My Michigan Moments

As Michigan Travel Ideas editors and writers hit the roads of the Great Lakes state in search of their own “Michigan Moments,” Terri Ketcham, Michigan Travel Ideas Associate Art Director, shares hers from a trip she took to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The breathtaking view from overlook Number 9 at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

At the end of a long day of scouting in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, my group (which includes Joan, our project manager and Jason, our photographer and Talia, his assistant) finds ourselves at overlook Number 9 at sunset. Most visitors have left for the day and it’s really quiet. As we admire the scenery, I think about the signage we passed that piqued my interest:  

 Warning: Steep Bluff: 450 foot drop to Lake Michigan. Return climb is extremely exhausting. Do not run. Do not throw rocks.

I lean over to Talia and whisper that I am considering trying the climb. “You can do it,” she says, “Jason did it once.” That’s all I need to hear.

I quietly leave the group and slowly make my way down the dune. About halfway I get a little scared, it’s getting dark and I am alone! I sit to think.

OK Terri, you can do this. Look at all of those tracks, you certainly are not the first here! Lots of people accomplish this everyday... Maybe I should go back up? I am only halfway and all I can see is sky and sand. What if I can’t make it? What if they have to call in a rescue mission? I would never, ever hear the end of that one back at the office!”

After 10 minutes I decide to continue even though I fear it will take me hours to return to the top. And then, I hear something scurrying around me.


A view of the shoreline at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the South Manitou Lighthouse. Photo by Jason Lindsey.

“Oh no. What is that?”

I look up and begin to make out little heads popping out from everywhere as kids begin to rain down all around me. Scampering, laughing, giggling! What has taken me what seems like an eternity, they are accomplishing in mere minutes!

We all meet at the waters edge and I learn the kids are from a church youth group in Hudson, Michigan. They quickly inform me it does not “count” unless you dip your hand in the water. “Well, OK then,” as I splash the water. But then I look up the dune and my stomach drops. I should have gone back when I had the chance.

I have the good fortune to overhear one of the youth leaders coaching a boy on how to get up the dune—climb like a crab. Go about 10 big strides and then stop and rest.

We make our way up the sand dune and are welcomed by a small cheering crowd. I did it! No rescue mission for me!

I’m thinking I should have a T-shirt made…

Terri Ketcham is the Associate Art Director for Michigan Travel Ideas magazine. She is responsible for the photography, design and production prep work needed to get the pages off to press.