Last Entry Point
Stories of Danger and Death in the Boundary Waters
Author Joe Friedrichs
Minnesota Historical Society Press (April 30, 2024)
Hypothermia, lightning strikes, high winds, medical emergencies, miscalculations—the dangers are real in canoe country. Last Entry Point shares tales of tragedy and near-tragedy in the Boundary Waters while offering guidance on how to avoid worst-case scenarios.
Paddlers and hikers planning an excursion into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park—that storied region along the Minnesota–Ontario border made up of rock, water, and pine—usually conjure visions of sunny days, pleasant breezes, and starry nights. Though every guidebook advises being prepared, most adventurers escaping to these remote areas assume that all will be well.
But even those who are thoroughly prepared—who wear their life jacket and scrupulously map their route and scan the skies for impending weather—may still encounter the unexpected. And in those cases, being ready for anything can mean the difference between a memorable trip and a life-changing, or life-ending, event. In Last Entry Point, experienced paddler and longtime regional journalist Joe Friedrichs gathers tales that involve tragedy or near-misses, interviewing people who confronted danger and walked away, as well as those whose loved ones died in the wilderness. He talks with search and rescue teams to learn what goes into finding those who go missing or who experience a medical emergency miles from help. In his explorations he considers what it means to step into the wilderness, to calmly troubleshoot problems as they present themselves, to survive a rapids or extreme weather when others in your party do not, and to be left behind when an adventurer in your life does not return home.
These narratives of tragedies and hazards may seem calculated to warn BWCA enthusiasts away from their dreams, but in fact they are meant to encourage all paddlers and hikers to think through what could happen, and to be prepared for all contingencies so that, ideally, they return with their own tales that are memorable for only the best of reasons.
Journalist Joe Friedrichs lives near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. He founded the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast, which earned the Edward R. Murrow Award in the best podcast category in 2020. He is also the author of Her Island: The Story of Quetico's Longest Serving Interior Ranger. His writing has appeared in Backpacker, the Star Tribune, and the Boundary Waters Journal.
- 224 pages
- 8.5 in H | 5.5 in W
- ISBN: 9781681342863
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