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Local Boy Scouts trek through New Mexico wilderness

JUST HANGING OUT — Pictured, top row, from left: Jerry Hinsken, Issac Gadikian, Kurt Rich, Luke Rich and J.P. Oatman. Bottom row: Nick Perri, Connor Edbauer, Brandon Sullivan, Guide Trevor Foote, Collin Edbauer, Jim Heinrich and Eric Hinsken. Photos submitted by Michelle Oatman.
After a year of planning, fundraising, months of preparation and practice hikes, the boys of Springville Troop 524 conquer Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. Philmont covers 214 square miles of vast wilderness, with trails that climb from 6,500 feet to as high as 12,441 feet.

Early on the morning of July 20th, over 100 Scouts and their leaders left from the Buffalo Airport to begin their adventure. Our crew consisted of nine Scouts and two adults from the Western New York group, including Collin and Connor Edbauer, J.P. Oatman and Brandon Sullivan, from Troop 524.

For us, this trek was life-changing, very challenging and awesome, as our group hiked 96 miles over 12 days in record high 90 degree-plus temperatures.

We flew into Denver and traveled by bus, making stops at the La Junta Indian Museum, and visited the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

We participated in tomahawk-throwing, shot muzzle loaders, blacksmithing and horseshoeing.

Our group of Scouts and advisors carried everything needed to survive during the trek on our backs, while hiking from camp to camp. We participated in back country programs, along the way, including rock climbing, spar pole climbing and gold prospecting.

WAY UP HIGH — Pictured, from left: Collin Edbauer, Brandon Sullivan, Connor Edbauer and J.P. Oatman.
The trek included a conservation project, where Scouts participated and learned about building and maintaining trails in Philmont’s ecosystem. Scouts endured tough challenges like hiking in bear and mountain lion territory and steep climbs, often in inclement weather, including hours of hiking on dry and dusty, cactus-filled trails.

According to Backpacker Magazine, most Scout groups may meet only one other group of Scouts on the trail in the entire day of hiking, even in the most crowded destinations.

Our boys endured physical and emotional struggles along the way, some days hiking upwards of 10-plus miles. We saw many amazing sights, including pristine sunsets, rough terrain, a variety of wild plants and animals and survived a potentially lethal thunderstorm, where we crouched in lightning position for 30 minutes.

We carried and prepared our own meals, set up camp every night and scaled Mount Baldy at 12,441 feet and the Tooth of Time Ridge at 9,300 feet of elevation.

HOW"S THE VIEW? — Boy Scout Troop 524 made a “Scouting pilgrimage” to Philmont Scout Ranch, the largest youth camp in the world. Pictured is Crew Leader J.P. Oatman scaling a pole, during the recent trip.
Our crew made what amounts to a Scouting pilgrimage with this trip to Philmont Scout Ranch, which is considered the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high adventure camp and the largest youth camp in the world, serving nearly 1 million participants since 1938.

We all had a great time, worked well together and enjoyed the opportunity of a lifetime.

The boys of Troop 524 would like to thank everyone in the community and their families that donated in any way to make this amazing, once-in-a lifetime trip a reality!

J.P. Oatman
Crew leader
Philmont 2012


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