Seldom I travel to the west side of my home state. This is more out of practical reasons than anything as you may or may not be aware of is how vast the state of Michigan is, in order to reach my destination which was the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shoreline in Empire Michigan, I drove about 260 miles (418 km) which took about 4 and a half hours if you were to drive non-stop. This was not the case as i needed to get gas at a couple of points. So total drive time it was more like 5 hours. I was on vacation from my “day” job and I borrowed a couple audiobooks from the library so I’m all set for the daunting drive to Empire Michigan.
About the Park
As i stated in the opening paragraph Sleeping Bear Dunes is located in Empire Michigan. The park occupies about 71,199 acres of land. The Sleeping Bear Dune was about 234 feet high and is covered by dense plants. Due to erosion however, the dune has shank in size and is said to be about 103 feet high. There are also several different trails you can explore. On this expedition I opted for the Dunes Trail which is about 3.5 miles long or 5.6 km. One of many mistakes that I was to made on this day…
So Many Mistakes
I’m probably jumping the gun by saying that hiking the Dunes trail was a mistake but I’m getting ahead of myself. My actual first mistake on this trip was not checking my gear before jumping in my car and spending all that time on the road only to discover that my actual camera was back at home and sitting in my bag. Not exactly the end of the world as, my phone can capture landscapes photographs decently. Still rather annoying though.
I’m sure you’re wondering how could a place with such gorgeous views be a mistake? I’ve hiked trails that are similar in length to this one but I did not anticipate how steep this place is. I found myself stopping frequently from climbing up the dunes due to pain that i sometimes experience in my left foot from walking too long. Which brings us to my third mistake:
Never Hike Barefoot
When I finally scaled the top of the dune climb I made a decision that I’ve come to regret which is to hike the remainder of the trail barefoot. My logic was hey, this is a sand dune, it’s basically like walking on a sandy beach, my shoes were already full of sand and i was barely into my trek that my left foot was bothering me and several other hikers were doing it so why shouldn’t I? For the most part the sand is pretty comfortable but on some spaces there are rocks that were a bit troublesome to cross. The temperature was 75°F ( 23°C) and the sand wasn’t particularly warm but there are times when that isn’t always the case and the sand can become rather heated especially with all the hot weather that we’re experiencing.
Still if I had to choose I’d do it all over again
All of these ordeals more or less occurred within the first hour of what would turn out to be a four and half hour hike. But I wanted to see the shores of Lake Michigan once more, because my next vacation won’t occur until November, and opportunity seldom present itself a second time…