By Natalie Warren and Ann Raiho
My friend Ann Raiho and I will be the first two women to paddle a historic 2,250-mile route from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay in a three-month canoeing expedition through the Minnesota and Red Rivers, Lake Winnipeg, and the Hayes River.
In 1930, Eric Sevareid and Walter Port canoed this route, and Sevareid recounted their expedition in the celebrated book, Canoeing with the Cree. Though others have recreated this journey, no two women have ever completed the route. We plan to change that! On June 2, just days after graduating from St. Olaf College, we will paddle a 17-foot Langford canoe upstream on the Minnesota River, with plans to paddle into Hudson Bay by summer’s end.
We want our trip to inspire a new generation of young women and men to explore the wilderness. We are raising money to support YMCA Camp Menogyn, a wilderness camp for teenagers, where we went on a progression of expeditions throughout our highschool careers. The two of us met at Menogyn on a 50-day canoeing expedition, paddling just south of the Arctic Circle on the Kazan and Kunwak Inuit heritage rivers. After we raise $2,500 to cover trip expenses, we hope to raise $20,000 for camper scholarships to Menogyn. If you are interested in donating for our cause, please visit our website.
We want more women to adventure into the wilderness. Going on trail has shaped our lives so much and we hope to inspire young women to go on their own expeditions. We were shocked to find out that no two women have ever done this historic trip—women have climbed every mountain, crossed every ocean, and should paddle every river, too. By paddling this historic route, we hope to show that wilderness trips are accessible to everyone. We are paddling from a booming metropolis to an icy shore on Hudson Bay. Wilderness doesn’t get more acessible than that!
Our expedition starts June 2nd at Fort Snelling in the Twin Cities. We will paddle upstream on the Minnesota River, downstream on the Red River, across the 270-mile long Lake Winnipeg, and eventually ride the wild whitewater of the Hayes River. Weather, wind, and polar bears permitting, we anticipate arriving at York Factory on Hudson Bay by September 10th. We will chronicle our journey in this WAM series, so be sure to follow our adventures!
Natalie and Ann