Joe Lorenz, Kwin Morris and Jeff Guy set off Tuesday from Sinclair Cove in Canada and arrived at Whitefish Point in Michigan's Upper Peninsula on Wednesday morning. The 60-mile paddleboard trip is part of a goal to fundraise $20,000 for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.
The trip wasn't the first endurance feat accomplished by the trio who founded Stand Up for Great Lakes, a nonprofit that works to protect the Great Lakes. Lorenz, Morris and Guy crossed Lake Michigan in 2015, fundraising $10,000 for the environmental group Great Lakes Alliance. They also paddled 90 miles across Lake Huron last year and raised $7,000 for Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Lorenz, a Traverse City personal trainer, called Lake Superior "the biggest, baddest, meanest lake there is."
"This one's always scared us — it's the coldest and the deepest, and the weather changes fast," said Morris, an Elk Rapids teacher.
Crossing any of the Great Lakes on a standing paddleboard is no easy task. The men spent weeks training for the expedition and preparing to face fatigue, hypothermia, high winds or big waves.
"Mentally, you've been up for 30 hours, it's cold, you're tired," Morris said. "You want to stop. But you think about all those donors and people who are counting on you, and it goes a long way."
Two boats follow the trio with a medical technician and emergency rescue crew as a precaution. The paddlers carry all of their supplies on their boards, including food, extra clothing and straws that filter lake water for drinking.
They also brought a bio-degradable wreath along this trip, which they laid at the same spot the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank during a storm more than 42 years ago. The wreath was entwined with 29 white carnations representing members of the crew that died in the 1975 storm. One single carnation represented all lives lost on the Great Lakes.