The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Six Year Anniversary

Six years ago, I began my first hike on Chicago's Navy Pier. The completion of that first 1,000-mile hike led me to undertake two more 
Great Lake Adventures.

Chicago's Navy Pier reaches out into Lake Michigan

Now, I've hiked, kayaked, biked or boated over 3,000 miles exploring the Great Lakes basin, the shoreline, cities and towns on the edges of the lakes, wild areas, and dozens of the islands afloat in their waters.

In this video, I take a moment to look back to where this all began.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Great Lakes Trail

You may not often think about the intersection of the Great Lakes and environmental law, 
but Professor Melissa K. Scanlan does.

Scanlan is the Director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School and she recently published a paper exploring the need for and the feasibility of a hiking trail tracing the shoreline of all five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

While writing this paper, Scanlan contacted me about the feasibility of establishing this trail. I was able to give her data and feedback on the accessibility of the over 2,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline I had hiked. 
Giving people MORE access to the shoreline can only benefit our connection to these vast lakes and encourage conservation of these vital waters.

From the intro of the paper:

by: Melissa K. Scanlan 

The Great Lakes are vast yet vulnerable. There is a need to focus the public’s attention on the significance of the lakes for the region as a cohesive, binational whole. To address this need, build on existing water law, and engage the public, this Article provides a blueprint to establish a Great Lakes Trail on the shores of the Great Lakes. The Trail will link together 10,000 miles of coastline and provide the longest marked walking trail in the world. It will demarcate an already existing, yet largely unrecognized, public trust easement and engage the public with their common heritage in the lakeshore.

Read the full paper HERE.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Book Cover Reveal

Anticipation for the release of my new book about the islands of the Great Lakes is growing...

Here's the cover of my upcoming book:

The cover photo was taken on Flowerpot Island 
in Lake Huron near the 
tip of the Bruce Peninsula. 
I kayaked or boated through many islands for this adventure, setting foot on over 30 of them.

This journey spanned from the wilds of Isle Royale in Lake Superior to the metropolis of Montreal on an island in the St. Lawrence River.
It was truly an island odyssey, and possibly the most fascinating of my three adventures. 

To see the list of indie bookstores participating in the early release of this book, go HERE. These bookstores will have the book on May 1.
In June, the book will be available everywhere books are sold. 
PLEASE support your local indie bookstore.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

February ice on Lake Michigan

Here's a look at the ice on Lake Michigan this February:

To see satellite images of the frozen 
Great Lakes, 
go HERE.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Explorers of the Great Lakes

If you've been to Chicago, you've probably walked Michigan Avenue over the Chicago River.
You may have walked over this historic site without realizing that you were on the location of Fort Dearborn. This garrison was destroyed during the War of 1812 and later rebuilt on the same site.

Michigan Ave. bridge

These magnificent sculptures flanking the bridge commemorate this battle.

Commemorating the defense of Fort Dearborn during the War of 1812

And a smaller plaque behind them remembers early European explorers of the region.

Cavilier, La Salle, and de Tonti passed this way in 1681

In my upcoming book, I tell the story of European exploration of the Great Lakes. Did you know Lake Erie was the last lake to be seen by Europeans? Do you know why?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ice on the Great Lakes

On February 14, the Great Lakes had 68.3% ice coverage. Lake Erie is the shallowest Great Lake and always freezes faster than the other, 
deeper lakes. 
In the NOAA image below, the darker the area on the lake, the more complete the ice coverage.

Lake Michigan is unique. It is deeper than Lake Huron, and prevailing winds tend to break up the ice that forms on edge of the west side of the lake, then move it across to the eastern shore. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Researching the islands of our Great Lakes

For my upcoming book, 
I delved into the history of the islands and uncovered some fascinating stories.

The photo below is of Christy Anne Morrison, one of only two survivors from the sinking of the Asia, a ferry making a route to Manitoulin Island in the fall of 1882.

And this second photo is of the famous diving horse that entertained crowds by plunging 40 feet into the waters around Toronto Island.

These are just two of the fascinating stories I explore in my upcoming book.
It will be available to select indie bookstores this May, then everywhere in June.

Please check out my schedule of speaking engagements in the sidebar here. I am still adding events, so check back to see if I'll be coming to your town.

I hope to see you along the way!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Liebster Award Nomination

This blog has been nominated for the "Liebster Award" by the the dynamic duo, Mary Catterlin & Amy Lukas. They made a dugout canoe from a cottonwood tree, named it Makeba, then paddled/sailed it all the way around Lake Michigan!

Mary and Amy in front of the museum in Indiana where their boat was on display after they made their historic paddle around Lake Michigan

This award is passed on from blogger to blogger as a way to share stories and connect others. Once nominated, you have to answer the questions given. Then you continue the chain by nominating your blogger friends with your own questions.
Here are the questions Mary & Amy asked:

* If you could have brought one celebrity on part of one of your adventures, who would that have been?

Well, I'd rather have time with a naturalist or conservationist. If I can choose people from the past, I'd choose John Muir, Rachel Carson, or Aldo Leopold. If I can only from the living, I'd choose E.O. Wilson. It would be wonderful to discuss the natural world with any one of these people while walking the edges of our Great Lakes.

* What surprised you most about choosing this lifestyle?

Wild hiking weather during my first adventure

I knew it would be difficult to walk a 1,000 miles, but I didn't know HOW difficult. That was surprising. Then the fact that it became easier to hike 15+ miles a day the longer I did it was also surprising.

* What's the stickiest situation you've found yourself in on one of your adventures?

Sunset in the Apostle Islands

While kayaking in the Apostle Islands, a microcell storm descended on me while I was trying to paddle across an open channel. The wind and waves were so strong that I  had to paddle like a mad woman to just keep from being pushed backward. 

* If your journey had a soundtrack, what would it's signature track be?

Kelly Clarkson's "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger"

* What's your dream trip?

My three adventures exploring the Great Lakes have been the fulfillment of my dreams.

* What's the most valuable lesson you've taken away from your travels?

Learning to read the land, the geology, has been a wonderful new skill.

* What pet would you bring on your next trip?

I would probably leave pets at home. Time in the wild is wonderful, and I would worry that bringing a pet along may scare off wildlife.

I nominate Kate & Mike (who walked all the way around Lake Superior) to answer the same questions!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The largest Great Lake city

Chicago is the largest city on the shores of our Great Lakes. This city has a long history of preserving access to the lakeshore 
for Chicagoans and visitors.

Daniel Burnham created a plan for the city preserving an open lakefront.

Today, there are park areas and a new playground being constructed on the lakeshore. 
And much of the architecture here relates to Lake Michigan. My favorite is the Aqua skyscraper (in photo below) designed by Studio Gang Architects 
led by Jeanne Gang. 

Aqua (center building) echoes the waves of Lake Michigan in the undulating balconies

 I am enjoying my time in this great city.

Cloud Gate (also known as "The Bean") reflects both the city and the lakeshore