Remember Dave and Amy Freeman? They’re the couple that not only were named Nat Geo Adventurers of the Year back in 2014 for their 11,000 mile (17,700 km) journey across North America, but last year they embarked on a 12-month odyssey that saw them living in the wilderness in an attempt to raise awareness of threats to the environment in Voyageurs National Park. I even wrote about the start of that adventure last September. Now, a year later, they have emerged from the wilderness at last, bringing an end to this stage of their project.
Last Friday, September 23, Dave and Amy paddled their canoe up the Kawisihiwi River in Minnesota, finishing their epic 12-month journey near a sulfide-ore copper mining operation, which is exactly the threat they’ve been battling. Those mines have the potential to spoil the natural environment of the Minnesota Boundary Waters, something they’ve shared a great deal of information about on their Save the Boundary Waters website.
During their year in the wilderness the Freemans travelled more than 2000 miles (3218 km) by canoe, dogsled, on skis, snowshoes, and by foot. Over that period, they paddled more than 500 lakes and rivers, and called 120 different campsites home. Along the way they faced steamy hot days in the summer, and frigid nights in the winter, when temperatures dropped to -30ºF (-34ºC). Those extremes were to be expected of course with the changing of the seasons, but it was a challenge for them to maintain the correct gear and stay focused nonetheless.
Now, the married couple will begin reintegrating back into normal life, where they’ll welcome being home for a while and enjoying the luxuries of civilization. But they weren’t completely cut off during their year in the wilderness. They often made blog posts while they were exploring the Boundary Waters, and more than 300 visitors helped to keep them fully supplied or spent a few days traveling with them as well. Still, the return to the daily life will be both welcomed and challenging at the same time.
Of course, their fight against the mining companies is far from over, and the duo are urging government officials to not renew the leases for the Twin Metals company that is operating in the area that the Freemans are trying to protect. To that end, they’ll head to Washington, D.C. today to talk with lawmakers, and are already planning both a book and a documentary about their experience. After a year in the wilderness, I’m sure they have some good stories to share.