Can you tell we don’t know what we’re doing? I certainly feel like everyone can. But hey, sometimes you just gotta fake it till you make it! We rolled up to the Platte River Campground and fortunately made it in time to get a campsite (there were only 6 left!). I was super nervous after choosing one, feeling that I wound inevitably make a terrible decision. Fortunately, after we drove up all of my fears died away (at least the ones about my fomo on possibly having a better site). This campground probably spoiled us a little and was the perfect first site. The campsites were far enough away from each other and the area stayed pretty quiet. Once we got in, we set up the tent and proudly set out on our first hike! We decided to do the Empire Bluff trail, which was labeled as a moderate hike, to try to gauge where we were at in our hiking abilities. Though it ended up being a pretty short and easy hike, there were some amazing views along the way. I did a good chunk of the planning for this trip, so Max was not expecting views like THIS. Don’t let my sweet iPhone photography fool you, it was incredible. Since we were feeling pretty confident and re-energized by this hike we decided to do one more hike and the scenic drive. It was such a nice clear day, so I’m really glad we put this first, but it made our night a little tricky!
The MOST important lesson we learned is to try to get everything possible done before dark. Once it’s dark, everything seems to take longer and can get a little frustrating. The first night we had to put up our rain fly, set up the inside of our tent, eat, clean dishes, and go shower – all after dark. The next big thing we learned was to scout out the campsite as soon we’re there. Where are you allowed to wash dishes, if anywhere? Are the showers free or coin operated? When are the amenities closed? It’s the little things that would’ve made our night that much easier.
But we got through and Max even made this delicious meal! The first night sleeping in a tent was rough for me, so we got a later start on day two. We decided to do one day hike that went through all the different landscapes. We got to go down to the beach by Lake Michigan, climb some dunes, walk through the dead forest and back through the wildflowers. These non-active hikers were pretty worn out, so we stopped at “Picnic Mountain,” where we threw together a quick meal before watching the sunset from the top of a sand dune. After this experience, I feel (contrary to popular belief) that we can definitely do this. I don’t think there’s one soul in my life that would’ve voted me “most likely to camp across the country.” But here I am! We’re getting out of our comfort zones here, just a couple hundred miles at a time.
Next UP on the adventure – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore