ELY, Minn. - Just outside the Boundary Waters, a welcome back celebration after a year of being home.

Dave and Amy Freeman spent the last year living in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

"The time just sort of slid by. We really felt at home in the wilderness,” said Dave.

They lived through 365 days of Minnesota’s bitter cold and its most gentle summer breeze.

“Everyone says ‘Welcome back to the real world’ and we’re leaving the real world,” said Amy as she paddled closer to civilization.

"The water in these lakes are so clean you can just dip your cup in right in and rink it. And I don’t know anywhere else you can do that,” her husband added.

That's why this wife and husband started their journey in the first place in hopes of protecting it from potential pollution. The federal government currently is reviewing if miners can dig near the lake's headwaters.

Their passion is equal to the passion on the other side who believe mining will create much needed jobs. But the Freeman’s and those who support them fear it will cost the area’s pristine land and water.

More than a 100 people joined the couple as they returned to the River Point Resort in Ely, the same place the couple left a year ago.

"We were really concerned that people would forget about us,” said Dave. "You proved us wrong. This is amazing.”

"In the Boundary Waters there’s a rule you can only have nine people in a group and only four watercraft. This is significantly more than that,” added Amy.

As one voyage ends, another beings. The couple is traveling to Washington D.C. this week to lobby lawmakers. They also plan to release a documentary of their trip in the Boundary Waters later this year and write a book.

“Our next step is to keep sharing this place and keep telling people that it needs to be protected,” he said. "We have a national treasure right in our backyard in Minnesota,” he said.