The Wetfoot Blog

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Borealis Paddling Expedition - Reunion Tour

Nina, Karen, Emily, Beth, & Megan -- known to many as the Borealis Paddling Expedition -- have been back to planning a reunion trip as a follow-up to their amazing 2005 trip. Here’s an update on their journey:

Among the many threads that draw all of us back to the Northwoods is the energy that sweeps us up as we share accounts of trips past, future and just-returned-from. It is an energy that quickly picks up speed and inevitably leads to talk of other waterways and ranges, of trips yet to be taken. Nothing spurs trip planning more than the high of coming back from an awesome trip.

It is only natural then that even before we returned from our 2005 expedition, plans for a reunion tour were in the works. Potential ideas included sailing, space travel and a cross-country motorcycle adventure. But being a bit more realistic and considering where our strengths and familiarities lay, we settled on canoe travel…and got down to work.

Since this past October, when we committed to making a BPE 2008 trip a reality, the five of us have jumped back into our trip-planning roles (in addition to our alter-ego academic and professional lives) tackling the details of route and re-supplies, budgets and menus, and the overwhelming task of gathering all our gear and collecting it in one place. Since the five of us are currently distributed widely across the country we communicate every couple weeks through the amazing phenomenon of free conference calling and a barrage of emails back and forth to fill in the gaps between calls.

This summer the five of us will head north again via the Emile, Coppermine, Kendall and Rae rivers. While we will encounter many elements similar to our previous expedition, including whitewater and possible ice, our upcoming route presents a new and different package of challenges. This summer our route includes significant upriver travel, a lengthy watershed, and the unknown qualities of the Rae River. We are excited to be paddling rivers further west and completely unknown by the five of us, but are additionally driven to explore territory little traveled by the present-day paddling community.

This opportunity is both thrilling and a bit scary. I try to imagine how we will feel setting off overland from the Dismal Lakes to the Rae, looking for water in which to place our boats. I imagine it will feel unnatural and somewhat painful as our bodies become responsible for the weight of our gear usually carried by river currents and waves. I also anticipate a feeling of complete humbleness as we are enveloped by the expanse of tundra for miles around us. What I know for certain is that we will find support and strength in each other as we work to thoughtfully push the boundaries of canoe travel and exploration in northern Canada, and also that we will consistently be tapping into the reservoir of tripping energy resonating from all the folks out on trail this summer.

With all the trips going out this summer to travel routes new as well as tried and true, the tripping energy surrounding Manito-wish will be a powerful force, and we are proud to be a part of it. We’ll be thinking of all of you out there on the rivers and the lakes, and in the mountains and wishing you safe adventures, calm winds, and happy trails.


The Borealis Paddling Expedition was created in 2003 with our desire to both support a program they love and challenge their own capabilities for wilderness travel. They spent over two years planning and preparing for a 95-day route, attaining over 25 professional sponsorships, creating the Borealis Campership Endowment and publicizing their mission. The expedition began on May 26, 2005 and ended in late August. By January 2006 they had raised over $50,000 for the Borealis Campership Endowment.


The BPE website:

The BPE blog:

In CanoeKayak magazine:

The Endowment:

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