Friday, September 29, 2006
Lesson of a Lifetime
Last year, my son went on the "trip of a lifetime" with his Boy Scout Troop. About a dozen of the older boys and leaders went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for two weeks and 70 miles of backpacking in the wilderness. The photos above are some of the many he took (pretty good for a 17 yo, huh?) - but I particularly want you to pay attention to the last photo.
They trekked from elevations of 6,700 ft up to 12,415 ft. All they had was what they carried on their backs - a tent, water and freeze dried rations. They had to carry all their trash out. Outdoor latrines were the norm. They had to beware of wild bears and snakes - as well as some other critters, the identities of which he thought it best not to share with me. None of this deterred him.
At one point, they were at the top of a gravelly and very steep slope, much like in the last photo. Here, I am going to cheat a little and use his words from a college essay to tell the story:
"I found out that we would be climbing down 1000 feet in only 1/8 of a mile. If this sharp decline didn’t scare me enough, the guide told us that this section of the trail caused lots of major injuries. I was so scared I thought I was going to die. I knew that with the 70 lb. pack on my back, one slip would have me rolling down the mountain like an avalanche. When we finally got to the spot where we would descend, my legs started to feel like jelly. I realized that I had two choices. I could let my fear keep me up there and hold up my crew, or I could overcome my fear and climb down the mountain. The descent really wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it would be. Sure it was steep and there were many loose rocks, but there were also many trees to grab onto in case you felt like you were going to fall. From the experience of Philmont I have learned that I could overcome my fear."
I think this was a wise lesson to learn, at 17 - or any age.