It's late February 2001, and I'm in the homestretch of the four-and-a-half-hour drive from the Twin Cities to Upper Red Lake. State Highway 72, a two-lane that runs due north from the village of Blackduck to the Canadian border, crosses some of Minnesota's least populated terrain, including a vast, inhospitable swath of swamp known as the Big Bog. There's very little traffic. An occasional logging truck rumbles south, bound for a wood-processing plant in Bemidji, 50 miles away. I'm going about 60 mph when a pickup whizzes by. I catch a glimpse of the driver in silhouette, hunched over the wheel in classic man-on-a-mission posture, the bill of his baseball cap pulled way down over his forehead. The truck is crammed full of gear: a portable plastic-and-canvas shelter, several plastic five-gallon... More >>>