the wandering chick
... Sleeping Bear Dunes Natl. Lakeshore
The Indian legend that gave this area its name says that a mother bear and her two cubs crossed over Lake Michigan from what is now Wisconsin to escape a forest fire. The mother bear made it across to the Michigan shore, but the two cubs tired and were unable to continue.
The mother bear climbed atop a bluff to wait for the cubs who never appeared. Today she 'sleeps,' still awaiting their arrival.
A single grassy dune, which over the years has blown and washed away with time, held the image of a sleeping bear. North and South Manitou Islands, just off the shore of northern Lake Michigan, represent the cubs.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers several activities. One of the more dramatic is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a 7.5-mile circle that includes some 11 or 12 points of interest.
And in my opinion, the highlight of those is the Lake Michigan Overlook, point numbers 9 and 10.
There, as seen above and to the right, a deck rests 450 feet above Lake Michigan. It sits on top of one of the higher white sandy dunes and one that is a near-vertical descent to the water.
Those who dare make the descent are warned that the up-climb is extremely strenuous. As seen by pictures below, it's near impossible to stand upright during the climb.
Above is a view of the dunes looking south. In the far distance is Point Betsie, about 15 miles away.
The scene left is a part of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the national park. Many types of trees can be found in the park, among them ash, pine, beech, maple and oak.
The roots of a basswood tree have been exposed by erosion.
Above and left: These shots were taken on the Cottonwood Trail, a 1.5-mile moderate hike through the dunes. It's a part of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive within the park.
The Dune Climb is yet another activity, mostly for the young (and young at heart, literally). It's a pretty dang strenuous climb to the top....though once you get up there, you realize you're not at the top at all. The dunes continue on...and on...and on!
In fact, when I reached my destination, I realized I was standing in the exact spot that I had stood two days before when doing the Cottonwood Trail. I went to take a picture of the lone tree (above) and recognized it from the earlier hike.
Was it worth the climb? Oh, yea, it was. From the top you see the D. H. Day farm, Glen Lake and a beautiful mound of trees with every color of green you can imagine.
Fishtown is a historic fishing village in the town of Leland on the Leelanau Peninsula, north of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It comprises several shops, a couple eateries and lodging. It dates back more than 140 years.
The harbor at Fishtown.
It's an easy near-mile hike to Pyramid Point on the Leelanau Peninsula's west side. It is here that in 1998, a massive landslide caused thousands of tons of sand to slide into Lake Michigan, drastically changing the landscape of the area, and a reminder that even in our times, the earth here is forever vulnerable to the mighty strength of Mother Nature.
Empire, Michigan, is the gateway to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Like all towns along the coast, it has a beach, a lighthouse (below)...and beautiful sunsets.
This informative sign is posted just south of Leland on the Leelanau Peninsula.
Just east of Empire, on the M-72, is the Sleepy Bear Campground. It offers full hookups pull-throughs, tent sites and immaculate full-service bathhouses...and if it rains, a view of a faint rainbow.
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Lower Lake Michigan (including towns between New Buffalo and Holland)
Upper Lake Michigan (including the Traverse City area and Old Mission Peninsula)
The Mackinaw area (including Lake Huron, Mackinac Bridge and Mackinac Island)
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (on Michigan's UP)
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
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Looking north at the dunes of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. In the distance are North and South Manitou Islands.
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