The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Monday, June 29, 2009

Where's the Beach?

When I decided to walk around Lake Michigan, I envisioned miles of sandy beach stretching before me. There have been beaches, but I have been surprised at the diversity of the terrain along the way. The shoreline has varied from rocky to wetlands and bogs to lush forests. Sometimes, a road ran right up against the lakeshore.

I head north to Michigan's Upper Peninsula this week. Segments 7&8 cover the distance from St. Ignace, Michigan, across the southern edge of the UP, around the west side of Green Bay, then across Wisconsin's Door Peninsula. These segments will total over 350 miles, and I'll hike all of it in July (taking breaks in Escanaba and Green Bay).

I have a feeling that the 502 miles that I've walked so far are merely a warm-up for these next two segments. July will find me passing through the most remote parts of the trek, camping part of the way, and enjoying the wildlife and wild terrain that stretches out before me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fantastic News for the Great Lakes

Below is a press release about an important piece of legislation making its way through Congress. I encourage you to contact your representative in support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee Funds Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (June 10, 2009)—The U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee today approved full funding for the new $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which addresses some of the most urgent threats to the Great Lakes, including invasive species, toxic pollution and habitat restoration.

The subcommittee also approved $2.3 billion nationally to help cities modernize wastewater infrastructure through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund – an increase of $1.6 billion over last year. Almost 40 percent of these funds will go to Great Lakes states for improving water quality in the region.

Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:

“The U.S. House took a major step forward in the effort to restore the Great Lakes, safeguard public health, create jobs and uphold our quality of life.

“We applaud Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) for his support and oversight and thank full committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) and other Great Lakes committee members like Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) and the Great Lakes congressional delegation for standing up for the Great Lakes and the millions of people who depend on them for their jobs and way of life.

“The action by the appropriation’s subcommittee charts a path for congressional action to restore the Great Lakes and revive the economy. This is Congress’ first step and we look forward to the full U.S. House supporting this funding later this month. The U.S. Senate must also follow suit so that region can roll up our sleeves and get to work restoring this great national resource.

“Great Lakes restoration and economic recovery depend on collaboration on implementing our Great Lakes restoration plan among government, business, and citizen groups so that we can restore the largest surface fresh water resource in the world before the problems get worse and more costly.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Segment 6 Complete!

Segment 6 took me from Suttons Bay all the way to Mackinaw City, June 8-16. It mapped out at 147 miles and took 9 days.

I passed the the halfway mark in the trek, and the total now stands at 502 miles.

With this segment, I've completed my way in Michigan's Lower Peninsula all the way to the Mackinac Bridge. Next month, I'll head across that bridge into the Upper Peninsula to continue my trek.

Thanks for following my adventure.

Lake Trek at Halfway Point!

Push 'play' to watch video.

Independent Bookstores

There are some great independent bookstores in northern Michigan, and I enjoyed visiting many of them as I made my way through this segment of the Lake Trek.

Check out the links in the sidebar!

Segment 6, Day 9 Wilderness State Park->Mackinaw City 15 miles

High of 77 degrees.

This was the last day of Segment 6, and I ended the day's hike in Mackinaw City at the top of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. I hiked out of the Wilderness State Park and hugged the shoreline for miles on nearby roads. I was unable to walk at the waterline for the beginning part of the day because there are large tracts of wonderful wetlands up here.
I was able to hike along a short stretch of sandy beach (even barefoot) before heading into The Headlands nature preserve. I hiked through the preserve and out to the lake, then around the bend where I saw the Mackinac Bridge just 3 miles away.

The Mackinac Bridge spans the Mackinac Straits and is the marker which divides Lake Michigan from Lake Huron. When I reached the bridge, I had completed the Lower Peninsula's shoreline of Lake Michigan.

It was during this day's hike that I also passed the 500 mile mark, the halfway point of this adventure. Next month, I'll continue the journey along the southern edge of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, around the west side of Wisconsin's Green Bay, and across the Door Peninsula to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Segment 6, Day 8 Cross Village->Wilderness State Park 16 miles

High of 71 degrees.

This day took me from Cross Village to Wilderness State Park. And there is still much wilderness in this park. It is over 8,000 acres, one of the largest tracts of undeveloped land in the Lower Peninsula.

I had a great hike through the park, mostly on the shoreline. Endangered piping plovers were nesting there, and I even saw a pair with their two chicks scurrying along the waterline. I also came across sandhill cranes, leopard frogs, blue herons, and many fish.

It was warm enough to take off my boots for awhile and walk in the cool water.

When I crossed to the north side of the park, I had my first glimpse of the Mackinaw Bridge and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I'll begin hiking the UP in July and it was thrilling to know that I'd come so far.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Segment 6, Day 7 Harbor Springs->Cross Village 20 miles

High of 76 degrees.

I picked up the trek on M119 and walked along the road until I found an access point to the shoreline. The beach was intermittently rocky, then sandy, then marshy all the way to Cross Village. I had thought that when the shoreline was no longer on Little Traverse Bay, that it would revert to mostly sand, but this was not the case. There were stretches of huge boulders and very shallow water reaching out into the lake.

I came across a berm of zebra mussel shells deposited on the shoreline by the waves that stretched for probably 50 feet and was two feet high by four feet deep. I had never seen so many shells in one place. There were also some areas with small, black snail shells scattered on the beach.

It was a long stretch of beach to walk, especially with the rocks and marshy areas. On such a gorgeous day, though, it was wonderful to be out on the mostly deserted beach with the ducks and deer.

Phil met me in Cross Village, and we had a wonderful Polish dinner at Legs Inn (photos below).

Segment 6, Day 6 Bay Shores->Harbor Springs 18 miles

High of 75 degrees

I had some company this day. Rick Land (in photo to left), a friend from way back in my college days, was up in Charlevoix while I was passing through. He joined me for 6 miles of this day's trek.

It was a perfect day, and we walked together on the pathway from Bay Shores, through Petoskey, and into Bay View. Much of the shoreline here is rocky and marshy, and a large stretch is restricted because it is owned by Consumers Power, so the pathway was a great way to move through this beautiful area. It was fun to catch up with Rick as we walked.

I continued on alone onto the beach at Petoskey State Park. This park is at the far end of Little Traverse Bay and is all sandy. It was great to take off my boots and wade in the water on this warm day.

On the north side of the bay, it got marshy once again, so I walked Beach Road which hugged the water most of the way into lovely Harbor Springs. I strolled through the town, then out just a bit on M119.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Segment 6, Day 5 Fisherman's Island State Park->Bay Shores 19 miles

I began this day in the middle of Fisherman's Island State Park where I had stopped the day before. I hiked just a short way and came upon the island (now attached by a peninsula due to low lake levels).

In the park, I saw a bald eagle in the park flying with a large salmon in its claws. Gulls were swooping at the eagle hoping to make it drop its catch.

As I got to the northern edge of the park, I heard a humming sound and saw the St. Mary's concrete plant and quarry in the distance. I had to hike inland to get around the plant and I headed into Charlevoix (last photo here). After a nice lunch, I walked to Bay Shores for a total of 19 miles this day.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Segment 6, Day 4 Eastport->Fisherman's Island State Park 15 miles

High of 64 degrees.

This part of the shoreline got rockier as I headed north. I found several petoskey stones and came across an outcropping of shale-like rock.

I ended this day in Fisherman's Island State Park, a rugged, wild place.

Once I got north of the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula across the bay, the wind picked up and the shoreline, while still rocky, got sandier.

Today I passed the 400 mile mark (now 414 miles total).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Segment 6, Day 3 Elk Rapids->Eastport 15 miles

High of 65 degrees

I had some company along on part of this day.
Gerry Sell and her dogs, Miss Sadie and Cowboy, walked along part of the way. Gerry is from this area (and author of the blog and she wanted to share her part of the lakeshore with me. We had a wonderful walk together and we talked about the flora and fauna we came across.

The shoreline had marshy patches along the way, mini estuaries for frogs (a mass of tadpoles in photo to left) and other lake life. Mallards and pintails along with geese and swans were trailed by their newly hatched broods.

My walk this day ended by Sonny's Torch Lake Market on 31 near the shores of Torch Lake (below).

Segment 6, Day 2 Traverse City->Elk Rapids 17 miles

High of 57

I walked through Traverse City along the bottom of the bay, then headed north up the East Traverse Bay. The shoreline here was anchored by large rocks, and below those was muck, not sandy. This kept me on the road for another day, but 31 stayed along the bay most of the way to Elk Rapids.

The rain had moved off, and I enjoyed walking the countryside and seeing all the tiny cherries on the trees. When I finally got to Elk Rapids, I noticed a man suspended on the water tower. He was power washing the dirt and grime off of the surface. Quite a job!