After decades of exploring, where do the boldest sea kayakers, whitewater boaters and canoe trippers fantasize about paddling? That’s the question that inspired Paddling Magazine to query some of our long-time contributors and favorite nomadic aquaphiles to ask after their dream destinations, most challenging expeditions and what a life of exploration really means anyways.

In this series of profiles, these exceptional water-wanderers share their top trips, best advice and biggest blunders. And whether their ambitious journeys were taken in the name of discovery, education, environment or glory, these legends affirm what we already know: There’s far more to explore by paddle than anyone could fit in a lifetime—but don’t let that stop you from trying.

[Check back in the coming weeks for the remaining profiles in this series.]


Amy and Dave Freeman have traveled more than 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through some of the world’s wildest places, from the Amazon to the Arctic. The couple is known for mixing tripping with advocacy for Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA), which is threatened by a proposed nearby sulfide-ore mine. The Freemans paddled a petition canoe carrying thousands of signatures 101 days from Ely, Minnesota, to Washington, D.C, and later spent 365 consecutive days in the BWCA, highlighting this unique and fragile region.

Location: Sailboat on the ocean or BWCA

Occupation: Wilderness guides and advocates

Current Project: Sailing on a several-month journey
from Grenada back to the U.S.

Man and woman paddling canoe, with dog between them.
Doing what they love is their day job. | Photo: Nate Ptacek

Q&A with Amy Freeman

1My favorite paddling destination I’d like to return to is…

the British Columbia coast. We kayaked the Inside Passage in 2010 and it felt like we barely scratched
the surface.

2My biggest pet peeve is…

when people call sea kayaks “sit-in” kayaks.

3My biggest blunder was…

leaving my sprayskirt in my kayak overnight on a Lake Superior trip in October. In the morning, it was frozen solid.

4Our most challenging expedition was…

a three-year, 12,000-mile journey across North America by canoe, sea kayak and dogsled and it taught us if we break things into small steps, we can do anything.

5One thing Dave will never do again is…

pack oatmeal for breakfast every day for a multi-month trip.

Q&A with Dave Freeman

1

One destination I dream of returning to is…

the Yukon’s Peel River Watershed. This location still captivates me because the vast mountain-studded wilderness is raw and wild, and the whitewater canoeing is excellent.

2One place I dream of paddling but haven’t yet is…

Greenland. I want to paddle here because it seems like the ultimate place to kayak with icebergs, fjords and glaciers galore.

3My biggest pet peeve is…

watching people paddle with a bent shaft facing the wrong way.

4The greatest advice I ever got was…

to travel slowly because when you travel by kayak, canoe or dogsled, the land speaks to you and that was from Leeroy, a Dene Elder who lives on Great Bear Lake.

5The best paddling companions are…

positive, hard-working and caring.

6My best advice for young paddlers is…

have fun and try to find more experienced paddlers who can help you progress more quickly and with less drama.

“And don’t be afraid to dream big,” adds Dave. “If you have a big trip in mind, start planning and saving, sharpen your skills and go for it. For the last 25 years, my job has been to paddle and explore wild places and share those wild places with people. There are lots of ways to make it work, but if you love to paddle and spend time outside, then, with a little creativity, some penny pinching and a healthy dose of grit, you can get paid to paddle and explore.”

7Happiness is…

doing what you love.

8What scares me most is…

that the lakes, rivers, oceans and wild spaces we love to paddle and explore will not remain for future generations.

Paddling Magazine Issue 63 | 2021 Paddling Trip Guide Cover

This article was first published in Paddling Magazine Issue 64. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.


Doing what they love is their day job. | Photo: Nate Ptacek

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