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Driving out of Los Angeles is an experience. There are really two routes east - take the main highways south of the San Gabriel mountains or take Newhall Pass, that separates the San Gabriels from the Santa Susana Mountains, and take the route north of the mountains. The former guarantees bumper-to-bumper traffic for 2 hours while the latter adds an 50 miles to the route but empty roads. We take the high-road. @atypicalcontent Sunset over the Prado in Taos, New Mexico. After a week of storms where over 40” fell, the sky cleared and gave us a show. We made our way to the mountain and checked in with ski patrol for the required backcountry passes. The mountain has a couple of high speed chairs and a nice gondola that takes 15 minutes to the top. Tom was leading the way and made the call to take some of the lower chairs, this netted us first tracks on most of the aspects we hit. The morning went by in a flash of powder. Deep and steep pitches, tight trees, and endless possibilities everywhere. There is so much sidecountry that earning our turns was unnecessary. Lap after lap we found first or second tracks on most everything. Kiroro was great. Kiroro is one of the special places in a special place. It is a backcountry focused area with lift access, tons of snow, a consistent fall line, and endless features to ride. With time being precious, our Aussie host, Liam, hooked us up with a 22 year old "volunteer" from the States to take us around the mountain. Tomahawk Tom had been riding Kiroro everyday for the past two months and knew the ins and outs. @ridealldamnday A story about a Yuki Ona is being written. @hopihillsfarm My morning started unlike any other. Snorting, scratching, clapping, and weezing kept on popping into my sleep and I could not understand why. Oh, that's right, I'm sleeping in a barn... someone hit the snooze button on the goats. Read on in the Blog! @atypicalcontent

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Photo Gallery – A trip to the Lencois Maranhenses

A Trip to the Lencois Maranhenses

Riding the Dunes of the Lencois Maranhenses

After three weeks traveling throughout northeastern Brazil we arrived in Atins during an unusual dry spell in the middle of the wet season. (Peak season usually starts around late June and July). We were here to ride 4×4 on the dunes of the Lencois but could see the disappointment in the locals’ faces when we asked about the lagoons. Like all locals everywhere always say: “you should have been here last week”. Nevertheless, after speaking to some folks around the beach and our local guide Joao, we decided on a westerly route from Atins into the middle of the formation. The locals that had been there recently mentioned some of the larger and deeper lagoons were still worth the trip. It was set – we would meet at 10:00 am for about eight hours of riding around in the Lencois and swimming the pools.

Map of the Lencois Maranhenses

We woke up early on a Sunday to consistent 20 knots from the east with a high tide. With the less than stellar reports for the lagoons, we considered pushing the ride into the Lencois to the next day in order to enjoy the kiteboarding conditions. Ultimately, Joao convinced us to continue with our plan, so we got onto our green ATVs and rode west.

4x4 on the Lencois Maranhenses
First views of the Lencois Maranhenses from the East on 4×4

By 4×4 on the Lencois

Local roads Inland from Atins are little more than low-grasses interspersed with the deep rutted tracks. This made the journey more active than we were expecting. Bobbing in and out of the paths, my skepticism of the whole thing quickly vanished as the dunes came into view. They are far more grand than I imagined – made of bottomless sand waves that stretch at some places for over 40 miles. In the best instances and the rainiest part of the year, dunes reach over 150-feet tall and at their base lie 30-foot deep fresh water lagoons. Per the legend of Jaoa, some pools grow fish after birds fly over dropping eggs that hatch – but we didn’t see any.

4x4 on the Lencois Maranhenses
Bottomless Sands on 4×4 on the Lencois Maranhenses

Our First Lagoon

About an hour west from Atins, we were in the middle of the Dune Field surrounded by mountains of sand and little else. Nothing seems to live on the dunes. The shrubbery quickly dies off and all that is left is the undulations of wind and sand. Driving 25 miles per hour up steep faces and faster on the way down. Switching from 4×4 to 2×4 on the Lencois, rising from the seat to better maneuver through narrow ridges, and opening up the throttle on the flats. We saw no one else and aside from the very rare old ATV track, there was no record of anyone before you. Words can’t explain the feelings experienced while traversing this world.

4x4 on the Lencois Maranhenses
Reaching the Heart of the Lencois
4x4 on the Lencois Maranhenses
Arriving at the First Stop

For the first hour riding the dunes of the Lencois Maranhenses we went by dozens of lagoons. Any could have been good enough to spend the whole day in. Joao pressed on guaranteeing something special. Raised on a high promontory of sand was a lagoon about 1/4 of a mile long by 75 feet wide. Joao shared with us that the lagoons are formed from the rising water table during the wet season, not from rain. We stopped for a while.

4x4 on the Lencois Maranhenses

Watching the Sunset in the Lencois

After swimming in the water and walking around, Joao recommended we move to the next spot about 45 minutes away. So we rode on and reached a large lagoon where we setup camp to eat something and watch the sunset.

We sat, ate, played in the water and watched the sunset. Being one of the larger lagoons, it’s perfect for kite surfing in high wet season. Another reason to come back and a future adventure that’s now firmly on the list.

4x4 on the Lencois Maranhenses

The Way Back

4x4 on the Lencois Maranhenses
Riding Home

I was completely unprepared for this place and hated turning back for Atins. In retrospect, we should have planned an overnight trip. (They are technically illegal, but I’m sure we could have managed).

It took almost two hours to make it back to Atins the last 45 minutes in darkness. It was more than I could have ever imagined. Go see it.

AC / Lencois Maranhenses / A Trip to the Lencois Part IV
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