A Year in the Wilderness

Bearing Witness in the Boundary Waters
Winner of the Midwest Book Award

“An invaluable service […] wonderfully compelling. I urge you to read it.” —VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE
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Winner of the Midwest Book Award

From National Geographic’s 2014 Adventurers of the Year, a beautifully illustrated account of a year in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Since its establishment as a federally protected wilderness in 1964, the Boundary Waters has been recognized as one of our nation’s natural treasures. And yet the struggle to preserve the vitality of this exceptionally beautiful and fragile place goes on.

When Amy and Dave Freeman learned of toxic mining proposed within the area’s watershed, they decided to take action—by spending a year in the wilderness, and sharing their experience through video, photos, and blogs with an audience of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens. This book tells the deeper story of their adventure in northern Minnesota: of loons whistling under a moonrise, of ice booming as it forms and cracks, of a moose and her calf swimming across a misty lake.

With the magic—and urgent message—that has rallied an international audience to the campaign to save the Boundary Waters, A Year in the Wilderness is a rousing cry of witness activism and a stunning tribute to this special region.



Publish Date
7 × 9 × 0.75 in
28 oz

Amy & Dave Freeman

Amy and Dave Freeman have traveled over 50,000 miles through some of the world’s wildest places, from the Amazon to the Arctic.

Praise and Prizes

  • “The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is among our nation’s great natural treasures. It is also fragile, and increasingly threatened by the prospect of sulfide-ore copper mining. At this moment in our history, when calls are growing to privatize public lands and weaken national parks, adventurers Amy and Dave Freeman … have done us all an invaluable service, offering a wonderfully compelling testimony for the value of wild places and the creatures who inhabit them. I urge you to read it, and then to join the Freemans in advocating for the preservation of the Boundary Waters.”

    Vice President Walter Mondale
  • “With this book, the Freemans prove themselves natural successors of Sigurd Olson’s legacy of carefully crafted activist writing… . It is an excellent book for any season—once you read it, you will find it difficult to get the Freeman’s singing wilderness or their lone, lingering call of warning out of your head.”

    Los Angeles Review
  • “For 366 days in 2015 and 2016, the Freemans lived in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, paddling a canoe or towing a toboggan from campsite to campsite. They fell through the ice. They were trailed by wolves. They drank from the lakes. Mostly, they bore witness… . A Year in the Wilderness is not just an adventure; it’s adventure advocacy.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • “Here’s the story of a great adventure in one of the planet’s most gorgeous wildernesses—and with high stakes at risk in a fight to stave off a truly gross assault on its integrity. So many reasons to read this book!”

    Bill McKibben
  • “This book is a documentary on paper, the plural we of the authors’ voice inviting the reader to join the conversation … We need conservation activism, we need adventure activism, we need witness activism, and we need more writers to put places to the page. The BWCA was protected through the written word and A Year in the Wilderness is an extension of that work.”

    Orion Magazine
  • “Through evocative personal narrative and nature photography, the Freemans … speak with a single attentive and amiable voice that centers the joys and challenges of navigating the land and water … Gorgeous color photographs focus on the human experience of being in wilderness and augment a novel work that should draw attention to the plight of the Boundary Waters.”

    Publishers Weekly
    A “Big Indie Book” of Fall 2017 Selection
  • Although my adventures have taken me to both ends of the earth, I share with Amy and Dave Freeman the same life-affirming natural centerpoint for physical and spiritual sustenance: Minnesota’s Boundary Waters wilderness. While I occasionally get to taste the wonders of this pristine place, they got to live and breathe it for a full year. The depth of their insights in this remarkable book reflects the intensity of their extraordinary experience and their love for this amazing national treasure.

    Ann Bancroft
  • “Amy and Dave Freeman offer a compelling tale about the beauty as well as the brutal challenges of living a year in this northern wilderness—one of our nation’s very first areas protected by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Their first-hand observations about the wild, the land ethic, and threats to this natural heritage build on a long tradition. Exemplifying a new generation of outdoors writer-adventurers, the Freemans infuse excitement and energy into the wilderness canon crafted by Mardy and Olaus Murie, Sigurd Olson, and other champions in earlier generations who have done so much to protect our wild places by describing them with a keen eye and a passionate heart.”

    Jamie Williams
    President, The Wilderness Society
  • “Gorgeous … [the Freemans’] words are complemented by an outstanding selection of photographs that immerse the reader in the watery landscape, making an indelible impact.”

    Canoe & Kayak
  • “This is a fantastic narrative, with something for every outdoor-loving reader. The descriptions of the wilderness in four seasons will make nature-lovers happy. Stories of the gear, sled dogs and camping’s constant problem-solving will please experienced trekkers. And there is a note of nostalgia in the effort, proof that a man and a woman can leave the city behind and make a difference in the world. Amy and Dave Freeman understand something very significant—that an iconic object such as a canoe can make a strong political statement, in this case in opposition to sulfide-ore mining in a pristine wilderness—much like an earlier American hero, Woody Guthrie, used his guitar to fight fascism. This land, they all say, is your land.”

    Mark Neuzil
    co-author of Canoes: A Natural History in North America