MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four young men from St. Cloud — along with two of their friends — are taking a spring break trip that’s hard to fathom. Theirs is a nine-month journey that will wind through 10 states and five Canadian provinces.
The canoe trip started January 2 in New Orleans. The six paddlers plan to finish at Bathurst Inlet in the Arctic Ocean by early September.
Three months after they put their canoes to water, the “Rediscovering North America” team notched a huge milestone. After dodging ice cakes the size of pool tables near St. Louis and strong currents the entire trip, the expedition paddled into St. Paul.
Expedition member Winchell Delano said, “We’re right around the date when we thought we would be in St. Paul. Ice was slowing us down in St. Louis and we’ve made up all the time we’ve needed to make up.”
Their goal of traveling a staggering distance of 5,200 miles over nine months will retrace a portion of Eric Sevareid’s 1930 trip. That expedition by Sevareid and a friend was documented in his book, Canoeing with the Cree.
The Minneapolis teenagers paddled from the Twin Cities to Hudson Bay during in the summer of 1930 after graduating high school, completing the 2,500 mile trip just as winter’s ice was setting in.
Not only have the six friends paddled up from the Gulf of Mexico, but at Lake Winnipeg they’ll paddle northwest, along water highways used by French fur traders, leading to the Arctic Ocean.
“After Lake Winnipeg, (you’re) pretty much gone with towns here and there,” team member Adam Trigg said, “but there are long stretches of the six of us and no one else, besides whatever is moving around in the woods and water.”
Four of the guys grew up in St. Cloud, but they all share Dan Flynn’s sense of exploration and adventure.
“I said yes. It’s once in a lifetime adventure. This is super challenging and with five of my best friends,” Flynn said.
About 1,700 miles into the expedition and they’ve had little trouble along the way.
“We’ve cracked a few paddles but nothing we couldn’t fix,” Jarrad Moore said.
But the true challenge still lies ahead as they paddle towards Canada and less habituated terrain, for six long, grueling and dangerous months, inspired by the wonders of wilderness.
“It really makes that the driving factor, a bigger factor for me to continue on that trip,” Luke Kimmes said.
As of April 4, the team was paddling upstream in the Minnesota River, which eventually will lead to the Red River and Winnipeg.
On Sunday, April 12, there will be a big welcoming celebration in New Ulm where the six paddlers will be greeted by family and friends.
They’re documenting the expedition on video and intend on putting together a film or documentary. Most importantly, the intention of a film is to reveal the incredible territory leading into the Arctic that the majority of folks will never get a chance to experience.