Heat and Rescues Keeping Rangers Busy At Sleeping Bear Dunes

The heat is not slowing down thousands of people from climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

It's keeping rangers busy with emergency rescues along the national lakeshore in Benzie and Leelanau Counties.

9&10's Cody Boyer and photojournalist Melvin Kimbrough ventured up the dunes today to continue our team coverage on the heat.


Thousands of people hike up and down Sleeping Bear's huge sand dunes every summer.

Walking miles to see Lake Michigan leaves some of them calling for help and rangers are staying busy.

"This happens every single day at the lakeshore," says Andy Blake, the Leelanau County district ranger for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Ranger Andy Blake hears dozens of calls for help every summer coming from deep within the dunes.

The park has been listed 13th out of 100 by the National Park Service for the number of emergency rescues, beating Yellowstone National Park.

"On an average, we do about 40 to 50 search and rescues a year," Blake says. "[People] don't have water. They might not have eaten enough that day. They don't have proper clothing."

Even while we were talking with Andy, another call came in about several people, including children, who were gone too long out in the trails.

Elsewhere in the park, Dave brought his family all the way from Ohio.

He says the heat isn't slowing them down.

"Anybody can do it," Dave says. "Even though it looks treacherous, anybody can do it."

Every rescue is taken seriously.

Blake says it's easy to get lost if you go unprepared.

"You think every other hill, you are going to be there but you are not," Blake says. "You keep climbing, you keep climbing. By the time you get to the water, you are exhausted and then you have to come all the way back. Looks can be deceiving."

Rangers warn against hiking the longer trail systems in the heat.

wear light-colored, loose clothing and bring lots of water.