Leelanau News and Events

Dispatch From The Dunes #9: Sense The Intensity

By Julie Den Uyl | Sept. 15, 2022

Sleeping Bear Tour Co. has shared bi-weekly reporting with the Leelanau Ticker, letting readers know of what’s blooming, running, and happening in the wilds of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Here’s the latest from guide Julie Den Uyl, who leads private hikes in the park’s wilderness and is booking now for fall color adventures.

What are some September treasures out there now?
Crabapples - Wild apples are also known as crabapples. They are smaller and much more sour than their cultivated counterparts. They are delicious when cooked into pies, jellies, or butters.

Juniper Berries – juniper berries aren’t truly berries, rather are a fleshy pinecone. Displaying a distinctive scent and flavor they are most commonly used as a spice or for medicinal uses rather than as food. The Anishinaabe used juniper berries in medicinal teas and as a wild yeast starter for fermentation. The juniper berry is also well known as the main flavoring agent for gin. Impress visitors with a homemade juniper berry-infused winter gin

Acorns are ripening and small mammals are scurrying to retrieve the mighty oaks bounties. Acorns are one of the most common tree nuts and with a little processing can provide us with a nutrient rich power food: One ounce of white oak acorn nut meat contains a little over 100 calories. Many of our ancestors utilized acorns as a staple food prior to agriculture.

Wildlife spotting: Badgers, solitary animals have created a network of numerous entrances and tunnels throughout Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The intricate passageways created underground are referred to as setts. Badgers are nocturnal by nature but will venture out during the day in areas not inhabited by humans, especially within wilderness areas. Look for badgers in open grasslands and edges of woodland forests. Oftentimes they can be viewed hunting in tandem with coyote

Stand in the midst. As unpredictable fall weather approaches, stand in the midst of the commotion and take in the experience. Embrace the wind attempting to alter your walking direction, revel in the rain pelting your face, stand and fear the occurrences around you. Every outdoor experience provides a deeper understanding of the powers of nature.

Trail discoveries: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a treasure trove of Michigan’s natural beauty. As a reminder, feathers you find on your nature walks are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Take an image of your find instead of carrying it home with you. It's fun to journal or catalogue your finds virtually. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s database Feather Atlas is an impressive aid in identifying your discoveries.

Now is the time to get outside, absorb the joyful essence of the natural world, and sense the forces of nature with all your heart.

See more photos of less-traveled places within the park on Sleeping Bear Tour Co.'s Instagram.

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