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After paddling from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, it's back to MN

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After paddling their canoes more than 5,000 miles over nine months, the Rediscovering North America expedition finally ran out of continent this week. So they'll return to Minnesota on Saturday.

Four of the six friends who embarked on their journey on Jan. 2 are St. Cloud natives who know each other from their days at Cathedral High School.

After 199 days of paddling – and 45 days of rest along the way – they reached their destination Tuesday when they floated down the Coppermine River into Coronation Gulf, which is part of the Arctic Ocean.

Their journey garnered lots of support and attention over the past several months, but its conclusion in a Canadian town called Kugluktuk sounds like it was actually pretty solitary, judging from the blog chronicling the trip:

"...we rounded the last corner and pulled into an empty shoreline on the west side of Kugluktuk. That we were alone, with no welcoming party, hullabaloo or press was actually quite fitting."

In an interview from Yellowknife, Canada, Winchell Delano told the St. Cloud Times that even a couple of days after finishing the trip, it still felt like they were only taking a break, adding “I don’t think it’s sunk in that we don’t have to pack up camp and paddle.”

Delano had an idea of what he was getting into, having paddled across Canada's northern territories a few years ago on a trip of 2,600 miles. But at 5,200 miles, Rediscovering North America was twice that distance.

Here's a map of the group's camping places, which include Minnesota sites on the Mississippi, Minnesota, and Red Rivers.

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A documentary on their journey is in the works. But for now Delano tells the Times the six friends are ready to take some time off from each other.

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