Saturday, August 29, 2020

August 23, 2020 Our Sunday Hike from Mt. Baldy to Central Beach with Sunshine, Sand Dunes & Sand Bars

It's another Sunday morning hike at Mount Baldy. It's going to be a hot one so we got here early. I am constantly amazed by the natural beauty of the Indiana Dunes National Park. You can hike the same trails several times during the year and each hike is completely different. It's not only due to the change of seasons, but it is also how the dunes or the lake changes. Calm days or rough days on the lake, sunshine or overcast, cool breezes or howling winds, these all make a hike here unique. 

As we left the parking lot for the short hike through the forest to the beach, I had no idea how wonderful this hike was going to be.
My clue was the beautiful view from the top of the sand dune above the beach. Even Yeti stopped to take it all in.

Looking west...

...then running down the dune to the east as Christy & Nola are almost on the beach.

Yeti sees Nola & Christy in the water and we're off...

...and in Lake Michigan in what seemed like five giant strides down that sand dune.

The water is crystal clear and 75-80 degrees. This is another beautiful start to our day.

No matter how many times I see my dogs shake themselves dry, it still amuses me.

We hiked east the last time we were here, so we headed west today.

There is a good amount of beach in this area but only half the dune is still here, the beach half has eroded away.

There are still fallen trees everywhere.

Here's a good example of how the have collapsed to their high point along the beaches here.

And some have fallen so long ago that they are now buried on the beach or underwater in the lake.

Here's a branch from a buried tree trunk sticking up through the sand like Carrie's hand at the end of the movie.

Christy & Nola cooling off in the lake. Nola is about to shake herself dry. I tried to Christy to do the same thing but she's no fun.

I laugh every time the dogs do this. When it is hot like today, I stand next to them. It's like a mist sprinkler at the amusement parks.

Yeti loves to climb up on things. As we walked further west, there was less beach and more fallen trees.

It was a bit of an obstacle course at times, but I loved having the beach to ourselves for the most part of this hike. It was a perfect weather day once again.

The dune along "Wild Women Creek" that flows into Lake Michigan.

This creek is the dividing line between Mt. Baldy and Central Beach. Central Beach has been closed since last winter for a good reason. It doesn't exist. There never was a lot of beach here. But when Lake Michigan's water levels started rising, this beach disappeared first. 

Today the sand looks a lot higher on Central Beach than Mt. Baldy, so we continued our hike westbound.

A little perspective on the size of the sand dunes and the huge amount of beach here thanks to the dunes collapsing.

It looks like lots of people have visited Central Beach recently.

This sweet boat is anchored just past the sand bar. You can walk off that boat to shore.

All these dunes have lost most of their vegetation. But this area has these new bright green ball-shaped plants growing on the loose sand slopes. Mother Nature is amazing.

As we get closer to where the Cental Beach trail enters the beach, the beach disappears. But there is a huge sand bar in the lake. So we continue our hike.

The water line is at the base of the dunes. Fallen trees are on the shoreline and in the lake. And this hike just gets better and better in my mind.

Christy & Nola are avoiding trees in the lake ahead of us.

Central Beach has some really big dunes and so many lost trees.
Yeti & I hiked on the sand bar, it was wonderful and provided great views of the dunes.

We almost caught up with the ladies...

But they just kept going on land or water. Yeti has a great creepy shadow here.
There are huge sections of clay exposed on the beach in this area.

I have no explanation why the bottom of this dune is wet while above and below that area is dry.

Maybe it has something to do with the exposed clay.

Besides the huge pieces of clay, there are cinder blocks and concrete on the beach here.

The collapsing dune exposes it's past.

We finally made it to the area of Central Beach where the trail from the parking lots ends at the beach. There always has been broken concrete exposed in the dunes here, but never this much tossed all over the beach.

Just like Mt. Baldy, there is a trail down to the beach here even though the road is closed to the parking lot.

Looking east from Central Beach. Great clouds over Lake Michigan.

Christy & Nola are speeding to the west end of Central beach. The boys are taking our time and enjoying our hike on this lovely morning.

Getting closer...

...we caught up thanks to that tree roadblock.

Then I saw this dripping water and sand creation at the base of the dunes.

My simple mind is fascinated by things like this. Mother Nature is a really good artist.

We only saw these in this area of our hike.

Christy was so happy to be on a black sand beach. She said it was like being in Hawaii.

Obviously, other people have found a way to enjoy Central Beach. 

Once again, a big beach area and an incredibly blue sky.

And Yeti & I have fallen behind again.

Trying to capture a special moment on our hike. I loved the partially buried tree with the sailboat and clouds to fill out the photo.

Interesting art on the beach

The west end of Central Beach. We could have continued through those trees to Lakefront Drive in Beverly Shores. But now we have to hike back over two miles to our car and even with the nice breeze off the lake it is getting hot.

So we cooled off in the lake.

One of us followed Taylor Swift's advice to Shake It Off. Others didn't.

Nola wanted to stay here forever. So did I little girl.

Yeti was insisting we continue on toward Lakeview Beach.

Eventually, we reluctantly headed back to the real world.

But Yeti kept going into the lake. He wanted to stay here too.

Finally, he agreed to head back.

Looks like it's time to go into the lake.

This is like the opposite of an archeological dig, the earth just spits its history out onto the ground for us to see.

More fun on the sand bar.

Two dogs having fun in Lake Michigan. I jokingly call them Spoiled and Rotten. 

Yes, it was as peaceful to be here as it looks. 

There are some really big trees on the beach. The roots on this tree were over six feet high.

We couldn't let the dogs lead through here, they can walk under most of these tree trunks and branches. The two humans are oldtimers and have to walk around them.

Strange sunlight on this but I wanted to show how high the roots are on this fallen tree.

I love the shadow in this picture.

Maybe this cast iron fitting is used to connect piping, but I found it on the beach with nothing else near it.

As usual, the boys fell behind...

...most likely because I can't stop taking pictures of a beautiful day at the beach.

It's a minor miracle I got both dogs to pose at the NPS sign. Maybe next week we can train Christy to look at the camera.