MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Anyone who has ever paddled through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness knows just how fortunate we are to have it in our backyard.
A couple of adventurers from Grand Marais know that too, and they are about to spend an entire year exploring the BWCA’s woods and waters.
Dave and Amy Freeman have explored all across North America, traveling more than 30,000 miles by canoe and kayak. Their latest trip is designed to help save the very wilderness they so love.
The goal is to bring greater awareness to the threats they say are posed by sulfide-ore copper mining close to the pristine watershed.
“There’s no place like the Boundary Waters on earth. It is a national treasure, much like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Yosemite,” Dave said.
The Freemans wants to keep it that way, so they are setting off on a trip they call “A Year in the Wilderness.”
“They’re prospecting within a quarter mile of the edge of the wilderness area, and any water pollution from the mine would flow right into the wilderness area.”
The trip supports the campaign to “Save the Boundary Waters.” The Freemans paddled 1,100 miles last fall to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness among both citizens and U.S. lawmakers. They gathered several thousand signatures on the hull of their expedition-style canoe.
“It’s a big logistical feat,” Amy said.
Across 3,000 miles and 500 lakes, Dave and Amy will get resupplied every couple of weeks with the help of teams of volunteers.
“We’ll need to get resupplied when we’re out there with food. About every two weeks we’ll get new batches of food, but then also we have to make seasonal switches,” Amy said.
As fall turns to winter, the couple will need to switch to more cold-weather gear to survive the brutal winter ahead.
“We love it in the winter, there aren’t any bugs,” Amy said. “The thing is you have to dress right and be safe with really good and warm bags. All sorts of equipment you wouldn’t think of in the summer time.”
That is the time when most who venture into the wilderness come simply for the pleasure it promises — not for the future environmental protections which Dave and Amy will seek.
The Freemans’ “A Year in the Wilderness” sendoff is Friday night from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Patagonia store on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.
They will begin the actual trip on Wednesday, Sept. 23, when they paddle off into the Kawishiwi River.
Click here for more information on their endeavor.