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Monday, September 18, 2006 - Page updated at 09:18 AM


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Around America, by land and by sea

Seattle Times staff reporter

After 439 days of paddling and pedaling, a Swedish adventure athlete pulled into Lake Union on Friday and became the first person to circumnavigate 32 states by bicycle and kayak.

When Renata Chlumska kayaked out of Seattle on July 4, 2005, she expected the "Around America Adventure" would take her 480 days, said her friend Ryan Hayter. Chlumska, 32, is a kayaker, scuba diver and mountaineer.

"It's been a trip I planned almost six years now," Chlumska said. "It a goal I felt I couldn't leave undone."

Traversing the exterior of the United States was the goal for Chlumska and her late-fiancÚ, Goran Kropp.

Kropp, a Swedish adventurer who died in a Grant County rock-climbing accident in 2002, had planned to make the trip with her. An elite climber, skier and cyclist, Kropp was most famous for a 1996 adventure where he rode a bicycle 7,440 miles from his home in Sweden to Kathmandu in Nepal. He then climbed Mount Everest.

Chlumska paddled into Lake Union around 2 p.m. and was greeted by a crowd of family, friends and fans. On Friday, Chlumska said she received a letter from Mayor Greg Nickels proclaiming Sept. 15 as Renata Chlumska Day.

"To be able to share this goal I've had so long with people means so much to me. I feel very fortunate," Chlumska said. "I would never have wanted to have it undone, but I'm happy it's over."

When Chlumska left Seattle last year, she paddled out to the Pacific Ocean and south toward California. She then cycled and kayaked until she reached Florida. Chlumska paddled from Florida to Maine then biked and kayaked to Whatcom County. From there she paddled to Seattle. She traveled more than 11,000 miles.

Though the days were grueling, one of the toughest parts of the trip was remembering to eat enough while kayaking, Chlumska said. She estimated that she burned more than 2.5 million calories during the trip. Remarkably, Chlumska said she didn't lose too much weight because she made sure to eat regularly while biking.

In 1997, Chlumska was the first Swedish woman to reach above 26,248 feet without supplementary oxygen during her climb of Mount Shishapangma in Tibet. She climbed Mount Everest two years later.

In addition to her most recent adventure, Chlumska has worked as a motivational speaker the past eight years, according to her Web site.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company



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