Monday, June 4, 2012

Alligator Hill Hike

Sleeping Bear Dunes con't

Having done all of our business on Wednesday Lori and I had Thursday to do a bit of exploring.  I knew I wanted to spend the afternoon on Empire Bluffs, perhaps the prettiest view anywhere, so we opted for a morning hike up Alligator Hill, which is practically across the road from the D.H. Day campground.

Right off the parking area are these big concrete structures.  We were baffled until we read the sign at the far end which explained they were ovens used to make charcoal out of the logging wastes years ago.  I thought they were kind of creepy.

The area is mostly wooded but the trail passes through a few small meadows.  I was disappointed to find out this gorgeous plant is not native to the U.S.  Cynoglossum officinale, or Hound's tooth, is actually considered a noxious weed out west where cattle are king.  It produces seeds that stick to everything and the plant is toxic to livestock.  Rats.

The hike in is generally uphill, through dense woods of young trees.

The view at the top is well worth the effort.

I am coming to believe that there is not a more gorgeous view than that of Lake Michigan from high atop on overlooking bluff.  This is Sleeping Bear Bay, looking east.  This area includes Glen Arbor, Glen Haven and the D.H. Day campground.  

The view of the bay to the west.  You can just make out South Manitou Island on the horizon. It is such a restful, meditative place, and we spent some time here soaking in the view.  We were here a few days before the Memorial Day weekend crowds, so we had the place to ourselves.

We hiked back the we we'd come as it was getting quite warm and I knew the route would be shady.  We stopped at Al's in Glen Arbor and shared a plate of nachos, then hung out at the campsite for awhile.  I spent a good deal of time chasing a bird who had been working over the tree canopy around our site.  He had a sweet, melodic song like a robin, and I was determined to figure out what it was.  That's coming up next.

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