The Mackinac Bridge is an engineering marvel. It is a suspension bridge spanning across the Straits of Mackinac connecting the two peninsulas that make up the state of Michigan. According to Wikipedia the Bridge it “is the world’s third-longest in total suspension and the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western hemisphere. What makes it an engineering marvel is that the design had to take into account the strong unstable winds in the area and the harsh winter conditions. Lessons learned from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge influenced the way that the Mackinac Bridge was designed and built. Shoreline to shoreline, the bridge is 5 miles though the length of the main span is 3,800 feet. The bridge is very high to allow freighters who are carrying ore in the great lakes and other loads to travel under the bridge.
Every Labor Day there is a bridge walk over the two north bound lanes of the bridge. Leading the bridge walk is the governor of Michigan. There are many, many school buses taking walkers across the bridge from Mackinaw City to the starting point in St. Ignace, the southernmost city on the Upper Peninsula.
Blogger Hubby has walked the bridge several times but never me. I’m afraid of heights, afraid of this bridge because a woman in a Yugo car in 1989 was blown off the bridge. I’m the type of driver that has someone drive me across the bridge while I get in the back seat.
I decided to tackle my fear, sort of, by walking across the bridge with Blogger Hubby and a couple of our friends. We had a driver take us across the bridge to St. Ignace (the start) at 7:00 AM. Since the temp was in the low 50’s and their were winds about 19 miles an hour, we dressed appropriately. I had a turtleneck, button down shirt and a zip up sweatshirt. In my CamelPak (which you know I just love) I had water to help me when I got thirsty, homemade chocolate chip cookies, camera, phone and sunglasses. I also wore another favorite product of mine – Smart Wool socks.
40,000 thousand people were expected to walk today and if there was any indication from our almost two-hour walk, there were many, many people on the bridge. The Michigan National Guard lined the edges by the rails so no one would be tempted to jump off. The scariest part for me was walking over the steel grating. I much prefer the hard top surface.
I was so touched to see a woman pushing her elderly aunt in a wheelchair across the bridge. Also a disabled young man pushing his walker; many parents pushing strollers with their children in them. I also saw elderly husbands and wives walk across the bridge hand in hand. What a marvelous morning and so inspiring.
At the end we received a certificate to commemorate our walk. There was even a finish sign at the end. We then had to walk about 4 more blocks to meet our friends and get the ride back to the lake where we seemed to immediately fall asleep in our chairs as soon as we sat down.
I tried to google to see how many bridge walks there are that are four miles or longer and it seems that it is just this one and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (which is even scarier) though that one has been inconsistent in the past few years.
Have you done a bridge walk? Which bridge did you walk over and how long was it? I’d love to hear your experiences.