Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Skiing with the Bear!

Yeah, skiing with the Bear!  My brother, Gary, called and told me to meet him at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes with cross country skis and snowshoes at 10:00 AM.  The Goggle Map said it was 53 miles and one hour and 15 minutes to the Bear in Empire, MI.  As I headed out, I programed the GPS and it said I'll arrive at 9:30!
The GPS is taking me an interesting route but I trust it.  After going by Crystal Mountain it puts me on 31 North and I know I am heading in the right direction.  Then a quick left turn and I am heading North.  OK, this GPS is great!  The next turn indicated is coming up but it is pointing to a unplowed road!!!

Not to panic, I just go by and hear the pleasant voice saying "..recalculating".  "Turn left".  NO, I want to go North!  Suddenly I am on 22 and keep going until I see 22 South!  I want 22 North!  Ok, 15 minutes out of my way , I turn around and head 15 minutes North.  Now the arrival time has changed to 10:10 AM!  Instead of being 30 minutes early, I am now 10 minutes late!  I finally arrive, no thanks to the GPS!!

We leave my car and and head up to the Scenic Drive of Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

We are ready to cross country ski up to the famous Dune Climb overlooking Lake Michigan. The road is closed for the winter so the only way in is by foot or ski! It is only a mile or so.

One car is in the parking lot and a trail of snowshoe prints is on the path.  We follow the path and it takes us over to the road to the top.  Wow! This is a wide cross country trail to the top!  Then I realize that the trail is the paved road that goes up.  It has 3-4" of snow and hasn't been plowed all winter. 

We take a shortcut across to the other road and get away from  the snowshoe tracks.  It is pretty easy going but a ways to get to the top.  It is maybe a mile up the road!  Suddenly the road looks like is is going up more steeply ahead!  Yes, the road got quite steep and we started up!  A little ways up and we stop and remove our fleece jackets and tie them around our waists.  When you cross country ski, you burn up a lot of calories and you get hot!  You don't want to sweat because you will chill down and get cold.  I has huffing and puffing trying to keep up with Gary.  He is faster on skis than I am.  He would get way ahead and then stop to wait for me and then head out again.  I didn't stop to rest like he did!  I couldn't!   ...or I wouldn't keep up!


We had to take our skis off and hike up to the very top.  It took us about one hour and 20 minutes to get here.  This is where the famous Dune Climb is.  Kids run down and then climb back up the 400" hill!  In the summer, that is!  There were no other tracks up here.  We did see some coyote tracks and deer tracks.

Right behind Gary is the steep hill down to the shore of Lake Michigan.  Behind him is the look-out point.  The wind blows the snow off and the sand is just below the surface.

Yes, that is how I felt!  The wind off the lake made it a little chilly.

This is looking down the dune climb area.  Can you see that it is pretty steep?  It takes kids (usually teenage boys) about 25 seconds to reach the bottom.  They start out running down and then start tumbling and falling and rolling down.  It is a long ways down to the beach!   Then they start up!  They are trying to walk upright but after 15 minutes and only 50 feet of progress, they are on their hands and knees climbling slowly up.  It takes 30-45 minutes to climb back up and they are pooped!

This is looking to the north.  That is South Manitou Island off in the distance.  The Indian legend is that a mother bear and two bear cubs tried to swim across Lake Michigan.  The two cubs didn't make it and the islands are the two bear cubs and the Mother Bear was the giant dune looking back  for the cubs.

We slid back down to where we left our skis and headed down the other side of the loop.  We were discussing if it would be better to take the gradual up hill route on the way in and the steep down hill route on the way back and we decided that it was better to climb the short steep hill up and ski the gradual rhill down.  It was a slow gentle ski down until we hit the middle hill!  Then things speeded up.  I waxed my skiis before we left and they were not gliding very fast at the beginning of the day.  I guess the friction of the snow gradually polished the wax as I was picking up speed on the long down hill.  It wasn't too fast but it was saving us much time on the downward trek.


This is one last shot of the trail coming down.  No tracks, we were the first ones in a while to do the 2 mile loop!

We loaded up the car with our skiis and Gary handed out packed lunches that he brought!  What a great brother!

That was a tasty meal!  I know what you are thinking!  No, that flask contains Peach ice tea, really!!!

A nice winter day, a great ski trip, time with my brother...priceless!

1 comment:

  1. Looks & sounds like a beautiful day that was priceless. Great & great story!!!!! Jealous Darla