It was hard for me to ignore the feeling that the sand dunes seemed incredibly out of place. Especially when they became the backdrop for an idealistic white farmhouse and red barn with a field full trees changing into their fall colors. You just don't expect to see massive sand dunes in that picture.
We spent some time on the scenic drive which was called a "must see" by one of the rangers that we had talked to. I'd have to agree with her. It offered some of the best views of the dunes that we encountered and we paired the views with some of our favorite fall music. Nick Drake for me, Matt Pond PA for him.
Both of us were eager to camp that night. In fact, backpacking at Sleeping Bear was something I've been wanting to do ever since my dad mentioned it to me as a possible destination for a backpacking trip we took years ago. We headed out with plenty of time to set up camp and get in a short hike to the beach without packs before it started to get dark. The landscape nearest to the dunes was different from everything that we had seen so far. Pine after pine covered in lichen and a few wildflowers still blooming in the dropping temperatures.
We crossed paths with a talkative ranger on our way to the backcountry site. After discussing my camera, Cleveland, and our careers with us, he mentioned to us how important it was to keep all our food and anything with a perfume scent in the bear box at the site. Bear box. Apparently the number of bear sightings in the area was rising. If it hadn't been for that knowledge, we might have slept a little more soundly that night. As it was, we were both wide awake at nearly every snap of a twig in the woods. While we had no bear encounters, I did hear a chorus of coyotes howling in the middle of the night while Andrew snored. You don't get that at home in your bed.
Seven thirty in the morning was still a little cold and dark, but I made a fire for us and Andrew attempted to toast his bagel over it while the water for the tea boiled. The morning is what I love most about camping. Feeling rested, awake, alive. Our friendly ranger had suggested hiking along the beach to return to the trailhead instead of the trail through the pines. I'm glad we took his advice, that morning hike was my favorite of the entire weekend.
All of my Michigan trip pictures can be seen here.