Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fourth of July Hiking

Between the cool, rainy weather patterns and our overfilled schedules this summer, there has been little time for hiking.  Because the Fourth of July holiday fell on a Saturday boasting a warm, sunny forecast, we decided to pull out our hiking gear and head to Cowles Bog for our maiden hike through this lush, sandy, landscape.  Our yellow labrador mix, Cooper, was ready for adventure, and literally dragged his owners at the end of his leash to the trailhead around 7:30 am, backpacks stocked with water bottles, cliff bars, fruit and dog treats. Except for a group of energetic runners that disappeared down the trail ahead of us, we had the peaceful solitude of the trail to ourselves. Our workweek-worn senses were met with the welcome call of a bluejay in the canopy, the rustle of chipmunks in the brush and the sun-dappled trail before us.

We consider the Cowles Bog trail, a five-mile loop through thick forest, marshy bogs, sandy dunes and a solitary Lake Michigan beach, one of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's finest hikes.   The trail required just the right amount of physical exertion to get our blood pumping, climbing higher and spilling out suddenly at the top of a sand dune to a wide view of the lake below us.

 We settled down on the quiet lakeshore for a snack of cliff bars and cherries for us and treats for Cooper.   Morning mist was still hanging low over the water farther out.  A single boat was anchored off the shore, the owners of whom probably had enjoyed the smoldering remains of a nearby campfire.

We finished our hike and completed the loop well before mid-day.  On the day set aside to celebrate our nation's birthday, the hike was a fitting way to celebrate its natural habitat and beauty.

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