A few years ago when I first moved to the Upper Peninsula, I was determined to find the Au Sable dunes and the Log Slide. The dunes are enormous, and the Log Slide is the spot where loggers tumbled harvested trees down the dunes to people waiting below. I found the gate leading to the trail, but there was a sign nailed to one of the posts declaring the trail closed due to erosion.
Who needs a trail?
I decided to make my own way and meandered around. I didn’t exactly get lost, but I didn’t find what I was looking for, either.
Fast forward to the present. I decided to check out the Hurricane River campground, which has a nice path leading to the Au Sable Point lighthouse. More on the lighthouse in a future post. I made my way along the trail, which follows the shoreline of Lake Superior up to the point where the lighthouse stands. From the parking area, the walk isn’t bad, about 1.5 miles along the North Country Trail. I had my usual fruit and jambon gruyère sandwich in the backpack, along with a nice bottle of berry Propel to keep me hydrated.
I got to the lighthouse, checked out the area, and decided to go a little further along the North Country Trail to find a quiet spot on the beach to stop and have lunch. I followed along the shoreline until I located a place where I could scramble down. Once on the beach, I looked over and saw the Au Sable dunes in the distance.
Well, I should’ve known the dunes were there. After all, a quick look at the map would have told me as much. But the sun was shining, the waters were calm and blue, and something about seeing the dunes suddenly pop out of nowhere got my heart pumping. It was another 2 mile hike to get there, so I was happy to take a seat, pull out my lunch, and enjoy the view.
With time on my hands, I made a few stops on my way back to the Hurricane River parking area where signs indicated there were shipwrecks. A short excursion along the beach led me to what remained of the wooden hull of a boat that crashed sometime in the past against the sandstone ridge that extends far out into the lake in this area. I was struck by this anonymous boat in this far away location. How many voyages had it made? How many people aboard? Who was the captain? What were the conditions? Did everyone survive?
Yet the wreck remains nameless, its only company a small stream that trickles nearby.
There’s nothing like being in a location like this to get your mind focused on the timeless beauty of nature and your own mortality. Not in a bad way, though. There’s a certain peace that comes from accepting the ebb and flow of life, from being able to take in the pristine nature of your surroundings and knowing that, in some way, you’re a part of it, too.
Upon my return to the Hurricane River area, evening was settling in and a few clouds had formed at the horizon. It seemed a fitting end to a day that had me reflecting so much on the grandeur of this place – and my place in it.
Location: Hurricane River campground, Au Sable Point