by Mark Cahill
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore sits just west of Traverse City along the Lake Michigan shoreline. There are two islands that lie offshore that form the legend of the dunes. The Chippewa Indians told the story:
“Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tried and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear”.
When there be sure to head straight west to where the dunes start to turn and lookout out over the Lake. It’s a perfect place to throw your arm out trying to get a stone to land in the water: It’s impossible, trust me. After you’ve soaked up the view, be sure to trek down the steep sandy slope and stand at the thin strip of rock between the dune and the water. Then take a dip in Lake Michigan (might be a little cold now) and hunt for some Petoskey stones.
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