Growing up in my family the biggest milestone you had was graduating from the Eighth grade. You knew that summer you’d get your forest green scout shirt and a crew number, I can remember when all my brothers moved from the Boy Scouts to the Venture Crew just as I did this summer in 2009. As much as I would have loved to trek alongside my brothers, they had all moved on from scouts as I was entering. My dad had made the decision to separate from our long time local crew and move me into one that was known for big adventures. Going into a crew that had the love and dedication Crew 2020 had was something that I at the time wasn’t ready for.
Would I make the cut? could I survive a summer with the most active crew in the council?
After months and months of training and preparing in the gym with packs weighing more than half my body weight. The time had come to head our way down to New Mexico, and if any of you know, leaving Texas is one hell of a trip. A convoy of trucks stuffed to the brim with supplies and Scouts heading its way down the interstate as the sun started to rise. Four days later we had reached our destination, Double H Scout ranch. Now if some of you were scouts and have been to the famous Philmont Scout Ranch also in New Mexico, you were blessed with marked out trails and gifts shops at the entrances. Double H was a whole level above Philmont, no marked out trails, no gift shops, no fancy day stops for activities. This was a leave no trace, don’t let the bear eat you kind of ranch. So why in the world would we want to submit ourselves to two weeks in this when we could be pampered? Well this was the year that Double H would no longer be. Thousands of Crews and Scout Troops made their ways through the Ranch. But there could only be one last crew, 2020 was that crew.
As a group of seven high schoolers we had no earthly idea as to how we would get to spots where we could set up camp. How we would find good enough water or how we would even have the time to stop and eat. We subjected ourselves to two weeks of hiking through dried up creek beds, grassy fields filled with rattle snakes, and plenty of cat holes. On the trail we figured out how to read a map, use a compass properly and mark out a 10-15 mile day for two weeks. There were ups, like me spotting the only bear on the property ( which hadn’t been seen in a year). And there were downs, fellow crew members taking falls on the mountains, or falling ill due to the conditions.
But throughout this two week journey we all gained a new perspective and love for the outdoors. Mother nature really showed us just how much a bitch she could be, but boy was she a beautiful one. We had all sailed the oceans and we had all trekked through Panama but for some reason this last trek of ours held the most importance. We never went into another adventure like we had gone into this trek, we had never held each member of the crew more accountable than we did on this trek. We were the crew to go down as the last crew to ever summit those mountains, to walk those lands, to see the sunsets and listen as the elk called to one another. We were the Graveyard Crew and we had hell to pay to earn that name.
I remember as we reached our pick up point on the last day, exhausted from our days travel in the sun. We had thrown ourselves atop our packs waiting to hear the rumble of the van, make its way to us. I remember taking a step back and gazing upon the land that would change my life forever, the land that would make me the person I am today. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think upon a lesson I learned during this trek. I wouldn’t have the drive I do today, I wouldn’t appreciate the land I am so blessed to live on if it wasn’t for this. And there is no way that I would love the outdoors like I do if it wasn’t for this experience.