As Traverse County farmer Elaine Anderson told me this afternoon, “I don’t think these gals have any idea of how inspirational their trip really is.”
Paddler-adventurers Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren (in case you haven’t already heard) are destined to be the first women to paddle all the way from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. They had counted on seeing new sites and meeting new people along the Minnesota River route, but they hadn’t counted quite so much on the kindness of Western Minnesotans–strangers quick to become friends.
“Ever since we stopped in Montevideo and [CURE Executive Director] Patrick Moore put the word out,” Natalie said, “we’ve found six messages [offering hospitality] on our voicemail pretty much every day.”
Wednesday night, the Big Stone Local Foods group and CURE and Land Stewardship Project staff held a potluck (with local foods, of course!) dinner for Ann and Natalie at the Clinton Kitchen. This morning, they headed back to water to tackle the 26 windy miles of Big Stone Lake.
We thought that’d be the last we saw of them except through following their blog (I know I thought of them each time I heard the wind whistle today), but local farmer Heidi Pilot was so inspired, she hired a plane out of the Ortonville Municipal Airport and got some aerial photos of Natalie and Ann paddling the lake–wisely hugging the western shore near Hartford Beach.
I’d say it was sad to see them go–but if they’d stayed, they wouldn’t be making history right now!
Best of luck, Ann and Natalie!