This weekend was our first outing in preparation for our July Philmont trek. The weekend consisted of hiking the trails at the Wichita Wildlife refuge near Lawton OK. It was a bit of a backpacking “light” experience since we started from a campsite and returned to the location. This was a good option for a first shakedown since we had the home site in case there were any unforeseen issues or problems.
Friday night the two crews set up separate camps and the guys got to practice with their tents. The next morning was a 0600 wake up with a goal to be fully packed and ready to go in 30 minutes or less. Most did not meet the 30 minute objective this first time but hey that I why we practice right?
The hike was 10 miles on a loop through the refuge. I am huge fan of this area and the amazingly diverse topography. Basically it has everything. Hills, rocks, lakes, canyons, plains, trees and of course there is the wildlife. The Scouts in our group did great with the hike and I was impressed with their pace and positive interaction along the way. We did have one little scare when one of the guys tripped while walking down a rocky path and cut his forehead on a rock. Luckily it was just a scratch and he was fine. This worked out to be a good training on first aid since we had to break out the kit for him.
The guys were pretty exhausted by the end of the day and spent much of the afternoon around the camp hanging out under the dining fly and chatting. My time was spent thinking how much I am going to miss a place to sit. This has me seriously thinking about added a lightweight chair to my gear.
Sunday was a 0530 wake up so we could get an early start on the 1,000 foot 2.5 mile hike up Mt. Scott. We wanted to see the sunrise along the way and get done for an early return home. It was beautiful to see the sun reflecting off the granite one side and the morning clouds floating peacefully on the other.
A couple of our guys struggled quite a bit this second day physically. Part of the purpose of this short all uphill hike was as a fitness gut check. The hike was up a closed road, short and close to our cars if there were to be a problem. The Scoutmaster had told me in advance that this was purposeful so that the guys could get a good fitness measurement with time to get on the ball before we leave in July. The struggle guys made it to the top and hopefully will use the pain they felt as motivation to really jump on the need for additional fitness and weight loss before our Trek. We talked to them about working to thrive through the Philmont experience and not just survive. We train so extensive so that most issues can be worked out before going and when there have even more fun.
Overall it was a great weekend and I am now looking forward to our next shakedown adventure to Arkansas.