My fam­i­ly and I recent­ly attend­ed a wed­ding in Michi­gan near the Sleep­ing Bear sand dunes. We went up for the week­end and I knew that the weath­er was going to be unpre­dictable. I packed accord­ing­ly with my water­proof shell, my hik­ing shoes and your typ­i­cal hiking/survival kit.

We arrived at our hotel ear­ly and unpacked. There was not much to do in the small town itself, but my wife and I thought it would be great to see the near­by sand dunes and that the kids would get a kick out of it. We found out it was about a half day hike to explore the area and we had plen­ty of time.

The weath­er wasn’t coop­er­at­ing. It was Michi­gan after all. It was in the 50’s, windy, and the rain was off and on. Not the most com­fort­able, but with the right gear we could have done a good half day hike with­out much of a wor­ry and seen some of the state we had not vis­it­ed yet.

My two kids, ages 6 and 8, had ten­nis shoes and win­ter jack­ets. They would have been alright unless it poured pret­ty good. My wife wore san­dals as usu­al. This would not have stopped her at all from hik­ing as she has hiked Red Rock Canyon in san­dals, but she only had a sweat­shirt which would have soaked up the rain like a sponge. No one but me had any kind of rain gear and I didn’t think to bring any for them because we were only here for a wed­ding. So, even though I was sort­ed for the out­doors, the rest of my fam­i­ly was not. We didn’t want any­one get­ting sick for the wed­ding the next day, so we decid­ed to skip the hike.

Instead, we spent the time on a fun, but very short trip to a near­by Lake Michi­gan beach and searched for rocks and shells. As we played, the wind blew hard out from the water and was mak­ing small white caps. The clouds got more and more gray as the min­utes ticked by. For­tu­nate­ly, the sand was damp and it was great for track­ing. We fol­lowed some dog tracks along the beach and tried mak­ing out as many dif­fer­ent ani­mal tracks as we could. Not twen­ty min­utes lat­er it start­ed to driz­zle and the driz­zle quick­ly turned to a steady rain. Luck­i­ly we had parked right by the beach. It rained the rest of the day and we were stuck run­ning in and out of tourist shops to pass the time.

As a fam­i­ly, we were def­i­nite­ly not pre­pared for any real length of expo­sure out­doors. Nor­mal­ly for a planned hike we each have our own gear, small packs and plen­ty of water. This unplanned hike was kind of like a sur­vival wake up for us as a group. Because after all, sur­vival sit­u­a­tions are nev­er planned and your whole fam­i­ly has to be ready, not just you.

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