Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9: A Balancing Act of Dangers and Journey


Perched alongside the serene Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Michigan lies the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook, an imposing 450-foot sand dune that provides guests breathtaking panoramas of Lake Michigan.

Whereas most vacationers flock to the designated overlook space with informative interpretive panels to marvel on the fascinating view, an adjoining rugged path alongside a steep dune beckons to the adventurous.

Nevertheless, this path carries with it a status for quite a few emergency rescue makes an attempt. On this article, will check out this fascinating spot and provides some perception into the risks and adventures that it presents.

What’s the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook?

The Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook, additionally known as No. 9 Overlook, is a towering 450-foot sand dune positioned alongside the picturesque Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. From this vantage level, guests are handled to awe-inspiring vistas of Lake Michigan.

Most guests collect on the designated overlook platform, full with informative interpretive panels, to soak within the breathtaking view.

Nevertheless, adjoining to this spot, there exists a rugged path alongside a steep dune that adventurous souls generally enterprise down. This path has garnered a status for the quite a few rescue makes an attempt it has necessitated through the years.

Don’t get this overlook confused with the “dune climb” which is a well-liked vacationer spot permitting guests to climb up a big dune and proceed on a hike to the lakeshore if desired. That’s positioned at a special a part of the park. If you wish to discover the No. 9 Overlook, you’ll run into it in direction of then finish of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook historical past

Through the years, this overlook, generally known as No. 9 Overlook, has garnered fairly a status as a hotspot for emergency rescues. It has been a website the place quite a few 911 calls have been made, leading to some vacationers dealing with substantial bills after they discovered themselves unable to make a secure return.

Simply how difficult the rescue is, is determined by the water ranges.

When lake ranges are decrease, rescue operations contain using an ATV to traverse the seaside, reaching people and bringing them again to security. This method will not be solely extra sensible but in addition considerably more cost effective than what is required in excessive water degree years. Throughout these instances, a rescue of this type would possibly incur a price of roughly $700.

However in years with larger water ranges, rescue operations change into dearer, requiring a group of 8 to 10 extremely skilled personnel to make use of rope methods for lifting victims to security, generally a whole bunch of toes up the steep sides of the dune. This intricate and labor-intensive technique can value upwards of $2,000 to $3,000.

The accountability for protecting these rescue bills falls upon the people who’re rescued, though it’s reported that solely roughly half of them truly fulfill this obligation.

Consequently, the fireplace division is left to shoulder the remaining prices, making it a difficult state of affairs for each the people concerned and the native authorities.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Why precisely is that this thought-about so harmful?

The largest downside might be guests being unprepared for the strenuous climb again up.

Trekking uphill on free sand will not be a simple job and could be far more exhausting than lots of people anticipate.

It’s additionally widespread to see folks head down with none water provides, even throughout heat summer time months. After 20 to half-hour of strenuous exertion, it’s very easy to get dehydrated and that may be a significant downside.

There’s additionally the problem of doubtless getting injured taking place.

Whereas sand could be very forgiving, a nasty tumble might ship you down with out having the ability to cease. Additionally, for those who check out the sand you’ll discover that there are fairly just a few rocks inside the sand that would simply minimize anyone up.

These dangers have been extremely publicized and because of this the quantity of rescue makes an attempt have decreased.

This has loads to do with getting the message out in regards to the risks of heading all the way down to the water by way of volunteers. A couple of years again they began a program that introduced out volunteers who would attempt to dissuade folks from making the journey down the dune.

There’s additionally an indication on the high that warns in regards to the risks and about having to pay $3,000 for being rescued.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9

Some folks criticize the coverage and warnings requiring folks to pay for his or her rescue.

The argument is that this might incentivize folks to not request for assist and probably put themselves in deadly hazard. As somebody who’s massive on private accountability, I don’t thoughts requiring folks to cowl their emergency charges. Nevertheless, there’s at all times that potential for it to backfire (although that doesn’t appear to be an issue right here).

No matter among the criticism, the success of those deterrents has been evident by the variety of rescue calls which in some summers has been as gradual as solely 2 to three in comparison with earlier years the place in peak season they may obtain as many as 4 rescue calls per day!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9

Do you have to make the trek?

In the end, the choice to undertake such a climb rests with the customer, and it’s vital to evaluate your individual capabilities and bodily situation. Relying in your health degree, it might take you anyplace from half-hour to shut to 2 hours to get again up.

Regrettably, I discovered myself in a state of affairs the place I had thrown my again out a few days previous to my go to, making the temptation of trying this climb out of the query for me.

However, as somebody who has tackled quite a few hikes, together with very strenuous ones like descending to the underside of the Grand Canyon and again in a single day, I can supply some helpful suggestions.

Initially, pay shut consideration to the temperature, particularly for those who’re trying this climb in the course of the summer time months. It’s advisable to start out early within the morning when temperatures are decrease. This method will vastly support in stopping dehydration and be sure that the sand isn’t scorching sizzling below your toes for those who select to go barefoot.

Personally, I might suggest carrying some type of footwear because of the hid rocks within the sand. Nothing can be extra unlucky than injuring your foot whereas making your means down there.

I noticed varied approaches to descending the dune. Some adventurous souls opted for the thrilling dash straight down the slope, virtually seeming to glide on the sand – undoubtedly lots of enjoyable.

Others selected a extra cautious zigzag sample, a prudent technique to keep away from a possible disastrous tumble.

Then, there have been those that took a measured and methodical stroll down the dune’s flank, arguably essentially the most smart method.

In the event you’re planning this journey, I like to recommend having a CamelBak or an analogous hydration system with a beneficiant water provide, presumably round two liters. This ensures you keep well-hydrated for the ascent and lets you simply sip water throughout your breaks. Having some electrolytes with you want liquid IV or tablets can be a good suggestion.

Now, onto the journey again up.

I strongly advise pacing your self when ascending. Whereas a 450-foot elevation acquire could not sound formidable to seasoned hikers conversant in elevation modifications, the problem right here lies within the free sand underfoot. Climbing uphill by way of free sand requires significantly extra effort than scaling stable floor.

Due to this fact, don’t try to energy by way of it on the best way up.

As a substitute, take ample breaks and relish the breathtaking surroundings beneath, together with the shimmering turquoise waters. It may additionally be sensible to have some additional provides available, akin to a light-weight snacks, a hat, and sun shades.

Closing phrase

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9 has been a spot the place a lot of folks have gotten right into a scary state of affairs and there have been many rescues through the years. However with the general public extra educated in regards to the dangers, it appears that evidently these rescues have declined. For many individuals, it’s price simply admiring the views from the remark platform which could be among the greatest you’ll discover in Michigan.

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