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Nordhouse Dunes Excursion

Fortune Bay – known for its ability to adapt in challenging situations and to overcome obstacles. The road chosen is seldom the easy one. Trips are designed to test your mettle, to challenge your beliefs about yourself, to test your boundaries, and this one gave participants a taste of that.


We arrive at the trailhead to find there are no spots available for our vehicles. No worries, this was anticipated and someone just happens to have a plow on the front of his truck. Let the clearing commence, though it isn’t long before the plow is hung up on a pylon and a chainsaw miraculously appears. A bit of trimming and the plow is back in action. Stuck? A jeep to the rescue, then a Chevy and before long we have plenty of parking available for our crew.  Like a bunch of boy scouts with their ‘be prepared’ motto, I can’t help but smile. The ‘parking situation’ has most definitely been overcome.

16 intrepid souls, dressed for adventure, don their snowshoes and buckle into harnesses for pulling sleds loaded with gear. What an impressive sight. Backpacking at its finest with gear designed to protect and comfort us from the cold. We’re off, trekking down a snow packed path from which straying in the slightest will cause you to break through the snow and sink to your knees, often lurching forward onto your hands and knees with an involuntary oomph. Each of us falls, no one complains. You simply get back on your feet and push on.  Snow keeps falling, settling onto our hats and eye lashes, piling thicker onto trees and branches. Each exhaled breath causes frost to build up on loose hair and beards. The  woods are quiet except for our chatter and in spite of the difficult hike, laughter. Upon entering the woods, we see no others.

We hike single file, person, sled, person, sled, a bit of rest, gazing about, amazed at our good fortune in being in the woods on this beautiful, wintery day. An alternate, but previously traveled route brings us to the beach, ice as far as the eye can see. No open water? It is far offshore, frozen days ago by this Arctic blast we’ve been experiencing. Push on, our home for the evening is just up ahead, but to get there requires steep, slippery climbs through the dunes. Take a step – slide back down, take a step – fall down, crawling up slopes on hands and knees. It’s worth it, I promise.

Then, are we there? Yes, this is the place. Relief as we unbuckle sleds and drop our packs. Oh, let’s make this fun. Katniss digging 3 feet into the snow to clear a spot for her tent. How cozy. You can’t sleep on top of the snow, you have to dig in. Tent or hammock – those are the choices for the night. After each tent is erected its tenant is drawn to the comfort of a well-timed fire. We draw close and soon a pot of Perkin’s Stew is bubbling off to the side, ready to fill our hungry bellies.

We’re home.

Larri “Loveboat” Luthy
Expedition Leader
Fortune Bay Expedition Team