Yesterday we took a mini roadtrip. We set out on a quest to conquer the Dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau, MI. It was a 5 hour drive all together but that didn’t stop us, we were determined. I had been wanting to do this all summer and with the colder months approaching, I decided we better go for it now while we had the time.
So we woke up early, left and were on our way. The sights we saw on our drive there were unbelievable. The trees were in peak for their fall colors. We found some trails off the road and took the truck up them to explore. Of course I made Josh, our buddy who was with us take photos of John and I while we were there. (This was actually a reoccurring event all day.) Thanks Josh!
After our quick pit stop, we got back on the road and made our way to the dunes. We arrived around noon & were excited to begin our climb.
We pulled up and saw the dune immediately. I hurried out of the truck ready to go. It didn’t look like an easy climb but it looked like a fun challenge. John commented, “it’s not that big.” I disagreed. But I’ll let you guys decide, here’s a picture of the 1st dune on the beginning of our 3.5 mile hike.
Yes! You heard me right. I said 3.5 mile hike to do the total climb. That’s through the sand and up and down dunes that were almost as big as this one. Our brave 2 year old climbed the top of this without hesitation and complaint. We held her hand to help her balance. She did good throughout the whole 1.75 mile down to the water. We took turns carrying her or holding her hand but she enjoyed running around and chasing her daddy down the dunes.
There were a couple smaller climbs after this that led you to a higher point where you could see the bay that was near the parking lot. It was a beautiful spot. Trees of different shades of yellow and red circled the body of water below. We were far away enough from the water that we couldn’t see it moving, therefore it looked like ice. Teal ice. The red, yellow, and teal together made for a picturesque moment. Trying to capture it with my phone camera didn’t do it justice, but here’s a couple pictures of the guys and Ellie with it in the background anyways.
Off to the right were some additional dunes that we chose not to climb because we were determined to get down to the beach of Lake Michigan. This is what they looked like though.
Josh commented that he was surprised with how much vegetarian there was and I agreed. It made for beautiful scenery though.
Here’s a picture of Ellie on a part of the dune that looked like waves. I thought it was pretty cool. When I first looked at this photo I thought something had happened to my phone because there were lines on my screen, but really they were just the well defined ripples in the sand.
So after a few mini dunes that followed the first dune, we reached a point where we could see the water. It seemed close but we could tell there were at least a couple more dunes to climb to get there.
The next photo I show you will be of us at the point that we could have turned back around and headed to the parking lot. Because we had gotten a decent climb in and also had good view of Lake Michigan but, John knew in my heart I wanted to accomplish the full hike down to the water and back even if it meant a little suffering along the way. So he convinced me to keep going and we sent it full force.
I will admit, it got harder after this. I finally took my shoes off, that helped but my toes and ankles were feeling it. Oh and of course my calves were on fire. We pushed through and finished it out to reach the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan. It felt amazing. The water looked like we were in the Caribbean. Honestly, I imagined myself in one of those survivor shows at one point during our hike and when we finally made it to the water I was relieved.
Here is a picture of me jumping for joy for finishing something that truly challenged me.
The water was REMARKABLE!
But also VERY VERY COLD..
Here’s some more pictures to share it’s beauty………..
We enjoyed the beach. Sat and rested, took a tons of pictures, found some cool rocks, and returned to our daunting climb back.
Truthfully, it was hard. Harder than I was expecting but doable. I have no idea how John did it with a 2 year old on his back. Oh wait, yes I do. He used his super strength powers that they gave him when they made him in the test tube. (This is a joke he always makes when someone comments on his physique.)
But anyways, here’s a picture of one of the most challenging climbs on our way back. Josh said it looked at least 100 feet, I agree. It was definitely tall and a major calf burner!
We ended up making it back, no one passed out, or was injured. We actually had a ton of fun doing it. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect day to make this hike. The sun shined the entire time and it was cool enough to not break a sweat.
I eventually took off my jacket to let the sun soak into my skin and possibly get my last tan in for the year. I know winter will be approaching fast here in Michigan. I was also very proud taking this photo because we had almost completed our 3.5 mile hike though the sand, which we did in about 3 hours!
I’ll finish by saying The Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore is a must for the bucket list. It was a great challenge, had beautiful scenery, and was a rewarding experience. I would highly reccomend going in the fall when you can see the colored trees and feel the cool breeze as you hike.
We plan to make this a goal for our family to do once a year. Let us know if you take the challenge of the Dune climb and what you think of it. Or if you want to go with us next year let us know, we would love additional hiking buddies!
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