If you’ve been following this blog for a while (thanks to all “old” and “new” followers, by the way!!), then you’ve visited this shipwreck with me a couple of times. If you’re new here, then you’re in for a treat. Well, either way I still think you’re in for a treat; this is one of my favorite hikes in my neighborhood 🙂
On kind of the spur of the moment, Jess asked me and Tony on Friday if we’d be interested in (finally) accompanying them on the shipwreck hike we had raved over. They have a three year-old son who can’t quite handle the distance in the sand (~5 miles round trip), so we haven’t had the chance to go together, until today. None of us were quite sure how to dress. Nearly all of the hike is along the beach, but a small portion is over a sand dune, and sometimes you have to hike in the water around a dune. Also, it was 48 degrees this morning, and we were supposed to have a healthy north wind, with a high of 63.
I never did check the actual temperature, but the hike was absolutely fabulous – and we were all comfortably clothed. Bonus! The hike begins with a short stretch through jack pines, and then continues over a relatively brief dune climb. (I say “relatively” because this hike is in the Sleeping Bear Dunes park, which has much more extensive dune hikes than we tackled today.) An expansive Lake Michigan view welcomed us at the top, from which we jaunted directly down to the lakeshore.
For the next two miles, we were completely alone, save the company of the wind, waves and birds. We’ve done this hike twice before, and each time the solitude surprises me. Even after three full summers of northern Michigan exploration, it feels surreal to be enveloped in such utterly amazing beauty, and be alone with it. To say that I am grateful is a woeful understatement.
Since last summer, I’ve found a bit more information about these shipwreck remains. The portion we see consists of a two fragments thought to be from the Jennie and Annie schooner, which sank in 1872 in the Manitou Passage. More of (what we believe to be) the decking was visible this time than on our previous visits, and less of the hull was above the sand – a reminder of just how dynamic the lakeshore is. The fragments are in excellent condition, having been buried for over a hundred years in sand and cold water on the bottom of the lake, and so far they have been treated well by visitors. No graffiti or carvings adorn the surfaces, which is well, since they’re supposed to be treated as museum pieces.
We are so far removed from the travel conditions of 140 years ago that it is hard to imagine what could compel people onto the ships of the 1800’s in such treacherous conditions. We are comforted by advanced weather forecasting, Doppler radar, and depth finders, and I still wouldn’t happily venture into the Manitou Passage in a November gale. But then, for me it would be recreational. I wonder what reason the six or seven souls aboard the Jennie and Annie had for their journey. Though I am sorry for their demise, I delight in the relics that have washed ashore, and the trek that takes me there.