The Quest to the Seven Continents kicks off in my home state of Michigan, recently voted the number one state in the country according to thrillist.com. One of those reasons is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the Northwest corner in the lower peninsula of Michigan.
Hills of loose sand that stretch up and down about 3.5 miles to the coast of Lake Michigan makes it one of Michigan’s most spectacular beauties.
It doesn’t look like much from the start, but behind this dune are several other dunes, that only those who are determined will finish.
Before I left home for good, I promised a few of my nephews and nieces that I would take them somewhere cool. I knew of a few cool spots up north where they’ve never been that would fit the bill. Along with them, I recruited three friends of mine along with one of their daughters to help me chaperone (and cook) for the kids at the accommodation I booked for all of us. I rented a 15-passenger van and we set off early Tuesday morning due North!
Immediately after getting exiting our van, we were introduced to the base of the first dune and the start of a lengthy hike. We couldn’t see what was beyond the first dune, only the hope of a cool clear Michigan lake waiting for us. We were all eager to get there!
Getting up the introductory dune was relatively difficult in itself, but once we reached the very top, we could see another set of dunes that extended beyond closer to the lake. I had no plans on quitting and told my companions that we didn’t come all the way out here to sit on a dune. We are going to make it all the way! Everyone was on board–some more than others.
The sun lent itself to the max without any cloud cover. The sky was as blue as its ever been and the sand was hot to the touch. I began to realize that I may have made a mistake in not telling some of my companions a bit more detail about the dunes. Footwear is highly recommended! I came prepared with water shoes, which fit tight around my feet and had a flat, grippy bottom. They worked like a charm. Others wore sneakers that constantly filled with sand or flip-flops that broke mid hike resulting in bare-footing it the rest of the way. Painful blisters on the pad of their feet were the result. So if you’re planning on doing the climb, wear appropriate footwear!
Noah and Riley, the youngest two of our crew, were troopers through the journey. Riley may have said that this was “the worst day ever in her life” and Noah may have wanted to stop and take a break every other minute, but both never gave up…even with their look of defeat once they finally reached the top of a dune…only to discover that there was a whole other, bigger dune that was hiding behind it.
Midway through we broke up into smaller groups. Some were way up ahead, thoroughly enjoying the challenge. I was somewhere in the middle with the youngest kids, making sure they didn’t die of heat and exhaustion. And there was a group behind trudging slowly, but still trudging. We all just wanted that glorious lake!
We all had a bottle of water at the start of the hike, but drank all of it or poured it on ourselves within 20 minutes of climbing. I began to worry some of the kids would start to suffer under the sun from exhaustion and no water, but I reminded them that there was all the water we could ever want just a little further ahead.
Little Noah, who I thought was gonna drop where he stood, saw the final footing to lake Michigan and ran down the hill to the lake’s welcoming shore. Eventually, the rest of the gang joined us.
We stayed there for maybe a half-hour and then trudged back, up and down and up from where we came.
The hike took us a little over four hours to complete. We could have done it faster but we stopped a lot. There was no rush though, I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t find it entirely difficult. The views were excellent and the lake was a cool reward for such a hot and tiresome venture. The kids complained that they hated it, but once we were finished, they were glad to have did it.
Way to guys! Onwards to Petoskey, Michigan!