Author Loreen Niewenhuis set off on a 1,000-mile journey around the Great Lakes Sunday in Ottawa County.
Her walk — which will touch each of the five great lakes — isn’t the first time she’s taken to the shore. In 2009, Niewenhuis walked the perimeter of Lake Michigan which led to “A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach,” a book chronicling her adventure along with the geology, ecology and other fascinating aspects of this Great Lake.
“During my hike around Lake Michigan, I became captivated with the Great Lakes, our vast Inland Seas. I decided that one adventure wasn’t enough. I wanted to touch all five of these amazing bodies of water and to explore their importance in my next book,” she said.
The author started 12 miles west of Port Clinton on Sunday and hiked along the shoreline — wherever possible — to A Touch of Italy Bed and Breakfast on West Fourth Street. Niewenhuis said she tries to stay at locally owned establishments along the route whenever possible.
“B and B owners seem to know everything,” she said. “It’s a great way to learn the history of the area,” she said.
It’s just that local history that drew the adventurer here in the first place.
“I chose Port Clinton as a starting off point because there’s a lot of rich history there,” the author said, referring to the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. “I don’t think people grasp the importance of the lakes back then.”
During her adventure, Niewenhuis will explore how important the Great Lakes system is to the entire country, doing interviews along the way and brining in her scientific expertise. The writer has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science.
“These five lakes contain 90 percent of the fresh, surface water in the nation,” Niewenhuis points out. “And tens of millions of people get their drinking water from these lakes. They are vital to the region and the nation and we need to be better stewards of this amazing natural resource.”
Niewenhuis took off Monday morning from Magee Marsh, heading west for the second day of her journey. She hikes five to eight hours a day, sometimes more than 20 miles with a 30-lb pack strapped to her back. She carries rain gear, extra clothes, binoculars, a camera, her iPad — which she will use to blog the adventure — and the most important thing of all she said: Advil.
Her adventure continues along most of the edge of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. This part of the hike will allow her to touch lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan. Then, she will hike two stretches along Lake Superior’s coast: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising and the Estivant Pine Preserve near Copper Harbor. Finally, along the fifth Great Lake, Lake Ontario, she will hike on the Canadian side from Toronto east to the Sandbanks Park near the point where Lake Ontario egresses into the Saint Lawrence River.
The grand finale of her hike will be the approximately 15 miles from the city of Niagara-On-The-Lake on the shores of Lake Ontario to Niagara Falls on the Niagara River Recreational Trail in Ontario. She will invite people to walk with her for the finale in the fall.
This journey will give rise to her next book, tentatively titled “A 1000-Mile Great Lakes Walk: The Adventure Continues Along the Shores of America’s Vast Inland Seas.” Crickhollow Books of Milwaukee will publish the book in early 2013.
Follow Niewenhuis’s journey on her blog at http://LakeTrek.blogspot.com or on her Facebook page at http://facebook.com/laketrek