LAKE TRAVERSE, SD – Anne Sherve-Ose lifted her side of an old aluminum canoe with ease as her two college friends brought backpacks through floodwaters at the southern tip of Lake Traverse.
The three mothers have a long journey ahead of them, 30 days to be precise, to reach the Canadian border. All aged between 69 and 70, they are nature veterans. They spent 13 years canoeing in annual segments to the Gulf of Mexico.
“They want to test themselves. That’s what it’s about. They are all in good shape. My Deb was a marathon runner,” said Jim Simas, Deb White’s partner.
White took the middle seat of the dinghy on Thursday, June 9, as the women departed.
The trip from Lake Traverse to Hudson Bay, a place where polar bears live, will take the trio three years, Sherve-Ose said. This year they will row to the Canadian border, and they hope to reach the Red River in Fargo in two weeks.
Next year they will go to the end of Lake Winnipeg, and year three will take them to Hudson Bay, where they may need to bring a rifle for protection, Sherve-Ose said.
For now, they’re armed with good spirits, sturdy paddles, and plenty of oatmeal and canned food.
“It’s loyalty here,” said White, of Rosemount, Minnesota. She put her arms around Sherve-Ose and Deb Knutson. They all met in college and have been friends ever since.
They don’t do “glamping”. They camp on sandbars and places where they can carry their canoe. They started the adventures about twenty years ago and continue because they love it.
“What? We’ve aged since we first did this? And to think we still look alike,” said Knutson, who retired as a public health nurse.
Knutson is good at stitching up wounds and performing medical procedures in the wild, but most of the time, if the trio run into trouble, they’ll find a house nearby and ask for help or hope the cell phones have signals.
“If you have a problem, just fix it,” Knutson said.
“I think one of our biggest issues will be drinking water,” said Sherve-Ose, of Williams, Iowa, who lived in Jamestown, North Dakota. She retired as a music teacher.
Sherve-Ose bows out because she has the best view.
White takes the middle because his eyesight isn’t perfect. In fact, she uses the trip to raise money on GoFundMe for the
. So far she has raised about $40,000, she said.
“We should have done a lot of physical preparation, but we didn’t,” said Knutson, who said he rode his bike before taking off from the southern tip of Lake Traverse on Thursday, June 9.
When Sherve-Ose isn’t paddling, she’s helping women experience the wilderness with
which stands for Women of the Wilderness, an experimental and educational camp for women on a remote island in Elbow Lake.
On long trips, she says, her husband “just shakes his head and asks, ‘Why do you think you have to do this? “”
“My sister says, ‘You are my hero.’ My husband thinks it’s dangerous. He’s a farm boy and he’s not used to it,” Knutson said.
“We want to do this because it will be hard, and we want to show our support for people who are doing hard things,” White, who retired as a math teacher, said in an online post for his page. GoFundMe.