When Niewenhuis turned 45-years-old, she felt compelled to break out of the day-to-day routine and take on a big challenge. She decided to walk all the way around her favorite place: Lake Michigan. “Instead of having a mid-life crisis,” Niewenhuis said, “I had a mid-life adventure!”
In April of 2012 Niewenhuis began her second 1000-mile hike. This one takes her along the shores of all five Great Lakes. “During my hike around Lake Michigan, I became captivated with the Great Lakes, America's vast Inland Seas. I decided that one adventure wasn’t enough. I wanted to touch all five of these amazing bodies of water and to explore the entire fresh water system, how it shapes and defines the region, and how important these waters are to our entire nation.”
Niewenhuis’s adventure began in April in Port Clinton, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie and continued west to Michigan, then north along the edge of Michigan's "thumb" to Bay City. This first portion of the hike was 302 miles total, hiked in 23 days for an average of 13 miles per day. "The month of April was rather cool," Niewenhuis said, "which was great for hiking. It was also quite windy. That was great when the wind was at my back, but tough when it was a headwind. I was looking forward to milder weather as the hike progressed."
The hike continued in June along the edge of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. In June Niewenhuis hiked 303 miles from Bay City north to Mackinaw City. This part of the hike allowed her to explore Lake Huron. "The geology of Lake Huron's shoreline is so different from Lake Michigan's,"
In July, she hiked two stretches along Lake Superior’s coast: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising and the Estivant Pine Preserve near Copper Harbor. Niewenhuis has two sons and her older son, Ben, joined her for the Lake Superior portion of her adventure. "It is rugged country in Michigan's Upper Peninsula," Niewenhuis said, "so it was wonderful to share that hike with my son and to have some company while camping in the wild."
The last part of July, Niewenhuis hiked in Ontario along Lake Ontario's northern shoreline from the town of Belleville to Toronto, a total of 146 miles. "Ontario has established a Waterfront Trail," Niewenhuis notes. "It stretches along the province's border with this Great Lake. I stayed as close to the water as possible, and I used the trail when it stayed close to the shore." Niewenhuis made a detour from Lake Ontario's shoreline to hike Warsaw Caves Conservation Area near Peterborough, Ontario. "I usually stay at the water's edge," Niewenhuis said, "but the Warsaw Caves Conservation area has some interesting geological features. There is a limestone plain and caves and holes drilled in the rocks there that tells the story of the birth of our Great Lakes. I wanted to explore and understand this area before I walked the shoreline of Lake Ontario." This leg of her hike brought the total miles hiked to 829.
The next portion of her adventure will be along the shores of Lake Michigan. She will explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and some other stretches along Lake Michigan. This will bring the total miles hiked to around 1000 miles. The finale of her hike will be along the Niagara River Recreational Trail from the city of Niagara-On-The-
"Niagara Falls is the most dramatic point along the Great Lakes system to see the power of these waters," Niewenhuis said, "and to visualize how these lakes flow relentlessly to the North Atlantic Ocean." Niewenhuis hiked along many of the connections within the Great Lakes system including the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River, the Straits of Mackinac, and will conclude her hike along the Niagara River. While on this journey, Niewenhuis will explore how important the Great Lakes system is to the entire country. “These five lakes contain 90% of the fresh, surface water in the nation,” Niewenhuis points out. “And tens of millions of people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes. They are vital to the region and the nation and we need to be better stewards of this amazing natural resource.”
This journey will give rise to her next book titled “A 1000-Mile Great Lakes Walk: The Adventure Continues Along the Shores of America’s Vast Inland Seas.” Crickhollow Books of Milwaukee will publish the book in 2013. Follow Niewenhuis's journey on her Facebook page http://facebook.com/
Loreen Niewenhuis has a bachelors of science from Calvin College, a masters of science from Wayne State University and a masters of fine arts from Spalding University. She currently lives in Battle Creek, Michigan. She is the author of "A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach" (the account of her hike around Lake Michigan), the novella ATLANTA (nominated for a SIBA Book Award), and many literary short stories. She was a finalist for the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction in 2009 for her collection of short stories titled "Scar Tissue."
Niewenhuis gives lectures about the Great Lakes and readings from her work. To contact her for interviews or a speaking engagement, e-mail her at Loreen(at)LakeTrek.com
Please learn more about Niewenhuis, her writing, and her adventures at her website, http://LakeTrek.com and her blog, LakeTrek.Blogspot.com