Joe and I set out on our own this week, tent camping along the lake like we had planned to do as soon as the weather improved. We started at Leelanau State Park and were surprised to discover that the weather had not improved. Our first night it was quite cold and we woke up to rain, wind and a lake to angry to paddle. We walked on the beach and checked out the Traverse Bay Lighthouse. Visited the gift shop and watched a documentary on the Great Lakes. It’s really sad to see how much damage people have done. It also showed all of the work that has been and continues to be done to reverse that damage.
Our second night in the tent gave us a full blown thunder storm. It also gave us a crazy raccoon that wanted in so we ended up with chew holes and scratch marks that left holes and let in the rain. Woke up to a soggy mess and once again a lake that didn’t accept us. We rented a cabin at the park, no water but it had heat and lights and allowed us to dry out all our belongings. The next day was no better. We attempted to leave but only got out 2 miles, we had to turn around. That day gave us not only rain…we were also treated to snow. The cabin was very warm and we appreciated the fact we were not in a tent.
Leelanau State Park is cared for by Stephanie, the DNR representative in charge. She is amazing, so nice and helpful. She took our photo for her website and we posed with her for ours. If any of you like rustic camping we absolutely recommend staying at Leelanau.
Finally on Wednesday we were able to leave what was starting to feel like a permanent home. We were able to paddle out at 7 and had perfect conditions. We made 30 miles and set up our tent just shy of Sleeping Bear Dunes at Pyramid Point. Had our supper and warmed our toes by the fire. Also saw our first fish about 8 feet off shore, a coho that gave us a show jumping 3 times. It may not sound all that exciting but it was a highlight for us.
It was a cold night and we had frost on everything Thursday morning but the lake was calm and we were off again. We had two large crossings and also made our way around the Dunes without a problem. We worried about conditions on this one because if the lake would have gotten wild we really wouldn’t have had a spot to pull off and sit it out. We had a 31 mile day and were so happy. Our camp for the night was 2 miles from Frankfort, not perfect but better than trying to find a spot in town. When we landed it was warm and sunny without too much wind. Camp was set and our clothes were drying, we had our meal and read books. Our sunset was beautiful. Went to sleep thinking we would make it to Orchard Beach on Friday.
All night long we heard the waves crashing on the shore and the wind was crazy, we checked more than once to be sure our boats hadn’t flown away. Our wake up call was 5:30, didn’t look good so we waited till 6:30. We got up at 7:00, made coffee and called for Walt and Cathy to meet us at Frankfort, it was only 2 miles down the beach. 2 miles doesn’t sound like much but just launching the boats was a challenge. The water was coming at us in 3 foot walls and timing was a big deal. It took getting knocked off my feet several times but after 3 attempts I was off, at least I had Joe helping hold my boat. Joe was on his own and had his own challenges but we made it. Go to our Facebook page and check out the video Joe posted after we got off the water. It was a very exciting 2 miles.
After landing we visited the Frankfort Coast Guard Station and got our safety check. We were approved and got our stickers for the boats. We were also given the Station Medallion which was a big surprise and a real treat.
We stopped for lunch at Dinghy’s, it’s a restaurant on the Main Street of Frankfort and it was wonderful. The service was fast and friendly and the food was perfect. It is a must try for anyone who makes it to this area. Our weekend was enjoyable with a little wandering and hiking. Campfires and great food.
Saturday and Sunday were wild and windy and not days that we could get out. We knew we would have down time but this is ridiculous. Joe said from the start that wind and waves would be what set the pace for us…as our friend Mark (Jocko) would say, “Joe was right!”