For Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren, paddling the 1,800 miles from Fort Snelling to Hudson Bay was just one part of the journey known as “Hudson Bay Bound.”
That phase of the journey, which lasted 85 days, ended on August 25 in York Factory, Manitoba along the shores of Hudson Bay. Raiho and Warren enter the history books as the first women to complete the journey, inspired by Eric Severeid’s book “Canoeing With the Cree” first published in 1935.
“The end of the Hayes River was a magical experience and we are happy that we accomplished our goal,” Warren said. The journey began June 2 at Fort Snelling, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.
The first phase included planning the entire trip while wrapping up their senior year of college at St. Olaf in Northfield and competing in a run for the Ultimate Frisbee national title.
Arriving at York Factory at Hudson Bay
“A lot of expeditioners spend months of time planning and we did all that while keeping very busy and are so glad that everything worked out,” Raiho said. “Now it’s time to share that experience with others and hopefully inspire them to take their own outdoor adventures,” Warren added.
The trip doesn’t feel like its over because their arrival in York Factory only sparked the beginning of yet another journey. “For one thing, we took a float plane from York Factory to Gillam and then took a 36-hour train ride to return to Winnipeg where our friends from Menogyn picked us up and returned us to Grand Marais,” Raiho said.
In early September, Raiho and Warren gave a presentation of their journey to paddlers from all over canoe country at Stone Harbor in Grand Marais. The presentation went so well, they have been asked to share their story with others. “It would be fun to do some public speaking both from a motivational speaker role and sharing what we saw from an environmental perspective—a few offers have come in and we are open to others,” Warren said.
Warren and Raiho want to be sure that everybody who is interested attends their celebration party this Thursday at the Bloomington REI from 7 to 8:30 p.m. “We’ll tell the story of our trip including video, photos and music provided by us,” Warren said.
There will also be an auction for a Langford Prospector canoe from Stone Harbor, the canoe they used to make their epic journey. Proceeds from the auction, in addition to the other money they raised along their trip, will be donated to the YMCA’s Camp Menogyn. “People can make donations at the event as well if they are interested and we hope that we can raise at least $10,000 for Camp Menogyn so they can provide outdoor adventures for a lot of young people,” Raiho said.
Those who cannot make the event are invited to check their website at www.HudsonBayBound.com for photos, video and the entire blog of their trip along the way.
The actual canoe they paddled to Hudson Bay is not the one up for bid because of its historic value but it will be on display at Stone Harbor in Grand Marais for years to come.
Ann Raiho looks out over Hudson Bay while strumming a tune
Sharing their trip with others is only part of the next phase. As recent college graduates, both Raiho and Warren are in the middle of one of life’s great journeys. T
Once January rolls around, Inver Grove Heights native Raiho will be heading to Colorado State University of Fort Collins to pursue her master’s degree in ecology.
Warren, on the other hand, will be job searching as she travels to Madison, New York, Washington, D.C. and her hometown Miami, Florida. “I’ll be back in Minneapolis as well and would love to work here if the right opportunity presented itself,” she said.
One of the most commonly asked questions of the pair is what they plan on doing for their next wilderness adventure. “I have a cousin who is going on a seven-week trip next summer with Camp Menogyn so I told her in 2015 she can come with Natalie and I on another trip somewhere,” Raiho said.
Where that trip will take them is another story yet to be told. Topping their historic journey to Hudson Bay will probably not be the goal but getting out there and doing something is always better than sitting around doing nothing.
Raiho and Warren hope that others are inspired by their journey to do just that.