Tag Archives: fall hike

Light Falls on Sleeping Bear Dunes

Last Sunday we joined friends for a walk up the tail end of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive that runs through Sleeping Bear Dunes. Given that the Drive is now closed to anything but foot-traffic for the season, we had the place almost entirely to ourselves, give or take one or two other wandering couples and a few rebellious bikers (of the intimidating, but friendly Sons-of-Anarchy variety – not bicyclists; regrettably, Jax Teller was not among them). 😉

We’d all made the same trip together for the first time roughly four years prior, in late October of 2009 (when Jackson was just five months old), taking in the surreal splendor of Sleeping Bear (a first for us Cliftons) in rather unsavory weather. The wind and rain of that trip meant we had the park to ourselves then, too, but last Sunday’s “just us” excursion offered up a dramatically different atmosphere.

Don’t misunderstand – the Dunes are a sight to behold under any conditions, even dark skies and sleet. On this November day, however, we were blessed with some of the most beautiful Fall skies and gorgeous lighting I’ve ever stood under.

Our backwards hike up the Scenic Drive meant we hit the North Bar Lake Overlook first, where we basked in the warm, bright sun that we’d only gotten glimpses of through the tall trees that had lined our path up to that point.

Our next stop was the iconic Lake Michigan Overlook that offers a perspective of the Great Lake from the massive dunes poised approximately 450 feet above the shoreline. An international favorite that, this day, was just ours. 🙂

On our way to the overlook’s back deck, the lighting got really pretty…

Now that the sun is setting “earlier” (thanks a lot, Daylight Savings Time), we had to truck it on our walk back to our vehicles before the sun disappeared and the temperature dropped. It took quite a bit of self-control for Heather and I – being the photo… “fanatics” (not the word my brain wants to type here) that we are – to refrain from another round of photos on the return trip. (For a fun experiment in (mostly) varying perspectives, you can see her take on the day’s hike here.)

We finished the “day” with quick pics of the sunset on our way back to TC…

…then it was home for Raiders of the Lost Ark. 🙂

All around, some of my favorite ways to spend a day!

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Learning to Leave Well Enough Alone

Today I had the unfortunate pleasure (unfortunate because my effort proved fruitless, but pleasurable thanks to good company) of dragging my family downstate in pursuit of sunshine and a Fall overlook, which proved to be a total bust. Long story short, map-user error (mine) landed us miles from our intended destination point. Oops!

No tragic loss (give or take several lost hours and my injured pride) because, fortunately, my guys are forgiving and we still got in good family time. (Rest assured I’ll re-attempt my venture again soon, now that I’ve recalibrated.) 😉

The thing is, waking up to sunny skies (a rarity here lately) and a lovely morning walk earlier in the day seriously whet my appetite for new scenery and sunbeams. It wasn’t long after being dumped on by Mother Nature (re-emerging rain – boo!) and landing in elsewhere-ville that I came to realize the err of my ways: I need to learn when to leave well enough alone.

Dial it back to that “lovely morning walk”.

Both the sun and moon accompanied Chance (the puppy) and I on our 8am traipse through Hickory Meadows, the rising mist signaling the former’s success at melting away the frost that had accumulated over night.

Given the sun’s relatively recent unveiling, there was still an ample assortment of specimens left encased in crystallized dew to fawn over. I’m sure Chance just loved my frequent stops.

By the time we got home, we’d been gone an hour and a half and Chance was whooped. He snuggled in for a warm nap in the sun as I geared up for the aforementioned downward spiral that was to be the rest of our day.

Like I said, not a huge deal, but I still think I’ll just pretend that after that gorgeous walk I stayed on that couch, too – snuggled up, coffee in hand, content at home for the rest of the day. Lesson learned: Just leave well enough alone. 🙂

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