A group of teenage Boy Scouts from Troop 33 in DeKalb traveled to Montana in July to discover some amazing outdoor experiences high in the mountains.
Their summer adventure included two challenging backpack trips that took them far away from any signs of civilization. Each of the backpacking trips was unique; one trip was smaller and one larger.
The smaller of the two trips took the Scouts to Gallatin National Forest, located north of Yellowstone National Park in southern Montana. They were greeted with hiking trails and high-country camping. It was a backcountry experience they all enjoyed.
The larger, more challenging backpacking trip took them deep into the Great Bear Wilderness Area within Flathead National Forest, just south of Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.
Remote trails took them to rugged ridge tops, cliff faces, alpine meadows, thick forests, lakes, streams with boulder-strewn rapids plus some high tumbling waterfalls. Everything was exciting to see. Fully loaded backpacks included everything the Scouts needed to survive several days in the mountains.
The physical adventure of long hiking days was a challenge that tested them every day. Weather was whatever it wanted to be and could rapidly change. Some days were more rugged than others. Tough times bonded Scouts together as they overcame adversity.
One day found them swimming in a lake. Even through the water was bone-chilling cold, it was a perfect relaxation time, something refreshing and fun on a hot summer day.
They backpacked through what is considered the most heavily concentrated grizzly bear range in the lower 48 states. No bears were seen, but they discovered several sets of fresh tracks and droppings.
Where allowed, a crackling campfire was the perfect end to a fantastic day. Nights brought cool air and clear skies. Stars were brilliant and seemed so near, filling the sky. Distant sounds echoed. Nature surrounded them in abundance.
On their drive west, they were thankful for an overnight cabin provided courtesy of Boy Scout Troop 861 of Fort Peck, Montana. It demonstrated the fellowship of Scouting.
Preparing for their adventure included training in backcountry skills plus a backpacking trip in Wisconsin during late spring. All Scouts had previous backpacking experience and other major high adventure trips they had shared together from earlier years.
Boy Scout Troop 33 is sponsored by First Lutheran Church in DeKalb serving area youth since 1925. Visit their website at http://troop33dekalb.net.