A simmering feud between Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and TART Trails, and residents of Little Traverse Lake who oppose the northeast expansion of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is once again heating up. The popular, multi-use bicycle trail, which stretches 22 miles from Empire through the National Lakeshore to Bohemian Road, is set to expand by 4.25 miles northeast to Good Harbor Trail. Tree clearing and construction are slated to begin this fall, and the extension will open in late 2025 or 2026. But early this month the Little Traverse Lake Association released an environmental impact study the group had commissioned from Borealis Consulting, which found that Segment 9 of the Heritage Trail would require the removal of nearly 7,300 trees and trespass through sensitive wilderness, wetlands and dunes. Of the nearly 7,300 trees identified in the Borealis study, 82% are saplings or small trees with diameters of 10 inches or less. The Park has directed trail designers with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to “meander around the largest trees.” The Lake Association unsuccessfully sued the federal government in 2015 over the adequacy of the National Park’s 2009 environmental assessment.

On the first Sunday in January, I pull into the Empire Village Beach parking lot to meet 10 neighbors for a swim. The air temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit; Lake Michigan is 37 degrees. The group is made up almost entirely of women with members spanning in age from their early 30s to 70 years old. Most of the people present this first Sunday in January, myself included, have been meeting once or twice weekly for cold water swims since October. Winter swimming, also called cold dipping or polar plunging, is an umbrella term for various ways of submerging in cold water. For this group of brave locals, cold dipping involves a measured entrance into Lake Michigan, partnered with calm breathing. Participants spend 3-5 minutes in the water up to their shoulders, often wearing neoprene booties and gloves to fight against numbness in their extremities. Most of us wear winter hats on our heads and do not go under, though a few brave souls will wear swimming caps and plunge their entire bodies under the waves.

I admit it: I tried hard to not become a Michigan football fan. As a freshman in Ann Arbor in the fall of 1996 I found myself turned off by the manic, even cultish obsession with the team and the worship that transpired each autumnal Saturday. This wasn’t what attracted me to choose U of M for college. No, I wanted the great university, the vibrant college town, the oasis for radical politics. Then a funny thing happened. The following season Michigan ran the table and won every single game. What I experienced during the Rose Bowl-bound team’s 20-14 victory over Ohio State on a cold late November day at the Big House wasn’t about football, or even sports. It was the power of unity, of euphoria among strangers, of a trance as thousands of us move together in the same rhythm, with the same objective. I felt it again, albeit this time as an adult, when the Wolverines won the national championship last week. We are in our mid-40s now—adults with responsibilities—but we still need that youthful kinship, that unity.

On Sunday, Sept 10, Holland, Mich. resident Jon Ornée completed what he believes to be the first-ever unassisted swim from North Manitou Island to South Manitou Island. Ornée started from Donner’s Point on North Manitou Island at 7:45 am and reached shore at Gull Point on South Manitou Island at 9:24 am. The 4-mile swim took him 1 hour and 39 minutes to complete.

You could say that the famed AuSable River runs through the veins of Lindy Kellogg, a Cedar resident who works at the Leelanau Conservancy. The AuSable River Canoe Marathon, which held its 75th race on July 29, runs from Grayling to Oscoda, a distance of 120 miles. This year, Lindy joined the marathon for the first time together with Kolee.

Glen Arbor’s annual Running Bear Run, a popular late July family dash which the Glen Arbor Women’s Club will hold for the 16th year on July 25, is now a chip-timed race. The Running Bear 5K Run/Walk & ½ Mile Kids’ Run features 16 age categories for males and females from ages 10 and under to 80 and older. Winners will receive medals and prizes from Cherry Republic and Crystal River Outfitters and The Cyclery. Youngsters running the ½ Mile Kids’ Run get to run with the Bear and take home a ribbon and a coupon for a free ice cream cone from Cherry Republic.

Detroit native Pam Baad—pictured here jogging up the Lake Michigan Overlook at Pierce Stocking Drive—was named women’s “champignon” of the 2021 Bordulac Attack. The informal race is organized by the Bordulac family, includes six segments in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and must be completed between June 15 and Halloween. Anyone can form a team or compete solo on any given day by using the Strava mobile app.

Ryan DeCook, a 42-year-old resident of Washington, Michigan, won his second consecutive M22 Challenge on Saturday, June 10, with an overall time of 1 hour, 16 minutes, and 47 seconds. This was the third time he has won the popular triathlon, which local organizers consider one of the most beautiful races in the nation.

Writer Tim Mulherin, who splits his time between Indianapolis and Leelanau County, shares his “big fish” story, when conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources weighed in his brown trout at 7.8 pounds and rainbow trout at 4.5 pounds.

Snow conditions are very good in most places along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, report Friends of Sleeping Bear, which grooms and maintains the popular multi-use trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Get out there before the weather warms up the middle of this week.