I was often asked as I walked around Lake Michigan if I was the first to do this. I had heard of many people biking around the lake and had read several books have been written by people who have driven around all five Great Lakes. It was back in February, though, when I heard a rumor about a woman who had walked around Lake Michigan, and possibly all five of the Great Lakes. And I finally had some time to track down the woman behind the story.
She is Josephine Mandamin, a member of the Anishinabe tribe in Canada and she did, indeed, organize and participate in a Water Walk, taking on one Great Lake a year between 2003 and 2008. This epic undertaking was prompted by a prophesy from a tribal elder that the waters of the Great Lakes would die within 30 years if action wasn't taken on their behalf. Mandamin's action was to raise awareness about the problems facing the lakes by walking around each one. She was joined each year by a small group from her tribe on her walks. They walked mostly on main roads so that they would pass through communities where Mandamin could share her message that "the water is sick...and people need to really fight for that water, to speak for that water, to love that water."
While I walked mostly alone and mainly on the shoreline, I hope that our paths overlapped at some point. It would be my honor to have followed in this amazing woman's footsteps, and I share her concern and love for Lake Michigan.