large beach with beautiful soft white sand that stretched as far as we could see.  There were the artists shacks at the top of the dune overlooking the beach.  We walked along the beach with the ocean moving and grooving, fog had rolled in and we were the only people out there.  It was pure beauty.  My wife kept saying, “I feel like we are in a poem or a romantic novel or maybe this is a dream.”

On the beach, though there were no humans in sight, there were many remnants of humans in the form of trash.  There were trap cages, plastic bottles, various buoys and styrofoam and plastic throughout the beach — a sad contrast to the rest.

As we found our way back to the main trail off of the beach, we headed back up another steep incline of soft sand into the dunes.  So much more beauty all around.  Though the fatigue was setting in, we loved every moment of it.  The temperature was actually perfect, mid 40’s in February with no sun beating down on us.  The grey in the sky and fog made for some amazing photos, especially in black and white.

There are a few moments where we have both felt this experience in a location that can only be described as spiritual. One was last April in Sedona, another was on this day in Provincetown out on the Dune Shack Trail.  It's not only about the location, because both Sedona and P'town are spiritual places with a higher energy, but it's about all of the things that come together to make the moment something special for us.  I actually think we had similar experiences in Iceland, Ireland, and Edingburgh, but weren't as aware then.

Dune Shack Trail was the beauty of the land.  The desolation of the trail from people of the past, and the untouched smoothness of the dunes respected by those same people - perhaps with footprints of a lone animal through the otherwise untouched, windswept sand. Other than footprints of previous humans and possible dogs, the artists shacks and the sand road, of sorts, that leads to them, and the unfortunate trash on the beach, there were no signs of any other humans fo the two hours we were out there.

The fog rolled in as we had reached the beach, providing even more amazing visuals and that spiritual feeling.  It made me think of the is paragraph from the book "The Outer Beach" by Robert Finch (a book about his nature experiences living on Cape Cod for many years) --

"I do not live alone easily. In solitude I find myself inordinately affected by the weather. It is as though meteorology takes the last of intimate company, and the distinction between outer weather and inner mood is gradually obliterated.  In such situations it is not so much a question of trying to give myself over to nature as trying to hold something back, some bit of perspective and self-evaluation. This is just what fog loves to steal from you."

What I find most interesting in these spiritual moments is how different my life and I experience them. She tends to lead with fear, of which she is now more aware of and works to take control.  She was fearful of our experiences in Sedona and was fearful with an underlying anxiety on Dune Shack Trail. Perhaps it was the solitude or the weather or something from the past or feeling that this land will only exist under the ocean in the not too distant future. Perhaps the energy just pulls out anxieties of her past or past lives.

I, on the other hand, feel calm and in awe, yet not fully present. I tend to only recognize the full power of these moments and the affect they have on me later.  I tend to worry about time, for no reason.  Like I want to be done something no matter how amazing it is in the moment to be able to reflect back on it, instead of being in the moment.  Being in the moment is one of the things I actively work on most.

So far, this is one of our favorite nature experiences on Cape Cod.  The photos really don’t do it justice at all.  You can’t get all of the contrast in colors or the vastness of the expansive dunes.  You can’t experience the nature—the wind, the ocean, the sounds, the smells, the colors, the feeling of the sand—from photos.  Get out there and experience it!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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