LOOKS LIKE IDEAL HIKING WEATHER WILL GRACE US TOMORROW! As of 4:30pm, 11/02/12, the forecast calls for crisp, fall hiking weather with only a 10% chance of rain, temps of 47/36F, a NE wind @ 9mph, and now partly sunny skies! I am not going to update the weather again unless Mother Nature decides to make us all Puddle Jumpers tomorrow and the skies are forecasted to open up, in which case I will cancel this hike by 6am. Check the weather forecast here: www.weather.com/weather/weekend/Chesterton+IN+46304:4:US
*I sent an email to all participants asking if they are arriving via train and I received no affirmative responses, so we are meeting directly at the Nature Center and beginning the hike at 10am SHARP.*
Here is a state park brochure with grounds map: http://www.in.gov/dnr/files/dunes_trail.pdf After entering the park gate and paying the entry fee ($10/vehicle for out-of-state plates and $5/vehicle for IN plates) simply stay to the right (hanging a left at the turnabout will head you toward the lake, so stay to the right) and proceed past the campgrounds, which you will pass on your left as you proceed east toward the Nature Center. You will soon see the Nature Center sign on your left and take a left-hand turn into the parking lot. Please note that North 25E is the same street as Route 49N, so everyone will ultimately proceed on 49N into the park's entrance from whatever travel route is being taken. I am still hosting this hike in the event of intermittent rain without lightning but will cancel in the event of steady or heavy rain. Sandy's fallout has begun to abate as of Wednesday, so marine conditions Saturday will no longer be dangerous along Lake Michigan's shoreline.
For those who haven't been to the IN Dunes, check out our Nomads hikes earlier in the year. I hosted this one in February: http://www.meetup.com/WanderingNomads/events/51424382/ and then the following month, Mark Simunic led us through this gem of a place yet again: http://www.meetup.com/WanderingNomads/events/
I contacted the state park and was told that normally the drinking fountains throughout the park (to include the campgrounds) are turned off after Halloween unless the temperature is unseasonably warm, in which case they might be on for our hike, but so far, the weather calls for a bit unseasonably colder temps Nov. 3rd. So, it's best to assume they will be off and to bring enough water for a 3 - 4 hour hike as the only place to get potable water for certain is inside the Nature Center (it's best to be self-sufficient for a hike, anyway, and bring on you what you need, even if there is water available elsewhere).
The Beachhouse/Pavilion concession stand, which serves fast food, is only open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, so the only place to get food in the park is the campstore which will be open for its final weekend the 3rd-4th. They will have some small hot and cold items: hot water, hot cocoa, hot dogs, chili, and ice cream, as well as packaged snack food. Best to have on you what you want to eat as a mid-day snack if you don't care to purchase food at the campstore. Hot water and hot cocoa is always available while coffee is a hit 'n' miss as many times in cooler months I have found it to not be available; however, I was advised by a park representative it should be available this weekend at the campstore. What I do is bring instant coffee (Starbucks Via is my favorite) and mix it in the campstore's hot water if no coffee is available. The best bet for coffee is downtown Chesterton, where shopping malls with diners, delis, fast food joints and a few nicer restaurants are located to both the east and west of Indian Boundary Road; head out of the park on 49S and in about 2.5 miles you'll hit Indian Boundary. Hanging a right at Indian Boundary will get you to McDonald's where there is free Wi-Fi. There is not a Starbucks or Panera in Chesterton, but there is a Starbucks located off I-94 at the 249/Crisman Road North exit at 6295 Ameriplex Dr., Suite 101, Portage, IN. The Red Cup Cafe and Deli, located at 115 Broadway, Chesterton, IN, also has free Wi-Fi and is, in my opinion, the best place for coffee in Chesterton, serving Green Mountain:
I recommend you peruse the official IN DNR website: http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm where most if not all of your questions will likely be answered (a printable brochure with trail map is available here). If you find you still have any questions, email me or post to the event board.
Also peruse the information from February's hike of this year as it includes general food/drink and clothing recommendations (when to add additional garment layers): http://www.meetup.com/WanderingNomads/events/51424382/ Don't forget sunscreen for any exposed areas in the highest SPF you can find if it's not overcast; ultraviolet light damage can occur year-'round.
For full train information, consult the NICTD official website: http://www.nictd.com/
Our post-hike recovery meal will be at Wagner's in adjacent Porter, IN: http://wagnersrestaurantandbar.com/
The route will depend upon participant preference to a great degree (while still beginning easy and getting more diffficult as we get warmed up), as well as the weather, so it will be a play-by-ear thing. However, it will not exceed approximately ten miles and have an option to shorten. If it's rather mild, sunny and not terribly windy, we will spend as much time as possible on the beach; otherwise, we will take full advantage of the tree and dune cover. Either way, we will end up on the beach at some point.
Fun guaranteed. Tree climbing optional. But anyone who climbs a tree with me is guaranteed to leave feeling like a kid and smiling huge, and that sounds pretty fun, now doesn't it? :-)
Your Happy Hosts Connie and Kristen
" The Indiana Dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and Yosemite is to California." ~ Carl Sandburg