Even though our Troop has plenty of activity during the school year, we typically plan a summertime trip geared towards our more experienced Scouts. And while many Scout Troops journey to a BSA high adventure camp, Troop 79 planned for two in 2018, and both were successful! Here are a few highlights from our trips to Summit and Northern Tier.
From Summit participant, George H:
“Troop 79 just finished our Summit Experience at Summit Bechtel Reserve/Christen High Adventure Base in West Virginia. Activities that we participated in included white water rafting, BMX, skateboarding, high ropes course, target sports, and climbing. While there was some rain and wind during our time at SBR, we were also fortunate enough to enjoy plenty of sunshine. In addition to normal activities, we also partook in the festivities of the Appalachian Celebration, where there was an abundance of sweet treats, games, a cooking contest, and a SBR branding station.
We would also like to thank our troop’s adult leaders, Mr. Chambliss and Mr. Huebner, and our Crew Leader, Andrew. Our Summit trip would not be possible without them!”
From Northern Tier crew member, Colin G:
“Crew B had an adventuresome and immersive week in the backcountry splendor of Charles L Sommers Northern Tier. From strong winds to still water, crystal clear lakes to sticky swamps, large leeches to rambunctious rock jumping; crew B did it all! Amidst the action the Scouts earned awards such as: Historic Trails, Duty to God, lake monitoring, and the 75 miler! Scouts also learned about the history of the Voyageurs, the native Ojibwa, and Dorthy Molter (the root beer lady). Overall a wonderful voyage and an amazing experience!”
And from our other crew, as reported by Mr. Nitzsche:
“The crew that Roger and I “advised” was led by returning NT veteran John P who apparently had something to prove now that he is 17 years old and 6 foot tall and can do push ups with me sitting on his back (maybe a slight exaggeration). Kyle, Jack, Oscar, Andrew and Jason joined John and our Interpreter/“guide” in planning our trek. Despite our “advisement” the Scout led crew agreed to a 100+ mile trek to places most staff had only heard of but never been “lucky” enough to go. In hindsight, I think it seems they were never able to talk a crew into going with them… Although we did not have our Canadian passports, John was able to share his experience from 3 years ago on his Canadian expedition as we paddled the border northwest of Ely. We traveled 30 miles our first day on the water including over 2 miles of portaging.
After reaching our destination on day three 52 miles away on Lac La Croix (the boys were hoping to get a can of flavored seltzer water), we enjoyed a wonderful day at a terrific campsite thinking that it was all downhill as we headed back with the wind to our back. We planned to take a nice river paddle back on day 4 down the Bear Trap river to a lake at the end of the river where we would arrive at our campsite by 3-4 pm with only a few labeled “low maintenance portages” to start the day. Well, we all quickly learned to very much dislike beavers as we found our first portage (before we got to the river) ended at a lake that had recently dried up because of a failed beaver dam resulting in a swamp walk with 50-80 pounds on our shoulders around and across a “damp” lake the size of a football field that had fallen trees throughout. We found it easier to pull the empty canoes through the muck and over the fallen trees than carry as we sunk in the muck up to our knees.
When we landed on dry land, we started our 3/4 mile portage to the next lake… After that we finally found the river, only to be disappointed again to find it was 2-3 feet low because of a beaver dam upstream. When a small river gets low it results in many many (in this case 6-8) unplanned portages that were just created a week ago by the first crew that could not canoe sections of river because the water was too low. These trails are not at all cleared and never maintained – only a path between trees that could not be walked through that typically included hiking through and over fallen trees, swamps and very steep inclines. Our last unplanned portage that day was in darkness with headlamps to lead us to the lake where our campsite and dinner await (it gets dark at 9:30-10 pm up here this time of year). At the end of day 4 we were all at our breaking point but all recovered nicely and all apologized to each other the next morning for our moments of irritability the night before.
After day four it was mostly really really wonderful with any rough spots seemingly “not so bad” as we remembered day 4. We had great camp sites, fishing, stars, moons and clear days and nights. Perfect weather most of trip, really – only one day (#2) of overcast and rains to paddle through. The last night at camp our fishermen caught a 30+ inch Northern Pike for an after dinner fish fry – great ending to a great adventure.
The Scouts were really amazing and resilient and never gave up on their pursuit of the goal they had set. Roger and I shook our heads a lot wondering how the heck we were unable to advise them against such an endeavor but also paddled and portaged on in amazement that they (and us) were conquering the challenge. I captured much of the journey with camera pics and videos and the scouts will tell many many more details as they arrive home. The only memory I was unable to capture with photos was our swamp walk across the “damp” lake and a picture is the only real way to fully understand the really bad situation we were in. There was no energy to spare to figure out how to get the camera and risk dropping it into the swamp and losing or breaking it – terribly brutal trek in the moment.”