By Audrey Sochor
Paddle season is here and while people are just starting to hit the water, by this time last year Traci Martin, an experienced expedition kayaker, was three and a half months into her goal of becoming the first person to circumnavigate the three largest lakes in North America – Huron, Michigan and Superior.
Martin logged 3,592 miles in 10 months, which took more than 4,300,000 paddle strokes, and she did it all with rheumatoid arthritis.
“My message to people is to never give up on their dreams and never to give up on the things they love to do in life, regardless of whatever chronic condition or disability they might have,” Martin said.
The Missouri native’s trek started at Lighthouse Beach in Port Huron. A rough start with a couple close calls and an ending with brutal ice made it so she didn’t accomplish all she wanted. Although she holds the record for the most miles around the lakes in a single season, Martin is determined to come back and do it better.
“I feel like now I have the experience and I’m going to come back smarter and do it more efficient, and I’m going to succeed,” she said.
The most difficult part of her journey was paddling around Lake Huron near Tobermory, ON due to rough water. The easiest was the north shore of Lake Superior near Pukaskwa National Park.
It was also her favorite because of the natural beauty and remoteness. She spent every night there camping in the great outdoors.
“You’d get up around midnight or so look outside and you can see the entire Milky Way,” Martin said. “It was like you were standing on a different planet looking out over the galaxy. It was just beautiful and amazing.”
But as with all great feats, Martin didn’t do it on her own. She had a team of volunteers helping her along the way. Support took the form of tracking to media all the way to her support driver Bill Noble, who followed her with a camper and restocked her supplies.
“There was so many people that was out there helping me to make this possible,” Martin said. “This was not a one person effort.”
Learn more about Martin and her adventures at justaroundthepointe.com.