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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Birthday on Tower Hill

by Rick Blumenberg / @rickblumenberg

Last month we celebrated Carol’s birthday.

If I told you which one, Carol would not divorce me, because we don’t believe in divorce, but she would definitely kill me. Let’s just say, we’ve been around a while but we try to keep in shape with regular walks through the woods of Lake Michigan sand dunes and along the shore from Weko Beach near our Bridgman home south to the Warren Dunes Beach or sometimes north toward the Cook Nuclear Plant.

One of the great fun challenges of Carol’s life is climbing Tower Hill, the highest dune in Warren Dunes State Park. The challenge isn’t to do it—we’ve been doing it for years, sometimes several times a year—but she is determined to keep on doing it for many years to come.

The dune reaches 240 feet above Lake Michigan and it is pure sand, so climbing it isn’t easy, but the view is absolutely marvelous. A few years ago we climbed it on our anniversary and at our fiftieth anniversary celebration held last year there at the park, some of our more adventuresome family members climbed it that day, so they know what a challenge it is.

Local legend has it that the Wright Brothers wanted to use Tower Hill to get their first plane in the air, but the powers that be wouldn’t allow it so they went to the Atlantic Seaboard instead and Southwest Michigan lost a heritage of aviation history. According to Wikipedia, Octave Chanute did gliding experiments from Lake Michigan dunes in 1896 and he advised the Wright Brothers to go elsewhere because too many reporters who had followed him had turned the area into a circus like atmosphere that would interfere with their work.

Anyway, this year on her birthday Carol wanted to take our annual walk to Warren Dunes beach to climb Tower Hill. When we do this we prepare a picnic lunch to eat on top of the dune and plan for it to take about five hours because it includes walking five miles and climbing this monster dune that overlooks Lake Michigan, eating a picnic lunch under the shade of a scrubby tree at the top and then walking back home again. If the sun is hot and the lake water isn’t too cold, we sometimes take a swim or two on the way down and back.

After we climbed the dune, we came down a few feet from the top and sat under a shade tree where we ate our picnic lunch as we looked out over the lake and felt superior to all those who were struggling to make it to the top. One baby-boomerish gentleman who passed our picnic spot on his way up stopped a moment when we offered words of encouragement. He commented that he was impressed we could climb it and when Carol told him we lived five miles away and at least once a year we walk to Warren Dunes and climb to the top of the dune he was more than a little amazed. At first I thought he was thinking we looked too old to do it—and then I realized he was amazed that anybody would walk five miles!

I'm Rick Blumenberg, and that's My View from Tanner Creek.


DaveW said...


Tower Hill - I never knew what it's name was.
I've mentioned it often to others as a great adventure
but didn't know it was 240 feet about the lake.

Thanks for the info,

Dave Walberg

Rick Blumenberg said...

Hi Dave,
Thanks for reading my blog.

As for the big dune, I knew the name was Tower Hill, but I got the 240' height from Wikipedia. However, that sounds familiar--I think it is a number I've heard before.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Uncle Rick. You both are an inspiration. I hope you have many climbs ahead of you!


Rick Blumenberg said...

Thanks Eric, and thanks for reading my blog. If I remember right, you're one who climbed Tower Hill when you were here for our anniversary so you know what a great view there is from the top. If you're ever in the area or want to come for a visit, we can climb it again.