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Great Lakes kayaker recounts her journey.

Mar 21, 2018 12:05PM ● Published by Editor

Traci Lynn Martin and Chris Stafford say a few words at Lighthouse Beach in Port Huron before Traci starts her trip around the Great Lakes.  (Photo: MARK R. RUMMEL, TIMES HERALD)


A year ago, kayaker Traci Lynn Martin set off from Lighthouse Beach in Port Huron on an epic journey that would take her around three of the five Great Lakes.

Martin's quest, which started in Port Huron in March 2017, ended in December with winter closing in on Lake Ontario near Toronto. She had paddled 3,582 miles and became the first person to circumnavigate lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron in a calendar year in a kayak.

"I completely circumnavigated the three largest lakes in North America, which had never been done before in one year by a single person," she said.

She said she was able to paddle the southern shore of Lake Erie and walked her kayak 13 miles around Niagara Falls.

Traci Lynn Martin pulls her kayak into Lake Huron asBuy 

Traci Lynn Martin pulls her kayak into Lake Huron as she launches at Lighthouse Beach in Port Huron (Photo: MARK R. RUMMEL, TIMES HERALD)

"At Toronto, I had to stop because of the snow and the ice," she said.

Bad weather on Lake Erie also delayed her.

"It was pretty feisty," Martin said. "Lake Erie was the most challenging."

If Lake Erie was the most challenging, Lake Superior was the most everything else.

"Just the beauty of it," Martin said. "It was so beautiful. Words cannot describe how breathtakingly beautiful Lake Superior is.

"... You see where the glaciers had carved big gouges in the earth. It’s just beautiful.

"People talk about how beautiful Pictured Rocks are, and it is, but you see areas like that all the way around."

The night sky was unlike anything she had seen.

"Breathtakingly beautiful," Martin said. "You have to be into your tent before the sun goes down, otherwise the mosquitoes will eat you alive.

"But at midnight, the night sky is just absolutely alive with stars. The Milky Way is spellbinding to be able to see something like that."

She said much of the lake's beauty was on the north shore where there are fewer people.

"I can’t describe it, but the images are burned into my long-term memory and I can pull it up and see it," she said.

Traci Lynn Martin and Marv Kuzial paddle into LighthouseBuy Traci Lynn Martin and Marv Kuzial paddle into Lighthouse Park on Oct. 15 on her way south to Lake Erie. (Photo: NICOLE HAYDEN/TIMES HERALD)


Video she took during the trip is being edited into a documentary that will be titled "Just Around the Pointe."

"The significance of the name is, with my rheumatoid arthritis it is sometimes challenging to stay in the kayak," she said. "I would play a mental game and say, 'I just have to get to the next point, I just have to get to the next point.'"

She said she will not only be sharing images from the journey and her experiences, but also what people would need to to set out on a kayak trip around the lakes.

"I was 240 miles short of the world record (for most miles paddled in a year)," she said. "The world record was set by a 30-something healthy individual from South Africa."

She said she intends to get that world record in 2020.

"I’m going to be more smart about it and efficient about it, and my goal is to get that world record and in the process of getting that world record, circumnavigate all five lakes," she said.

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