I’m not really sure how this one slipped past my radar. I’ve been a big fan of Freya Hoffmeister for a long time now and have followed her kayaking journeys around Australia and South America. Yes, she has paddled around entire continents, sometimes spending months and years to complete those projects.
But yesterday, while catching up on the latest articles at Outside online I came across this story, which indicates that not only has Freya embarked on an epic voyage to paddle all the way around North America, she’s actually been at it for nearly two years already.
Hoffmeister launched her journey back in 2017, two years after she finished her circumnavigation of South American by kayak. The journey started in Seattle, and traveled south to the very tip of Baja in Mexico with Freya knocking off sections in 4-5 month increments.
As she has done in the past, she paddles for weeks at a time, then stops, takes a break, heads home to Germany, only to return a few months later to resume the journey. Doing one of these expeditions in phases helps to make it more manageable, but it also extends the time.
In the case of her current project, she isn’t sure exactly how long it will take, but she’s guessing it could be ten years or even more depending on conditions. And as she tells Outside, at the age of 54 she isn’t getting any younger. It now takes more time for her to recover and she doesn’t have the same energy and endurance she did in the past.
Unlike on her South American expedition where the paddled clockwise around the continent in stages, this time she isn’t quite so concerned about completing the adventure in consecutive fashion. To that end, she’ll soon return to Seattle and set off north towards Alaska, and eventually the Arctic.
If she’s going to complete this journey, she’ll also have to cross the Northwest Passage at some point, which could take a couple of years on its own and will be unlike any other paddling she has done to date. Still, considering her experience, determination, and love of adventure I suspect she’ll be well prepared for it when she launches that stage of the journey.
Looking ahead, her plans are to paddle the entire east coast of the U.S. and Canada, and hug the shore through the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually she’ll pass through the Panama Canal too, and keep going right back to the Baja Peninsula. All told, she expect to kayak somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 km (30,000 miles) by the time she is done. When that will be is anyone’s guess.
While out on the water, Freya makes daily updates to share her progress. You can find those on her website, where you’ll also learn about her previous expeditions and plans for the future. Now that I’m aware of this current project, I’ll be checking in regularly to see how she’s doing with periodic updates on her progress.
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