The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 is Record Year for Great Lakes Piping Plovers

I once spent a week with piping plovers.


Great Lakes Piping Plover with colorful leg bands

This small shorebird is endangered, so the population is monitored during nesting season. 
I volunteered to help monitor the population nesting on North Manitou Island as part of my 

Piping Plover on the edge of Lake Michigan

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At the lowest point in the 1980s, the population of this diminutive bird had dwindled to just 13 nesting pairs.


Scoping to identify individual plovers


Keeping track of the birds was a meticulous and difficult task. Each bird has a unique set of colorful bands on its legs and that code had to be deciphered in order to know the identity of each individual bird.  

Piping Plover nest 


Putting a protective cage around nests is the best way to keep predators from stealing the eggs.

Protective netting around a nest



2017 was a milestone year for these little birds as a record 76 breeding pairs were recorded this summer.

And, it was the first year that this bird nested on all five Great Lakes since 1955. The Fish and Wildlife Service called this "a remarkable development for the recovery program."


Nesting areas are restricted and protected

These little birds still choose Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (including the Manitou Islands) as their primary nesting site. This year a record 41 pairs nested there.

Tiny plover tracks


Learn more about this record year HERE.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Great Lakes Island Adventure

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


Three years ago I completed my 1,000-mile adventure exploring the islands of 
our Great Lakes.
As I hiked, biked and boated through the region, I saw hundreds of islands, setting foot on many of them.

The story of this journey is in my third book:




Here are some highlights:

Columbine on Washington Island


Stavkirke on Washington Island


Watching over the piping plovers on North Manitou Island


Kayaking the Les Cheneaux Islands


The Apostle Islands


Kayaking the Apostle Islands


Kayaking the Apostle Islands


Hiking Grand Island with my niece and nephew


Chain coral on Manitoulin Island


Kayaking the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River


Isle Royale

All of my books are available as audiobooks on 
audible.com

Friday, October 20, 2017

Great Lakes Walk Anniversary

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


Five years ago today I completed my 1,000-mile hike exploring all five Great Lakes.
The yellow line in the map below traces the route of this adventure. I spent time on each Great Lake and also hiked some of the watery connections between the lakes.

The yellow route is my Great Lakes Walk

 Here are some highlights from this journey:

Pictured Rocks along Lake Superior


Hiking along limestone-strewn Lake Huron



Niagara Falls

St. Clair River and the Blue Water Bridge



Hiking along Lake Erie


Lake Huron


Lake Huron


Lake St. Clair


Hiking the Waterfront Trail along Lake Ontario


Group that hiked final miles with me to finish line of Niagara Falls



  I learned so much about our Great Lakes on this adventure. Each lake has a unique "personality." The geology differs in each basin. And each lake has unique conditions for aquatic life.

The full story of this walk is in my second book (also available as an audiobook):




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Flowers Emerge

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


I have hiked a Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale three times, all in the month of May. 
This year was early in the month and snow and even icicles persisted in secluded places on the island.

Icicles on a rock wall 

Spring was making inroad while we hiked, though, and flowers hesitantly emerged.





Wild violets




Thursday, October 5, 2017

Creatures Awake

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


Islands are isolated ecosystems and generally have a limited number of creatures on them.
Isle Royale has only 15 mammals living there, and only three species of snakes (garter, red-bellied, and rat snake).

My Moosewatch Team came across two species of snakes this May:


Garter snake (upper photo) and Red-bellied snake (lower photo)

Another life form was waking up on the island.
This ant colony was still huddled together for warmth, but check out their antennae on the video below...




Sunday, September 24, 2017

In-island Lakes

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com


This year I hiked my third Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale. We explored the island east of Malone Bay and around several inland lakes including the largest, Siskiwit Lake. This lake is not only the largest on the island, but also has an island in the lake, Ryan Island. And Ryan Island is therefore the largest island on the largest lake on the largest island on the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Whew!
Enjoy these photos and videos of a few of the dozens of inland lakes. 














Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Empire Bluff Trail


Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and Great Lakes speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile adventures exploring the Great Lakes and has written three books about the Great Lakes [A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach *a Heartland Indie Bestseller*A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk *winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads Award*, and A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure]. To learn more about her work, or to book her as a speaker, go to http://LakeTrek.com



I recently revisited one of my favorite hikes along Lake Michigan's shoreline. It is the Empire Bluff Trail near Empire, Michigan. 
The view from the top is amazing.




 Two years ago, a strong storm with shearing winds blew through the area knocking down many trees. Those trees have been decaying, returning to the earth, giving habitat to creatures. 
The loss of those mature trees also opened up the canopy allowing more sunshine to reach the forest floor. New trees are taking their place. 

Some of these downed trees are taking on a sculptural quality as they lose their bark and weather away.





Some trees reveal how the wind has twisted them over time.



 This excellent spider lives along the trail, too.