With their packs filled and excitement high, a crew of 13 young and attractive wanderers set out to find the perfect campsite for their leader Kate’s birthday. Firewood, beer, and foil-wrapped meals lined the insides of their 65L Ospreys as they began the 1.5 mile trek out to Nordhouse Dunes.Chatter fills the air. People weave in and out as walking tempos change, leading to new connections and conversations. We feel our hiking boots softly hitting the sand while catching glimpses of the lake, as well as the familiar burn in our calves that accompanies a dune hike. Everyone’s flirting with the idea of running into sweet sweet Lake Michigan as sweat drips down our foreheads, but we all know the delayed gratification will be worthwhile.Michigan is a magical place. And there’s nothing that characterizes the Great Lakes state more than miles and miles of Lake Michigan coastline kissing sandy dunes. Cotton ball clouds line the upper troposphere and watch over us as we stake out our spot and begin setting up. Tents up, rain covers on, sleeping pads and bags out – we establish some mental semblance of home for our temporary stay in the wilderness. Indeed, this will be our community gathering area for the next 24 hours, where we will eat, drink, and laugh together around a fire.We’ve set up our home base, and we’re ready to hit the water. It’s one of those days, those perfect 70 and sunny days where you spend all daylight hours in your swimsuit on the beach. I sprint out to the water, kicking up sand and little stones in the process. Lake Michigan is sacred. There is NOTHING like swimming in one of the biggest freshwater lake in the world, surrounded by clear blue skies. The beauty and calm combined with unbelievably safe swimming conditions unlocks an overwhelming sense of serenity and peace. There’s nothing more awakening than the constant switching between swimming in the cool lake and laying on out on the warm sand.I soon hit that point where dinner time is on my mind. We cook, we eat, we burn popcorn – our night is young.The seemingly endless sunshine is, however, about to come to its conclusion for the day. Stomachs full and beers cracked open, we find ourselves back on the beach where we were earlier, this time donning sweaters and pants instead of swimsuits. Ahead of us is the blue of the lake and sky, temporarily split by a narrow beam of soft setting sunlight. We share an embrace, a few drinks, and a view of incredible clouds scattered across the sky as the sun completes its baton handoff to the moon.The night is getting darker, and our small community returns to home base where the fire we started for dinner is still going. Collective experiences, storytelling, camaraderie and love shape our final night cap.
Goodnight friends – until our next Nordhouse dream together.