Have you ever been winter hiking? Too cold? Think again! Saturday, March 2nd a group of five of us went up to Indiana Dunes National Lake shore to Cowles Bog. Four of us are preparing for our Alternative Spring Break trip that is in less than a week and the fifth person was our guide. He is the founder of the South Bend Adventure Club and was game to lead some amateurs around the woods for a few hours. I was a little hesitant about this trip because the high was 27 degrees with a chance of some snow flurries! Thank goodness, my curiosity paid off and we had a uniquely amazing afternoon.
We got to Cowles bog and parked in an empty dirt lot right off the main drive into the park. We unloaded, bundled up, and slung our backpacks on. As we were taking our first steps towards the trail we were about to spend the next several hours on, I noticed gentle snowflakes falling from the sky. I was use to wearing my bathing suit and toting my sunscreen filled beach bag to the water’s edge whenever I came to the Lakeshore. Never in my life had I been to a Lake Michigan park with flakes leaving the sky! It was a hike I would never forget.
We began on a trail that weaves you through the woods. It is about a four mile path that takes you up and down sandy slopes and to the top of a dune that overlooks the frosty lake and a not-so-beautiful steel mill. Small oases, like this, are all we have left to enjoy our planet in its natural state. Saying that modernization is a good thing is true; however, we can tend to forget where we draw the line when our lives become too busy to immerse ourselves in nature and remember what role we play in this world. A quote from the new film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, came to my mind when I was on top of that forest dune, “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the entire universe will get busted.”
When we forget this, it is easy to wrongly think we are in full control of what happens on this planet. Spending time in raw nature, I believe, builds a sense of appreciation for it. Once you get past the mosquitoes (or in our case the chilly breeze) it is nice to take in the fact that you are a piece of the puzzle, not the one putting it together. Being in Cowles Bog and seeing a bald eagle swoop overhead while standing on the frozen water’s edge reminded me of this. Hearing the tinking of snowflakes on the leafy forest floor and knocking of a woodpecker brought me back to that spot of appreciation. And that is what drives me to value our sustainability movement.