Emily Ford to Ski Across the Boundary Waters


Last winter, Emily Ford borrowed a sled dog named Diggins and embarked on a 1,200-mile winter hike of the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin.

Every few days, she regularly checked in with friends and family and posted updates on social media. Word of her journey quickly spread and she was surprised to see hundreds of new followers each time she logged into Instagram.

After 69 days, Emily reached the end of the trail and had become an inspiration to thousands. Her journey across Wisconsin thrust Emily into the national spotlight.

As a Black woman, it also opened her eyes to the lack of people of color in the outdoors. This only made her more determined to push both her personal limits and more forcefully show that the outdoors is for everyone, regardless of race, sexuality, gender identity, or economic situation.

Emily Ford in the Boundary Waters

We at the Friends were among those inspired by Emily’s accomplishment and message. As the head gardener at Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Emily has the winters off. This unique schedule allows her the opportunity to set off on ambitious winter treks.

We’re thrilled to team up with Emily this winter, to sponsor her on a 210-mile ski journey from the western edge of the Boundary Waters to the shores of Lake Superior at Grand Portage. Of course, Diggins will accompany Emily on her winter trek across the Boundary Waters, via the famed “Voyageur’s Highway” along the border.

The goal of the trip is both to raise awareness of the threat proposed copper-sulfide mining poses to the Boundary Waters and to promote diversity and inclusivity in the wilderness. Emily is a true role model, and we’re inspired by her adventure!

Inspired by Emily’s BWCA Adventure

The future of the Boundary Waters depends on people. On those who experience and fall in love with the area will protect this special place.

The wilderness needs people.

Unfortunately, the conservation movement and the outdoor industry has not kept up with the changing demographics. If the conservation movement doesn’t make purposeful strides to invite and include, the future of the Boundary Waters, and many outdoor areas, is in jeopardy.

Emily Ford skiing across the BWCA
Emily and Diggins training for their expedition. Photo: Credo Nonfiction

Despite the widespread belief that the outdoors is a place to escape from politics and social ills, systemic injustices that prevent people of color from being safe in their own communities also create barriers to accessing the wilderness and enjoying outdoor spaces. Further, lack of representation in the outdoors makes it hard for many to see themselves in nature.

While the wilderness may offer opportunities for freedom, adventure, and self-discovery, these opportunities are not available to everyone.

Emily Ford’s winter expedition across the Boundary Waters is meant to inspire people from all walks of life — regardless of race, sexuality, gender identification — to challenge themselves and enjoy the wilderness.

We hope you are as excited by this expedition as we are – stay tuned!

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