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|