For her first adventure, Niewenhuis walked the perimeter of Lake Michigan in 2009. Then, she wrote the best-selling book, A 1000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH. In 2012, she undertook another 1000-mile hike -- this time touching all five Great Lakes -- and this book, A 1000-MILE GREAT LAKES WALK was released first to select indie bookstores in April 2013, then nationwide in June. Both books were published by Crickhollow Books of Milwaukee. Her second book was awarded the Great Lakes Great Reads designation by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association.
"This island adventure has been more challenging than the first two," Niewenhuis said. "I'm not just hiking this time. I have biked and kayaked part of this adventure and have had to take many boat rides to get to these islands." Niewenhuis points out that there are around 30,000 islands in the Great Lakes basin to choose from.
Niewenhuis has explored islands in all but Lake Ontario at this point. As part of her time among the Lake Erie islands, she took part in the Bicentenial Reenactment of the Battle of Lake Erie. "It was perfect timing to have the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie happen when I am on my Great Lakes Island Adventure," Niewenhuis said. "I got to explore the Lake Erie Islands and then board one of the tall ships for the reenactment of the historic battle that took place during the War of 1812."
Taking part in scientific research on the islands has also been part of this journey. Niewenhuis was part of a Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale helping to gather moose bones for scientists to study. "It was thrilling to be able to contribute to this important and long running study," Niewenhuis said. "And the terrain of Isle Royale was the most rugged I've ever hiked."
As part of her Lake Michigan islands, Niewenhuis helped monitor the piping plovers on North and South Manitou Islands. "This was some of the most meticulous work I've ever done," Niewenhuis said. "And when you're watching these little, darting birds, one has to walk slowly, and that's difficult for a long distance hiker like me."
This month, Niewenhuis explored the largest island in the Great Lakes, Manitoulin Island in northern Lake Huron. This island forms the boundary between the lake and the protected waters of the North Channel. Manitoulin Island is part of Ontario and the North Channel is a boater's paradise due to the many islands to explore and the calm waters.
In September, Niewenhuis will explore some of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River just east of where Lake Ontario flows into the river. She will kayak among some of the many islands here on the Ontario side of the river, and will also hike some of these islands. "There is also a small group of islands just off Toronto's coast that I plan to explore," Niewenhuis said. "Otherwise there are very few islands in Lake Ontario. The other Great Lakes have many islands to choose from to explore."
The finale of her Great Lakes Island Adventure will take place in October 2014 on Mackinac Island. The book about this journey, A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Island Adventure, will be released in 2015 by Crickhollow Books of Milwaukee.
About the author:
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 Great Lakes Walk (the account of her hike touching all five Great Lakes) winner of the Great Lakes Great Reads award, A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach (the account of her hike around Lake Michigan) winner of "Best Non-Fiction Beach Read" in 2012, 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, appearances or to book her for a speaking engagement, e-mail her at LakeTrek@gmail.com
To learn more about Niewenhuis, her writing, and her adventures at her website http://LakeTrek.com