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Nonfiction

North American Odyssey

12,000 Miles Across the Continent by Kayak, Canoe, and Dogsled
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From the acclaimed authors of A Year in the Wilderness, an extraordinary account of a 12,000-mile, human-powered journey across the continent.
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From the acclaimed authors of A Year in the Wilderness, an extraordinary account of a 12,000-mile, human-powered journey across the continent, and of how the authors’ experiences along the way awakened a deep commitment to environmental activism.

In 2010, Amy and Dave Freeman married and set out on an unusual honeymoon: a 12,000 mile, human-powered journey across North America. They begin in the Pacific Northwest, kayaking up the Inside Passage to Alaska, navigating tidal rapids and encountering sea lions and majestic humpback whales. In Skagway, they trade their kayaks for backpacks, retracing the path taken by prospectors in the Klondike Gold Rush. They canoe the Yukon, Blackstone, Peel, and Mackenzie Rivers, navigating whitewater rapids and avoiding grizzly bears and moose. From the Northwest Territories in Canada, they dogsled south across the frozen landscape, skiing and snowshoeing stretches through blizzards accented by howling wolves, then resume travel on interconnected waterways, paddling along the routes taken by voyageurs centuries before, migrating tundra swans high above. They paddle kayaks across Lake Superior, through the Soo Locks, and down the Saint Lawrence River, dodging seals, container ships, and fishing boats. Finally, they descend the Atlantic seaboard mostly along the Intracoastal Waterway, their journey interrupted for a few days by Hurricane Sandy, then paddle across the Suwannee River and through Everglades National Park, with manatees, alligators, and sharks, before emerging into Florida Bay and concluding the expedition in Key West.

Experienced wilderness travelers—they were named Adventurers of the Year by National Geographic in 2014—the Freemans completed this extraordinary odyssey over the better part of three years. Along the way they meet Indigenous water protectors and subsistence hunters and encounter painful signs of the legacy of colonization and environmental degradation: remote beaches covered with plastic, retreating glaciers, mountainsides stripped clean of all trees, infernal forest fires, Indigenous communities flooded by dams. Listening with humility to the land and those who live in close relation to it, and stopping to visit school assemblies and share online content with the Wilderness Classroom, a nonprofit organization providing resources for environmental education, the Freemans gain confidence along the way in their ability to survive in wild places, but they also come to feel increasingly small as human beings, mindful of our place in life on Earth.

At once an extraordinary adventure story and a clarion call for change in the way we live, North American Odyssey is an essential book for our times.

Keywords
wilderness; wildlife conservation; sea kayak; canoe; dogsled; sailboat; travel; activism; environmental impact; forest fires; storms; climate change; memoir; honeymoon; odyssey; North America; Minnesota; Arctic Circle; Key West
ISBN
9781571311689
Publish Date
Pages
300
Dimensions
9 × 6 × 1 in
Weight
18 oz
Author

Amy & Dave Freeman

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