Becoming the first all-female team to ever paddle from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay, Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren finished the historic 2,250-mile route in 85 days.
Labeled as the “Hudson Bay Bound” adventure, the trip was inspired by the fur trade route outlined in the 1930 novel “Canoeing with the Cree.” Sponsored by Sierra Designs, Raiho and Warren were struck by the fact the trip had never been completed by an all-women’s team, and saw a potential journey as a way to inspire other women to plan and embark on their own multi-day adventures.
“We hoped that our trip would bring awareness and inspiration to women who do go on …or want to go on wilderness canoeing adventures. We did make it, so the first part of our goal is fulfilled. Now we will work at spreading our story to inspire other people to get out there,” says Raiho.
As well as being the first women’s team to complete the journey, they also were the fourth team ever to complete the trip.
Raiho and Warren left Minneapolis on June 2, and reached York Factory in Hudson Bay on August 25. In total, 70 days were spent canoeing, including 7 wind-bound days on Lake Winnipeg. The journey included 3 weeks on the Minnesota River, 2 weeks on the Red River, 18 days on Lake Winnipeg and 18 days for the final stretch which included 4 layover days.
“Our biggest physical challenge was paddling upstream on the Minnesota while the river was in flood condition and the state was experiencing record high temperatures for June,” says Raiho. “However, our biggest emotional challenge was finishing Lake Winnipeg.”
Lake Winnipeg was the site of a rare error for the team, as Raiho and Warren made a navigational mistake near Poplar River and erroneously thought they were nearly finished with the journey.
“(On Lake Winnipeg) it was really discouraging to have to keep paddling into what seemed like a never-ending lake. When we finally did see the end of the lake … we both cried and then sang until our throats were raw. We knew at that moment we would probably make it to Hudson Bay because Lake Winnipeg was our largest obstacle,” adds Raiho.