Duluth woman will cross Boundary Waters to support wilderness education

Emily Ford and Diggins on the trail. (Jesse Roesler/Credo Nonfiction)

An adventurer from Duluth who made headlines last winter with a ground-breaking solo hike across Wisconsin is now planning a Border Route expedition. Emily Ford will ski from Crane Lake to Grand Portage, starting on Feb. 11, following the lakes and portages along the international border. The trip will help raise awareness for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness’s education programs.

As a woman of color, Ford says she hopes her adventures will inspire other people like her.

“It’s important that I be a face for people of color in the wilderness, that everyone knows that this treasure belongs to and is available to everyone, white folks and people of color,” she told the Duluth News Tribune.

Ford plans to take her time with the trek, more than 200 miles long, budgeting about a month on trail. She hopes to reach the Pigeon River before the ice breaks up, and if not, will follow a snowmobile trail to the finish. She has two resupplies planned, at Voyageur Outward Bound School near Ely, and YMCA Camp Menogyn near the Gunflint Trail.

Once again, she will be joined by her trusty canine companion, Diggins. The pair formed a bond on last winter’s Ice Age Trail trek, even though the dog was only “on loan,” but Ford has now adopted her. Ford credited Diggins with helping her become only the second person to hike the entire 1,100-mile Ice Age Trail in winter.

Plans and preparation

To train, she has been camping and skijoring near Duluth, and worked for three weeks in December at Wintergreen Lodge in Ely, where she gained more experience. She told the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer that she will ski across the lakes and switch to snowshoes for portages.

Ford posted this from her time working at Wintergreen, saying it was a “chilly morning with the pups.” (Courtesy Emily Ford)

“We’ve really enjoyed having Emily on our Wintergreen guide team this season,” Wintergreen’s Paul Schurke told the Duluth News Tribune. “We’re rooting for her upcoming border route trek. And we applaud her growing status as a wilderness-equity advocate.”

Ford’s journey on the Ice Age Trail was recently featured in a short documentary titled “Breaking Trail,” which was shown at the Banff International Film Festival last fall.

She promises to update her more than 15,000 Instagram followers throughout her trek when she has cell service. She is also encouraging her followers to contribute to the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness’s “No Boundaries to the Boundary Waters” program.

More information:

Get Quetico Superior Wilderness News straight to your inbox

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap