Updated: July 15, 2020 10:38 PM
Created: July 14, 2020 08:59 PM
Natural beauty spans across the state of Minnesota. However it was the north that called outdoor adventurer Bret Alexander's name, and inspired the creation of a new community.
"When I moved up here with my wife who's from the Iron Range, socially, it was just a challenge to find people with similar interests," said Alexander. "There was not really a whole lot of organized events around outdoor recreation so wanted to meet some friends."
Alexander's desire to share his passion for the outdoors led to the birth of Mesabi Outdoor Adventures (MOA) in January of 2018.
The inclusive organization is designed to get people outside while connecting with fellow Iron Rangers.
After moving to Virginia within the last two years, Daniel Melby was inspired to join the group and now serves as a volunteer.
"Now I'm paddling and doing all this fun stuff and got to meet a lot of people through it. It's been really fun to get to know people, especially since I'm new to the community," said Melby.
The recreational group offers free activities all year round. Their events range from winter camping to weekly bike rides to canoe or kayak paddles, and a lot more in between.
To join the fun, it's recommended to RSVP online and bring your own equipment. The group does offer free equipment rentals upon request, depending on the event.
Last week MOA participants launched from the docks of Mountain Iron's West Two Rivers Reservoir for a sunset paddle.
Eveleth's Char Conger was one of over 40 paddlers to join the group for the fun.
"This is an absolutely excellent turnout. It's so cool to see so many people from all over the Iron Range coming out to these events," said Conger. "It's super peaceful and it's a great way just to relax and cruise around the lake and enjoy the outdoors."
Friday night's paddle started shortly after 8 p.m. Under the guidance of Alexander and MOA volunteers kayakers, canoers, and stand up paddle boarders floated down the reservoir, returning around 10 p.m.
Throughout the trip, many participants struck up conversations with one another.
"It's really exciting," said Melby. "Put yourself out there, you're gonna meet a ton of people you've never met before."
The group is open to outdoor adventurers of all skill levels, from expert paddlers to beginners.
Alexander said their group is unique from others in the area because of its Iron Range focus, "it's a gift to live up here and to be around the amazing resources. There's an endless supply of lakes, rivers and streams to be explored up here."
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