On July 31, Troop 325 tackled the big high adventure of the summer. Peter Erwin led the summer’s 50 miler into the Big Baldy / Indian Creek loop of the Frank Church Wilderness near Cascade, Idaho. The Scouts on the trip included Peter Erwin, Billy Ward, Nathan Lee and Wyatt Burley. The adult contingent consisted of Bob & Drew Castellaw, Mason Burley and Steve Lee.
Those that have participated on a Troop 325 50 miler in the past understand the challenge such an undertaking presents. The Scouts and adults who took up the challenge this year found what many before them have already experienced. This year did not disappoint in providing that unique opportunity to face and overcome both physical and mental challenges that allow those involved to grow and discover what they are capable achieving.
The older Scouts showed their experience and played an important part in encouraging the younger Scouts as they worked their way through trying times on the trail and tiredness in camp. There were some unrelenting days where the group covered more than 10 miles of difficult terrain. There was the challenge of heading in the wrong direction, coming to that realization and having to re-trace their route to get back on the proper trail. On top of that, there were bugs! Lots of bugs! It was discussed where they all came from as there was so little food for them. Duct tape was once again in high demand as the trail exacted its toll on all those involved.
As a first time participant, it was a chance to see many of the skills the troop teaches its Scouts. Map reading was a crucial part of this year’s hike as much of the area was devastated by wild fire. The trail was often obscured or hidden by downed timber and heavy brush forcing the group to use their map skills to navigate back to the trail. Peter had to make many calls when the trail disappeared and did an excellent job of getting the group back on track.
There were plenty of opportunities for community during the hike. The group could have spent the weeks sawing downed trees. They tackled what they could given the time and energy of the group. Billy was especially proficient in this task and a testament to the strength of our older Troop 325 Scouts.
“Beautiful” was not a common word used to describe the trip. 10 years after a major fire swept through the area, we had expected to see more signs of recovery and growth. That being said, we hit the area at a time when the wild flowers were in full bloom. They were a welcomed sight among the miles of dead standing burned trees. The hike also took the group into many different eco systems and provided a great variety of terrain and surroundings.
“Fun” was another word that was not often heard. In hearing from the ‘seasoned’ 50 mile veterans, that is often the case. The fourth day finally provided a little fun after several long days on the trail. Big Chief Creek gave the group a break from the bugs and an opportunity to clean up and play.
On the final day, Bob told us how the Scouts would rally and be off and ready for the final push to the car. With two passes left to tackle, it was still impressive to see the young men tackle the trail and forge their way home. It was a final exclamation point to what they had accomplished and overcome through the course of the week.
Forged by their challenging experience, each of these Scouts (along with the adults that accompanied them) learned something about themselves and what they are capable of achieving. The experience went far beyond the hike and surviving in nature. It showed each that they can push their limits, overcome difficult challenges and push themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of doing.
It was a trip worthy of what Troop 325 stands for, hopes to teach and install in its young men. For that’s what these Scouts are becoming.