Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI: Self-Exploration in a Gordito

Dune hiking
My internship this summer has been nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster. After our week 3, I needed to leave my computer and disappear for the weekend. Since this is likely my last summer of living in Michigan, I have been actively trying to do as much outdoors as I can in this beautiful state before moving. Last weekend's adventure was Sleeping Bear Dunes, a state park on the western side of Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Dunes beach
Since it was such a last minute decision, I went alone, which was an awesome choice. After a late night Friday night (#InsightHappyHours), I woke up early and started driving west. For those who have road tripped with me before (Anthony... Abby...) this meant 4 hours of singing my little heart out :D

The first thing I did when I arrived? Run in to the lake and dunk my head. That was EXACTLY what I needed.

And forests?! Not fair, right? Michigan's best kept secret 
What's so awesome about traveling with just you? You do exactly what you want when you want to. I rolled around in the sand laughing like a crazy woman for a bit, and then decided to do a few hours of hiking in the nearby trails. I perused the forests, I climbed the big dune, and I hiked for miles in the dune-prairie land there. With the late summer sunsets, I was able to take my time and just enjoy everything.

So then evening came and things got a *bit* hairy. I decided to (pirate) camp in the woods, which was a poor choice because it was open hunting season. So at 2 AM when it was 10+ mph winds, a lightning storm was rolling in, and gun shots were going off, I said 'eff this' and decided to hike back to gordito (~1.5 miles). Well, I am embarrassed to admit (please don't judge me too much backpacking friends), I got totally lost re-finding the trail, and what was supposed to be a 1.5 mile hike turned into a 3-4 mile disaster. But I made it back to Gordito around 3 AM before the epic rain storm, curled up in the front seat, and passed out for a few hours (Anthony is also familiar with this set up!).
Sleeping Bear Dunes courtesy of Snapchat :D 

Wildflowers Abound
I'd do it again :) 
The next morning there was more exploring to do. I drove up along the coast on M22 stopping at every hiking trail I saw. After 7-8 miles of hiking/trail running in forests and prairies overlooking lakes (?!?!) , I started making my way home.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. Northwest Michigan is gorgeous, and I'd love to have a cabin there on the lake during the summers. Would I roadtrip again by myself? Of course - I prefer to have company, but this was a trip where I needed to clear my head and just be me. Don't be afraid to go by yourself if you need space - even when the lightning hits at 2 AM, there's something really empowering about not being afraid to do things alone. 

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