Boy Scouts Devon McGonigal and Wyatt Fistler of Troop 108 in Peabody went on one of the most challenging of scouting expeditions earlier this summer.
The scouts spent a week canoeing through Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness along the Canada border in Minnesota. They and assistant scoutmaster and troop committee member Jim Truax were part of a nine-person group that went on the trip.
They left Peabody on July 30. After a couple of stops along the way, they began canoeing Aug. 1. Unlike a day trip, they had to carry all the food, clothing, and other supplies they would need for six days.
The trip also included many places where the scouts had to carry the canoes from one lake to another. Carrying a canoe over dry land is known as a portage.
“I had a few hard portages,” Devon said.
He said the worst was when he tripped over a rock while carrying a canoe downhill. As he fell, his knee hit another rock, and it is still bothering him a bit.
Somewhere between canoeing and portages, there were parts of the trip through shallow marshes. In those areas, the scouts had to get out and wade through the water, because the canoe would drag on the bottom if they tried to canoe.
During the wading portions, leeches became a problem, especially for Wyatt. Devon said he was the first one to get a leech. Wyatt laughed at Devon, but for the rest of the trip, leeches seemed to attach to Wyatt exclusively.
“The leeches, I don’t see why they were so horrible,” Wyatt said.
After Wyatt pulled the leeches off, his foot and ankle swelled significantly, he said.
Regardless of the leeches, Wyatt said he enjoyed almost every aspect of the trip, especially the scenery.
“The only thing I didn’t like was carrying everything on the portages,” he said.
Wyatt said he was ready to move to the area after the trip. He said he is seriously considering going to college to become a park or forest ranger, a consideration inspired by the trip.
The scouts completed the canoeing portion of the trip Aug. 6, and spent a couple days at Truax’s cabin before returning to Peabody on Aug. 9.
Approaching Eagle awards
Both scouts are close to completing the requirements for the Eagle Scout award, Scoutmaster Carol Smith said. Devon only has his paperwork and Board of Review to complete. Wyatt still needs to complete a leadership service project, and he has an idea, which he isn’t making public yet, for a project.