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Which High Adventure Base is more Wild

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I have a son who has just served is second season as a Charley Guide at for NT at both BWCA and Quetico areas. He is a Triple Crown holder. Needless to say the guides up in Minnesota and Canada have built up a true esprit-de-corps as this area has been in general operation since 1923. My son mentioned that this year was the NT busiest season ever. I asked why and was told point blank that Philmont is now nothing but a dog track. He said youre never more than a days gentle walk away from an attraction. (

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I took a crew up to NT last summer, and over five days I think we saw seven or eight other parties on the water, and half of those were at portages once we got off the large lakes. We did the Bear Loop, which is by no means the most remote, nor is it in Quetico.


When I've gone into Quetico, I have gone for days without seeing another party.


All that said, I've never been to Philmont. I can't say how remote the two are in comparison. I will say that NT is probably the easiest to get truly lost in...

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Philmont ain't high adventure....as pointed out you walk from place to place and do stuff. Ever scout should go and experience it, but it at all that. I have been there, watched the sun rise on Baldy and Set on the Tooth. It was fun but not high adventure. Especially when the horseback riding is the horses just marching along in a line, oh thats fun......I wonder if they make you wear helmets now.


Someone went to MOAH or MOHAB or something like that that looked like the real deal. I looked at the web site and really liked what I saw.

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One would do well to think of the HA bases as training centers. They are pretty tightly controlled environments.


You can find much wilder for much fewer $$, but you need more conditioning and team building to enjoy it to the fullest.


For example, I asked our captain at Seabase Bahamas if he ever hosted any Sea Scouts. He hadn't. That made sense to me after a little. Being on someone else's boat following someone else's well refined float plan is not something a successful sea scout ship would be interested in.


Certainly NT is the most isolated, if that's what you mean by wild. And most folks tell me Philmont is probably the most physically exerting.


That said, eagle rays with 15 foot tails don't just rise up in front of you out of the deep in the boundary waters. And, you ain't dodging coral scrapes and sea nettles to harvest conch in the rockies!

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That said, eagle rays with 15 foot tails don't just rise up in front of you out of the deep in the boundary waters.



True about the rays, but I have seen a 15 foot tall moose rising up out of the waters if that counts for anything... You can't watch eagles nesting in a pine go diving for fish in the Bahamas, or get carried off by mosquitoes as you're trying to tie up your bear bag for the night... ;)

(This message has been edited by eolesen)

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You want wilderness and adventure? Go to MOHAB - Montana High Adventure Base. On a week-long trek in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, we saw 2 other hikers, going the opposite direction, and 3 bears. We made 72 stream crossings - everything from step-over's to setting up rope for crossing. We made steep, 1,700 feet climbs up to passes, hiked in and slid down areas covered with snow, and bushwacked miles to pick up a mapped trail. This is one of the wildest areas you will find in the continental US. If you don't believe me, look at the August, 2011 issue of Backpacker magazine.


Index description of 8 page article:

"Big, Wild, Empty

Want to be alone with grizzlies, bighorns and 200 miles of the Continental Divide? Bring your A game and exlpore Montana's 1.5 million acre Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.


Bigger is Better: Lose yourself in the lower 48's wildest spot, Montana's 1.5 million-acre Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.


There's nothing wild left in the Lower 48? Don't tell the grizzlies on this traverse of the Bob Marshall Wilderness."


This area, just west of Dupuyer, MT is reported by the US Forest Service to have the highest concentration of grizzlies in the Lower 48 (all adults carried bear spray, which was provided). It's northern boundary shares a border with the southern edge of Glacier National Park. No roads anywhere inside the wilderness area. This is not a trip for the inexperienced or the light-hearted. But it is absolutely beautiful.


I've put a photo album of our trip online, but I haven't put in many captions. You should be able to view it here: http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/creativeapps/slideShow/Main.jsp?sourceId=533754321803&cm_mmc=Share-_-Personal-_-Email-_-Sharee-_-View&_requestid=349389

Let me know if that doesn't work. I'll try to get some captions in over the weekend.

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Not a HA base, but a remote location, at least back in 89. LaDomain, Quebec, Canada. other than the first and last days we didn't see anyone else. Beautiful scenary, completely on our own, and fun, at least fun once the weather warmed up :) .


However I did learn to hate float plane pilots, seemed that one of them deliberatey went over us after take off to shower us with ice cold glacier water. ;)


edited: here's a link.






(This message has been edited by eagle92)

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If you take a full Crew of 12 to MOHAB, cost was $550 per person this year. They bill it as a Crew for $6,600. If you take fewer than 12, the cost will obviously be higher per person. Go to http://www.montanahighadventurebase.com/ for more info.


From Atlanta, our airfare was $525 with two stops heading out, and one on the return. We arrived late on Tuesday night (11:30 PM local). The Council let us spend two nights in the basement of their office, which was very nice - carpeted with a little kitchen area. Their office was about 5 miles from the airport. Great Falls is not that big of a city.


This was only the third year of the program. First year they had one Crew, second year they had two. This year they had 7. We were the first Crew from east of the Mississippi. The other weeks, Crews came from Houston and Michigan. As word gets out, this place is going to get very popular!


The Montana Council (the whole state is basically one Council) wants to make MOHAB an ultralight backpacking destination. They are acquiring gear with that in mind. The Oware pyramid tents we were using weigh around 26 ounces and sleep 4. Those black pads you see us all carrying were provided by MOHAB, and luckily we all carried them - the foliage we were tenting on would have punctured my thermarest the first night (the tents don't have bottoms). The base also provided us with individual ground clothes, which helped, but wouldn't have saved my thermarest, I don't think.


Our guide is a student at Georgia Tech, and we've stayed in touch - he's coming to our Troop meeting next week to talk about going ultralight. He gave me some stories from the other Crew Treks after ours. On week 3, the Crew was camping in the same small meadow we used on our second night out. All their food and stoves were over near the small fire ring at one end of the meadow, and they were setting up all their gear and tents at the other. A grizzly came walking right through the middle of camp. He either didn't notice them or didn't care, and headed over near their food. They were worried he would go for it, but he angled off and kept going.


The last week, on the last day, the Crew headed up a valley behind Walling Reef, the big wall mountain you see from base camp. Wind gusts picked up to around 90 mph blowing down the valley. When the big gusts hit, they had to drop to their knees to keep from getting knocked over. When it eased up, they would go about 20 - 30 yards before the next hit. There was no way they were going to get the tents up, so they just staked them down and everyone crawled under. It blew that way all night - no one got more than an hour of sleep that night. The next morning the front passed and the wind eased up. Luckily, that was the last night and they weren't far from base camp.

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Well I suppose that depends on your definition of wild.


Desert Wild is different from Ocean Wild is different from Northern Forest wild.


Boundary Waters/Questico is about 2.1 million acres - mostly uninhabited. Does the size of the area make it more wild? If so, then what to make of the 3.2 million acres - mostly uninhabited - that is the playground for the former Maine National High Adventure Base (now operated as a high adventure base by Katahdin area council).


The Montana high adventure area is only 1.5 million acres, but it beats out both Minnesota/Ontario and Maine by having Grizzly Bears, Wolverines and Bighorn Sheep - if animals are your guidepost for wild.


Maine has a rugged mile-high mountain that is often a capstone for treks - Katahdin, with a trail called the Knife's Edge for a reason. But Philmont, a mere 137,500 acres, has Baldy Mountain, taller at 12,441 feet. If mountains are your definition of wild, then Philmont certainly has them - but then so does the Bob Marshall Wilderness, but it's highest altitude is around 9,000 feet - about the same height as the Tooth of Time.


Maine has rivers with class 1 through class 5 rivers, including a 4-mile stretch of class 1 to 2 rapids on the Allagash Wilderness Riverway, a destination for the HA trips in Maine. Minnesota and Ontario have a lot of remote lakes - but so does Maine. Minnesota and Maine both have moose. How do you decide which is wilder? How do you compare it with the desert environment of Philmont, or the wilderness of Montana.


And how does one go about comparing the wildness of a terrestrial environment with an environment that has rays, sharks, barracudas and sharp corals in it, and that you need equipment for in order to breath if you're underwater.


And really, how unexplored and untouched is an area that you can navigate without a map? A brand new scout at a regular summer camp on a camp's nature trail for the first time will find it to be an adventure. A summer camp staffer who has been on it a number of times won't see it in the same way.


For people who have never been to Philmont, it's all unexplored and untouched. The experiences are going to be different at each HA area. Not better at any one - just different - and can't we finally accept that one doesn't have to be better than another?

(This message has been edited by calicopenn)

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There's one more kind of wild, and if you have youth (or adults) with issues around partying, etc ... you will want to think long and hard about Seabase, look over their website, and call them about the options you're interested in.


There are plenty of resorts, etc ..., and your time ashore depends on the adventure you choose. This is very true in the Bahamas, where each day scouts are welcome to use local facilities on each island.


At one stop, my wife was amused when, while the bartender was pouring ice in my nalgene, a lady beside me turned and asked "How much do you want to forget?" (It was clear she was trying hard to forget something.)


The locals know what's expected of scouts. There's no law saying they can't serve them alcohol, but it will be on the radio that evening, and as soon as captain hear's about it, you can bet you'll be off your boat on the next flight home.


Our contingent was very respectful and disciplined. (We all know how useful that is.) But obviously, with some kids you may want to select a more isolated adventure!

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I think there is a big difference between "wild" and "adventure." You don't need to have a wild place to have an adventure. I prefer adventures in wild places, but I've had great adventures in areas that were pretty well populated.


One of the reasons we sought out MOHAB was that it was in a wild, uninhabited, undeveloped area - that appealed to us. I've heard many Scouters commenting (not necessarily complaining)about how many people they saw at both Philmont and Norther Tier, and my guess is they were expecting to see less. I think they had a great adventure, it's just they had more company than they were counting on. If you really want to get out there, where you are really on your own, there aren't that many places left to do it in the Lower 48. I think that is the mindset behind the first post here.


MOHAB will never be a Philmont, mainly because of the permits needed to enter the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Those are limited for a reason.

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