Walkers meet welcoming crowd at close of 1,550-mile hike around Lake Superior
DULUTH - The circle is complete.
Swept along by a throng of well-wishers along Duluth's Lakewalk on Saturday afternoon, Mike Link and Kate Crowley took the final steps in their 1,550-mile, 4½-month walk around Lake Superior.
The Willow River naturalists, educators, writers and grandparents finished their hike on the cobble beach near Canal Park Lodge on a gorgeous afternoon. Crowley is 60. Link is 64.
"This lake has taught us many things," said Link to a crowd of about 75 well-wishers, friends and family. "The first is that it's in charge."
The couple made their walk to celebrate Link's retirement from the Northwoods Audubon Center in Sandstone and to call attention to the importance of fresh water resources.
Ceremonies at the lakeshore Saturday included a tobacco offering to the lake, remarks by Link and Crowley, and poem readings. The day was crisp and cool. Four grain boats rode at anchor on the big lake. A soft west wind wrinkled the lake's endless blue surface.
Link and Crowley began their final day at Brighton Beach, hiking six miles to downtown Duluth. They finished exactly where they began their hike on a blustery, gray April 29. The hikers said their walk reinforced their faith in humanity.
"Go for a long walk, and you can disregard what you see in news," Crowley said.
"Four grumpy people in 1,550 miles," Link added.
Bill and Beth Blank of Lutsen were among those who greeted the hikers in Duluth. Beth had made supper meals for the first 30 days of the hike and the couple spent 10 days with Link and Crowley in Michigan.
"Too many people are afraid to dream, and even those who do fail to follow them, so to do something like this is inspiring," Beth Blank said.
They were impressed with the physical stamina that Link and Crowley exhibited, averaging 12 to 15 miles a day on the days they hiked.
"A lot of people tried to hike with them and made only a couple of miles and gave up," Bill Blank said.
Only a few others have hiked around the lake, including a solo hiker in the 1980s, according to Lake Superior Magazine, and others who did it in relay fashion.
Link and Crowley plan to write a book about their experience.