The Awesome Mitten - Kayaking the Sleeping Bear Dunes

Kayak the Sleeping Bear Dunes to Truly Experience Their Majesty

My emotions were tremendous, so I woke up earlier than normal on the morning of my kayaking adventure, with a growing sense of unease. What if my kayak tips? What if I can’t find the rendezvous point? What if, what if, what if… Pushing these concerns out of my mind, I made breakfast and triple checked that my water bottle and snacks were in my bag before setting off on the winding drive from Interlochen to Glen Arbor to meet with the group. We met at The Homestead in Glen Arbor and headed off to the launch point.

Before You Kayak

On the shore, we are given a brief tutorial on the best way to hold a paddle while kayaking, how to turn, and how to stop. Then we were off, first kayaking around the still water of North Bar Lake and then we portaged over a small beach to enter Lake Michigan. While out on the water, Jeff and Jackie, the guides from All About Water, were regularly making sure that everyone was comfortable and giving guidance to make the experience easier and more fun for everyone.

The Awesome Mitten - Kayaking the Sleeping Bear Dunes
North Bar Lake from the kayak, photo courtesy of Cailin Ashbaugh

Kayaking on the Lake

I never considered kayaking on Lake Michigan before this weekend. I’ve only ever been kayaking on small rivers in Benzie County and even that hasn’t happened in years. However, we had perfect weather to be out on the lake because the wind wasn’t too strong, the sky was clear, and the sun was just starting to rise above the peak of the dunes.  The water was so clear that I could see the ripples in the sand from the tides. The guides didn’t just know about kayaking the lake. We were told the legend of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and some of the best outlooks to see picturesque views of Lake Michigan.

The Awesome Mitten - Kayaking the Sleeping Bear Dunes
The sun over a dune; photo courtesy of Cailin Ashbaugh.

The majesty of this 450-foot dune is hard to put into perspective with a 2D image. The viewing platform at the top stands at 20 feet, but from the lake, you can hardly make it out. The trees alongside it aren’t saplings by any means, but from the water they look tiny. The size of these dunes isn’t hard to appreciate while climbing them, but it can be difficult to fully realize their height or just how far they go along the shore until you are seeing them from the water. While climbing the dunes, I’ve never thought about how large they are, spending more time concentrating on getting to the next peak, and to see the view of the west coast’s very own great lake. From the water, though, in any direction, I could see beautiful views: the lake, the beach, or the bluffs far off in the distance. I didn’t feel the same exhaustion that is so familiar when climbing the dunes from the heat radiating off the sand, and I was truly able to take in all that this coast has to offer.

Have you gone kayaking by the Sleeping Bear Dunes? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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