An adventurous crew of six scouts and two adults from Troop 58 in Ashburn, VA spent a year eagerly anticipating the troop’s first arctic adventure at the Northern Tier Okpik program in northern Minnesota. The word Okpik (ook’-pic), which means Snowy Owl in the Inuit language, identifies the Winter Camping program at Northern Tier that began over fifty years ago in 1971.
On the first day, the crew skied with sleds weighing up to 75 pounds holding their gear and made camp at Moose Lake. The adventurers then embarked on an 8-hour cross-country journey across Newfound Lake. Led by the highly skilled guide, Amos, the skiers braved slush fields and followed a wolf trail to reach Canada. Despite skiing the last miles in the dark, the group was rewarded with an incredible dinner prepared by Amos.
The following day, the group packed up camp and headed to Flash Lake, where they set up camp and participated in various outdoor activities. The day began with a 30-minute ice fishing demonstration and later the group had the opportunity to try their hand at Gaga ball in the snow. In the afternoon, the mushers brought over their sled dogs, allowing the group to go for a ride around a small island. The day was capped off with a star walk led by Amos, who shared old Indian folklore with the group.
Troop 58’s crew was the first one of the season to make it to prairie portage this winter. Amos said about the Virginia-based crew, “… for our base this was the first trip (to prairie portage) this winter and the kids reminded me that when you are part of a group of positive people working toward a shared goal no amount of slush or open water or skiing in the dark can stop you.” This trip was a true test of endurance and a celebration of the great outdoors, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all who participated.
Five of the seven crew members earned the coveted Triple Crown Award having completed three high adventure trips together over the course of the last two and a half years. Eric A. (Assistant Scoutmaster), Ben L., Chris C., Grant K., and Jack A. all earned the award by successfully completing a Philmont New Mexico trek in August 2021, Sea Base Virgin Islands sailing adventure in April 2022, and Northern Tier Opik Minnesota trek in January 2023.
Troop 58 is already preparing for their next high adventure trip back to Northern Tier for a summer 2023 portaging adventure to Atikokan, Ontario Canada!