Christmas 2015 was a little different for seasoned adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman. The pair adorned their tent with solar-powered Christmas lights, built glowing ice luminaries, baked Norwegian sandbakkelse cookies and chowed down on a dehydrated holiday feast. Three months before, the Freemans had embarked on a yearlong stay in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. The pair are spending a full year exploring more than 3,000 miles and 500 lakes and streams by canoe and dogsled in support of a campaign to protect the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the wilderness’ edge.
Unlike their 2015 expedition, which saw the Freeman’s paddle from the South Kawishiwi River to Washington, D.C. to hand deliver a canoe signed with 2,000 signatures protesting the mine, the year spent in the wilderness is dedicated to exploring and bringing awareness to America’s most popular canoe tripping destination. “We are not here to cross it or conquer it, but to bear witness to it,” says Dave.
How did you stay warm through winter?
It’s all about the calories. We ate between 4,500 to 5,000 calories a day. A typical day would start with coffee and oatmeal with a dollop of peanut butter, followed by trail mix, hunks of cheese and a Thermos of soup. Dinner consisted of pasta with smoked, responsibly harvested salmon, lots of butter or olive oil, dehydrated veggies and parmesan cheese. When it was really cold or we had worked extra hard we would bake a chocolate cake.
Does the reality of a year in the wilderness live up to the dream?
It’s not for everybody and we have our moments, but for the most part we work well together and enjoy being alone. We have found that communicating clearly and honestly with each other is important and we try to…