The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pre-Trek Planning

I was up north skiing this weekend at Crystal Mountain (the photo is the ski hills lit up at night). And, of course, I took some time to get out to the lake.

First, I went to Beulah, a small town at the base of Crystal Lake and stopped in at the Five Corners Store ( Bill and Patty Cary, and Bill's sister, Cathy, and stepson Billy were catching their breath after registering over a hundred fishermen and women for an ice fishing contest that day. They have a great store and they were excited to hear more about the lake trek. [Bill had coached my cousin Milene's son's soccer team, and she had mentioned my adventure to Bill.] They said that they'd love to stock the book in their store when it comes out, so I stopped in to meet the family and to see what they were catching out on Crystal Lake (perch, trout, and some fish that is considered to be 'freshwater lobster' that I'd never heard of before).

After promising to stop back in while on my journey this summer, I drove out to Frankfort, a cute little town on the shores of Lake Michigan with a deep, natural harbor. After stopping in at The Bookstore there (a lovely independent bookstore on Main Street), I parked at the beach. Oh, man was it cold! The wind was blowing and the sheet ice filled the mouth of the harbor. Outside the harbor, the waves had tossed and stacked the sheet ice into a rugged ridge about ten feet high.

I walked out on the pier a bit, until my ears (even under my hat and hood) stiffened with the cold. I love standing on the shores of West Michigan because the wind blows across all that water and it's clean and alive when it hits you. I've been to this harbor several times in all kinds of weather, and I stood their shivering and imagining what it would look like in June when I'd be walking this segment. It made me want to start right there, right then.

The start of the trek will have to wait, but not much longer. I will begin in Chicago, on the end of Navy Pier, March 16. From there, I will hike seventy miles (over five days) to New Buffalo, Michigan. Segment 2 will also happen in March, and Segment 3 in April.


  1. This is interesting stuff...REALLY! Hoping you'll blog about how you're going to eat, sleep, and know.....along the way. I'm curious to know how one goes about planning such a trek. I have close friends and family with beachfront homes along your trek....can they throw you a sandwich or liquid refreshment? One will be at the tail end of the trek...Evanston....and the other at the start....St. Joe. Do you get to trek on private property as long as you touch water? What about the seawall properties...will you skirt the lake via the closest road?

    many, many things to wonder about....
    'til next blog

  2. Yes, I get these questions all the time! I'm planning on staying at B&Bs as much as possible in the lower part of the trek, then camping in the upper penninsula. Interestingly, the Supreme Court of Michigan had a case where they had to decide how much of the beach is private (if someone owns a lakefront home). Their decision was that anything that is scrubbed free of vegetation (e.g. beach) is public property.

    Of course there are areas of industry and other barriers (and seawall properties) where I will be forced to walk inland, but I plan to stay as close to the lake as possible every step of the way.

    I'll be posting the dates for each segment of the trek, so feel free to tell your friends to watch for me passing by. I would not say 'no' to a sandwich or a cheering section!

    -Loreen Niewenhuis.