Hannah Scribbles

The sand dune that swallows children

In Career, The Great Outdoors on November 7, 2016 at 9:43 pm

A few weeks ago I drove 3.5 hours (one way!) to the Indiana Dunes State Park for an impromptu afternoon hike.

Why?

Because I read an article, and it stuck with me.  This amazing piece of nature/science writing by Ariel Sabar reminded me of how little we truly know about our small planet. I was filled me with wonder.

Sabar’s article detailed the very human origins of a scientific breakthrough: a lost child. Mount Baldy, a well-known feature of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, did something that sand dunes weren’t supposed to do. It swallowed a child.

With Mt Baldy closed to the public (for obvious reasons), I pulled out a map and asked a park ranger whether there was a way to get near the dune. A glimpse would do.

Bad news followed me, it would seem. The ranger told me that the main trail heading to Mt Baldy was closed and any attempts to get there on the beach would be futile since recent rains had eaten into the shoreline.

He may have been misleading me, but with limited daylight I took the advice and stuck to known trails within the state park. My hike, a nearly four mile trudge across dunes, proved much shorter but just as beautiful.

in-dune-state-park-1-of-4

A blowout shows the wind’s power. Maram grass, on the left, helps stabilize the dunes.

in-dune-state-park-3-of-4

Looking down from the top of the dunes, Lake Michigan seemed serene.

A note: Trail 9, at 3.75 mi,  is listed as Moderate on park maps. Beware you are hiking on sand and dunes, which drain more energy and requires more water/snackage than you’d think. Also, your shoes… they will need to be poured out before you get in the car.

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