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Superior Experience

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007 12:00 a.m. CDT
Scouts hiked along sheer sandstone cliffs rising out of a frozen Lake Superior. Provided photo

Scouts enjoy north woods snow adventures What does the world's largest lake, a 200-mph snowmobile dragster, sheer rock cliffs, 1,000 miles of travel, ice caves and 50 Alaskan Huskies all have in common? They were all a part of Boy Scout Troop 33's recent adventure tour in the great white north. A group of Scouts and leaders from DeKalb's Troop 33 recently returned from an adventure-filled tour that included hiking on the frozen ice shelf of Lake Superior. Scouts began their adventure by attending a snowmobile festival in Minocqua, Wis., that featured more than 150 snowmobiles competing in radar-timed drag races. One of the highlights was seeing the world's fastest snowmobile, a long dragster snowmobile powered by four engines, capable of speeds of 200 mph. The boys got to take turns sitting in its cockpit and the staff later fired up its four deafening engines, much to the delight of the Scouts. The next day found the Scouts hiking across the frozen ice shelf of Lake Superior to explore the world-famous ice caves of Squaw Bay in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Miles of snow-covered ice stretched out before them as they hiked their way across the frozen landscape. Sheer sandstone cliffs rise above the lake, giving birth to frozen waterfalls and creating ice caves decorated with thousands of stalactite-like icicles. The waters of Lake Superior are very turbulent and during some years, remain unfrozen. The last time the waters froze enough to allow passage to these ice caves was back in 2004. The ice caves provided Scouts with a refuge from the -24 wind-chill and also a incredible fantasy landscape rarely seen by humans. It was a highlight of their adventure tour. Scouts also enjoyed visiting the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center where they learned of the flora and fauna of the area, the history of the Native Americans who inhabited the region, as well as the loggers, miners and sailors who also claimed the northland as their home. The Scouts' last day of adventure involved visiting a dog kennel where they spent some quality time with about 50 Alaskan Huskies. The dogs were excited to see the boys and enjoyed all the attention showered upon them. An experienced musher explained to the Scouts about the difference in dog breeds, dog sleds, the importance of various pieces of equipment and regaled them with stories of legendary marathon dogsled races. The boys also were introduced to the sport of dog sledding while being pulled on a sled by a six-dog team of Alaskan Huskies down a circuit of wooded trails. It was the perfect ending to a great north woods snow adventure tour. One final chapter of their adventure still awaited them back in Illinois. On their return trip, as they exited the Interstate in Rockford and passed through the village of Cherry Valley, they encountered severe drifting and blowing snow. Far out in the countryside, a young woman had driven her car off the road and into a ditch. A rescue mission was needed. Boy Scouts to the rescue! Still dressed in their cold weather gear, an energetic team of Troop 33 Scouts sprang into action and quickly pushed her car out of the ditch and back onto the road. They escorted her to a place of safety before resuming their return trip home. Winter snow and cold can be harsh elements that we are forced to deal with, but the chill of winter can also provide great opportunities, days filled with snow and fun, challenge and adventure. Through 1,000 miles of travel and days of subzero wind-chill, Scouts found themselves continually confronted with exciting and new experiences, unique and rare places to explore, great challenges to overcome and long adventure-filled days that tested their endurance. They will long remember their many north woods snow adventures and the blazing colors of sunset over the frozen waters of Lake Superior. Boy Scout Troop 33 is sponsored by First Lutheran Church in DeKalb. Visit their Web site at www.troop33dekalb.org.

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