Freemans Set Off For a Year of “Bearing Witness” to the Boundary Waters

With a fleet of supporters, Ely explorers and environmentalists Dave and Amy Freeman will canoe up the Kawishiwi River on Sept. 23, and then enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. They won’t exit for 12 months.

The married couple, who were named the 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, who last fall paddled and sailed from Ely to Washington, D.C., who have guided countless visitors to the Boundary Waters, who run a nonprofit that connects their adventures to tens of thousands of school children, are planning to spend a whole year in the wilderness.

After adventures that have taken them from the Arctic to the Amazon, they are making this expedition in their backyard.

“[There is] no other place like it on Earth,” Dave says.

The trip has two purposes: to connect students to the wilderness and the boreal forest, and to raise awareness about nearby mine proposals they believe could pollute the Boundary Waters. The Save the Boundary Waters campaign to prevent sulfide mining in the area is a partner in the trip.

The Freemans will travel by canoe and dogsled, boots and snowshoes, depending on the season. They will move campsites every few days and be resupplied with food and other provisions every two weeks by their support crew. They plan to communicate regularly via satellite, sharing their location, social media and blog posts, and photos. Dave recently told Canoe & Kayak magazine their goal is to “to travel to all the lakes in the Boundary Waters.”

Expecting to travel 3,000 miles during the journey, they plan to conclude the adventure this time next year by paddling down the potential path of mining pollution that would flow from the Kawishiwi River all the way to Rainy Lake.

“We are wilderness guides and educators and this is our way of working to help keep this wilderness wild,” Amy Freeman recently wrote. “We care deeply about this place and we will do everything within our power to ensure that it remains intact for the next generation.”

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