"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Monday, May 25, 2015

Day 1.6 - Watervale in our Sights

Our Route: Ludington to Watervale Inn, Arcadia

A Special Homecoming for Will

Departed:May 22, '15, 09:05AM
Starts in:Ludington, MI, US
Distance:59.4 mi
Elevation:2346 / - 2459 ft
Max Grade10.1 %
Avg. Grade0.4 %

Total Duration:07:41:09
Moving Time:04:37:14

Max Speed:33.1 mph
Avg. Speed:12.9 mph

Take note of the first of the "Three Sisters" at the end. We assault
#3 as we leave Watervale 


Beautiful, and only a little chilly, our sixth day of riding was really all about getting Will to Watervale as a sort of celebratory homecoming. Will has been coming to Watervale at the end of August for over 20 years. To hear him tell, it’s a bit of Shangri-La and Rivendale all rolled into one.  And if there’s a sacred place to him along THE LAKE’s shores its Watervale.  To arrive there totally under his own power, only on his two wheels constitutes his dream for this trip. I may have my pilgrimage; Will has this quest of sorts.

We leave the delightful Summer’s Inn in Ludington head north and a bit east which is good because the wind’s out of the southwest and we’re glad of the push. There’s not much on our list of sites this morning, so we make good time to lunch in Manistee. After lunch, Will, on home territory, acts much like a horse headed to the barn. We’re all infected by his enthusiasm, but still need to keep that energy a bit in check.

October 1871 Fire Remembered

First order, stop by the Orchard Beach State Park and check out a history marker commemorating the Great Fire of October 8, 1871. Not only Chicago, but Peshtigo, WI and most of this area of Michigan went up in flames that day. A long dry summer, coupled with sawdust-laden air and a ferocious southwest wind made for the perfect storm of a blaze. Far more property and many more lives were lost in these lumbering towns of Wisconsin and Michigan than in the urban setting of Chicago but they were far from national communications and soon forgotten. No one wrote any misleading ditties such as “One
dark night when we were all in bed …” to commemorate these losses. So the markers and the fire museum in Peshtigo, which we will visit on Stage 3 of our journey, is all we have to remind us of the much greater loss.

After the park we just ride on along the lake, catching a far glimpse of tall dunes and harbor lights. In Onekama we encounter Jeff the EZ Mart manager and Rick his supplier overseeing a festive customer appreciate day with free dogs, drinks and celebratory beads. 

Assaulting the Three Sisters 

& Celebrating on Inspiration Point

Just as we leave the party the legendary climb up the long, but somewhat gradual “Sister #1” begins.
A short stop for juice and honey before assaulting “Sister #2” her far more steep but less long twin. PHEW – I’d been concerned about these for days. Would I have the strength to take on the climbs? Glad I didn’t know that last was over a 10% grade. But, finish them I did and enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment while on top of Inspiration Point.

From this point, high on the dune above the lake you get a magnificent view of the shore both north and south.  The day was crystal clear, the wind not too strong and not too cold. A perfect place to congratulate oneself on a hard won accomplishment. 


By now Will could smell Watervale. He knew every turn, every small side road. He brought us in with much fanfare. He’d come home – THIS was his accomplishment not the climbs, but the journey. Now we were done with Stage 1 time to celebrate a bit and take a few days off. Time to just savor the surroundings, enjoy the great food, bask in the sunset and climb the gradual back of the dune just to plunge down its face.

Many thanks to our hosts, Dori, Jenny and Pat and our wonderfully helpful servers Evan and Bea.

The Arrival
Sunset at Watervale
Climbing up the "gradual" backside of Baldy

Plunging down its backside

Stage 1 Completed

We feel we’ve accomplished much. The journey has begun. When we start again on Stage 2 we will be without van support. The panniers go on the racks and we head out into whatever weather awaits us ready for lots of new adventures.

1 comment:

  1. In 2010 we started our bike trek just south of the Three Sisters. That's where I discovered that despite all our training rides, a couple of the scouts still did not know how to use their gears. Well... THAT changed pretty quickly. It is a magnificent sight (well earned) of the lake from on top of those. Love the photos and the stories.