Dunes & Bay (Traverse City, Michigan)


Traverse Bay

As we drove through Traverse City a clear blue sky reflected on the gleaming Lake Michigan with a unique contrast of green, light blue and dark blue.The scenic drive to the dunes nearby turned out to be superbly scenic with a neat road snaking away through a lush green forest. Clearly marked with boards and speed limit signs we happily followed the route to our destination. On the way we crossed the covered bridge. Apparently it was just a bridge but the specialty of this bridge was the fact that it was actually protecting a wooden bridge beneath it from adverse weather conditions that affected the timber used in the bridge. It’s a popular photo stop as lot of visitors pulled up on the roadside to take photos of the bridge, well, I did it too.

The first sign of water along the drive came when we halted at the Glen Lake. There is something very unusual about all the water bodies that I have seen in the country so far. I never quite knew that there could be so many shades of blue in nature’s palette. Glen lake happened to be pale blue in color and looked as if it was divided in two parts, the ‘little’ and the ‘big’ by a small bridge like piece of land. The depths of both these lakes varied to a great extent. It was interesting to know that this lake was once a part of Lake Michigan and got separated by a sand bar that came up later. Surrounded by hills dating back to the Ice age was indeed an interesting thing to experience.


Wooden Bridge


Lake Glen

The dune overlook was a bit depressing I would say, more so because by that time the sun had vanished somewhere behind the clouds and the sky was dark and gloomy and it quite naturally affected our moods too. A sunny day can always work wonders, especially if you are in places like sand dunes where the bright golden yellow sand shines and sparkles in the warm glowing sun. Yet, the barrenness of the entire area had a haunting beauty associated with it. With sparse desert like vegetation around, the dunes looked as if a child had drawn waves of sand on his drawing sheet, carelessly, and roughly shaded it with brown, yellow, rust and even black. When I come to think of it now, it had a very different kind of beauty. We weren’t allowed to walk up to the fragile dunes so we drove up to the cottonwood trail that had a designated dirt road through the dunes and that was pretty adventurous and mildly strenuous. It was also here that we got the first feel of some of the dunes’ vegetation, bear berry and even buffalo berry. Blow outs, as those are called, were common here; strong winds had created bowl shaped dunes and it was something that I hadn’t seen in many of the dunes that I have experienced around the world.
It was after this that we got a unique experience of the dunes’ ecology, vegetation and the surrounding forest. Huge Juniper trees, Sugar Maple and American Beech had made the whole scenic drive lush and verdant. The trees were tall and reached up so high that those formed sort of canopies over the road and blocked all possible drops of sun rays from getting into the forest or even the road. And like the law of nature goes, survival of the fittest, the small plants and trees tried hard to get a glimpse of the sunlight and when they succeeded, the growth was phenomenal.