Walking across the Mighty Mac – aka The Mackinac Bridge

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.

what it looked like over the Straits of Mackinac
what it looked like over the Straits of Mackinac

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.

throngs of people were walking across
throngs of people were walking across

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.

stopping to document that I actually did walk across the bridge
stopping to document my bridge walk

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.

my certificate
my certificate that I walked the Bridge

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.

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4 thoughts on “Walking across the Mighty Mac – aka The Mackinac Bridge

  1. How much grating did you have to walk on or was there a solid spot for you to walk across?, that is my only fear of doing it.

    1. There was a small amount of grating, where joints would meet. We walked across two lanes, one had grating and the other didn’t. Like you, I chose to walk on the paved surface. If I remember, the outer lane was the paved lane and the inner lane was grated. Try it. If I can do it and I’m afraid of heights, you can as well

  2. I walked across the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver in July. It was not that long, but was very scary – as in “don’t look down, don’t look down” all the way across. It was funny to look ahead and see all the white knuckles gripping the rail! Have also walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. That one was very interesting and not at all scary.

  3. I walked across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1973 when the new span opened. I’m like you, can’t drive over bridges, but for some reason walking was ok…until I got to the grates—-just don’t look down! The Bay Bridge is also about 5 miles long.

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