For Hudson Bay Paddlers, Adventure Starts Close To Home

One of the rewards of this work is having the opportunity to tell about the adventures of so many different, interesting people.

Natalie Warren and Ann Raiho paddle the Minnesota River.

It’s hard to beat this one: After graduating from St. Olaf in May, Natalie Warren and Ann Raiho began paddling a canoe over 2,200 miles to reach Hudson Bay and become the first women to recreate Eric Sevareid and Walter Port’s epic 1930 adventure as told in Sevareid’s “Canoeing with the Cree.’’

They reached Fort York on Aug. 25. The polar bears had gotten there before them, so the two paddlers kept a loaded shotgun at hand as they made their way about the grounds.

Yes, adventures still can be made.

We were able to reach Warren a few days ago by phone at a cabin on Lake Saganagon on the Canadian border. She was one hour removed from a short Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness trip on the Granite River.

She had plenty of stories to tell from the trip toHudson Bay. There were storms, wind bound days onLake Winnipeg, a surprise visit by a bear, and days of hard toil.

There were lots of rewards too. People all along the way were extremely generous and welcoming. There were lessons to learn, and environmental and social issues to discuss and examine with people all along the route.

And, there was an ever-changing but beautiful landscape to enjoy and lots wildlife to see. Woodland caribou. A pack of wolves.

But for those without the wherewithal or time to take on a trip of this magnitude, don’t despair. Adventure can be had close to home too.

Warren pointed out that the trip’s start on the Minnesota River was an adventure in its own right.

From a physical standpoint, she said it was the most challenging part of the entire trip. Paddling over 300-miles against the current on the Minnesota River is difficult under any circumstances. They took on the river at flood stage.

Yet they truly enjoyed the time on the Minnesota River. They found it far more beautiful than they expected, and they appreciated its quiet, wilderness like feel. Only rarely did they encounter others on the river.

Instead, they found lots of wildlife. Images of otters at play, herons stalking fish along wooded shorelines, and graceful pelicans floating on invisible currents in a sky colored robin-egg blue make up their memories of the river.

Soon,Warren will be visiting family in eastern states and making her way home to Miami, Fla., where she will begin job hunting.

Raiho will be visiting a friend in Alaska before returning home and then, heading off to graduate school in January.

They only hope that their journey serves its goal of inspiring other young people to take on outdoor adventures of their own.

They will be giving a public presentation on their trip at 7 p.m. on Sept. 22 at REI inBloomington. Their canoe will be auctioned off and the proceeds donated to Camp Menogyn for scholarships to help young people discover the outdoors at the camp, just as they once had.

They’ve told their story to news reporters and have a blog that had already counted over 19,000 visits as of earlier this week. To read their blog and see video clips of the journey:

1 Response

  1. Minh Lesage

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