Have you ever hiked over 4 miles of sand dune? We did, and I tell you, it was a really great workout! After visiting historic Glen Haven and the Life Saving Station at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, we were itching to get more physical with nature.
The Dune Climb starts off with just that – a climb up a very large sand dune. It is huge – the people near the top look like little ants. We heard you could hike all the way to the lake – a round trip of 3.8 miles (we took a little detour, so we went more than 4), but we weren’t really sure what to expect. So we started climbing, in the soft, fine sand – perfect sand for a beach! It was tough to climb in – I started feeling it almost right away!
We stopped a couple of times on the way up the hill to look back at the view – a gorgeous view of the forest and a nearby lake – picture perfect. I could have stood there for hours just looking at that view (you will see this is a theme for this hike)…
When we got to the top of the hill, the dune flattened out and did a couple of gradual ups and downs. So we kept going. Peaks and valleys of sand, one after another; we were only able to see the hill immediately coming up in our path. We started finding wooden markers with numbers; we hadn’t noticed them before. The crowd thinned out, and we found ourselves hiking through the loose sand with almost no one else around.
We had been hiking about 45 minutes and had just passed a marker with the number 11 on it when we came upon a group coming back from the other direction. A young lady explained that we just had to get to marker 27 and we’d be at the lake. My heart sank – we were less than halfway – which seemed to mean at least another hour to get there. I thought about turning back, but Jon really wanted to go all the way… What we didn’t know then is that I’m positive that the markers are NOT equidistant (do I get bonus points for using the word equidistant in this blog?).
Up one hill, down another… This is a very strenuous hike, due to the fact that you are always on a hill, and you are hiking in soft sand. But we made it to the lake, with the most fabulous pebble beach, and only 5 other souls… We sat on the beach for a little while, and I took some photos, and posed in some too. I took the opportunity to pour the sand out of my shoes too!
I loved just listening to the waves lapping the shore, and seeing the gorgeous reflection of the sunshine on the water. But before too long, we had to turn back, because the sun was already sinking lower in the sky, and we didn’t want to get caught after dark.
We hiked back – and of course it seemed like it went on forever, because now we knew we had to make it to marker 1. Jon of course powers along, and I bring up the rear. It was peaceful – just me and my heavy breathing…
After we made it back from The Dune Climb – and poured the sand out of our shoes – again… we decided to do the scenic drive. I’ll post about that next!
Have you hiked The Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes?