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6-man canoe team from Minnesota, Iowa reaches Arctic Ocean

ST. CLOUD — A team from Minnesota and Iowa has completed a 5,200-mile canoe journey from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean.

The six-member Rediscovering North America crew finished their 244-day expedition Tuesday in the town of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada.

Cathedral High School graduate Winchell Delano said they were in good health and planned to fly back to Minnesota on Saturday.

They launched in Louisiana on Jan. 2 and headed up the Mississippi River. They finished the last stretch — a 12-mile length of the Coppermine River that rounded a peninsula and entered Coronation Gulf, a finger of the Arctic Ocean that reaches into Nunavut — in rain, cold and 20-to-25 mph winds, Delano said.

The other members of the crew were fellow Cathedral grads Adam Trigg, Dan Flynn and John Keaveny, with Iowa natives Jarrad Moore and Luke Kimmes. All but Kimmes had worked together at Second Nature, a Utah-based wilderness therapy program.

The farther they got into their journey, the larger the receptions grew at their resupply points. So when they reached Kugluktuk, they presumed the people they saw approaching were coming to greet them. It wasn’t so.

“For so much of the trip we’ve lacked anonymity,” Delano said by phone from Yellowknife, Northern Territories.

But the only attention came from Royal Canadian Mountain Police officers, who simply asked if they were OK.

“It was kind of cool to arrive in this little hamlet with people going about their business,” Delano said. “(We would think) oh, that’s probably the welcome crew. And they would pass us by.”

Because a flight south to Yellowknife opened up later that day, they didn’t have much time to savor the moment. They hugged. They filmed. They packed.

“It was pretty abrupt, really,” Delano said.