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2010-08-26 at 16:22

A long walk

By Jamie Smith,
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It’s been four months and 2,180 kilometres, but a Minnesota couple hasn’t regretted one step of their trek around Lake Superior.

Kate Crowley and Mike Link started their hike April 29 in Duluth. Now within 500 kilometres of their journey’s end, the husband and wife from Willow River, Minn. said they are proud to be leaving a legacy behind for their grandchildren. They also want to raise awareness for the lake and the importance of fresh water.

"We want to set an example that if you really believe in something and you really care you should do it," Link said while standing on the shore at Silver Harbour Conservation Area Thursday morning. "If you have a dream you should fulfill it. Don’t put limits on yourself."

The idea to walk around Lake Superior started three years ago when Link retired from environmental education. Crowley told him to just start walking as a symbolic gesture of him walking away into his retirement years. It started simply enough with an idea to walk to Duluth but with the encouragement of friends and family, the scope of the walk grew.

"From there it just got out of control as we decided somewhere along the line to go all the way around Lake Superior," said Link.

Since entering Canada, Link said not a day has gone by where they haven’t found something beautiful on their 20 kilometre-a-day walk on Lake Superior’s rocky shores. While the trek has been physically demanding, Link said the Southern shores in the United States were much more difficult.

"The hardest was all the hundreds of miles of beaches the little gravel that rolled under our feet and the sand and the slope of the beaches in Michigan," he said. "It strains the ankles and the knees. Think about walking all day long with one foot always 20 cm higher than the other."

Although the terrain has been tough, Crowley said the weather has been incredible through almost their entire journey. Looking back on her daily journals, Crowley said they only had about 12 days of rain out of 125 so far. Also starting their summer part of the journey in Canada has meant cooler temperatures than the United States.

"It’s never fun to walk in the rain but we’ve been so lucky with such great weather this summer," she said. "We were really on the right side of the lake this summer for that."

And Link said Canada has been the right side of the lake for natural beauty too. Even when the couple was forced to walk along Highway 17, Link said the view has been excellent. From Lake Superior Provincial Park to Nipigon, Link said the lack of developed shoreline made the walk worth it.

"We are in love with the Canadian coast. You guys have an extraordinary coastline," he said. "What a percentage of the lakeshore has been preserved here in Canada I wish the States had the same percentage it’s really extraordinary."

They’ve also had their share of danger. While portaging in Pukaskwa National Park, the couple and their guides were grounded by wind for seven days. At one point their guide had an accident and had to be airlifted out of the park. But Link said it’s all part of the adventure.

"You say ‘I’m going to meet nature on its on terms’" he said. "Sometimes we feel really sore at the end of the day but we’re always inspired."

The couple will be at Silver Harbour on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Fort William Historical Park Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. to share their stories.

The couple hopes to end their journey in Duluth by Sept. 18, having logged more than 2,500 kilometres by then.

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