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If you're a Scout troop or Venture crew, your obvious lodging option is the Northern Tier High Adventure Base. If you outfit your wilderness canoeing trip through them, you will stay the first and last night in their cabins, on Moose Lake, just around the bend from LaTourell's. The Northern Tier Base is a beautiful facility, built like an old Hudson's Bay Company Wilderness Outpost but with modern touches. You would need to make your reservation well in advance. You cannot stay at the base unless you are participating in one of their wilderness trips, but if you're bringing a group of kids up here to canoe, you should be doing that anyway. Their trips are specifically designed for teenagers, they have a greater variety of trips than anybody else, and their pricing is hard to beat. As you can see in this photo, they have plenty of canoes, and this photo is taken in high season, when dozens of trips were out, using a large portion of their equipment. Northern Tier High Adventure Base. 14798 Moose Lake Road, PO Box 509. Ely 55731. 218-365-4811.
This is the Northern Tier Planning Pavilion, where they conduct meetings and instructional sessions in the two days preceding your trip. That's Moose Lake in the background. Most trips head off to the Northeast, which is toward the right in this photo. The most spectacular of their expeditions is a 10 day adventure which ends at their Canadian Outpost. From there you'll be flown back by float plane. You can't see it in this photo, but there's a huge map of the Boundary Waters mounted here, with all the lakes, portages, campsites, trails, streams, scenic landmarks and all the trips Northern Tier offers. The Boy Scouts have been doing this for a century and they have become incredibly skilled at running wilderness canoe trips for teenagers. All trips are provided with a trained and experienced interpreter, so named to distinguish them from the usual Boundary Waters "guide", as in fishing or hunting guide.
Northern Tier Base offers 28 small cabins your Scouts will stay in before they depart and after they return. The centralized showers and rest rooms are very modern and a short distance away. Most trips have a maximum size of eight plus the interpreter. If you bring a large group they will break it into two smaller groups to fit within the eight maximum. All Scout groups must have two adults in charge. If a group includes any girls, one of the adults must be a woman. "Adult" means 21. All members of a group must provide a medical form completed by a doctor back home and a swimming competency form signed by a recognized authority back home. You could bring a group as small as six, which could include four teenagers and two adults. If they split your big group into two smaller groups, one adult could go with each group and the interpreter would fill the role of the second adult. The two epic expeditions, to Bissett and Anitikokan, allow as many as 11, plus the interpreter. All participants must hold at least First Class rank and be at least 13, or hold full Venture membership.
This is the Outfitting Warehouse where all equipment except canoes is stored. After each trip every item must be checked in, cleaned, reconditioned, and readied for its next outing. Northern Tier offers Full Outfitting, meaning everything from tents to packs to cooking equipment and all food. You can bring some items with you, but theoretically you need only to show up and they can provide everything. Their equipment is state of the art and chosen specifically for weeklong Boundary Waters wilderness canoeing trips. Since most of what we buy back home must be multipurpose, used on hiking, backpacking, canoeing and rafting trips, in three or four seasons, even though it may be great equipment, it is often not as well suited for these trips as the Northern Tier items. This is the only thing they do, and they are very good at it.
This is the back porch of the Northern Tier Commissary. This houses the Mess Hall, where you will eat three meals before departing and three meals after returning. It also houses a Trading Post where you can buy souvenirs and last minute personal items. The meals they serve here are designed to provide high energy in a cold climate, to build up your reserves before you set out on a week or more of daily paddling.
This is the "front office" of the Northern Tier Adventure Base. As soon as you walk in through the main gate you come to this building. The interpreters and welcomers have their offices here. Scouts from across the nation apply for summer jobs here, usually beginning in lesser roles and working up to interpreter positions as they get older. There is a very intense training program. The year we took all these photos there were three Kentucky kids here in various roles.
The Hod Ludlow Lodge was the original building from the very beginning of the Northern Tier Adventure Base 86 years ago. As such it holds considerable history. Not only have outstanding Scout leaders passed through these doors, but so have Scouts who went on to great achievements in science, business, the military or political careers; numerous writers like Sigurd Olson, Edward Abbey and Richard Louv; and a long line of politicians. Scientists have stopped here while conducting research projects. During 2008 the building was closed for a complete restoration, after which it will be returned to full use.
Shown here is the main office building for the directors and full time adult staff members. Northern Tier Base does not close in the offseason. Instead, it shifts gears to run the Okpik Winter Adventure Program. Okpik is the Inuit word for Snowy Owl. Northern Tier offers dogsledding expeditions into the wilderness. These trips include snowshoeing, cross country skiing, animal tracking, snow shelter building, ice fishing and cold weather cooking. There are special weekend and five day programs to fit within school schedules, but during the Christmas break seven day expeditions are offered. There are also special training programs for teachers and Scout leaders who want to institute cold weather programs back at their schools or Scout units.
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