Eleven Petersburg Boy Scouts; Skipper and Britton Erickson, Van Abbott, Brandon Ware, Chase Maxwell, Ryan Tate, Anders and Charlie Christensen, Nikko Larsen, Aaron Murph and Stuart Medalen; and three adults; Scoutmaster Jeff Erickson, Tom Abbott and Eric Larson traveled to Whitehorse for the annual Frostbite Challenge recently and had a “huge and awesome” time.
“We didn't actually make it to the challenge because the ferry from Juneau to Skagway was cancelled due to high winds and cold temperatures,” Scoutmaster Erickson said. “We ended up staying in Juneau for four days before being able to go on to Whitehorse.”
The Frostbite Challenge is an annual snow cave and igloo building competition between scouts all over the state.
“We would build the cave or igloo and sleep in it,” Scout Ware said. “We may have missed it this year, but we will be able to go back.”
With four days to kill in Juneau these Petersburg Scouts did not lose out on any competition. Scouts from Sitka, Ketchikan and Juneau were on hand to have a contest of their own.
“We had sled relay races, archery, a blindfolded sled race and hatchet throwing,” Britton Erickson said. “We all had a really good time.”
While in Juneau, the Scouts also had the opportunity to tour the capitol building and even sat in on a session of the legislature.
“They made the boys feel really special,” Scoutmaster Erickson said. “Each of the boys was greeted and introduced individually and they even got the chance to witness a vote on an educational bill.”
Britton stated that one of the things that struck him the most was that a representative from Barrow was wearing a necklace made of polar bear claws.
“That isn't something you will forget seeing,” Britton stated. “As we were leaving we actually bumped into the Lt. Governor.”
Mendenhall Glacier was another stop for the group.
“We walked from a waterfall to the glacier, which was about a mile,” Britton said. “We even saw some mountain goats. We actually got really close to one about 50 feet away.”
Ware explained that they were so close they could throw a rock and hit one.
The Petersburg group finally made it to Whitehorse after a three hour drive from Skagway and the temperature was about 20 below zero at night.
“It was so cold,” Scout Ware stated. “We couldn't go 10 minutes without gloves and we couldn't work up a sweat or we would freeze.”
During their time in Whitehorse, the Scouts got the chance to go on a sled dog ride with the Muk Tuk Sled Dogs.
“That was the best part of the whole trip. We had two guys on each sled and four to five dogs,” Britton stated. “Those dogs were so strong and I think they were smarter than us.”
Ware also commented on the strength of the dogs and was amazed at how fast they could carry two people and a 200 pound sled.
“The harness can hold up to 14 dogs and we only had four on our sled,” Ware said. “If there had been 14 dogs on there we would really have been going fast.”
The group of 14 from Petersburg had seven sleds, two people each, and one of the riders drove for about a half a mile and on the way back the other drove.
“We rode up hills and over bumps and the jumps were great,” Ware stated. “We almost tipped over a couple of times, but were able to stay upright.”
The Petersburg Scouts also took a trip ice climbing with Equinox Adventures.
“The tower we were climbing was about 30 feet high,” Ware stated. “I didn't make it all the way to the top, it was just too high, but the zip line was great.”
A zip line gave the boys an opportunity to cross a frozen lake.
“This lake was the size of Man Made Hole,” Britton said. “It was really exciting.”
Another adventure for the scouts was a hike into Miles Canyon.
“We walked across a rope bridge over a frozen river,” Ware stated. “That is something I've never been able to do before.”
Britton explained that they rested on the Yukon after they hiked down.
“Huge and Awesome” was the motto for this band of scouts throughout the trip and they still feel that way about it now.
“Every time someone would ask about the trip and what they were doing, they would answer, ‘huge and awesome,’” Scoutmaster Erickson said. “I am very proud of these boys, they were perfectly behaved and never complained about anything.”
Erickson also explained that several business owners commented on how well behaved the boys were.
“It was a great testament to the kids,” he stated. “They are a good group of kids and these experiences will help them to become more independent and give them life skills that will stay with them forever.”