Northern Tier, along with Seabase, Philmont, and Swamp Base* are the high adventure trips that Boy Scouts has to offer. I have been lucky enough to have attended all of these high adventure trips.
I participated in Northern Tier 2 summers ago and it was a totally different experience compared to Philmont. I was drenched with water about 75% of this trip. Like Philmont, we got to plan our trek beforehand. My crew decided to go for the 50 miler patch so we went and canoed about 61 miles in a weeks time. We got caught in some of the worst rain I’ve seen, but we proceeded to paddle on to reach our camp sites.
This trip I learned that just because you are out in the wild does not mean you can feast on some food. Our guide showed us some of the craziest trail meals. We enjoyed onion rings, double chocolate cakes, pies, and more. We had 3 men to a canoe and we had I believe 3 canoes in my crew. We got to travel from lake to lake in Minnesota. These lakes cover a majority of the state and its some of the most peaceful areas I’ve been around.
In between lakes, we had to portage our canoes and gear to the next lake. This involves one man carrying the canoe, without scraping it against the ground, and the other two would carry the gear. Portages could be up to a mile long. I was lucky enough to have my dad attend this trip as well so it was a very fun experience.
Northern Tier is not as popular as Philmont but that does not mean it’s not as good. This trip is a different kind of amazing. I can’t compare the two. A very important part of this trip was the mosquitoes. It’s all part of the experience and wow, these were some huge mosquitoes.
The great thing about Northern Tier is that you would be out on a huge lake and you and your crew were the only ones there. Occasionally you would pass a group but rarely. It made the whole experience even better. We really were out in the middle of nowhere and it was so freeing.
Troop 97 was lucky enough that year to take 4 different crews to Northern Tier and I totally recommend this trip to anyone who has the chance.
Troop 97 actively sends scouts to high adventure bases. We have a crew going to Philmont and a crew going to Sea Base this summer.
* Swamp Base was created and is run by the Evangeline Area Council of the Boy Scout of America. While not an official high-adventure base, it ranks right up there in fun and experience.