Ely Explorers Paddle A Message of Wilderness Stewardship into Nation’s Capital

Two thousand miles and a hundred days after paddling away from the Voyageur Outward Bound School on the South Kawishiwi River, adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman have made it to Washington, D.C. The pair paddled their canoe – covered in signatures – up to the dock at the Washington Canoe Club this morning in cold, wet conditions.

Last Wednesday, Dave Freeman said they had spent the day pulling their canoe on wheels along roads to continue making progress while the big Nor’easter storm that snarled many folks’ Thanksgiving travel plans also drove them off the windy waters of Chesapeake Bay. But, they had told the world they would be in D.C. by today, so they had to keep moving somehow.

They were optimistic about the weather forecast for the next day, Thanksgiving, and hoped to get back on the water while the rest of the country feasted on turkey and football.

The Freemans journey started in August and included 160 miles of paddling through the Boundary Waters, 500 miles sailing across Lake Superior, and then paddling again from Lake Huron, through Canada and New England, down the Hudson River to New York City, and then down the Eastern Seaboard.

The purpose of the trip was to celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and rally supporters to protect it from pollution threats posed by new mine proposals. “Our jobs are tied to this place, our way of life, and we feel like it is really threatened,” Dave said.

The pair will spend the next few days at a series of events and celebrations around the capital. They will be welcomed at a reception at the local Patagonia store this evening, then participate in a Youth Outdoor Collaborative event and speak at Georgetown University tomorrow, and then attend another reception at the Wilderness Society’s headquarters on Thursday.

Look for a feature story about Paddle to D.C. in the winter print issue of Wilderness News.


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