An intrepid couple from Duluth are preparing to set off on a 60-day canoe odyssey that will take them through the northern reaches of Canada all the way to the Arctic Ocean.
In eight days, Nick Peterson, 23, and Taylor Fredin, 22, will travel to Fort Smith in Canada's Northwest Territories for the final preparations of their 1,500-mile journey up the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Ocean, where they will paddle until they reach the Inuit village of Tuktoyaktuk.
They will embark an 18-foot canoe on June 9 for a journey they're calling the "Deh Cho Canoe Expedition," according to their Facebook page, which derives from the aboriginal name for the Mackenzie, meaning "Big River."
The inspiration for the trip, they told the Duluth News Tribune, came when they were both working at the Boy Scouts' National High Adventure Base near Ely and read about the exploits of Natalie Warren and Ann Raiho, who paddled from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay in 2011.
Their efforts "captivated" Fredin, she told the newspaper, though they have set their sights further north after originally planning on replicating Warren and Raiho's trip.
The News Tribune notes that they have plenty of adventuring experience, with Fredin having spent time in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness since she was a young girl, while Peterson spent months backpacking in India with the National Outdoor Leadership School.
'Nerves' over lake, ocean journey
This is no pleasure cruise. Soon after setting off their will have to traverse 200 miles along the Grizzly-infested shores of Great Slave Lake – the world's 10th largest lake and the 5th largest in North America. It is also the deepest on the continent.
"We're both a little nervous about that part of the trip," she told Duluth Outdoors, admitting to plenty of other nerves about the time they spend canoeing the Arctic Ocean to Tuktoyaktuk, saying: "That definitely freaks me out a little bit. We saw a video that someone had posted of whales that were bumping canoes."
But the beauty of the isolated reaches of Canada will more than make up for it, with Fredin saying she's looking forward to visiting Tuktoyaktuk where "life is totally different from anything in Minnesota," while Peterson is eager to see "The Ramparts," an area of the Mackenzie River which flows through a towering canyon, Duluth Outdoors notes.
Fredin just graduated from Hamline University and will be blogging for the U's Center for Global Environmental Education starting this Thursday. Peterson also graduated this spring, from the University of Minnesota Duluth.