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The Lowdown

Hudson Bay Bound: Part One, Challenges

May 3, 2011

Soon to be St. Olaf graduates Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren are planning a canoe adventure of a lifetime. Following in the footsteps of Eric Severeid and Walter Port their trek is to begin June 2nd in Minneapolis and end sometime in early September on the banks of Hudson Bay. While several have recreated the canoe trip documented in the book “Canoeing with the Cree” it has never been done by two women.

Speaking via Skype we talked about the trip, the challenges, and the message they would like to share with others. One challenge we talked about was the first 330 miles of Minnesota River they will paddle as they head to Big Stone Lake. They will put in at Fort Snelling and be upstream on the Minnesota River until the transition into the swamps of Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Management area. Ann and Natalie told me about the pelicans in the WMA, as many as 30,000 will nest there in a given year.

A second challenge they mentioned would be the water levels on a small creek before they enter the Hayes River. If all goes well they will be at the northern end of Lake Winnipeg sometime in August, and lack of water could be an issue. If they can’t paddle the creek they would be dragging and portaging, and that could make for a difficult run into the Hayes.

Third, Lake Winnipeg is big water, and can get nasty therefore, I asked them if they plan to consider a towboat or launch in case of wind. Both were adamant and determined, they will wait out the wind and not consider getting a lift. They have time built into their schedule to account for weather eventualities.

Naturally, the first question is: “why do you want to be the first women to recreate this adventure?” For both ladies it is about sending a message to other young women. They want the show through example how accessible the wilderness is to girls of all ages ready for an adventure. And, for them it doesn’t mean trips as lofty as the BWCAW or Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. They want young people to realize that the wilderness and adventures can still be found in right in your own back yard.

For me, the author, that could mean one of the rivers or lakes around the Twin Cities. Or you can find adventure near Duluth on the St. Louis River or the Apostle Islands.

Stay tuned for part two of my interview with Ann and Natalie tomorrow.

Best of luck in your adventure ladies. I know you will make Hudson Bay.


By: Brad Putney. “Captain” Brad Putney considers himself an inland waters guru after spending 40 years on the lakes of Minnesota. The Captain likes to say he has been at the helm of everything from a ten-foot inflatable to an America’s Cup yacht. Mr. Putney can be found at the Duluth Pack Store, helpfully dispensing free advice. He has degrees from Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of Minnesota. Please contact at: [email protected].