The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Monday, August 31, 2009

Segment 9 Complete!

Segment 9 took me south from Manitowoc to Milwaukee.

This segment was 91 miles total. The total for the trek now stands at 911 miles!

I will walk the Mackinac Bridge next Monday (Labor Day). This will connect segments 6 & 7.

Then, on September 21, I'll head back to Milwaukee to complete my Lake Trek. I will reach Navy Pier on Saturday, September 26 at 2pm. Everyone is invited to be there to celebrate Lake Michigan with me. Following my arrival, there will be a cruise on the Kanan Cruise boat which docks at Navy Pier. If you'd like to join me for the cruise and catered lunch, please click HERE to print off the form to send in payment ($30/adult, $20/kids).

Don't forget to click on the hat on the sidebar to get updates and for a chance to win a Lake Trek hat.

Thanks for following my adventure! The end is in sight!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Segment 9 Day 5 Concordia University->Milwaukee 21 miles

High of 63 degrees.

August 30

The final day of Segment 9 stretched from Concordia College in Mequon down to the banks of the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee. We began the day at the Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center , a fantastic organization dedicated to the enjoyment of nature and the education of youth about the environment (all photos above are from the center). Bob Bailie (in top photo), marketing director, gave us a tour.

Over 35,000 school aged kids visit the center each year. In addition, they have one of the few nature preschools in the nation on site. Stephanie and I were joined by Dave Hoover, President of the Board of Directors for the center (and Stephanie's cousin). He was our intrepid guide all the way to the river, then Stephanie and I returned to the center and finished the 7 miles up to Concordia University.

The lake was riled up this day and the waves covered much of the beach that would have normally been exposed heading south to Milwaukee. This led to the three of us 'mountain goating it,' that is climbing on rocks and scurrying up the bank to escape the waves. We were elated whenever we came across a walkable stretch of beach.

I felt like we were emerging from the wilderness as we made our way onto the park-rich shoreline of Milwaukee.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Segment 9 Day 4 Harrington State Park->Concordia University 21 miles

High of 69 degrees.

August 29

It was a wild day on the Lake Trek today. Stephanie and I had an easy walk from Harrington State Park to the city of Port Washington. From there, we walked inland past the large power plant, then back down the 100 foot bluff to the lake via the Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve.

The shoreline was rocky here, and the going tough at times due to downed trees and the eroding, partially clay bluff hemming us next to the water.

We hit a spot just north of Concordia College where the shoreline became impassible and we headed inland.

Segment 9 Day 3 Kohler Andrea State Park->Harrington State Park 14 miles

High of 70 degrees.

August 28

This day started out cloudy and cool, just perfect for walking on the lakeshore. This day's trek was all sandy beach (finally!). We began at the Koher Andrea State Park, a gorgeous park with a 'cord walk' through the rolling dunes.

Stephanie and I had several visitors this day, including two dogs who stayed with us for several miles. We also met two small girls who were serious frog hunters. They had captured a cooler full of leopard frogs (in a summer-long 'catch and release' project) under the watchful eye of their grandparents. We stopped to admire their skill and their grandfather looked at us, smiled and said, "Are you walking to Chicago?" We talked about the Lake Trek and the joy of catching the same frogs over and over to see how they changed from tadpoles to frogs.

Our day ended down by Harrington State Park where we stopped in to visit Milt and Carol Kuyers (in bottom photo). They treated us to cool drinks and a friendly chat. They are also grads of Calvin College and wonderful 'Lake People.'

Friday, August 28, 2009

Segment 9 Day 2 Whistling Straits->Kohler Andrea State Park 18 miles

High of 68 degrees.

August 27

My old college roommate, Stephanie Lyon (on left in first photo), joined me this day for the rest of this segment. For the beginning of this day, another Calvin College alumna, Lois Otten (on right in first photo), joined up with us at Whistling Straits Golf Course. The golf course abuts the lake and is gorgeous. I called ahead and got permission to walk the course this morning.

The shoreline was varied along this stretch from rocky to some sand, but usually along a wooded rise. We had to cross one creek using the trash bags as waders. We passed through the city of Sheboygan and ended our day at the Terry Andrae State Park.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Segment 9 Day 1 Manitowoc->Whistling Straits 17 miles

High of 74 degrees.
August 26

I began this segment in Manitowoc and made my way south along the shore. It was great to be back on the lake trek.

This stretch of shoreline varied from sand to rock to very tall reeds. I met Lisa along the way. She was picking up trash on the beach. She said that she used to think, "Someone should pick that up," when she passed trash on the beach. Then it occurred to her that she was someone, so she began picking up trash regularly.

There was an enormous algae bloom (cladophora) along this stretch [bottom photo]. I'd seen patches of this algae other places along the lake, but never like this. The zebra mussels are contributing to these blooms by clearing the water and allowing more sunlight to penetrate the water. The algae can fasten itself to the mussel shells and then feed on the waste from the mussels. When they team up, they can cause these massive, matt-like blooms that the waves then toss up onto the beach. This is a complicated problem to solve.

Lake Crossing

I crossed Lake Michigan on the Lake Express, high speed ferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee for the beginning of Segment 9. This catamaran zips along at 35 knots and crosses the lake in 2 1/2 hours.

I drove north and dropped in at LaDeDa Books & Brew in Manitowoc and met Bev Denor, the owner and fantastic cappuccino brewer. She has a funky store that I immediately loved.

Bev set up a dinner for me and Phil and two of Bev's good friends, Terry and Jackie. We talked about books and plays and movies and musicals. It was a delightful evening and I was happy to make new friends in Manitowoc.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dune Research

In May (during Segment 4) as I was hiking through the P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, I came across areas that were roped off. This time, it wasn't the nesting areas of the piping plover, but a research area on the formation and destruction of dunes.
This month, I finally caught up with woman in charge of this research, Dr. Deanna van Dijk, professor of geology at Calvin College. We had lunch together, and I was fascinated with her research on Lake Michigan dunes.

Some of her research is summarized HERE

By setting instruments into the dunes (like sand traps and erosion pins), Dr. van Dijk can measure sand movement and deposition along with changes in dune size. She sent me several of her published research papers on southwest Michigan dunes. Some of her research has even led to the protection of dunes that were being harmed by human activities.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Carfree Chicago

Carfree Chicago promotes living (you guessed it) without a car in Chicago. The Windy City is certainly set up for people wanting to break free of the car culture. It's a walkable city with great parks and paths and, of course, great public transportation.

They heard about my Lake Trek and did a Q&A with me. Read it HERE.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wolf Lake Hatchery

It was back in the 1920s that the Great Lakes fish population took a drastic drop. Overfishing, deforestation (which changed the river habitats), introduction of invasive species like the lamprey and alewife, and even pollution contributed to this calamity. Some fish species -- like the blue pike -- were wiped out. Others -- especially the Lake Sturgeon which must live 20 years before it can reproduce -- were almost eradicated.

By the 1960s, the alwife had become the main fish species in the lakes because there were few predator fish to eat them. It was in the 60s that large scale hatcheries were finally established to 'grow up' large numbers of fish (mostly trout and salmon) to 'seed' back into the lakes.

I visited the Wolf Lake Hatchery just west of Kalamazoo to see their operation. The hatchery gathers eggs and sperm from salmon and steelhead migrating early in the spring and grows them up for almost a year (steelhead are 7-8 inches long by then). Then, they 'plant' them back in the rivers and streams which feed into the Great Lakes.

It's quite an operation. The Great Lakes ecosystem is managed and monitored, and the DNR plays an important role in this. Hopefully, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative can bring the lakes back to a healthier state than they are in currently.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Grand Rapids Independent Bookstores

LinkI was in Grand Rapids (Michigan) today and I stopped in at three independent bookstores there: Schuler Books downtown, Argos Books, and Literary Life Bookstore.

I met Zachary, an aspiring poet and writer of short stories, at Literary Life Bookstore. We talked about literature for quite some time, about books and stories, writers and literary journals. And we talked about Lake Michigan.

People passionate about books--and life--hang out in independent bookstores. Another reason to keep it indie.

Find the independent bookstores near you at

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Grand Mere State Park

I miss the lake. I'm on one of my longest breaks from the lake trek, and I was going a little nuts without the waves by my side. So, I headed west with my son, Lucas, and my brother, Phil, to Grand Mere State Park. This park is just south of the town of Stevensville along Segment 2 of my trek.

When I walked this segment with my son, Ben, we were diverted inland by a nuclear power plant south of Stevensville. We had to cross over I-94, and by the time there was another overpass to take us back to the lake, we were just two miles from our hotel. We would have had to backtrack south in order to walk through Grand Mere State Park. After hiking many miles that cold day, we weren't up to the extra miles.

I regretted missing this park because it was one of the few along the west side of Michigan that I have not been to. This is a unique park in that the parking lot is away from the shore and you have to hike over dunes to get to the lake. We had a lovely 2-mile hike over the dunes and along the shore. These 2 miles bring the total miles in the trek to 820 miles.

After our hike, we drove in to South Haven and stopped in at Black River Books. We had a lovely visit with owners Pam and Dick Haferman and their smiling employee, Lynn. Booker and Dewey, their labradoodles, were also there. I always find a book (often several) there that I MUST have.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's in that BIG pack?

I used my large pack for all of Segment 8 since it was such a long segment and I camped part of the way.

The first photo is of the overall contents (minus food).


These are the things I need to navigate my way around the lake and take notes on my adventures.

Then, there are the items I need to shelter me at night when I camp.



First aid/sunblock/bug stuff.

And, of course, rain gear.