Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Backpacking Light - Wilderness Trekking School - WS2-BSA 2010

Backpacking Light classroom training sessionCold, snowy, rainy, sunny, repeat. That is a Montana spring and this past weekend was no exception. Ryan Connelly, Sam Haraldson, Ryan Jordan, Mike Martin, and Chris Wallace of Backpacking Light's Wilderness Trekking School came together with Doug Prosser, Phil Barton, and Pat Starich to instruct twelve Boy Scouts of America scoutmasters from around the country in the ways of ultralight backpacking.

The starting point of our trek was near Dupuyer, Montana on the Eastern edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and it's 1,009,356 acres (4,085 km²). The focus of the weekend trip was mostly to instruct an already skilled set of scoutmasters in ways they can lighten their pack weights as well as ways for them to transfer these lessons to the scouts in their troop. This task was accomplished by a half-day of classroom instruction, two days and two nights in the field, and an indoor debriefing session.

Squirrel Patrol

The group split into two patrols consisting of nine members and set off into the Eastern front of the Rocky Mountains and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Our starting point was the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch owned by the Boone and Crockett Club. SamThe first night was spent on the ranch followed the next day by travels into "The Bob" via the North Fork of Dupuyer Creek drainage.

A combination of ranch roads, trails, and off-trail routes was taken with the group exhibiting excellent skills in map and compass navigation. Both nights provided absolutely choice camping spots with excellent views, sources of water, and comfortable eating and sleeping options.

May in Montana requires quality gear choices as the group encountered nearly all possible weather types - - with warm and sunny being the least of our troubles. Blizzarding snow, cold rain, and sun were all to be dealt with at one time or another and most hikers wore a long-sleeve baselayer and windshirt or rain shell for the duration of the trip.

Side View of Walling Reef

All in all the views were superb and the weather was kept at bay with quality tarp and pyramid pitches as well as a warming campfire in the mornings and evenings. Although inquisitive the participants skill-set was no laughing matter as all in attendance were well-prepared with both gear and intelligence. The conversations amongst participants and the ideas shared between them became just as, if not more important than the formal instruction taking place.

View the entire Flickr photo set at Wilderness Trekking - WS2-BSA - 2010-05-21.


Lance, Ryan, and DougRyan Instructs some packing techniques







Ultralight Shelters



  1. Great slide-show and report Sam from what looked like an educational and fun trip for everyone.

  2. As an educator I would be interested if you could expand a little more on this quote

    "The conversations amongst participants and the ideas shared between them became just as, if not more important than the formal instruction taking place."

    What was it that made you feel that the conversations were "more important than form instruction"?

  3. All the participants on the course were BSA Scoutmasters looking to find ways to "better" their troop backpacking experience. And although all of them complimented me and my teaching partner on what a good job we had done espousing ultralight techniques I also saw a vast quantity information being traded off amongst each other in terms of tips and tricks that they use to enhance backpacking for scouts. This informal conversation between scouters was as rich with ideas for most participants as the more formal, session-based ultralight training we were teaching.

  4. Continued loathing and jealousy...

  5. Great report and wanting to get the skills on going light out to others to teach the next generation is a good thing.

  6. Sam - thank you for the trip. It was really great and I agree that we talked out a lot of our issues and were given many tools to work with. The other Scout Masters were a wealth of knowledge and the hardest part is ahead of us. Making it happen.

    Thank you - Jason Cuzzetto, Troop 325, Northern California