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  1. #1
    Explorer
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cedar City, UT
    Posts
    65

    Aquarius Plateau/Boulder Top (UT) - BSA 50 Miler

    Last week our scout troop took 17 boys ages 12-17 and six adults up to the 11,000 foot elevation Boulder/Aquarius plateau area of central Utah (Dixie National Forest) for a 50 mile backpacking trek over 6 days and 5 nights.

    It was my first as a scoutmaster and after seven months of planning I can say it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. Not so much physically, as our prep hikes (e.g. here, here, and here) helped with that, but emotionally and spiritually helping those boys through some rough terrain and rough weather (gobstopper-size hail, torrential monsoon thunderstorms, mud, equipment failure, obscure trails), especially the 12-13 year olds who were pretty new to boy scouts.

    Here's a quick overview of our itinerary:

    Day 1 - travel, hike 4 miles from Cook Lake to Raft Lake
    Day 2 - 8 miles from Raft Lake to Rim Lake
    Day 3 - 13 miles from Rim Lake to Raft Lake (got lost twice)
    Day 4 - 7 miles from Raft Lake to Big Lake
    Day 5 - 20+ miles from Big Lake to Raft Lake via the Great Western Trail
    Day 6 - return home

    During our planning meetings the boys and I were concerned day 5 would be a killer, but it turned out to be the highlight. As you can see, days 1-4 were comprised of 4-13 mile treks to get used to the elevation and build up to Day 5. The weather was everything from gorgeous to terrifying and the forests and lakes that appeared around every turn were downright inspiring. Fishing was a no-go though. Not one of us got a single bite. We did see a plane sweep over and stock a lake on day 4 though so hopefully future visitors will have better luck. Some of the boys enjoyed a "Polar Bear Plunge" at 6am in the freezing waters of the 11,200ish ft high Raft Lake on Day 6. We give them a "bear claw" award when they do that. I already earned mine on a prior trip and didn't feel inclined to repeat this time around.

    The obscurity of the trails on days 3 and 5 made for some great map, compass and GPS opportunities as well as some trail marking (cairn building) where honestly no trail was to be found.

    Whew! Glad to have it over, but we honestly had some excellent, significant build-men-into-boys experiences that made it all worth it.

    I'd be delighted to hear from any other scouters/backpackers interested in more detailed itinerary/GPS routes, etc. that we created.

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    Around the campfire at our base camp at Raft Lake

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    Dutch oven potatoes and BBQ chicken. Yum!

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    Who knew rocks and logs could make such good pillows?

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    A view off the rim.

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    Day 5, along a segment of the Great Western Trail near Chokecherry Point.

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    Another view off the sound end of the rim.

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    Beautiful skies!

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    Beautiful wildflowers.

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    Donning our ponchos just as a monsoon storm is about to hit.

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    Rain and hail (and lightning) that drove two boys to tears.

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    Meal prep.

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    Hitting the trail from Rim Lake to Raft Lake.

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    One boy proudly surveys his handiwork at fire ring construction.

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    Me and my 15 year old son at one of the many beautiful lakes. Day 3.

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    Another beautiful sky.

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    Morning of day 3 at Rim Lake. Ready to hit the trail.

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    A scout strikes a pose on the rim.

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    Hiking in the rain.

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    Another view of the rim

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    A view from the rim off the north end of the Great Western Trail.

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    Building cairns.

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    Group photo at the rim.

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    Lunch break on day 3.

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    Another view to the north from the rim.

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    Beautiful Rim Lake.

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    Cooking dutch oven stew at base camp.

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    "Omlettes in a bag" at base camp. Tastes better than it sounds.

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    Another beautiful lake.

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    A gorgeous sunset at Big Lake, Day 4.

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    The mosquitoes were out.of.control. But if you used repellent, long sleeves/pants and a mosquito net it was just fine. This hapless scout used none of those when he ventured into the trees to take care of business. His short visit to their domain will surely remain a legend among the mosquito community for years to come.

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    Day 2, lunch on the trail.

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    Photo op at a beautiful lake on day 3.

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    From the rim.

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    Cook Lake, our base camp and site of the Day 6 Polar Bear Plunge.

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    On the trail.

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    Group photo on the rim.

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  3. #2
    With mosquito bites like that it's amazing he made it back at all!

    Looks like a great trip.

  4. #3
    Sounds like an epic trip. Too bad about the lack of fish. Thanks for sharing.

  5. #4
    As a fellow scout leader, thanks for this. I know they are a huge pain in the butt, but it makes a huge difference to the boys. This is the stuff of legends, and they will be talking about it the rest of their lives.

  6. #5
    Rookie
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    Jul 2011
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    Holladay, UT
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    Epic....just wondering who packed the macho man tent, duch ovens and folding tables?

  7. #6
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    Thanks for all of the work to provide this experience for those boys. They will remember this forever. Lessons were learned and lives were changed

  8. #7
    Outdoor Guru Scott Card's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
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    Mapleton, Utah
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    Excellent work!
    Life is Good

  9. #8
    Bogley Badass accadacca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hike.higher View Post
    As a fellow scout leader, thanks for this. I know they are a huge pain in the butt, but it makes a huge difference to the boys. This is the stuff of legends, and they will be talking about it the rest of their lives.
    Quote Originally Posted by kvolk View Post
    Thanks for all of the work to provide this experience for those boys. They will remember this forever. Lessons were learned and lives were changed
    Ditto and ditto and epic too. This brings back great memories of the many trips I participated in as a scout. You did a great job and are teaching these boys how to be men.
    I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. -Martin Luther King, Jr.





  10. #9
    Mountain Man Mooseman70's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hike.higher View Post
    As a fellow scout leader, thanks for this. I know they are a huge pain in the butt, but it makes a huge difference to the boys. This is the stuff of legends, and they will be talking about it the rest of their lives.
    I have to echo hike.higher's sentiments.... I, too, am a Scoutmaster, and these are the trips you remember for LIFE. Good for you on putting this together for your Troop!

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