2012 Summer Vacation, Day 3

Entrance to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Entrance to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

We left Sandusky and headed West to Indiana.  We’ve traveled through Gary many times between home and Mark, IL, as a kid, and I never knew this even existed.  On the Southern-most end of Lake Michigan is a national park and a state park preserving some natural wetlands and sand dunes.

Cowles Bog

We hiked through the Cowles Bog area.  The bugs weren’t too bad.  We hiked through deep sand, up and down steep dunes, so the four-mile hike was a bit strenuous.  We saw a couple of blue heron in the marsh, but I wasn’t quick enough with my camera.

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan

Eventually, after a number of steep climbs, we reached the shore of Lake Michigan.  The water was surprisingly warm.  We spent a relaxing hour in the water, wading out some distance to a  sand bar, and playing frisbee.

Looking back toward the Cowles Bog trail from Lake Michigan
Looking back toward the Cowles Bog trail from Lake Michigan

This view gives you some idea of how steep the dunes were near the water’s edge.  The largest of these sand dunes is Mt. Baldy.  These dunes normally move about four feet a year, but because of tourists trampling the delicate grasses that hold the dunes, Mt. Baldy is moving 26 feet a year.

Looking up Mt. Baldy from the parking lot
Looking up Mt. Baldy from the parking lot

They have most of Mt. Baldy roped off.  Tourists are supposed to stay on marked trails.  You can see the footprints here where people have ignored the signs.  The park ranger said each footprint will result in the movement of a ton of sand.  In a year or two they expect the parking lot and bath house to be covered over with sand.  You can see how the sands have just about covered some trees in this photo.

It was a relatively strenuous day, but we had fun.