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Marquette residents aim to be first women to circumnavigate Lake Superior in open canoe

Journey of a lifetime

June 10, 2011
By DANIELLE PEMBLE - Journal Staff Writer  ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - "Most people think we're nuts," said Lindsay Bean, as she hauled gear down the beach to pack into a 17-foot canoe.

She and fellow outdoor enthusiast Jess Laxo, both of Marquette, conducted a practice-run paddle Monday from Founders Landing to the Sand River to make any last minute changes to their canoeing travel plans.

The two are setting out (according to their research) to be the first pair of women to circumnavigate Lake Superior in an open canoe. On Sunday, June 12, they will embark on their 1,400 mile journey.

Article Photos

Lindsay Bean and Jess Laxo, both of Marquette, start a practice paddle from Founders Landing in Marquette. The pair aim to be the first women to circumnavigate Lake Superior in an open canoe. (Journal photoby Danielle Pemble)

The concept may sound crazy, but these women have been planning the trip for two years.

When asked whose idea it was, Laxo looked at Bean and said, "I think it was your idea."

Bean laughed and replied, "I was going to say it was your idea!"

However it came about, the idea has now evolved into a plan. A very thought out plan.

The duo will shove off at McCarty's Cove in Marquette, traveling west, and will traverse the shoreline of Lake Superior clockwise. They will shoot for a goal of 16 miles a day, give or take, said Laxo. A two-person support crew will meet Bean and Laxo at five different points around the lake to deliver food and supplies every two weeks.

They will be tent camping for the duration of the trip.

"The camping part of this is not a big deal at all to us," said Laxo.

Bean and Laxo are both graduates of Northern Michigan University with an undergraduate degree in outdoor recreation leadership and management and they are also American Canoe Association instructor certified. Both have taught courses on canoeing and have extensive experience with camping.

Despite not having a kitchen for more than two and a half months, they still plan to eat well. Chili, burritos and pasta are among some of the things on the menu. They will be bringing a camp stove for cooking.

The tech-savvy explorers are not bringing a cell phone, but will have a GPS with them made of an iPod touch in a special waterproof case. They also have a personal locater beacon that looks similar to a walkie talkie.

"It's like backcountry 911," said Bean.

The personal locater beacon has an "SOS" button to press in case of serious trouble, and an "OK" button that, when pressed, links to their Facebook page and lets followers know where they are and that they are in fact, OK.

They are also bringing along a gadget called a steriPEN which will purify their water using UV light rays.

A solar charger will keep all their gadgets in working order.

They hope to return to Marquette around Sept. 1, although that is a flexible date due to unforseen obstacles.

"The big ones are weather and injury," said Laxo.

"We'll take it slower in the beginning," she added, "Let the trip condition us."

Bean and Laxo had just finished sewing a custom vinyl cover for the canoe Monday morning, complete with Velcro and zippers to help keep water out and gear in. Stepping back to admire the finished cover on the canoe, with all the equipment perfectly in its place, Bean exclaimed, "Holy cow, this is one hardcore lookin' boat!"

To follow Bean and Laxo on their trip around the big lake, go to their Facebook page-Lake Superior Circumnavigation 2011 where you can also look at more photos of their preparation process.

Danielle Pemble can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 256.



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