Sleeping Bear Dunes

David McCormick

David McCormick

It’s hard to believe that Fall Break happened over  a week ago – with midterms, problem sets, and the poster session, time has been flying by here at SPH. Thankfully, Fall Break this year was actually a break (last year all of the midterms were after the break, and it was more of a “break from class so you won’t be distracted while you study” type of a vacation), so I figured that I’d use the time to go explore Michigan. The area around Ann Arbor is nice – lots of rivers, streams, and lakes – but I’d never seen the northern half of Michigan and so decided to camp at Sleeping Bear Dunes for a few days.

Moon Over the Dunes

The weather was perfect – high 60s and sunny – and since it was the middle of the Fall, the campsites were fairly empty (at least we didn’t have to contend with lots of loud RVs at night). We also managed to hit that point right before the leaves drop off the trees, so the drive north to Traverse City (only about 4 hours) had lots of nice scenery along the way. The camping was different than I’m used to (there was actually running water and permanent toilets!), so “roughing it” isn’t really an apt description of the facilities. The park has lots of nice trails that wander through the dunes, and it’s easy to forget that you’re standing on sand that was dropped here at the end of last ice age when you’re walking through the middle of a forest. Once you make it through the dunes, the views out over Lake Michigan and across to the Manitou Islands are great. There’s even a dune climb where you can hike up the hills for a bit and over to the lakeshore (although running down on the trip back is more fun…).

View from the Dunes

This trip was my first time seeing one of the Great Lakes, and it was weird to see waves in something that didn’t have a salt spray. The more I explore Michigan, the more I come to like the state – it’s much different than I had expected when I moved here, and there’s lots of state parks and forests to explore. All in all, the trip up north was a great way to escape school and homework for a few days, and it’s inspired me to plan a trip to the Upper Peninsula sometime next year – after the snows melt, of course.

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