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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Boy Scout Troop 221’s 2019 High Adventure Trip

By Louis Jahnigan

Every year (usually) Boy Scout Troop 221 of Wyoming go on a high adventure trip that is meant for older scouts, and thus difficult. This year, we decided to hike 29 miles through an area of Idaho called the Sawtooth Wilderness. The trip would be week-long with five days of hiking over rugged, mountainous terrain.

On July 5, a mixture of scouts and parents totaling at 17 flew to Boise, Idaho. When we landed, we regrouped and got our baggage. The scout leader, Derek Easton, had rented a minivan and a fifteen person Ford Transit, in which every seat was filled. After piling our backpacks in the minivan, the troop hit the road. After a three-hour drive with beautiful mountains on both sides, we arrived in Ketchum, a small town and the last stop until the mountains. Will and Kevin Helser, a 14-year-old scout and his father, had their luggage stuck back in Cincinnati, so they stopped at a hotel here. The rest of the group kept going after a quick visit to a drugstore. Our group continued to drive until we reached the Sawtooth Mountains. Once there, we got our stuff from the minivan, distributed fuel for our stoves, and started hiking.

The scouts hiked to this scenic view of the Finger of Fate (looks like a thumbs up) above Hell Roaring Lake. 

The first day of hiking was an acclimation day, so we only went about three miles. It started raining a couple minutes in, so we took shelter under a tree. In the Sawtooth Mountains, because of the thin air, only very rugged trees and plants survive, so we mostly saw pines and bushes. After a quick hike we got to a good campsite. It was a clearing with lots of trees for hammocks and lots of space for tents.
When backpacking, the most common way to cook food is to boil water with a special kind of stove and then pour it in a bag of freeze-dried food. The bag is then closed and left to sit for ten to fifteen minutes. After the bag is opened, there is a hot meal inside. You also must protect your food up at night so that bears do not smell it and eat your food. Some people used a bear canister, which is a hard-plastic container that can be screwed shut; the rest of us used a bear bag, which can be hung up on a tree.

After a peaceful night of sleep, everyone got up and cooked breakfast, and some people went to the small lake nearby to filter water. Derek Easton had left to go get the Helsers, and we all started packing up. At about 8:00 a.m., Derek and the Helsers got back, so we let them rest and eat breakfast for a little bit and then we set off. The second day was much more than the first, because we went seven miles and did about the same elevation change. Or at least that was what we thought. Either the map was wrong, or the trail had changed due to treefalls, but we went four miles instead of two before lunch. This made us nervous, because if the map was wrong for the entire trail, we could have ended up doing much more or much less than we planned. We figured that we would press on and continue normally after lunch.

At lunch, Mr. Helser realized that since he hadn’t been there for the distribution of fuel, he didn’t have any gas, so he gave away his heavy stove to some people four-wheeling down the trail. Some people had been behind the rest of the group, so a bunch of people started off while we waited. About thirty minutes later the rear group had showed up so they had lunch and we kept going. Mr. Easton and his son decided to take an alternate trail and meet back up with us at the end. The rest of the day was relatively easy except for a few forks in the trail. After a while we caught up with the front group and found them sitting by a bridge relaxing, but once again there was a problem. Matthew Stottmann, a 13-year-old scout and his dad, Rolf Stottmann weren’t there. Our group thought they were with the front group, but the front group thought they were with us, the back group. We decided that we would go to the already decided rendezvous point and some people would stay behind to keep a lookout.
The group that went ahead found Matthew and Rolf, who had decided to take a scenic route. They reached our destination for the day before the rest of the group then turned back to find us. We rejoined with them and then reached our campsite. The view from our campsite was beautiful. We could see the Finger of Fate (looks like a thumbs up). The lake in the photo with this article is Hell Roaring Lake, and flows into the Hell Roaring creek, which lives up to its name. Once at the campsite we cooked and took lots of pictures. The roar of the creek lulled us to sleep. 

The next day a few people went to the Finger of Fate for a short hike without their packs. The rest of the group relaxed and played cards. Today would be short, so we had time to relax. At about 11:00 a.m., the group got back so we let them rest and we all ate lunch. We set off a little bit after that to begin our hike, rich with elevation change. The hike itself was normal, but the destination was amazing.

Wyoming Boy Scout Troop 221 had a week long high adventure hiking trip out west this past summer. 
Lake Imogene would be our campsite for the day, and it was beautiful, more so than Hell Roaring Lake. At the campsite the weather was crazy. In a span of fifteen minutes it went from sunny to raining to hailing. We cooked up our food and ate a good meal, then afterwards we went to sit around a firepit. We decided trail names for people at the firepit. A trail name is given to a person on the trail because of something either quirky that they do or something funny that they do. I’m afraid that I can’t write them, because it would ruin the inside joke.

The next day we woke up early and packed up quickly. We set off from Lake Imogene and did a quick hike, then we got to Imogene Pass. It was about a thousand feet high, covered in snow and rocks and a 45-degree angle at points. We all got out hiking poles and sticks and started climbing. We went up in groups of five to eight and went slowly. The sun eventually came out and started melting the snow. We reached the rocks and just started hopping from rock to rock. We had some difficulties, but we made it up in around an hour. At the top of the mountain we ate a cold lunch and relaxed. After our lunch we kept hiking, except this time we went down the other side on a series of switchbacks. After a long hike we got to what was supposed to be our campsite. Unfortunately, the campsite was below standard and wouldn’t fit our entire group, so a small group stayed behind while about seven people kept going.

These fathers and sons had the experience of a lifetime hiking.
We got to another snowy pass that we would have to go up, but this one wasn’t nearly as difficult. We literally saw sled tracks where people had been sledding down the hill. This one took very little time, and we kept going. We hiked along a precarious mountain trail for a while, then we headed down into the valley. After about two or three more miles eventually we found a great campsite and set up, completely exhausted. We fell to sleep quickly.

The next day we got up and did our normal routine of eating breakfast, but we just waited at our campsite for the other group instead of packing up. During that time we relaxed and played cards. The other group eventually caught up, so we let them relax and eat a snack and then we left. The day was just like every other day. We only had about five miles to go, and most of it was downhill. We ate lunch on a large field of rocks after crossing a mountain stream, then kept going. Everyone just wanted to be finished. Mr. Easton and his son were waiting for us at a stream, so we took a small break. We kept hiking for what seemed like forever, but eventually, we made it. We came out in the parking lot and collapsed next to the van. We shortly realized that we would have to do a little further.
We came to a commercial campground area (similar to Winton Woods) and set up our camping gear for the last time. We decided to go eat dinner at an actual restaurant, since we had time and it was only mid-afternoon. We drove to a place called Redfish Lodge, a resort on the banks of Redfish Lake, named for the large populations of red fish that you used to be able to see moving under the water. To everyone’s satisfaction, the resort had a beachside burger bar. We ate the most delicious food in our lives that night for dinner. Eating only freeze-dried food for a week really does something to you. We relaxed at the resort for that day and the next. We also went to a town called Stanley, population:63. It did have a small museum and some cool stores. We had pizza for dinner and again, it did not disappoint.

The cool mountain air and snowy peaks made for excellent hiking weather.
We traveled home the next day. We made the three-hour drive to Boise and flew back home. In review, the trip was the best experience of my life so far, and I never would have been able to do it without Boy Scouts. I hope that you have enjoyed this story, and I hope that you will be able to use this as a resource to shape your own adventurous ideas.

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