Fifty Miles Afoot Afloat Like It Or Not

Back a few hundred years ago (give or take) when I was in the Boy Scouts in Colorado, a few us brave young men set out on an epic quest to hike 50 miles over Rabbit Ears Pass, do a day of service and bask in eternal glory. Two days later we were begging to go home but no one would let us.

I vaguely remember we had prepared and distributed various foodstuffs. (I remember peanut butter in a tube and fake potatoes for some reason.) After we assembled at the starting point, the hike began with a gear check that involved scout leaders convincing us that things like portable games and large books wouldn’t be as useful on the trail as something like water.

They also tried to convince a few hikers that jeans and a long sleeve shirt would be more useful in the woods than shorts and a t-shirt.

We started the actual hike with lots of energy and maintained it through a marsh area that is apparently the birth place of all mosquitoes. (Luckily, country mosquitoes aren’t as fast as city mosquitoes and it was possible to kill four or five in one slap.) We also maintained it through the revelation that the maps being used by the leaders apparently predated the actual formation of the mountain which, as you might imagine, kind of complicated the path.

I don’t remember where we camped the first night, but by the time we reached a US Forest Service campsite on day two (or maybe day three, I don’t remember), we were all pretty much like “Well, we’ve proven our point. That’s enough manliness for us. Time to go home.”

Unfortunately, our scout leaders played a dirty trick on us by having our parents waiting for us at the campsite. Our parents’ only job was to tell us they weren’t going to take us home. Even my own mother was like “Suck it up you little pussy. Stop whining and act like a man. The only way you’re getting home is through the forest. I don’t care if your feet fall off while you’re doing it.”

For the record, my mother never actually said that, but it was STRONGLY IMPLIED.

In order to earn the 50-Miler Award, we were also required to do 10 hours of service. That meant the next day we helped park rangers clean and maintain the camp. This turned out to be a lot harder than we expected. By the end of that day we were all pretty much ready to get back on the trail and wait for our feet to fall off.

The rest of the hike was mostly uneventful, except for having to change paths because the main road was blocked by an endless series of fallen trees. We finished with a burst of energy and a sense of accomplishment. We also got a patch (and a lingering distrust of adults and park rangers).

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