Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kermit Dunes

About 60 miles due west of Midland, near the part of Texas where the corner of New Mexico juts in, is the little town of Kermit, TX.  Northeast of Kermit about 10 miles is a pod of dunes (you can find them on Google Maps satellite view -- see map below for a marker at the parking area).  It is similar in shape and orientation to the dunes near Monahans, TX, along I-20.  A few square miles of the Kermit dunes are open as an off-road recreation area.  ATVs and motorcycles are allowed.  Overnight camping is also allowed for a fee; there are no facilities or water.  The day-use fee is $10 per day per adult rider. The gate is open on weekends; it is often closed on weekdays but I've never seen it actually locked. If it is locked, there is a phone number either near the gate or on the "rules" board facing the parking area.

View Kermit Dunes OHV Area in a larger map

Kermit Dunes parking area.  Dunes to the right.

Last Sunday it was a cool day.  In the late afternoon I loaded up the truck with my Honda 230 and headed out to Kermit.  My roommate Terra rode with me and other rider Mau drove his truck with his Honda 250.  We got to the dunes around 4 PM.  The parking lot was nearly deserted.  This is the same time I liked to ride in Sam Houston Nat. Forest north of Houston.  Everyone heads home Sunday just after noon.  In the afternoon and evening, you've got the place mostly to yourself.

Tracks in the sand

Terra was just along for the ride, so she set up a chair in the parking lot and read a book or something.  Mau and I tore off into the dunes.

Dune riding can be pure joy.  Again, I had some moments of perfection.  Cruising around a sand bowl, feels like you're floating.  Tearing in any direction.  No trails, just go.

Mau was doing some jumps.  I was practicing riding down steep dunes faces, and practicing getting unstuck.  The wind started to pick up and we were getting sandblasted.  Waves of sand came off the peaks of the dunes.  If you approached a dune crest from the lee side, you got a face full of sand.

My bike had an electrical problem and wouldn't start after I stalled it.  Thankfully Mau had a tool kit along and we were able to jiggle some wires until it would start.  That would have been a long walk back to the parking lot -- and it would be impossible to push the bike back.  Would have to fetch some tools and work on it out there.

Back at the lot, Terra wanted to try.  So she rode the 230, which has been a learning bike for many people, myself included.  She did pretty good and soon rode off down the sandy trail with Mau.  In first gear of course.  After five minutes I heard them coming back, then saw them riding toward me on a road a few hundred feet away.  Terra went behind a dune, then Mau went behind.  I heard Mau's engine shut off and I didn't see anyone come out the other side of the dune.  I ran over there.  Terra had wrecked and hit her face on the sand.  Thankfully she was wearing my helmet.  She got a few bruises.

The photos above don't do the area justice.  There was so much blowing sand, I didn't dare take my camera riding.  On a less windy day I'll get some riding shots and video.

Mau and I went back out on the dunes for another hour or so of blasting around.  Pure joy.  It's so rare, and here I've found a source of it, just an hour's drive away from Midland.

Waiting for our Sonic after-riding meal.

Stopping at Sonic in Kermit for a foot-long chili dog is an after-ride tradition.


Plants Amaze Me said...

Sounds like a fun time. You jiggled the wires to get the bike to start again, oh oh, don't get trapped in a far off sand dune.

Tonia said...

I grew up going to the dunes in Utah and riding around on quads. Brings back fun memories