Nelson scouts make commemorative trek

From August 28 to September 1, the Scouts will be making a commemorative backpacking trek in Kokanee Glacier Park.

A group of more than a dozen Nelson Cub Scouts are taking the Youthful Yeti Challenge and embarking on a backcountry trek with ties to history.

From August 28 to September 1, the Scouts will be making a commemorative backpacking trek in Kokanee Glacier Park. They intend to emulate a portion of the trek the 1st Chapman (Kimberley) Scouts did in 1927 as documented in the book No Pass Too High. No Trail Too Far by Alfred and Malcolm Watson.

“It was a famous trek for our area,” said Scout leader Jim Garth. “These kids back then were tough as nails… They went on a 17-day trek using horses to go over Rose Pass. They took the paddle wheeler to Kaslo, hiked up to Sandon and down into New Denver … then they went up through Enterprise Creek into the Kokanee drainage. We’re going to retrace the Kokanee portion of the trek.”

This over 40-kilometre trek will take five days and four nights with the help of local mountain guides. Along the journey they’ll be exploring and learning about geology, history, mountain travel and survival, as well as stargazing and much more.

Working on organization since October, Garth said he’s “charged right up” to get going.

They’ll start out from Gibson Lake parking lot and hike up to Kokanee Lake. From there they will continue through Kokanee Pass to Kaslo Lake. They will head onto Slocan Chief Cabin and Esmeralda Peak on the glacier and revisit the spot the 1st Chapman group sat and had lunch 86 years ago.

They will return to Smuggler’s Ridge passing the Battleship back to camp near the Cabin where they will hang a plaque to commemorate their journey near one placed by the troop in 1927.

“This will be something that the kids can go back to,” Garth said. “It keeps it alive.”

The Chapman group spent a night at the Slocan Chief Cabin but today’s group will spend their last night in luxury at the Kokanee Glacier Cabin.

They’ll visit Tanal Lake for some fishing, exploring, forest education and sub-alpine relaxation. They may also check out Sapphire Lakes before heading back down to Gibson Lake to end the trip.

Garth explained Scouts is about building leadership, character and responsibility to community. He believes the adventure will be a boon for Scouting in the area and give kids a life-long interest in being outdoors.

“I am doing this to promote Scouting, to shed light on the good things in it for kids,” he said. “I want to take them away from their iPods and get them to experience being a kid again. This is what kids should be doing.”

This trek is for third-year Cubs and all Scouts and Pathfinders. Mason Garth has been involved in Scouts for five years. This is the first adventure of this magnitude for the organization and the 12-year-old can’t wait to get out on the mountainside.

“I think it’s going to be really fun because I really like being outdoors,” he said. “We’re going to be hiking for a long time.”

Mason feels up to the challenge with hopes of seeing wildlife along with “really cool plants,” and hanging out with his friends along the way all motivating factors.

The Scouts have been practicing with short hikes and reading No Pass Too High in preparation. The significance of retracing historic steps is not lost on the youth involved.

“I think it’s pretty special,” said Mason. “We’re going to be doing the same thing Scouts did a long time ago.”

The Scouts have been fundraising for the trek and have also benefitted from money and donations from Valhalla Pure, Columbia Basin Trust, the RDCK, and 12 Mile Storage.

Scouts start meeting again in September on Tuesday evenings. Specialized gear will be used to make this trek again.