While many entering their 60s might fantasize about retiring to a sandy beachfront, they’re probably not picturing the same shorelines as Mike Link and Kate Crowley.
The retired Minnesota couple plans to head to the beaches, but they’ll be hiking along the shore of Lake Superior in a daunting summer-long trek.
The idea started a few years ago while the two were strolling along the Lake Superior hiking trail and began entertaining the idea of walking just a small part of the shoreline. Eventually, they wondered what it would be like to walk the entire way around the lake.
Crowley told Minnesota Public Radio neither can remember whose idea it was, but Link said that’s a good thing.
“It’s better that we don’t know which of us came up with the idea because on that day when the black flies are really nailing us or there’s a really bad storm, we can’t point at the other and say, ‘it’s your fault,'” Link said.
What started as idle conversation during a hike, though, has grown into a sizable operation. The couple won’t be alone for their journey, which they’re set to begin Thursday morning. They have a support team including an educational coordinator, webmaster, expedition photographer, videographer, coordinators for each segment of the journey, and more.
Their Web site, Full Circle Superior, will document each step of their journey. Moreover, the team is sending out press releases ahead of the couple’s arrival in an area, and they plan to make stops in various communities and schools to share their adventure and what they’ve learned.
Link and Crowley both have extensive background in education. Link founded and directed the Audubon Center of the North Woods, an environmental learning center, for more than 38 years, and he’s taught for two universities. Crowley also worked at the Audubon Center and had previous experience in public education at the Minnesota Zoo.
As they walk the shoreline, the two will also be gathering information for researchers from seven different universities who are studying a myriad of subjects, including invasive species and hydrology. For example, they’re collaborating with Minnesota Seagrant and the Natural Resources Research Institute at UMD on the Lake Superior Streams project. They’ll even be providing information to a wolf researcher who has asked the couple to look for signs of moose, which have been disappearing from the area.
Additionally, they plan to take photographs in the four cardinal directions during every three-mile rest stop they take, and they’re keeping a journal on their Web site to document their finds.
For Link and Crowley, who are both veteran naturalists now in their 60s, the trek won’t be easy on their bodies. The journey will total 1,600 miles, and 600 to 700 of that will be across sand beach. The couple has said, though, that their journey is as much a message of empowerment to the elderly as it is one for the preciousness of freshwater resources.
Minn. couple to begin Lake Superior trek this week [Minnesota Public Radio] Full Circle Superior
Image Credit: Courtesy of FullCircleSuperior.org