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Boreal Community Media

By bike or boat, they haul tales of Boundary Waters

May 16, 2018 07:49AM ● By Editor

Dave and Amy Freeman and their canoe cross waters in Wisconsin on their Pedal to D.C. trip. Photo provided

By Joseph Dits of the South Bend Tribune - May 16, 2018 

Don’t be alarmed to see a couple bicycling into Michiana this weekend, towing a red canoe plastered with signatures. But do be alarmed at the tales that Dave and Amy Freeman will share Monday in South Bend and the extent that they’ll go to teach a point. Like spending a complete year crossing the Boundary Waters with their canoe and a tent — through a full Minnesota winter — and never once seeing a road nor civilization.

And now this: Biking from Ely, Minn., where they spend summers in a sailboat, to Washington, D.C. They are seeking support against a mine that is proposed near the Boundary Waters, arguing that the acid mine could drain toxins into the sprawling waters of the pristine wilderness.

I met the restless Freemans last June at an outdoor writers conference in Duluth, Minn. Our dinner chat went to the dogsled tours they lead. Then late this winter, an adventure-seeking friend of mine from Kokomo, Valerie Gordon, met them by chance in Texas as the Freemans began a paddle on the Rio Grande.

Valerie got them to book two stops of their biking tour here: at 6 p.m. Monday at the St. Joseph County Public Library, 304 S. Main St., South Bend, and at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Fulton County Public Library, 320 W. Seventh St., Rochester. Both talks are free to the public.

There’s good reason that, in 2014, the Freemans were named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year.

They’d traversed South America and the Amazon for 3,000 miles by bike and canoe in six months of 2007-08. On that trip, they used solar panels and a satellite phone to post updates for the Wilderness Classroom Organization (, which Dave had founded to link elementary and middle school students with explorers.

In 2006, they circled Lake Superior in kayaks, too, also for the virtual classroom.

And in 2014, they began their activism against the mines with Paddle to D.C., taking a canoe 2,000 miles through navigable waters from Minnesota to Washington. Then came their year in the Boundary Waters in 2015-’16, which they turned into the book, “A Year in the Wilderness.”

They’ll arrive in D.C. on June 20. Learn more at

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here