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Update: World-record kayaker stops in Port Huron

Oct 16, 2017 10:20AM ● By Editor
Traci Lynn Martin and Marv Kuzial paddle into Lighthouse Park on Sunday, Oct. 15. Kuzial paddled a mile with Martin to welcome her to Port Huron. (Photo: NICOLE HAYDEN/TIMES HERALD)

Many Cook County residents might remember Traci Lynn Martin's solo trek around the Great Lakes. She stopped in Grand Marais in July.  Here is an update on her adventure. From Nicole Hayden, Times Herald Published 4:57 p.m. ET Oct. 15, 2017

The murmured voices of the support group waiting for Traci Lynn Martin to kayak across Lake Huron from Canada to Lighthouse Beach in Port Huron eventually melded to become one. “Give me the binocs, I think I see her,” the murmur said. “Does she have a dry suit on? I see them. Two dots. They’re coming. Never mind. I can’t tell. That’s not them. They’re still on the shore. Are you sure they are on the shore? I thought I saw them take off. These are not 40 miles per winds yet. They better come soon. They’re in the water now. They’ll be here in 20 minutes. They are in the water. That’s them. Did you see them? Right over there.”

Martin, 50, of Kansas City, Missouri, slowly came into view Sunday morning after completing 3,019 miles around three of the Great Lakes, with many more still to go. Her cheeks were pink with wind burn and her dark blonde hair was tangled with moisture from the lake. More: Kayaker starts world record attempt at Lighthouse Beach Martin began paddling on March 9 when she launched from the same beach she landed on Sunday. She paddled the coast of Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, beginning with the west coast of Lake Huron to the east coast of Lake Michigan, back up the west coast of Lake Michigan, along the south coast of Lake Superior, to the north coast of Lake Superior, and finally back down the east coast of Lake Huron.

From Port Huron, she will launch back into the water. She will paddle the St. Clair River to the Detroit River to the south side of Lake Erie, head to Niagara Falls, then Lake Ontario and back again, with the goal of ending her trip in December at Lake Erie Metropark in Brownstown Township. Martin, who has rheumatoid arthritis, wanted to prove to herself and her naysayers that she could still complete physical feats of strength despite her chronic illness. She is pursuing a dream that has been two years in the making – paddle the most miles by a woman in one year. “The important message is that just because you have a chronic illness, that doesn’t mean life is over,” she said.

The Kansas City woman said she was drawn to the Great Lakes because she has always had a love for Lake Superior and wanted to attempt a kayaking trip that has never been done before. Martin’s daily life has been one of routine over the past eight months. She wakes at 6 a.m. each morning, prepares coffee and breakfast and then launches her kayak to paddle for the majority of the day. In the evening, she pulls her kayak out and finds either a campsite or nearby parking lot to sleep in. She prepares dinner, charges her phone, writes in her journal and, if there is free WiFi to connect to, she updates her Facebook page for those following along. She said each lake has had its own attitude. T

Lake Michigan gave views of mostly sandy beaches, but Martin was paddling the waters through the roughest part of the year – April through June. She said the water was angry, but the Sleeping Bear Dunes were beautiful. “The worst was paddling through the Chicago harbor,” she said. “That was the harbor from hell.”

Lake Superior was gorgeous and beautiful, and she navigated the blue waters during the safest and calmest time of year – July and August. She sailed through the calm waters, which can be dangerous and treacherous during the wrong months, to see the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the American side and the Pukaskwa National Park on the Canadian side.

"In Pukaskwa it was remote and you don’t see anyone,” she said. “It took me five days to paddle the park. There were rock formations, and glacier indentions, black lava rocks and wildlife. The animals come right up to you because they aren't used to humans, so they aren’t afraid. There were turtles and eagles and hawks and loons. I love the loons and the noises they make.” And finally, most recently, she was back in Lake Huron. While Tobermory in Ontario, Canada, is known for its picturesque scenery, Martin said she was paddling through a rough season and that stretch of her trip scared her the most. 

“The weather had changed and there were strong winds and 3-, 4-, 5-foot-tall waves and I would get caught in the wave and it was dark and I could hear the rocks but I couldn’t see them,” she said. “It was scary not being able to see the rocks and I was trying not to flip my boat over.”

 And with two more Great Lakes still to paddle through, Martin stopped off at Powers Diner in Port Huron to eat breakfast with local kayakers from the Yak-About group, which aims to host Port Huron-area kayaking events and to bring hobbyist kayakers together. Mike Edmondson, 64, of Port Huron, Yak-About administrator, said the 15 or so people who showed up to support Martin’s arrival Sunday morning all love kayaking and wanted to show her how proud they were of her accomplishments.

More information
  •  Traci Lynn Martin, an experienced kayak racer from Kansas City, Missouri, will attempt to set a record for the most miles paddled in a solo expedition in one year.
  • A team of filmmakers will be accompanying her on the journey, capturing footage for a film called "Just Around the Pointe." The expedition is called "The Stellar Tour de Force," and Martin will be wearing a tracking device so people can follow her progress at 
  • Martin's website is at Martin is paddling a Stellar USA surf ski kayak that has been modified with extra hatches for gear and supplies.
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