Throwback Thursday: Hiking Pico Ruivo and Settling for Sao Vicente

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Even though both of us were ennamored with our time in Madeira, I never seemed to pull out my camera much for my time there.  Maybe it was a good thing though, as I was just enjoying being there instead of being there as a tourist with the need to capture every outing.

There were times I did make missions to go out with camera in hand though, like when I hiked to the top of a tall hill in town to catch the sunset, or the one time we met some young people to hang out with from the marina. (Spoiler alert: Norwegians can drink a lot).  We also took a trip out to the local market one morning  as it was touted as a ‘must experience’ through Trip Advisor reviews there, but we were sorely disappointed with what we got.

One morning we decided to see further than what the main city of Funchal had to offer.  Hoping on a local bus, we rode around to the opposite side of the island to check out a hiking trail up a volcano that our new Norwegian friends told us about.  Once arriving though, we found out that our friends are much more adventurous than us, and I should have listened to the woman at the information station about the weather.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday October 16, 2014

São Vicente, Madeira

I don’t have to tell you how in love we are with this island.  I’ve pretty much been talking about it non stop lately.  The only problem is, I can’t quite say we love this island just yet, because we’ve only seen Funchal.  I’m sure I could fall deeply in love with the rest of it, I just needed a chance to see it.

So with great public transportation and nothing but time on our hands as we wait for a decent window to the Canaries, I kept bugging Matt that we needed to do an inland tour.  See more than just this one town.  So that years down the road when we finally give up our life at sea and get our land legs back I can say with authority, ‘We should move to Madeira.  We loved that entire island.’

I had spent hours online researching the best places of the island to visit, but with only a bus at our fingertips instead of a car it wouldn’t be as easy to see multiple parts and we’d have to stick to one area.  Looking at photo after photo and spending one whole evening on a certain flickr account, I decided that São Vicente on the north side of the island was the place for us.  It looked as if it had a gorgeous beach with high rising cliffs on each side, a quaint little town for wandering, and caves to explore should the mood hit.  I was all set to buy our bus tickets out.

That was, until we ran into the Norwegian guys the morning of their departure.  We had noticed that they’d been gone the entire previous day and found out they went on an amazing hike through the center of the island from Pico Ruivo to Pico Areeiro.  They described it as very long at 15 km total, difficult at times as most of it was uphill, but by far one of the best hikes they’ve ever taken in their life.  “It challenges hiking through the fjords of Norway”, they told me.  It did sound incredibly long and tedious, but how could you pass up something right in front of you that challenges the views of Norway?  That night I researched Pico Areeiro and decided that São Vicente would have to wait. We were going to hike a mountain.

Stopping at the information center in Funchal I picked up a few maps as the woman behind the counter stared at me with leery eyes as I told her my plans.  “It’s a very long walk”, she told me.  “Yes”, I replied, “I’m fully aware.  It will be about six hours”.  “Tomorrow is supposed to be very bad weather”, she confronted.  I paid her no mind.  For some reason the woman of Portugal don’t seem to like me and are always telling me I can’t or shouldn’t do things that I later find are incredibly easy.  Like lugging our propane containers a mile outside town to have them filled instead of getting a taxi.

So as we woke this morning I prepared us the best I could, dressing us in layers for the elevation and even putting in a windbreaker since I remembered the fresh breeze at the top of Faial, although Matt declined his.  Hopping on the bus we rode through extremely beautiful seaside and mountain roads until we began climbing to the interior town of Encumeada where we would then follow the 11 km path to Pico Ruivo and from there continue on about another 5 km to Pico Areeiro.  Encumeada would start us at an elevation of 1007 m , the climb up to Pico Ruivo would bring us up to 1862 m, and we’d descend to Pico Areeiro just a little bit at 1816 m, although this was supposed to be the more difficult part of the hike, winding through extremely narrow paths and through caves in the mountains.

As the bus chugged and climbed it’s way up the mountain we watched the sun disappear and a thick fog settled in.  The winds were picking up as well and just as we started to laugh and point out how quickly they were rushing through this area, whipping around peaks and pushing bushes on their side, the bus driver stopped and motioned for us to get off.  Oh crap.  This did not look so fun anymore.  Stepping off the bus into 40 knot winds and a 20 degree temperature drop, we began to second guess ourselves as the bus sped away down the mountain toward São Vicente.

Pico Ruivo

Encumeada, Madeira

Bundling ourselves up in every layer of clothing we had on us, we found the beginning of the trail while at the same time muttering to ourselves ‘How the hell are we going to do this?’.  At this point we were pretty sure that the two of us together would not be coming back down alive.  Pushing our way up a dirt trodden path we found a bit of sanctuary behind the giant ridges in front of us, the wind luckily coming from the opposite side.  The side we were on still held it’s challenges though in the form of never ending steps.  This was not looking like it was going to be a gradual path up those 850 m.  Climbing and huffing and puffing we tried to gauge how much initial elevation we were making, hoping that it was all at the beginning and the rest would level out.  That we might be able to handle.  But if it was going to be 11 km of climbing stairs, that was a guarantee that neither of us would be making it back down.

On the bright side, during many of our breaks to stop and catch our breath we had amazing views down the cliffs to the north side of the island where São Vicente was nestled at the bottom.  The clouds on that side of us cleared just enough for us to see out to the valley below, but whenever we turned to look where we were headed next it was nothing but white.  We began to wonder if the hike would be worth it at all, coming mostly for the views and realizing there was a chance we wouldn’t even be able to make them out through the fog.

overlooking Sao Vicente, Madeira

hiking Pico Ruivo, Madeira

Matt hiking Pico Ruivo

On and on we continued to huff and puff as we climbed higher and higher.  The rocky stones in the dirt path would sometimes give way to grand staircases, but the theme always seemed to be onward and upward.  For a few moments we had forgotten about the wind since there had been no exposure to it since the beginning of the hike.  While rising up one of these grand stair cases we found another couple close to our age coming back down.  They stopped to chat for a moment, both of us asking where the other was heading.  It turns out they were trying to do the same hike as us, or at least just get to the top of Pico Ruivo, but about a quarter mile up ahead they found themselves exposed to the wind again and decided to turn around.

As the guy tried to explain, we think they were French and English was a second language, they were by no means professionals and they felt that to continue would be too dangerous and they were better off coming back down and completing their tour of the island from the safety of their rental car.  We don’t consider ourselves professionals either, but can sometimes muster ourselves up to be hardcore for just a little bit, and decided to continue on.  At least to the point they were referring to and could decide there if we wanted to move forward or turn around.  Progressing up the mountain another ten minutes we came up to a clearing that had no protection from the strong winds we initially experienced and suddenly saw exactly what they were talking about.

The winds here hit us like a freight train, suddenly gusting up from a light breeze to somewhere near 60 knots.  Not only that, but we were in complete cloud cover and could not see more than 100 feet in front of us.  No wonder this other couple turned around.  To venture on looked like suicide.  We quickly agreed that to continue on would be completely unwise and possibly even dangerous and we also turned ourselves around, even rushing back down the areas we could, trying to catch this couple to see if maybe they would give us a ride back into town instead of waiting for the bus to swing around again that afternoon.

stairs hiking Pico Ruivo

hiking Pico Ruivo

Jessica on stairs of Pico Ruivo hike, Madeira

Back at the bottom of the hill the French couple was long gone and the next bus through this area was still hours away from arriving.  Scouting the small diner and gift shop that made up this town we looked for vehicles of only two people that might be able to give us a ride back to Funchal or at least down the mountain to São Vicente, but every car or van we came across was packed full.  Giving up we decided to walk the 10 km ourselves since we figured we had planned on getting a hike in that day anyway and at least this was downhill.

This notion only lasted about half the way down until it felt like we were never going to reach our destination.  Every time we’d round a corner and look down the valley we’d think, ‘Ok, only about two more turns and we should be there’, except every turn led to at least five more.  Finally at one lookout point we broke down and asked a couple that had stopped to enjoy the views if they could give us a lift the remaining few miles.  They kindly obliged and our weary legs finally had a rest.

outskirts of Sao Vicente

church at São Vicente, Madeira

 When we got down to São Vicente we realized the town itself didn’t have a whole lot going for it.  Not that it was a bad place, it was just much smaller than we were expecting.  There were a few shops, lots of restaurants, but that was about it.  Coming from the metropolis of Funchal though, I can see how anything could look kind of small.

What the town lacked though, the seaside definitely made up for.  There were gorgeous black sand beaches with tremendous waves constantly crashing on them.  A true surfers paradise.  With an hour to kill before the next bus would come around to bring us home, we just sat on the seawall and took in the views of the staggering cliffs that sat on the ocean while thundering waves crashed at their feet.

In the end, I guess the day worked out kind of perfectly.  I doubt we would have had the strength to hike the entire way to Pico Areelio even on a clear and calm day, but there also wasn’t enough in São Vicente to entertain us for an entire day.  So breaking it up between the two gave us a taste of both worlds.  It also gave us a chance to see more than just one spot on the island and let me say for sure that Yes, I could absolutely see myself living here someday.

São Vicente, Madeira

10.16.14 (11)

Jessica in São Vicente, Madeira

 

Here’s a quick little clip of some of our sights for the day.

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Hiking Pico Ruivo & Settling for São Vicente

Thursday October 16, 2014

São Vicente, Madeira

I don’t have to tell you how in love we are with this island.  I’ve pretty much been talking about it non stop lately.  The only problem is, I can’t quite say we love this island just yet, because we’ve only seen Funchal.  I’m sure I could fall deeply in love with the rest of it, I just needed a chance to see it.

So with great public transportation and nothing but time on our hands as we wait for a decent window to the Canaries, I kept bugging Matt that we needed to do an inland tour.  See more than just this one town.  So that years down the road when we finally give up our life at sea and get our land legs back I can say with authority, ‘We should move to Madeira.  We loved that entire island.’

I had spent hours online researching the best places of the island to visit, but with only a bus at our fingertips instead of a car it wouldn’t be as easy to see multiple parts and we’d have to stick to one area.  Looking at photo after photo and spending one whole evening on a certain flickr account, I decided that São Vicente on the north side of the island was the place for us.  It looked as if it had a gorgeous beach with high rising cliffs on each side, a quaint little town for wandering, and caves to explore should the mood hit.  I was all set to buy our bus tickets out.

That was, until we ran into the Norwegian guys the morning of their departure.  We had noticed that they’d been gone the entire previous day and found out they went on an amazing hike through the center of the island from Pico Ruivo to Pico Areeiro.  They described it as very long at 15 km total, difficult at times as most of it was uphill, but by far one of the best hikes they’ve ever taken in their life.  “It challenges hiking through the fjords of Norway”, they told me.  It did sound incredibly long and tedious, but how could you pass up something right in front of you that challenges the views of Norway?  That night I researched Pico Areeiro and decided that São Vicente would have to wait. We were going to hike a mountain.

Stopping at the information center in Funchal I picked up a few maps as the woman behind the counter stared at me with leery eyes as I told her my plans.  “It’s a very long walk”, she told me.  “Yes”, I replied, “I’m fully aware.  It will be about six hours”.  “Tomorrow is supposed to be very bad weather”, she confronted.  I paid her no mind.  For some reason the woman of Portugal don’t seem to like me and are always telling me I can’t or shouldn’t do things that I later find are incredibly easy.  Like lugging our propane containers a mile outside town to have them filled instead of getting a taxi.

So as we woke this morning I prepared us the best I could, dressing us in layers for the elevation and even putting in a windbreaker since I remembered the fresh breeze at the top of Faial, although Matt declined his.  Hopping on the bus we rode through extremely beautiful seaside and mountain roads until we began climbing to the interior town of Encumeada where we would then follow the 11 km path to Pico Ruivo and from there continue on about another 5 km to Pico Areeiro.  Encumeada would start us at an elevation of 1007 m , the climb up to Pico Ruivo would bring us up to 1862 m, and we’d descend to Pico Areeiro just a little bit at 1816 m, although this was supposed to be the more difficult part of the hike, winding through extremely narrow paths and through caves in the mountains.

As the bus chugged and climbed it’s way up the mountain we watched the sun disappear and a thick fog settled in.  The winds were picking up as well and just as we started to laugh and point out how quickly they were rushing through this area, whipping around peaks and pushing bushes on their side, the bus driver stopped and motioned for us to get off.  Oh crap.  This did not look so fun anymore.  Stepping off the bus into 40 knot winds and a 20 degree temperature drop, we began to second guess ourselves as the bus sped away down the mountain toward São Vicente.

Pico Ruivo

Encumeada, Madeira

Bundling ourselves up in every layer of clothing we had on us, we found the beginning of the trail while at the same time muttering to ourselves ‘How the hell are we going to do this?’.  At this point we were pretty sure that the two of us together would not be coming back down alive.  Pushing our way up a dirt trodden path we found a bit of sanctuary behind the giant ridges in front of us, the wind luckily coming from the opposite side.  The side we were on still held it’s challenges though in the form of never ending steps.  This was not looking like it was going to be a gradual path up those 850 m.  Climbing and huffing and puffing we tried to gauge how much initial elevation we were making, hoping that it was all at the beginning and the rest would level out.  That we might be able to handle.  But if it was going to be 11 km of climbing stairs, that was a guarantee that neither of us would be making it back down.

On the bright side, during many of our breaks to stop and catch our breath we had amazing views down the cliffs to the north side of the island where São Vicente was nestled at the bottom.  The clouds on that side of us cleared just enough for us to see out to the valley below, but whenever we turned to look where we were headed next it was nothing but white.  We began to wonder if the hike would be worth it at all, coming mostly for the views and realizing there was a chance we wouldn’t even be able to make them out through the fog.

overlooking Sao Vicente, Madeira

hiking Pico Ruivo, Madeira

Matt hiking Pico Ruivo

On and on we continued to huff and puff as we climbed higher and higher.  The rocky stones in the dirt path would sometimes give way to grand staircases, but the theme always seemed to be onward and upward.  For a few moments we had forgotten about the wind since there had been no exposure to it since the beginning of the hike.  While rising up one of these grand stair cases we found another couple close to our age coming back down.  They stopped to chat for a moment, both of us asking where the other was heading.  It turns out they were trying to do the same hike as us, or at least just get to the top of Pico Ruivo, but about a quarter mile up ahead they found themselves exposed to the wind again and decided to turn around.

As the guy tried to explain, we think they were French and English was a second language, they were by no means professionals and they felt that to continue would be too dangerous and they were better off coming back down and completing their tour of the island from the safety of their rental car.  We don’t consider ourselves professionals either, but can sometimes muster ourselves up to be hardcore for just a little bit, and decided to continue on.  At least to the point they were referring to and could decide there if we wanted to move forward or turn around.  Progressing up the mountain another ten minutes we came up to a clearing that had no protection from the strong winds we initially experienced and suddenly saw exactly what they were talking about.

The winds here hit us like a freight train, suddenly gusting up from a light breeze to somewhere near 60 knots.  Not only that, but we were in complete cloud cover and could not see more than 100 feet in front of us.  No wonder this other couple turned around.  To venture on looked like suicide.  We quickly agreed that to continue on would be completely unwise and possibly even dangerous and we also turned ourselves around, even rushing back down the areas we could, trying to catch this couple to see if maybe they would give us a ride back into town instead of waiting for the bus to swing around again that afternoon.

stairs hiking Pico Ruivo

hiking Pico Ruivo

Jessica on stairs of Pico Ruivo hike, Madeira

Back at the bottom of the hill the French couple was long gone and the next bus through this area was still hours away from arriving.  Scouting the small diner and gift shop that made up this town we looked for vehicles of only two people that might be able to give us a ride back to Funchal or at least down the mountain to São Vicente, but every car or van we came across was packed full.  Giving up we decided to walk the 10 km ourselves since we figured we had planned on getting a hike in that day anyway and at least this was downhill.

This notion only lasted about half the way down until it felt like we were never going to reach our destination.  Every time we’d round a corner and look down the valley we’d think, ‘Ok, only about two more turns and we should be there’, except every turn led to at least five more.  Finally at one lookout point we broke down and asked a couple that had stopped to enjoy the views if they could give us a lift the remaining few miles.  They kindly obliged and our weary legs finally had a rest.

outskirts of Sao Vicente

church at São Vicente, Madeira

 When we got down to São Vicente we realized the town itself didn’t have a whole lot going for it.  Not that it was a bad place, it was just much smaller than we were expecting.  There were a few shops, lots of restaurants, but that was about it.  Coming from the metropolis of Funchal though, I can see how anything could look kind of small.

What the town lacked though, the seaside definitely made up for.  There were gorgeous black sand beaches with tremendous waves constantly crashing on them.  A true surfers paradise.  With an hour to kill before the next bus would come around to bring us home, we just sat on the seawall and took in the views of the staggering cliffs that sat on the ocean while thundering waves crashed at their feet.

In the end, I guess the day worked out kind of perfectly.  I doubt we would have had the strength to hike the entire way to Pico Areelio even on a clear and calm day, but there also wasn’t enough in São Vicente to entertain us for an entire day.  So breaking it up between the two gave us a taste of both worlds.  It also gave us a chance to see more than just one spot on the island and let me say for sure that Yes, I could absolutely see myself living here someday.

São Vicente, Madeira

10.16.14 (11)

Jessica in São Vicente, Madeira

 

Here’s a quick little clip of some of our sights for the day.

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The Hunt for Pumpkin Hill

Monday June 17, 2013

Do Not Enter Trail, Utila

Waking up bright and early this morning, I wanted to make sure that I could get all three of us checked into Honduras before our little secret was let out that we had not actually checked in on the mainland, as everyone was assuming we had. Quickly stopping by Nate’s hostel, I picked up his passport and once more made my way back to the customs and immigration offices. Only to find out that it was a holiday, and they would not be open until 11:30 am. I could have taken the dinghy back to the boat to wait out those extra couple of hours, but the boat didn’t have internet, and I was still itching to get it whenever I could. Back to Trudy’s hostel, I sat at a table by myself, working and fooling around online for awhile until Nate spotted me and stopped by. He asked what we were doing that day, which is laughable, because we never make plans. Ever since Rode Trip left us to make their trek across the Atlantic (which, by the way, they’re doing well and averaging about 4 knots a day, from what I can see on their website), we’ve had no one to make plans for us, and usually aimlessly wander the streets in search of something to hold our interest. We had somewhat talked about taking a hike around the island though, and when I mentioned this to Nate, he said that a new friend of his told him about a place called Pumpkin Hill, the highest spot on the island, and that it was a good place to hike to.

After getting us legally checked in (“When did we get here? Oh…this morning. We just got here this morning…”), I gathered Matt and we met up with Nate once more at his hostel before beginning our hike. The rain that had been plaguing us on and off for the past few days did not look like it was going to let up this afternoon, I prepared myself by wearing a swimsuit for the hike since I was 90% sure I’d get wet anyway. The three of us set off on the main road across a little bridge, taking the advice of Nate’s friend, that it would ‘only take us 20 minutes’ to get there. We walked on the dirt road, rounding the corner of the island and not seeing anything that resembled a hill in front of us.  We did stumble upon an assortment of vacation homes, and, playing the game that we normally do when we arrive at a new place, started a round of “Ok, I could live here”.  The houses were great, and on great beach front access with waves from the sea rolling in and crashing on shore, but then I thought to myself “No, I don’t want to live on this island.  There’s nothing for me here.”.  Hmmm, that’s never happened before.  I don’t know what it is, this island just hasn’t captivated me yet.

Palm trees on Utila

Vacation home in Utila Honduras

Continuing down the road, we were just turning a corner that was leading us into a wooded area, and we hoped hills, when it began to rain.  I was ok with this, I had even dressed for it, but it was when we rounded another corner and saw that the entire road was flooded in rain, I started to rethink our plan of an afternoon hike.  Each of us tiptoed on the sideline of the lake like puddle, trying to keep our feet as dry as possible.  I had also anticipated something like this and worn water shoes, Matt was in flip flops, but poor Nate was in non water friendly foot wear, and would practically walk through the bushes to keep from submerging his feet in the murky water.  That only lasted so long before each of them lost balance at some point and soaked their shoes all the way through.  By this time, I had given up trying to stay dry in any way, shape or form, and was busy splashing through each lake puddle we came to.

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walk in rain

(Above photo courtesy of Nate Smith)

 

On and on we walked through the muddy paths as it rained on and off.  In and out of woods, open expanses and small slopes, but still no hills in sight.  We took a few minutes to wander off the beaten path and explore the shore in an area that was covered in small black coral fragments, and waves came crashing in to the shore.  I decided that, however unlikely it was, this is the spot I would build my house if I ever lived on this island, however impractical it was.

Coral Shore Utila

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Back on the muddy path we wound through pastures filled with cows and finally out on to a main road.  We thought we might be getting close, and although we had no sense of direction at this point, decided to make a right hand turn since we figured following the coast line would probably put us closer to wherever the hill was.  Walking down this road, it once more turned from pavement to dirt, as they all tend to do, and it began pouring on us once more.  Finally fed up with our searching, we hailed a truck that was driving past to ask for directions.  From the one person on the island that doesn’t speak any English.  We got through that we were looking for Pumpkin Hill, and he motioned that we had been going the wrong way, and for us to hop in so he could give us a lift to where it actually was.  The three of us climbed in to the truck bed, which was already filled with large rocks being transported from one location to another.  There was barely any place to sit, let alone hold on, and when he started going we bumped back and forth, ducking our head for low branches on the side of the road that the driver seemed to be aiming directly for our heads.  After a five minute ride and countless times of almost getting thrown off while flying over bumps in the road, we were deposited by a dirt path on the side of the road and told to follow it up, where we would find Pumpkin Hill.  Or that’s what we gathered from the Spanglish being exchanged between us.

truck ride in Ultila

 

The three of us began the trek up this muddy hill, also filled with lakes of puddles, and probably ready to turn around, but at the same time, determined to find Pumpkin Hill.   We were constantly being passed by locals on 4 wheelers and figured that would have been a much better way to take this trip.  Through the next 30 minutes we followed the path through more fields and calf deep puddles.  Then abruptly, the road ended.  At the end of the road was a somewhat large mound next to us, we assumed Pumpkin Hill, but no trails leading up it.  Multiple times we walked up a narrow dirt path, only to find it led to someone’s private home, and had to wander back down it to the main trail.  Walking through open fields of what looks like is supposed to be a new development eventually, we searched the hill from every angle and still came up empty handed.  There would be no climb to the top today.  A little disappointed, but mostly cold and exhausted, we claimed defeat and began the trudge back to town.

Trail to Pumpkin Hill Utila

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Pure Michigan

Monday August 13, 2012

When we pulled into the harbor at South Manitou Island I was estatic to see the sun coming through patches in the clouds and thought maybe we’d actually be able to do some real sightseeing instead of bundling up in winter gear for a 20 minute trek to the lighthouse  before going back to the boat and spending the rest of the day inside as I had envisioned. Looking at the chart for a good anchorage we steered clear of the only other sailboat in the harbor and dropped our anchor in 40 feet of clear aqua water. Cleaning up the mess we managed to make in the cockpit I glanced around for our best bathing option since neither of us had showered in two and a half days. We definitely needed to clean up. Since the three containers of deisel were taking up the floor of the cockpit and we don’t have our watermaker set up yet, a cockpit shower was not looking good. Checking the temperature of the water it was reading 66 degrees and I thought there was absolutely no way I was going to jump in and a bucket bath on deck may be the only option. But looking into the tantalizing clear bay I knew I couldn’t give up a chance to swim in these waters. We threw on our suits and although I prepared myself for a dive off the side I couldn’t muster up the courage and ended up slowly going down the ladder and took the plunge half way through. Let’s just say the water was refreshing enough to leave me short of breath. While I was busy paddling around and trying to get used to the cold, Matt made his way down the ladder as well but was out again as soon as he had submerged. Soon we were both clean and felt a million times better. I’m not missing the call of a hot shower just yet, but it probably won’t be too long.

 

After throwing on fresh clothes and eating a quick lunch of PB&J we jumped in the dinghy for a shore excursion. I didn’t know much of what was on this island except for a lighthouse that I really wanted to climp to the top of. Walking up the ferry dock as it was loading to take passengers back to Leeland we found a visitor’s stand next to the ranger’s house with a map of what was on the island. Looking through the options there was the lighthouse, the Giant Cedar Forest, a shipwreck and a path to the top of the dunes, apparently the highest one in Michigan. We assumed the shipwreck was viewable from the dunes and the path showed the cedar forest on the way so off we went on the unmarked roads, trying to remember which direction the map had pointed us since they were all out of the paper maps to take with you.

 

Walking a good 2 ½ miles we came across the path for the shipwreck and turned on it. Winding through the woods we were let out to the top of a bluff overlooking the water and a very large ship sticking out of it. I had thought it would just be a small portion protruding out of the water, maybe a smokestack or something of the sort, but this was basically the whole boat. Matt knew a little bit about it and told me it was from the 60’s and accidentally came aground on the rocks lining the island. Now falling apart it just sat in the shallow water with hundreds of birds perched on it’s deck.

 

Going back out to the trail we followed it for another half mile until we came to the trail for the cedar forest. Neither of us knew if we should just be looking around as they’d be on the path or if there would be a marker once we arrived at them. Sure enough once you got to it there were cedar planks and benches laid down, following a path to bring you around to all the indeed giant trees. Some of them were very wide and some just very tall, but they were all warped and knotted and beautiful. We followed the cedar path until it deaded ended into a dirt trail and followed that hoping it would lead us back out to the main path. The dirt trail took us by a few more cedars in the woods and one very large cedar that had fallen and had a circumfrence almost taller than me.

 

Being spit out back on the path we made our way to the last stop on the trails, the dunes. Making our way up some steep dirt steps it opened into a sandy path that still led up and up. Getting quite out of breath as we had now been hiking over three miles up and down all kinds of hills we took a quick break, letting the breeze of the open air flow over us. Not sure which direction to head since there were now small sand trails going everywhere we picked one that looked like it had the most travelers and continuted to walk through the sand. (By the way, we did not see one other person on our hike on an island full of campers, very strange)

 

Going up and down a few more small dunes we came to the shore on top of a bluff about 400 feet above the water. Instead of walking back through all the trails we had just taken to get back to the bay, Matt suggested we go down the dune/bluff to the water and just hug the coast to get back. It may not have been shorter but the surface would be flat. Not wanting to go uphill anymore and knowing I’d have a constant breeze on my face by the water I agreed and down we went. After unloading the piles of sand we accumulated in our shoes we continued down the shore. Walking for at least a mile and rounding a few corners and not seeing the shipwreck we wondered if we made the completely wrong decision and would be walking all night. One more corner though and it was jutting out of the water so we figured we couldn’t be too far since it was only a two mile walk to this point from the inland trails. On and on we walked, now starting to get blisters on our feet and ready to get back to the boat for a nice dinner of grilled chicken and rice.

 

It seemed like every corner we turned was not putting us any closer to home but we just kept trudging on. Finally we could see the lighthouse in the distance which was a relief because it sat at the opening to the bay. Knowing the end was now in sight we picked up pace and soon climed the path up to the lighthouse (which was closed for visitors!!) and back out to the boat house and ferry dock. Happy that our dinghy hadn’t washed away (we had to rescue one earlier that was floating in the middle of the bay) we shoved off and went back to Serendipity fully exhausted. It was too late and we were too hungry for a dinner of grilled chicken so we settled on macaroni and cheese which tasted even better at that moment. It was a long day and I knew I’d be out the moment my head hit the pillow but it was completely rewarding to have spent five hours and close to 10 miles experiencing all the beauty that is Pure Michigan. (Thanks Tim Allen)

I knew he was starting to become a little bit of a hippie, but now a tree huger?

Matt at the bottom of the dune.

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