A Year in the Wilderness


Under a million twinkling stars spanning forever, Dave and Amy Freeman paddled onwards. They had spent many days and many nights on these waters.

In fact, the couple embarked on a yearlong adventure in the Boundary Waters beginning on September 23, 2015 and ending on September 23, 2016. By the time the Freemans returned, they had camped at approximately 120 different sites, explored 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveled more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team.

Their goal was to protect the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the Wilderness’ edge.

“If you have been here, you understand…” Amy said.

On Wednesday, Apr. 12, the Freemans will be speaking at the University of Minnesota Duluth in Bohannon 90 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The couple has traveled more than 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through places that stretch from the Amazon to the Arctic. In 2014, the couple was named National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year.

“Early on, I loved being outside. I tried to be outside and explore wild places every chance I got,” Amy said.

The couple has dedicated much of their time to educating youth on the importance of wildlife. In 2000, the Freeman’s created an interactive classroom called the Wilderness Classroom, in which they could share pictures and videos with students while on their expeditions. 

“We want to instill interest and also appreciation for the environment,” Dave said.

In 2002, the Wilderness Classroom became a nonprofit organization and today, the Wilderness Classroom reaches 3,200 teachers and 100,000 students around the globe.

The Freemans used the Wilderness Classroom on their year long expedition in the Boundary Waters.

“We wanted to bear witness to the wilderness and document as much as we could and share it while we were out there through photos, videos and texts,” Amy said.

Through their photos, videos and texts, the Freemans showed far more than a classroom that the Boundary Waters are important.

“Our primary focus was on raising awareness about a series of sulfur mines being composed along the edge of the wilderness,” Dave said. “We want to help people understand what a special place the boundary waters is, as well as, the threat that these mines pose to the wilderness.”

The Freemans are in the process of writing a book about their experience titled, A Year in the Wilderness.

“We are really focussed on telling the story and inspiring more people to take action to protect the boundary waters,” Dave said.

The book is scheduled to be released in the fall — a year after the Freeman’s year in the wilderness. 

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