Salida’s Troop 60 Scouts backpacked more than thirty-seven miles of the Colorado Trail, traversing portions of the Holy Cross and Mount Massive Wilderness areas at elevations up to 11,400 feet.
The four-day, three-night trip was an “unsupported” backpacking trip, meaning that no support or resupply was available. Thus, all food was carried in and water was procured along the route. Seven scouts, two Eagle Scout mentors and two adults completed the trip.
“We had great weather and most of these guys are pretty experienced,” said senior patrol leader, Ben Johnson. “Even still, the days were long. We did over thirteen miles for two consecutive days. My feet were a bit sore.”
The group started their hike at the 10th Mountain Division monument on Tennessee Pass north of Leadville. They completed their hike in the historic town of Twin Lakes. This portion of the Colorado Trail is also the Continental Divide trail, giving the scouts an opportunity to see and talk with several through-hikers.
“We had a good plan. But with the fire ban, the mosquitos at night were pretty pesky,” said Ellis Haas. Haas, as well as the other scouts on the trip, all participated in last summer’s advanced backpacking trip near the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. This annual trip is for more experienced scouts who have demonstrated competency in basic backpacking and are strong and resourceful enough to sustain themselves for several days.
“This was a longer and in some ways a tougher trip than we’ve ever done. We covered more miles and we kept a steady pace each day,” said Haas. “Most of us know what gear to bring and what food to pack. That’s half the fun of the trip, trying to get that exactly right.”
In line with the scouting methodology, the scouts themselves make all the decisions: where to sleep, when to get water, how often to stop and where to side-hike or explore.
Ben Johnson led the group. His leadership required constantly monitoring the team, taking inputs and making decisions. “There are a lot of small decisions to make and not everyone agrees on everything. But I think we made good decisions,” said Johnson.
The group side-hiked to Uncle Bud’s Hut, one of the 10th Mountain Division huts scattered across central and Southern Colorado. The scouts also side-hiked to a high lake where most took an icy plunge into the snow-melted water. “I’m usually the first one to jump in,” said Haas, who was, in fact, the first to test the water.
The Troop plans to conduct at least one more backpacking trip this summer. Some of the more senior scouts also are trekking in smaller groups on their own planned, multi-day expeditions.
Salida’s Troop 60 does not meet regularly right now and are only conducting outdoor events where close contact is not required.
New boys are always welcome. Scouts are ages 11 to 17 or sixth through 12th grade.
For boys first grade to fifth grade (ages 7-10), Salida has a cub scout “Pack.” For more information for this age group, contact Cubmaster Buel Mattix, 719-221-0492 or at email@example.com.