Although we normally only make it to the Straits
of Mackinac for the 5 mile Mackinac Bridge Walk every 3 or 4 years,
with big changes to the walk last year and bigger changes this year, we
returned for our second walk in two years. The biggest changes last year
were closing the bridge to all but official vehicles and shortening the
number of hours available to walk. The biggest changes this year were eliminating
the buses to take walkers in the opposite direction and opening the bridge
to walking from either end.
We stayed at the Baymont by Wyndham in Mackinaw City,
one of the few larger franchise motels in Mackinaw City with a great reputation.
The Baymont had been fully booked when we tried to stay there in the past,
so this was our first time. It was a good experience and the staff provided
On Labor Day morning we were out of the motel about 6:30AM
and walked three blocks to the Shepler's Ferry Dock to join the line waiting
for their reserved spots aboard multiple ferries at 7AM. A few minutes
later, a 6:30 ferry from St. Ignace came in with people planning to walk
from the south end of the bridge to the Upper Peninsula.
The main walk began about the time our ferry left, so
I was able to take a few photos of the Mackinac Bridge with walkers from
the water. Unfortunately it was still dark enough that I couldn't get high
quality photos from a moving boat. Some of the shots included the cruise
ship Pearl Mist in the distance.
The 335' Pearl Mist in the distance as some of the first walkers cross
the Mackinac Bridge
Arriving at Shepler's St. Ignace Dock, my spouse joined
the line for the restrooms, while I walked two blocks to Little Bear Arena
to hold a space in line for a free shuttle to the north end of the Mackinac
Bridge. The line was about 2 blocks long, which I thought was pretty reasonable,
though others getting in the line did not think so. This was the only time
during the day that I heard negative comments from other walkers about
their experience. The wait in line was about 20 minutes and my spouse joined
me only a minute or two before we boarded a bus.
Line for the shuttle from Little Bear Arena to the foot of the Mighty
Less than 10 minutes later, we were walking to the foot
of the bridge. There were already many people streaming off the Bridge,
with some of them getting their completion certificates and crossing over
the lanes to start back south. I was tempted to go a few feet, turn back
and get a certificate, then go on, but passed up the opportunity to have
one of both the north and south certificates (they have different photos).
The view of the 2018 Mackinac Bridge Walk from the closed toll booths
Gary Engle of G-Man Entertainment has greeted walkers starting their
walk in St. Ignace for 27 years
Walkers who completed the south to north walk turning around to return
to Mackinaw City
The sun rising above Round Island Passage between Mackinac Island and
Sheriff's Department safety boat
We started our walk at about 8:15AM and the temperature
was 70 degrees. It was mostly cloudy, fairly calm and rather humid. The
previous chance of rain in the forecast had been removed following heavy
rain in the night.
This year people walked in the left most lane, heading
north to south in the east-most lane and south to north in the west-most
lane. At each end of the bridge there were volunteers stationed near the
center of the roadway to keep people toward the sides, gradually transitioning
to Michigan State Police Officers for most of the length of the bridge.
People slipping over into the inner lanes gradually learned that the volunteers
and police were flexible unless there was a police bike, horse or car in
the inner lanes. I used the inner lanes many times during the walk and
crossed over to the opposite side a coupe of times to get pictures.
A number of times there were people stopping to sit at
the edge of the walkway, something I don't recall seeing in previous walks.