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A New Adventure

Thursday, July 2, 2015
Posted by
Mitch Paquette

Two months ago, I loaded up my parents’ Subaru with all of my belongings, my kayak strapped firmly to the roof, and made the roughly four-and-a-half-hour trip north from St. Paul to Ely, Minnesota. It was not an unfamiliar drive, but rather one that brought back memories of countless journeys that I had made to Ely and the Boundary Waters with my family and friends throughout my young life. Despite the nostalgia, as we neared Ely, I could not deny that this adventure had a decidedly different feel to it, as well as a different purpose.

I made the decision to move to Ely in large part because of the surrounding wilderness, the endless miles of forest to be hiked and waters to be paddled. I also came here to answer a call from this very same wilderness which has given me so much, a call for defenders who will work to protect this uniquely special place now when it needs them most.

I am an intern here at Sustainable Ely, the home of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. Along with our Northeast Regional Organizer Jake Flaherty and our fabulous team of passionate volunteers, I help keep the office staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week.

Our mission is to spread awareness about the threat to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining to the people who come to Ely to enjoy this precious wilderness. We work to educate and provide accurate information to visitors about this newest threat to the Boundary Waters, share what this wilderness means to the region and to the 250,000 people who visit this national treasure annually, and tell them how we can all contribute to the effort to protect it.

We also bring the Campaign to exciting events in and around the community, such as the Fourth of July Parade and Blueberry Arts Festival in Ely and the Boundary Waters Expo on the Gunflint Trail. Sustainable Ely also works with the many local businesses who recognize the value of the Boundary Waters and help us in our efforts to protect it by promoting our growing national movement.

If you find yourself in Ely, be sure to stop by. We have a large selection of of brochures and educational materials that will help you understand the issue and let you know why it is so important that we act now to protect this wilderness. Sustainable Ely also has a number of displays that explain where these sulfide-ore copper mines are proposed and the areas that they could impact. These resources are intended to help visitors take an informed stance with regards to proposed sulfide-ore copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed, but also to provide our supporters with the tools that they need to educate their friends and family about this issue.

The staff at Sustainable Ely are knowledgeable and always excited to have a conversation about protecting the Boundary Waters, a place that we all love and that we want to make sure is here for future generations.

Please come visit us here on 206 E. Sheridan Street to find out more about the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, chat with me about paddling, talk to Jake about fishing hotspots, or find out about the best places to visit in town from the longtime residents of Ely who volunteer here daily. Before you leave, be sure to sign your name on one of our Wenonah canoes and our petition in support of the National Park and Wilderness Waters Protection Forever Act to permanently protect the Boundary Waters from the dangers of sulfide-ore copper mining.

Photo Credit: Becca Dilley

A Superior Hiking Trail Thru-Hike: Part One, Why I'm Going

Monday, June 29, 2015
Posted by
Kathleen Ferraro

On August 9, 2015, Kathleen Ferraro will begin a thru-hike of the Superior Hiking Trail. Kathleen decided to hike in support of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and use her hike as a chance to educate people about the risk posed to the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining. This blog is the first in a series about her adventure. [Katheen pictured on right in photo]


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My connection with the wilderness is both old and new. Having grown up in Minnesota, I’ve always considered myself a part of a body of people uniquely attached to the environment--it’s the land of 10,000 lakes, after all. Growing up with wilderness literally minutes away, hiking, swimming, sailing, skiing, camping and biking have always been favorite pastimes. There is also a certain environmental spirit that Minnesota and Minnesotans alike embody: an innate regard for the outdoors in both work and leisure, and physical and spiritual senses. Where going “up north” is synonymous with going outside, where deadly winters are just an opportunity to play pond hockey, Minnesota has a harmonious environmentalist spirit that I love, respect and hopefully embody.


 

Beyond that, my backpacking days began at Project Wildcat, a pre-orientation program before I started college at Northwestern University. Project Wildcat features a body of student counselors that take incoming freshmen on eight day backpacking trips on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) in northern Minnesota. I did it, I loved it and I became a counselor. Since then, I’ve been planning and leading trips every year with a great group of outdoor devotees.


Since becoming a counselor for Project Wildcat, I’ve done everything possible to continue to engage in wilderness around the world, including working with a guiding company in Iceland and trekking in South America. All the same, good ol’ northern Minnesota is still my favorite place.

 

Whether its the fact that its home or the many Project Wildcat-related memories I associate with the SHT, I would drop anything to head up north for a few days on trail (in fact, I did drop everything: I’m sitting on a boat in Lake Superior writing this right now). After these experiences, I’m a firm believer that being in the wilderness strips you down to the best, most authentic version of yourself, and if wilderness can do that to me then it's only fair that I do everything I can to maintain the best, most authentic environments on earth.


Naturally, with a few weeks off at the end of this summer, what better adventure to undertake than thru-hike the SHT? And how better to do it than in support of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters? I wanted to do my part to support their efforts to protect the area from the proposed sulfide-ore copper mines. And I was certainly inspired by the adventure advocacy efforts of the Bike Tour to Save the Boundary Waters and Dave and Amy Freeman’s Paddle to DC and upcoming Year in the Wilderness.


 

What the SHT is to hikers, the Boundary Waters is to canoers. I know that my experiences on the SHT have helped me grow as an outdoor enthusiast and as a person. I also know the power of the Boundary Waters and the impact that wilderness has had on me and many others.


My adventure begins August 9, 2015. Let’s hike!

 

We are humbled and inspired by the passion shown here by Joseph Goldstein. It’s amazing to see how the Boundary Waters has impacted his life and inspired him to make it his mission to protect the wilderness. The following is a letter Joseph drafted and sent to decision makers in D.C., which he shared with us.

My name is Joseph Goldstein. I am 13 years old, I live in Springfield, Illinois, and in October of 2014 I was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL). I’m writing today to request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the protection of one of America’s most beautiful and pristine wildernesses: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area. This very special place is at risk from sulfide-ore copper mining, and I have made it my Wish to permanently protect the BWCA from this danger.

When the Make A Wish foundation first came to me, I was pretty surprised and didn’t really know what to say to their offer. The idea of having a wish granted was...uncomfortable. They talked to me a lot about all the Wishes they grant every year – trips and swimming pools and ponies.
I’ll admit that I did like the idea of asking for a trip to the North Pole, something my dad and brother and I have talked about doing with our friend and explorer, Paul Schurke, but it just didn’t feel right – it didn’t feel BIG enough.

After we left the hospital, I kept thinking that a wish is an important thing. I think it should be about more than just me. It should be about my brothers and my friends and my parents and all of us – a wish for my generation and everyone after. I have been exploring the Boundary Waters since I was 5 years old, both summers and winters. I know what an important, beautiful place it is, and I know how much my friends and teachers all want to hear more about where we went and what we did. I want them to have the chance to be there and love it, too. I want them all to know what it feels like to pull a huge Pike from the lake, to clean and cook it over a fire they built, and to be able to drink straight from the lake (I know I’m not supposed to but the point is I CAN). Everyone I know is interested, even if they haven’t yet had the chance to experience it, and I want to protect that opportunity for everyone, forever.

Because of my experiences in the BWCA and the friends we have made there, I’ve had the chance to travel to and learn from a lot of other wild places. I have seen, first hand, that a lot of damage has been done because of short sightedness, and I know that there is no “safe” way for the area around the BWCA to be mined. Water and runoff won’t understand man’s boundaries, and sulfide-ore mining for copper and nickel will create destructive pollutants that will poison the water, and kill the fish, the animals and the forests of the Boundary Waters. This type of mining is just shortsighted destruction for temporary gain. I know that there are people who call this job creation, but I hope we can come up with something better.   

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Wilderness is important. It is important for its own sake. It is also important for the sake of all of us. My dad says that wilderness is a place to learn and grow and be challenged to be more. My mom says it’s a place that can heal who we already are. I think they both are right. I know that the BWCA is a place I want all my friends to see and experience. It is a place I want my brothers to grow up with, too. It is a place I want my kids to know and love someday. It is a place that can change who we are, for the better. It also is a place that can’t protect itself – wilderness relies on us to understand its importance in our lives and guard it for the future.

Nearly 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt understood the need to guard our beautiful, natural resources and began protection of the Boundary Waters. Fifty years ago, the Wilderness Act made those protections stronger. Today, we have a chance to permanently save this special place for everyone, forever. Edward Abby once said, “Wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” I am proud to use my Wish as a defender of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, asking you and all our leaders to please, permanently protect this beautiful, important wilderness.

Cancer doesn’t make any sense at all, and my mom says there’s no use trying - we can’t choose what happens to us, we can only choose how we respond. My choice, my Wish, is to try to make things better. I’m very grateful that I have a lot of friends who were already working on this, and I truly hope you will join us in this, too.

Goldstein signature set

 

 

Wilderness Can Heal

Friday, March 6, 2015
Posted by
Erik Packard

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has always been a part of my life. My father started taking our family there when I was a baby, and it quickly became an annual trip. We would visit other states and Canada, but we would make sure to come back to Boundary Waters. My father would always say the most beautiful place he had ever seen was still the Boundary Waters. I went to the Boundary Waters in 2002, and not long after that I was deployed to Iraq, during the opening of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

When I returned my father was losing his battle with cancer and I could not find my place "back in the world." After my father passed away from cancer, I did not return to the Boundary Waters, though I thought about it all the time. When I returned from my 2008 deployment to Iraq, I began to struggle with PTSD, alcohol, depression and suicide. On the insistence of my wife and friends, I finally went back to Boundary Waters. What I found back in the BWCA was a sense of peace that I thought I had lost forever. I could feel the poison that had infected my soul from the horrors of war being drawn out of me. The trip started the healing process, and when I could make it back it would always refresh me.  

This past December I was lucky enough to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine to dogsled in the Boundary Waters. It was through Voyageur Outward Bound School with other veterans. It was on this trip that I finally felt like I could move on from the war and live fully back in the world. On that trip, I found other veterans felt the same sense of healing as I had. The poison that had infected us was pulled out of us by the peace and quiet of the wilderness. Now that peace and quiet is threatened. The mining proposed near the Boundary Waters will forever alter and destroy that peace of the wilderness.

Already the noise of the exploratory activity of the mining interests is doing this. One instructor remarked that a trip for one veterans group that summer was not peaceful because of explosions coming from the exploratory site. These veterans that fought for their country were not able to have the same peaceful experience because of the interests of foreign mining interests. The Boundary Waters and places like it are one of the reasons I pledged my life to this country. The Boundary Waters is a rare commodity in this world, a place that has remained the same as God created it. We can visit it, play and pray in it, or we can destroy it. If this mine goes through, we will forever lose one of God’s most peaceful gifts to all of us. 

For more on the importance of the Boundary Waters to veterans, visit Save the BWCA Veterans Group on Facebook.

Winter Camping: A Joy and a Challenge

Friday, February 27, 2015
Posted by
Levi Lexvold

Every year I like to take a winter camping trip into the Boundary Waters. Just this past week, I joined Vermilion Community College’s Outdoor Leadership and Outdoor Recreation Therapy program as base camp support for students taking solo trips as part of the Outdoor Pursuits course.

My first time winter camping was a painful learning experience; my roommate and I were clearing the Four-Mile portage from Fall Lake to Basswood and we camped out at the start of the portage. On our first night, condensation rained down from the ceiling of our Quickfish 6, a pop-up ice shelter we used. The second night was horrible, as unbeknownst to us the stovepipe had become clogged with soot. Smoked billowed into our shelter forcing us out, coughing and gasping for air while trying to stomp our feet into frozen boots. Both our eyes were burning with tears streaming down our faces. The ski back was brutal. I could only keep one squinty eye open while my partner, who was unable to open his eyes, followed me by the sound of my skis gliding over the ice. The lesson I learned from that trip is to check the stovepipe every day and to avoid burning punky cedar wood.

Since that first trip I have gone on four other volunteer trips that ranged from three to five days long, working to clear dogsled trails and rehabilitate campsites affected by the Pagami Creek Fire. Winter camping is hard work. If we were not clearing trails and cutting down hazard trees, we were constantly gathering wood, stoking the fire and boiling water for hot drinks. The only time it seemed we could relax was after dinner, but after the first few trips I really began to enjoy winter camping.

By the time the Vermillion group reached the landing on Snowbank this past week, it was snowing heavily and I could not wait to put my skis on and get out on the lake. We had two groups that departed at different times in order to stay within the bounds of our nine-person permit limit. After discussing where we would set up our two base camps, the first group of students departed. A half-hour later, Mark and I skied out followed by the second group. We set up our camp on a small bay along the western shore of Disappointment Lake. From there the other students in the group dispersed to set up their solo sites and build a shelter for the night. For their shelters, students just used a tarp set up low to the ground with snow piled up along the sides to block the wind. It was not too cold the first night and all the students were in high spirits.

When we awoke around seven in the morning, the temperature had dropped to negative 10 F. We skipped breakfast and headed out to check on all of the students. Mark and I did not stay the second night; instead, we went back to town. That night the temperature dropped to negative 25 F. I was a little worried about some of the students out on Disappointment, but knew they all had solid shelters and warm sleeping bags. Sunday morning we headed back to Snowbank to pick up the students.

Just as we got to the landing, we spotted the second group returning across the lake. Their faces were red and frosted over; one of them had the biggest ice-coated beard I have ever seen. The wind was coming out of the northwest that day and it was bitter cold. We drove out on the ice road to wait for the first group. After half an hour of waiting, we decided to head down the portage into Parent to see if we could find them. We reached Parent at the same time as the first group and helped them get their gear to the vehicles.

I’m sure at times during their winter solo trip it seemed like a brutal challenge to camp out in extreme temperatures, but it is one of those great experiences in college that students will look back on fondly. Getting out and winter camping is a way to see the Boundary Waters in a different light. I think it is important to have diverse experiences in a place; these help build on our relation to it. I have been lucky enough to travel throughout the Boundary Waters and the Crown Lands of Ontario and Manitoba, experiencing the landscapes different moods in all four seasons. These experiences have fostered a deep sense of care for this landscape and have led me to take action to protect it.

Appreciation for the Wilderness: If You Love It, Protect It

Friday, February 20, 2015
Posted by
Olivia Ridge

Appreciation for wilderness is part of who I am. I think it is a part of all of us. My passion for the wilderness began on canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. I grew up paddling and camping there with my parents. My appreciation has only continued to grow. I've guided dogsledding trips out at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, played my fair shake of broomball, met adventurers like Dave and Amy Freeman and even embarked on a solo canoe trip.

Living in Ely, a community based on its proximity to wilderness, has turned my passion to action. It led me to a yearlong internship with the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters supporting our goal to protect the clean water and forest landscape of the Boundary Waters and its wilderness community out of Sustainable Ely. We started by scrapping old paint off of the façade of a quaint house on the main drag of Ely. There, we collected signatures on a Wenonah canoe to be paddled to Washington D.C. and presented as a petition to President Obama. No one could anticipate that the Paddle to DC would make waves in every town that it passed through, across America and Canada, and become a true movement.

Sustainable Ely serves as the very active birthplace of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. There, we host monthly movie nights, bring in nationally recognized speakers, connect adventurers to the issue and host discussions on the mining threats. Next time you venture out to enjoy the beautiful wilderness lakes and serenity here, stop by Sustainable Ely and see the work that goes into protecting the Boundary Waters and its wilderness-edge communities.

As users of this land, we have to remember that it is not an accident that the Wilderness exists. It is not an accident that some of our most beautiful and precious wild places are set aside for public use. It took action.

Activism and adventure go hand in hand; they are part of our national heritage reaching back to Lewis and Clark, Alexander McKenzie and others who explored and mapped the vast expanses of North American wilderness. Adventure and social change are also not a new idea. Ansel Adams explored and documented the beauty within his favorite wilderness areas, and his images were used to expand the American National Parks System, saving these areas for generations to visit and marvel in, rather than develop.

Protecting wild places comes in many forms. Here are six simple ways that you can do your part as a wilderness traveler and speak for the trees:

1. Learn about the existing threats to the area that you are enjoying. Being informed is the first step to action. Want to understand the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining to the Boundary Waters, scroll our homepage.

2. Do something cool! Next time you go adventuring, share those images and stories with a purpose. We'd love to see your Boundary Waters photos on Instagram.

3. Share your experiences on social media! Next time you post a picture or share a story of your favorite place, tag the organization working to protect it. Share your Boundary Waters story with us on Twitter or Facebook.

4. Find a relevant #hashtag and use it. This is sometimes the easiest way to spread information about an issue. We use #SavetheBWCA.

5. Tweet your representative. Tell them that you care about the issue! Tell Rep. Betty McCollum you love the Boundary Waters, for instance.

6. Work for wilderness! Spend an internship with an organization that is doing good. Working for creative team of fellow outdoor enthusiasts will not only serve wild spaces, but also inspire you in your future work and connect you to the outdoor community. We have openings right now!

Best of luck to any of you searching for your voice who will speak for the places that have none. I hope it leads you on many more outdoor adventures!

Sharing the Wild Beauty of the Boundary Waters by Dogsled

Thursday, February 12, 2015
Posted by
Dave Freeman

One of the things I enjoy most about living in northern Minnesota is the constant change seasons. The longer days and brilliant wild flowers of spring, boating and fishing in the summer, fall colors and hunting in the fall, and last but not least, winter—my favorite season of all. For me, winter and dogsledding go hand in hand, and most winters Amy and I live and work at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge on White Iron Lake.

Shortly after paddling into Washington D.C. on December 2 after our Paddle to DC adventure, Amy and I were back in Ely prepping dog sleds, helping to train and care for 69 sled dogs, and leading our first dogsled trip of the season. The trips typically last four or five days and each week we get to meet people from different parts of the country—even far corners of the world. They come here to experience the wild beauty of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Superior National Forest, and learn to dogsled.

Most the groups are all adults or families, but our last trip was with 16 seventh and eighth grade students and their two teachers from Illinois. They were here for seven nights and we spent three nights camping out on a remote lake called Crockett. I love working with young people because, like the sled dogs, they are full of energy and excitement. With a little guidance and encouragement they will jump into most any task, from collecting firewood and cutting it into pieces to feeding the camp fire, chopping a hole through several feet of ice to gather water, or caring for and working with the dogs.

Our second night at Crockett Lake was clear and cold. After dinner we left the warmth of the fire and walked through the cold night air onto the frozen lake. The moon would not rise through the scraggly spruce trees across the lake for another hour and the Milky Way shimmered overhead.

I helped the kids find the North Star and pointed out a few of the constellations, which we take for granted, but are hard to see from their urban backyards. More than anything they were taken back by the silence. When they finally quieted down, which a group of kids that age rarely do, there was total silence, no cars, no wind, nothing but the sound of the cold snow shifting under people’s feet as they shifted their weight from side to side to try and stay warm.

The silence was broken by the faint call of wolves in the distance, which elicited a chorus of howls from the 22 sled dogs bedded down back at our campsite. We returned to the warmth of the campfire to fill everyone’s water bottles with boiling water and have a snack before bed. Then each kid ran back into the cold to stick the water bottle into his or her sleeping bag to help warm it up before climbing in for the night. As I headed off to bed I wondered how everyone would sleep. Surely some would sleep well and others would wake up several times and have trouble sleeping, but regardless, they were making memories that will stay with them for a long time.

Helping people experience dogsledding, sleeping on a frozen lake, the silence and beauty of this place, and the skills and confidence gained through wilderness travel reminds me why the Boundary Waters is so special. This thought helps me focus my efforts to help protect the Boundary Waters for future generations. Amy and I will continue to introduce people to the joys of dogsledding and the winter woods for a few more months, but we are also continuing our work with the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters to educate people about the threats that mining in a sulfide ore body bring to this region. Last Saturday I gave a presentation about Paddle to DC at the REI in Bloomington, Minnesota, that was hosted by the Minnesota Canoe Association.  Save the Boundary Waters Volunteers Ann Cosgrove and Margot Monson were there with a table full of information to share with people—thank you Ann and Margot!

On March 14, Amy and I will be speaking at Canoecopia, which is the world’s largest paddle sports expo, in Madison, Wisconsin, and we will be volunteering at the Save the Boundary Waters booth throughout the weekend. Plus, we will be speaking at the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo in Minneapolis the weekend of April 24-26. We are also planning events at the Patagonia stores in Chicago and St. Paul in April. I hope you can join us at one of these events—and bring a friend or two with you!

Dave Freeman and Amy Freeman were named National Geographic's 2014 Adventurers of the Year. They lead educational adventures through Wilderness Classroom. Paddle to DC, their 2,000-mile, 101-day paddle (and sail) from Ely to Washington, D.C., last year supported the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

Our Top Ten Favorite Things to Do in the Boundary Waters!

Friday, February 6, 2015
Posted by
Olivia Ridge

Recently, we posted our top 10 favorite things about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on Instagram with some great pictures. These 10 are some of the inspiration behind why we are are so passionate about our fight to save the BWCA! Take a look at the full list and pictures below, then share reasons YOU love the BWCA on social media with the hashtag #savethebwca (Make sure you are following us on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

1. Paddling. It's simply the best part. Drip, Drip, Swing. (Photo: @arborealis)

2. Asking for S’more.

3. Being ourselves. Something about the woods brings out our truest selves, the good, the bad, and the crazy.

4. Snapping pictures. Let's be honest, the BWCA is very photogenic. And you know you look better in a canoe. 

5. Floating around on a Thermarest. Does your bed at home also double as a wave rider? These Forest Service Rangers take a “water break” on Lac La Croix.

6. Taking a hike. Although the BWCA offers hundreds of miles of walking trails, it is notoriously best seen by boat. To get from one lake to another, you’ll have to do some crazy portaging. The real purpose: to bring out the desire in all of us to carry an 80 pound food pack or canoe on our shoulders or a mile, uphill.  

7. Hearing the crunch of crusty snow beneath your feet. Whether it’s on skis, snowshoes, dogsled,
or foot, the Boundary Waters is at its wildest in winter.

8. Picking wild blueberries. In August these bad boys are at their peak juiciness. The stains on your fingers never let you forget about the trail pancakes you made with them.

9. Cooking over a fire. Everything tastes better when you are hungry. And when there is smoke in your eyes and sparks burning through your polypropylene Patagonia.

10. Fishing for "water wolves" in the deep BWCA. Here, @Jahbeas catches pike on the fly.

The Future of Our Forest?

Sunday, January 4, 2015
Posted by
Olivia Ridge

With each town we passed through, we met local groups working toward a better environment. Each community was plagued by an environmental fight, to avoid a superfund site, to better their rivers, or even to discuss controversial proposed sulfide-ore mining for copper in their region. Wisconsin and Michigan both have past, or in Michigan's case, recently permitted copper mines. These communities gave us a national perspective on our local issue.

While in the Michigan UP, I took a slight detour to scope out a new Sulfide-mining project in the Yellow Dog Plains. We had heard from our friends at Save the Wild UP that the most surprising and immediate affect from the new mine was the change to their forest. Here in Northern Minnesota, our Superior National Forest could face similar changes as the setting for the proposed Twin Metals mine. I wanted to see for myself what the development looks like.

Image #1 is of a small logging road through the forest of the Yellow Dog plains. Previously, the Yellow Dog Plains was a remote and virtually untouched wilderness, aside from large scale logging operations. Image #2 shows the expansion of the logging roads in the forest for the purpose of the Eagle Mine. Michigan's new Eagle Mine was permitted in 2007. The life of the mine production is estimated to last up to eight years. The necessity of a four-lane highway for the transportation of the ore and heavy machinery during the 8 years of production has lead to the vast expansion of dozens of miles of their roads and clearcutting of the trees. The affect on their forest is indisputable.

As we work toward protecting our clean water, let's not forget about the trees. Our Superior National Forest is a treasure in itself.

Paddle to DC Support Crew Tell All

Thursday, December 18, 2014
Posted by
Olivia Ridge

Here is what you have all been waiting for. The REAL story from the support crew. Your exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Paddle to DC.

Selfies on the water - Dave, Amy, and IAs the Paddle to DC support team, I traveled with Dave and Amy for the past 100 days. My journey was more like a road trip. A road trip at the pace of a canoe. We passed through wilderness, rural towns, forests, mountain ranges, and beautiful cities. In the context of my road trip, these big cities provided welcome energy and fun. They were the next destination in my mind. The Paddle to DC was, in this same way, a unique and difficult canoe trip. The cities were a bit of an interruption to the trip, both logistically, and mentally. Don't even get me started on the driving.

This was my office for a week in Fort Coulonge, Quebec. A small historic town on the edge of the Ontario /Quebec border. Because I was working on setting up events in Ottawa for the next week, this phone booth made a convenient office. Luckily, public telephones are easy to come by in Canada. Since being back in the United States, I have not found a singe one in operation.

 

This was my office for a week in Fort Coulonge, Quebec. A small historic town on the edge of the Ontario /Quebec border. Because I was working on setting up events in Ottawa for the next week, this phone booth made a convenient office. Luckily, public telephones are easy to come by in Canada. Since being back in the United States, I have not found a singe one in operation.Dave and Amy did 40 presentations in 100 days. Think about that for a moment. They paddled nearly every single day for 100 days and managed to spend nearly half of their time sharing their journey with others. A large part of my work throughout the journey was transportation to and from these events or organizing the events themselves.

Thank you to all of our amazing partners that allowed Dave and Amy to speak to their circles. It is truly amazing to see so many people working to protect their water, get people outside, and defend our environment. I am especially grateful for the students that reached out to us by asking Dave and Amy to speak at their school, writing about the trip, and sharing it with their friends. I know far too well how easy it is to put the blinders on when you are in school and work on what is in front of you. As I think about going back to a University soon, I now have so many examples of how to stay involved in current issues and be a leader.The Suburban! Rather than a tent, this was MY home for much of the journey.

All of you still reading are waiting for the juicy gossipizzle of working with Dave and Amy. The shocking truth is that they are the most humble, genuine, kind, and hardworking people I have ever met. Dave and Amy would paddle all day and manage to do as much communication as I did. They spoke to over 2,700 people over the course of the journey and even at the end of the day, never let them see how tired they were. But to truly see Amy and Dave in action, is to see them working with kids. We visited many schools over the 100 days where they spoke to loud, energetic school groups. It is amazing that they didn't lose their voice from trying to be heard over the rumble of middle schoolers in an assembly. The excitement of the kids is truly contagious. And there is no doubt that many of them will be our future adventurers thanks to Dave and Amy. It was an honor to work with them and be inspired by their true passion to protect wild places.Many hellos and goodbyes during the trip. As we say, until next time!

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