Natalie Warren is a Minneapolis-based author, scholar, and public speaker on environmental issues. A lifelong paddler and river lover, she canoed the length of the Mississippi River and won first place in the Yukon River Quest in the women’s voyageur division, paddling 450 miles in fifty-three hours. A contributing writer to outdoor publications, she has worked with Bancroft Arnesen Explore, St. Croix River Association, and River Management Society, and she started a nonprofit to present urban rivers as natural, dynamic classrooms for youth.
Unrelenting winds, carnivorous polar bears, snake nests, sweltering heat, and constant hunger. Paddling from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay, following the 2,000-mile route made famous by Eric Sevareid in his 1935 classic Canoeing with the Cree, Natalie Warren and Ann Raiho faced unexpected trials, some harrowing, some simply odd. But for the two friends—the first women to make this expedition—there was one timeless challenge: the occasional pitfalls that test character and friendship. Warren’s spellbinding account retraces the women’s journey from inspiration to Arctic waters, giving readers an insider view from the practicalities of planning a three-month canoe expedition to the successful accomplishment of the adventure of a lifetime.
Along the route we meet the people who live and work on the waterways, including denizens of a resort who supply much-needed sustenance; a solitary resident in the wilderness who helps plug a leak; and the people of the Cree First Nation at Norway House, where the canoeists acquire a furry companion. Describing the tensions that erupt between the women (who at one point communicate with each other only by note) and the natural and human-made phenomena they encounter—from islands of trash to waterfalls and a wolf pack—Warren brings us into her experience, and we join these modern women (and their dog) as they recreate this historic trip, including the pleasures and perils, the sexism, the social and environmental implications, and the enduring wonder of the wilderness.
Warren is a great storyteller and she brings readers a very fun, youthful, and adventurous book. But this book is more than just an expedition journal—Warren devotes quite a bit of her focus to reflections on changes in climate, societies, and issues surrounding our most valuable resource: water.
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- Growing up in an urban area
- Not coming from an outdoorsy family
- Being into music
- Wanting to try new things
- Falling in love with canoeing
- Becoming friends with Ann Raiho
- Heading off to college with Ann
- Her dreams as young woman
- Where her appreciation for the environment came from
- Being inspired by a book called - Canoeing with the Cree
- 2011 and being in the senior year of college
- How the expedition evolved
- Getting sponsorship for the trip
- Making the decision to go on this trip
- Saying yes now and asking questions later
- Thinking about writing a book
- Wanting to have fun and do something crazy
- Concerns before the adventure
- Hearing all the worst case scenarios
- Telling friends and family about the canoe trip
- Camping in urban areas and close to big cities
- Magical moments from the journey
- Having a baby and what helped her through the birth
- Handling the daily frustrations
- Reflecting back on the journey
- What lessons have been learned
- Not always wanting to go with the flow
- Roles in the team and how they changed and evolved during the journey
- Cooking in the wilderness
- Deciding to write a book about the adventure
- Reading Ann’s journal
- How canoeing is part of her life
- Advice for other women to take on their own challenge