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 journey has taken her to the shores of all five Great Lakes. “During my hike around Lake Michigan I became captivated with the Great Lakes, these 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 vital these waters are to us all.”
Niewenhuis’s adventure began in April in Port Clinton, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie and continued west through Toledo, then north along the edge of Michigan's "thumb" to Bay City. This first portion of the journey was 302 miles hiked in 23 days. "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."
The hike continued in June along the eastern edge of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Niewenhuis hiked 303 miles from Bay City north to Mackinaw City at the tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. This 22-day hike allowed her to explore Lake Huron's shoreline. "The geology of Lake Huron is different from Lake Michigan's,"
In July, she hiked along Lake Superior’s coast: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising and some areas on the Keweenaw Peninsula including the Estivant Pines Preserve. Niewenhuis is the mother of two college-aged 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 geology of Lake Superior is radically different from the other lakes due to an ancient rift in the tectonic plates that meet underneath the lake." Together they hiked 77 miles in 6 days.
The last part of July, Niewenhuis hiked in Ontario along Lake Ontario's northern shoreline between the cities of Belleville and Toronto, a total of 146 miles in 10 days. "Ontario has established a Waterfront Trail," Niewenhuis notes. "It stretches along the province's edge of 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 to hike the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area near Peterborough, Ontario. "The Warsaw Caves Conservation area has some interesting geological features," Niewenhuis said. "There is a limestone plain and caves and holes drilled by water into the rocks there that tells the story of the formation of our Great Lakes. I wanted to explore and understand this area before I walked the shoreline of Lake Ontario." This leg of her journey brought the total miles hiked to 829.
The next portion of her adventure was along the shores of Lake Michigan. She hiked around North Manitou Island and the length of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. She then hiked south to the city of Ludington. This 158 miles were hiked in 13 days and brought the total miles hiked to 987.
On October 19 and 20, Niewenhuis will complete the final miles of her 1000-Mile Great Lakes Walk. This finale will be along the Niagara River Recreational Trail from the city of Niagara-on-the-
Around 50 people will gather with Niewenhuis to celebrate the final miles of her journey. "I've split up the final miles into a two-day hike so that people who have followed my adventure can walk with me," Niewenhuis said. "And we'll have a party to celebrate the completion of my 1000-Mile Great Lakes Walk!"
This journey of 1,002 miles hiked in a total of 76 days (for an average of 13 miles hiked each day) will give rise to her next book titled A 1000-Mile Great Lakes Walk. Crickhollow Books of Milwaukee will publish the book in early 2013.
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, 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 http://LakeTrek.Blogspot.com
Niewenhuis also has a Facebook Fan page at http://facebook.com/