100 Years of Wilderness Adventure

When the adult leaders of Region 10 launched the first scout canoe trip out of Winton Minnesota in 1923, I doubt they were trying to start anything big. They weren’t on a mission to build a program that would last and go on to send thousands of scouts on life-changing experiences through a 100-year legacy. No, instead I believe they were focused on satisfying their own itch for adventure and sharing a wilderness experience with the scouts they had. They wanted to show them what true wilderness was and to help the scouts learn the lessons that the Northwoods has to offer. I doubt anyone on that trip could have predicted that 100 years later we would still be scratching that same itch. That scouts from around the country would come to learn and love the ways of the Canadian wilderness, and that the legacy started with the first crews would go on to change so many lives. I’m sure they knew what wilderness meant to the scouts, what It meant to them, and how it could change lives. There is no way, however, they could have foreseen the dire need for wilderness experiences that we see today in the 21st century. The spark they were building would become a life-changing experience for many scouts and an escape from an ever-growing technology-filled world.   

As we approach this 100th anniversaryit is a great time for us all to look back on the experiences we have had through the scouting programs in the Northwoods, and be thankful for the amazing legacy that we have been able to leave as scouts, advisors, staff, and stewards of the wilderness. Just as all those who came before us left their marks on the history and culture of the area, the scouts have also left a long rich history in the area known as the Quetico Superior wilderness, and that is something to be proud of.  

To help celebrate our 100th anniversary, we are launching special treks that will only be available in 2022 and 2023. These treks will follow different routes that were commonly used by the original Region 10 canoe base that became Northern Tier. Found below is a writeup from alumni Dave Hyink about these two treks  

The Charles L. Sommers Trek will commemorate the Eagle Scout Trips of 1920’s and 1930’s – specifically recognizing the 1930 Eagle Scout Trip which was made up of 21 Eagle Scouts, leaders and canoeing experts.  

This trip will depart from a location near the former St. Croix Lumber Company Sawmill in Winton, MN – the original departure point. Crews will be trucked there from the Sommers Moose Lake Base. The route will take the crew from Fall Lake, via Newton and Pipestone to Basswood Lake, the Basswood River, Crooked Lake, Iron, and Bottle lakes to Lac LaCroix. The original trip returned to Winton via Beartrap River and Beartrap Lake. This trip stays entirely in the BWCAW. It appears that the 1930 trek took a side trip to Rebecca Falls (in Canada) and also visited the Indian paintings on Lac La Croix – just over the US-Canada border. The Rebecca Falls side trip will not be included but a “paddle by” of the Indian paintings will be allowed as a crew option.  

The Paul R. Christen Trek will follow one of the popular routes for extended trips by Region Ten crews – the circumnavigation of Hunter’s Island. This 200-mile trip requires 12 days on the trail and is scheduled to include a weekend on either end for travel by the crews. Hunter’s Island is bounded to the south by Ottertrack, Knife, and Basswood lakes on the international Canada–United States border, to the east by Saganaga Lake, to the north by Kawnipi and Sturgeon lakes, and on the west by the Maligne River. With the Saganaga-Maligne drainage to the east and north and the Basswood drainage to the south and west. The “island” is approximately 45 miles (72 k across at its maximum east/west extent and about 32 miles north to south.) This trek begins and ends at the Sommers Moose Lake Base.  

Photograph by Blake Ferree