Imagine looking ahead and finding nothing but sand - a hilly landscape of hot, bright, grass-covered dunes that eventually spill into Lake Michigan. This 3.5 mile roundtrip dune hike is the first destination for most visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
in Michigan, and many come woefully unprepared. My friend River and I bolted up to the park from Bloomington, Indiana last weekend and spent a couple of days camping, hiking and exploring. This was the first stop on an epic cross-country trip in my rigged up cargo van
, and I don't think I will experience places much more beautiful than this. We didn't even scrape the surface of the park, but we did do a couple of short hikes that kicked my butt. I'm a fairly seasoned hiker accustomed to some challenging walks, but these sun-baked dunes are hard work. Walking up some of them is like being on a never-ending stair stepper that slips and slides under your feet, so we were shocked to find so many hikers without water, hats, or snacks. As I huffed and puffed and clung to my water bottle for dear life, passersby who came ill-prepared would ask in that nervous laughing way, "so, how much further is the lake?"