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.

Mike Ramsdell, a filmmaker from Brighton, Mich., took his son Asher, age 11, and nephew Ryan, 13, on a “walkabout” in the Sleeping Bear Dunes on a brisk Dec. 3. Ramsdell takes each of his children on a walkabout when they turn 10, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the adventure for Asher and Ryan.

On Saturday, Aug. 27, at 7:20 a.m., a whaleboat—the likes of which hunted the world’s largest mammals in the mid-1800s in the North Atlantic Ocean—left the public dock in Glen Arbor as its crew rowed, then sailed across the Manitou Passage. The crew’s goal was not to catch a whale but to reach North Manitou Island. Leelanau local Pam Houtteman spotted the crew at the dock and took photos. She took down captain Shane Brosier’s phone number in order to send him the images, but when she asked for his name, he offered the famous opening line from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, “Call me Ishmael.”

Late this month, Traverse City native Jake Bright will attempt a nearly 7-mile solo swim from Sleeping Bear Point to the South Manitou Island Lighthouse. If all goes well, his will be the first swim across the Manitou Passage that follows USA Swimming’s open-water rules. The date of his feat will depend on weather conditions, but he hopes to make the journey between Aug. 22 and Sept. 3.

Norte, a youth cycling program dedicated to inspire kids to be leaders, expanded into Glen Arbor a few years ago and continues to execute its goal of teaching young people and community members about bikes and other ways to enjoy the outdoors. Norte’s core staff “Team Orange” is a group of skilled cyclists, mechanics, directors, and coordinators, who help by coaching or managing. You may have seen the train of young riders out and about around Glen Arbor or on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. This summer, Norte has bike camps in Suttons Bay, Glen Arbor, Elk Rapids, and Traverse City. The camps are for adventurers between the ages of 5 and 12.

Ryan DeCook, 41, from Washington, Michigan, won this year’s M22 Challenge with a time of 1:14:59. Saturday, June 11, was the perfect day for a race in and around the Glen Lakes. Sunny and a cool 64 degrees Fahrenheit made it an especially beautiful day in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

This spring, for the first time since he moved to Munich 15 years ago, Maple City native Steve Walker is not hurling fastballs from the pitcher’s mound or smacking line drives from the batter’s box. As so often happens when we reach our mid-30s, baseball, or the activity we love most, takes a backseat to fatherhood and family life.

Although Leelanau County is fortunate to have a national lakeshore to step into with such little effort, it is easy for residents to forget that the park is 35 miles long and spans two counties. We get stuck in our bubbles and forget to explore other angles and ends. As a new year begins, consider stepping out of a routine, working on a New Years resolution, or getting to know the area better by taking on the Trail Trekker Challenge in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Registration for the 11th annual M22 Challenge will open on March 1 at 8 a.m. The Challenge, which takes place June 8, capitalizes on the majestic landscape and waterscape of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Exciting news for mountain bikers in Northern Michigan: work to expand Palmer Wood’s Forest Reserve’s trail system with single-track mountain bike trails is slated to begin next month. Flowtrack Mountain Bike Trails, LLC, a professional trail-building company from the Upper Peninsula, has been hired to lead the design and construction of the new trails.