Sunday, June 28, 2020

Running in Indiana: 10K in Indiana Dunes National Park, at West Beach

A short post to mark our third National Park in three days, this time in Indiana (new State for Agnès, while I spent a few days in Indianapolis visiting a client a few months ago). Not the most memorable park we've visited. First, it's a convoluted setup with park boundaries cut in the middle by a hideous steel plant, plus an overlapping State Park with its popular 3-dune challenge! Second, it was Sunday and this narrow West Beach, is THE beach Chicagoans flocked by thousands on that special Sunday opening the July 4th Holiday week. Like there was no pandemic going on, but who are we to say this as we are traveling ourselves... Assuredly, NOBODY wants to go to the beach with masks on; I'd say we scored below 5% on the mask wearing scale, yikes! We were driving from Elkhart and hadn't realized Indiana was spanning two time zones, how weird. But that played beautifully as we arrived to the park just before the opening, at 8 am, to a wonderful sandy and deserted beach.
It was going to be a very different story 2 hours later... (note the distance we are maintaining ourselves):
Agnès did the full hike over the big dune (275 or so steps) and along Long Lake, while I went further, outside of the park, to make it 10K. Wonderful nature trail with wild flowers, including cactuses, but not the best running either. For a good and long run, you should try on the East side, East of that ugly plant.

Another weird thing is the incessant passing of super long trains. Well, yesterday we experienced what an urban National Park was, with Cuyahoga Valley, this time was Mother Nature meeting the Rust Belt... As a matter of fact, this sign at the top of the dune over West Beach speaks about the fact that these plants were the sparkles to a fight to protect the South shore of Lake Michigan in a quid pro quo between the need for the plant to access water, and Senator Douglas who fought with passion to save the dunes.
Here is a 3D flyover of this short loop (click on the link or the picture below).
No ultra star to meet on Day 3 of our road trip. No breathtaking views. But we still enjoyed taking a swim in the lake after exercising in the heat; just that we left promptly afterwards as we couldn't handle the overwhelming crowd any longer. In our chronicle series about how the country fares with the pandemic, quite a terrible review and hot spot. Like Dr Fauci keeps saying, we should know in 2 weeks... We spent the rest of the day moving across Illinois and Wisconsin, just stopping by the much touristic Ehlenbach's Cheese Chalet.
By the way, it has been only three days but all these miles spent in the car already give me a much higher consideration for the runners attempting (and completing!) a crossing of the US by foot! When we share we run 100 miles or more at once, some people joke that they can't even drive that far. What about more than 3,000 miles then...

Tomorrow we cross the Mississippi!

PS: a few pictures of my run

Slow pace in that sandy section, around the dune...
 More than 250 stairs up and and down the dune

 Long Lake covered with water lillies.
 Along the 4 busy rail tracks, to and from Chicago.
 Spot the mask on Smokey's hat! ;-)
 Oops, detour ahead!
 Another view of the dune at West Beach.

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