Monday, February 7, 2011

Trekking Empire Bluff in winter - Why?

Looking north from Empire Bluff.  photo by Jonathan Schechter

Superbowl Sunday found me far from a big screen TV at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the very edge of Empire Bluff on a deep-snow trail 440 feet above the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.  A foggy sky and falling snow left me wondering what drives me to seek out moments like this.  I sat on the crest of the bluff watching a coyote far beneath  me and wondered if that coyote ever sensed danger from sand slides or snow avalanches.  And at about that moment I reflected on a quote I read earlier in the Village of Empire defining nature lovers. The quote: "A nature lover is a person who when treed by a bear enjoys the views."  I  relate to that and try to take unexpected events on trails in stride.  But that fails to explain why I sometimes "seek out the bear" so I may be 'treed.'  Today I am 'seeking out the bear', for with the temperature slipping towards single digets, in  12  hours I will be in my tent in the forest not far from the Platte River in an ice-age terrain. The  black bears are in  hibernation, but I will hope for howls of coyotes and the night crackle of trees as I drift to sleep in my mummy bag.

And come dawn when I heat coffee over a wood fire and smile at the snowy woods I will wonder  if a wolf or a cougar I did not see or hear was aware of my presence, for these two predators are cryptically carving out their niche  in the wild lands of the sleeping bear -- and the humans who want to be treed for the experience.

Looking South from Empire Bluff.  photo by Jonathan Schechter


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff to read! Hoping you will post more photos of your winter travels! Thanks!

February 7, 2011 at 8:28 AM 
Anonymous Mike Norton said...

Nice job, Jonathan -- and great photos. Hope the Platte River overnight went well, too. Coyotes, wolves, even bears are OK -- but stay away from that cougar!

February 8, 2011 at 9:19 AM 
Blogger Ileana said...

Loved your blog post. We would like to repost it on our blog with links and credits going to you. Could we do that? I'm with the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau. Here is our blog:
Contact me at:

February 8, 2011 at 11:32 AM 
Blogger Slade said...

Great pics! Please post more. I would love to hear how the winter camping went!

February 8, 2011 at 12:09 PM 
Blogger Jonathan Schechter said...

To all who posted: Sleeping Bear is a wonderous place in winter (and the other 3 seasons) full of adventure. I'll be posting a new Earth Almanac blog in a day or so on a exciting coyote encounter on the Alligator Hill trail--photos included! And camping was excellent and deer were hoofing about near the tent at dawn. Too windy to hear much else!

February 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM 

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