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mikemac4498

Backpacking and camping in New England

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My troop is looking into doing a two to three day backpacking trip in New England. We are a fairly new troop and this will be the first backpacking trip done by any of our scouts. One of our ideas is finding a trail where we could hike about 10 miles then camp for the night and would like to pre-park our troops trailer near the campsite with food and supplies. We would still be having the scouts backpack carrying gear and tents. Are there any recommendations in New England? Where in New England have other troops gone backpacking? Thank you in advance.

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Why do you need the trailer?  All you need is one backpacking stove per three boys to boil some water and some freeze-dried (Mountain House / Backpacker's Pantry / etc.) or FBC (freezer-bag cooking - see trailcooking.com for recipes) meals.  You could also make meals from things you find at the grocery store that you just add hot water - mashed potatoes (add precooked bacon and cheddar cheese), couscous (add some Romano cheese), Instant Polenta (add Parmesan cheese -- do you see a pattern?) or even Kraft Mac  &  Cheese (you could add more cheese if you would like).  Add a "One-Egg Wonder" frying pan (like $5 at Target) and you can have bacon and eggs, sausage and pancakes or some really good breakfast buritos.

 

Second, 10 miles a day is pretty difficult for Scouts who have never been backpacking before.  I've found that 4-5 the first day, 6-8 the second day and 4-5 the third day works well (it also is enough to count toward the 15 miles for a 3 day trip for the Backpacking merit badge).

 

We did the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail in New Hampshire two summers ago, but that was around 54 miles over 6 days and was pretty remote.  My recommendation is to look at the Appalachian Trail because that has frequent intersections with roads where you can get a gear truck in if necessary.

 

Finally, please make sure you Scouts know what to pack.  Their packs should weigh no more than 25% of their body weight or 30 pounds whichever is LESS - including food and water.  Send me a private message with your e-mail address if you would like me to send you a copy of the "articles" I've written for our Troop (and shared with other Troops and our Crew) on gear and cooking.

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Welcome to scouter.com

 

Agree with starting with shorter distance hikes. Some troops backpack to a base camp which might have their trailer as they are concerned about pack weight and may not have the light backpacking gear.

 

We have found planning is easier when you start with a camp in the desired area/driving distance and then look for surrounding trails. Trails with an S, so that you have options on hiking distance and some navigation challenges. 

 

Camp Sayre in Milton,MA is adjacent to the Blue Hills Reservation with many trails, Some Boston area units do Philmont training hikes there.

http://troop30.athenaverse.com/trips.html

http://www.troop18milfordma.org/?p=118

 

Camp Wanocksett or Mt Monadnock State Park in Dublin,NH. Many trails to ascend Mt. Monadnock and then descend to either camp.

https://www.nhstateparks.org/uploads/pdf/Monadnock-State-Park_Hiking-Map.pdf

 

Treasure Valley Scout Reservation in Rutland,MA. Hike the Mid State trail in from either north or south. I prefer north start at US Army Corp of Engineers Barre Dam.

http://www.midstatetrail.org/bfd.html

 

Griswold Scout Reservation (Camp Bell), Gilmanton Iron Works,NH

http://belknaprangetrails.org/mt-anna/

http://troop54.froimson.net/Resources/Camping/GSR_Trail_Map.pdf

 

In RI, Yagoog

http://www.mdc.net/~dbrier/yawgoog/trails/

 

In Maine, Camden Hills State Park and Acadia National Park.

 

sectionhiker.com is a great resource for AT and Long Trail in New England.

 

Hope this helps

Edited by RememberSchiff
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Unless these scouts are all in their late teens, ten miles per day is a big chunk and, honestly, not much fun.

 

The first hike need not involve a trailer or much transportation at all. Identify the campsite nearest your meeting place. It could be a community park or someone's wooded lot. Meet, prepare, go there, come back. You may have to identify property owners along the way whose land you might need to cross and give them a call requesting permission to cross it.

 

The second hike could be the nearest state park with a good trail system that you drive to, hike in 3-5 miles, camp, hike out. If you have multiple patrols, each patrol can take a different trail or loop.

 

Then, get a trail map of your state. (Maps are these paper things that unfold and spread over table.) and have your boys highlight the trails within an hour or to of you, then research them.

 

In all of these, do after action review. Use that to help boys decide the next move.

 

Also people from your neighborhood are your best resource. Go to district roundtable and ask scouters there what their boys prefer to do.

 

NEVER hike to a food drop, like your trailer, etc ... and call it backpacking. That's not backpacking. That's general infantry. That can be fun (e.g. 5 mile land navigation to a campsite where supplies are in a lock box), but it's a different animal.

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Additionally, we do a number of "shakedown" hikes before going backpacking.  They are 4 to 5 mile hikes where the scouts pack their backpacks and take them on the hike.  Our backpacking treks are pretty much 4 of those hikes over three days (4 to 5 on Friday, 4 to 5 on Saturday before lunch, 4 to 5 on Saturday after lunch, 4 to 5 on Sunday).  The shakedown hikes allow scouts to evaluate the gear they have - and to shake down the weight of their pack by eliminating unnecessary items.  It also gives them the confidence to go on the trip -- they know they can do 4 to 5 miles at a time because they have done it.

 

After pack weight, the second most important factor is footwear.  No work boots, rubber boots, etc.  Everyone should have hiking boots, hiking shoes or trail runners.  The thicker soles make a difference when going over rocky terrain with 25 pounds on your back.  I prefer the low cut (vs. Mid or High cut) hiking boots - my whole family replaced their mids with low cuts and will never go back.  Boots should be a half to a whole size bigger than their regular shoe size (buy a size bigger so they last longer).  First, you don't want your toes hitting the front of the boots going downhill and second, your feet will swell a half a size on the second day.  Make sure their shoes are tied tightly - loose shoes rub against the backs of heels and cause blisters and worse.  Socks MUST be wool.  Cotton socks WILL cause bilsters.  I wear silk liner socks because my feet tend to sweat.  I've never gotten a blister since I'm wearing those socks (as opposed to being plagued with them before).  The shakedown also helps to make sure that the boots work well.

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What kind of personal gear does your Scouts have?

 

Do they have proper backpacks, i.e. external or internal frame backpacks with hip belts?

 

Do they have good, broken in  boots?

 

Does anyone have backpacking experience to help them out and conduct shakedowns?

 

My troop just started backpacking last year. We lucked out with some experienced folks helping out. But we had guys who had "challenges." I would definitely start off small at 5 miles max and make shakedown hikes mandatory for longer trips.

 

And get them hiking on their own in their neighborhoods!

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Planning a unit backpacking trip is more than just finding a good trail. You MUST consider logistics and training.

  • Where will you get water? Enough for 6-8 liters per person per day. Add 2 liters per pair for cooking and cleaning.
  • Where will you get first aid help if needed? Is someone on call? How close are local first responders? Do you have emergency comms and/or a locator beacon?
  • Where will you re-supply? Or will you carry your food for three days?
  • How well trained are your Scouts? Adults? Expect to go only as fast as your slowest, weakest hiker.
  • Does everyone have the proper gear for backpacking?
  • Is everyone in good enough shape to strap on a 40lb pack and hike?

TRAINING: Do you have the correct number of trained WRFA personnel? If not, you are taking a HUGE risk in heading to the back country.

 

Try this resource as a way to prep your Scouts and adults.

Edited by Col. Flagg

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Flagg makes good points about WRFA, etc ... for back-country. But, you're not there yet.

 

I was assuming that you would pick someplace more within the reach of local first-responders. (As evidenced by thinking of someplace where a trailer could be parked.) At this stage, don't plan any hike where you are more than 2 hours from rescue. Last year I dealt with a heat exhaustion victim in a county park, and that 10 minute wait after his wife made cell phone contact with the 911 was nerve-racking.

 

However, your troop should be beefing up your skills for eventual back-country outings. If your troop doesn't eventually try for something like that, eventually some of your boys will on their own. So, @mikemac4498, don't let those lists and the big red letters discourage you from trying. Rather, let them encourage you to work on accumulating skills over the long haul.

 

I would also add to Flagg's points: the larger the unit, the slower you will move. This will try the patience of some scouts who want to cover more territory. So, plan accordingly. Make sure everyone listens to what everyone else wants to get out of the day.

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I would also add to Flagg's points: the larger the unit, the slower you will move. This will try the patience of some scouts who want to cover more territory. So, plan accordingly. Make sure everyone listens to what everyone else wants to get out of the day.

 

As a Master LNT Trainer I would add not to have any crew larger than 12 people along the same trek. A 25 person group can have a significant impact on a trail system in even the lightest humid/wet conditions.

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As a Master LNT Trainer I would add not to have any crew larger than 12 people along the same trek. A 25 person group can have a significant impact on a trail system in even the lightest humid/wet conditions.

Again, not every trail is back-country wilderness. Several in PA were designed for high volume (country roads, old railroad beds, etc ... leading to sites that patrols could set themselves up far apart).

 

That said, even with trails designed for extensive use, I do try to arrange different hike plans for each patrol. (E.g., insert at either end, rendezvous in the middle.)

 

Hiking through town for the first time to some sweet hidden plot of land, on the other hand, I wouldn't worry about that 25-person group.

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Is everyone in good enough shape to strap on a 40lb pack and hike?

 

 

NOBODY should be carrying a 40 pound pack, especially not youth.

 

The maximum anyone needs is 28 pounds.  You can easily drop some weight in the various catagories and get to 25 pounds (my numbers are in parenthesis after each entry)

 

4.0 Pack (2 pounds 2 ounces)

3.0 Sleeping Bag (2 pounds 2 ounces)

1.0 Sleeping Pad (1 pound 11 ounces - ok, so I'm over on this one...)

2.5 Tent (1 pound 8 ounces)

3.5 Clothes

2.0 Cooking Gear 

1.5 Water Carring and Filtration 

2.5 Rest of the Gear (2 pounds 1 ounce)

2.0  Water 

6.0  Food

-----------------

 

28 pounds (my weight 25 pounds)

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NOBODY should be carrying a 40 pound pack, especially not youth.

 

The maximum anyone needs is 28 pounds.  You can easily drop some weight in the various catagories and get to 25 pounds (my numbers are in parenthesis after each entry)

 

4.0 Pack (2 pounds 2 ounces)

3.0 Sleeping Bag (2 pounds 2 ounces)

1.0 Sleeping Pad (1 pound 11 ounces - ok, so I'm over on this one...)

2.5 Tent (1 pound 8 ounces)

3.5 Clothes

2.0 Cooking Gear 

1.5 Water Carring and Filtration 

2.5 Rest of the Gear (2 pounds 1 ounce)

2.0  Water 

6.0  Food

-----------------

 

28 pounds (my weight 25 pounds)

 

2lbs for water? You carrying only one liter of water?

Tent 1.8 lbs? You must be made of money. Only backpacking special tents are that light.

 

Having worked as a ranger at Philmont I can tell you you never get someone hitting trail with a pack under 30 lbs unless they are a super, ultralight hiker with VERY specialized gear. Water alone puts you at 12 lbs. Carry less than 4 liters at your own peril.

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Let's turn down the FUD.

 

Why carry excessive water when you can filter (Sawyer) it.

 

Split the gear weight among tent mates and cook groups/patrols.

 

Backpacking in NE bears little resemblance to Philmont.

 

My $0.02

Edited by RememberSchiff

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Backpacking in NE bears little resemblance to Philmont.

 

I've done the AT. Am well aware of the need for water in the heat and humidity of the east coast.

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Fear is heavy, knowledge is light.

 

2lbs for water? You carrying only one liter of water?

 

***

Water alone puts you at 12 lbs. Carry less than 4 liters at your own peril.

 

 

I have a 3 liter Platypus - full is 6 pounds.  Two liters will get me from after breakfast up to dinner even on a really hot day.  If you know where you are getting water from and how far it is, you can carry less.  Good planning puts you at a water source right before dinner so you don't have to carry a full load all day or better yet, you can take a short hike from camp to get water once you put your pack down.  We typically pass a water source at least once during the day and are near one at night.  The Scouts typically carry 2 liters or less.  We've never run out of water.

 

Tent 1.8 lbs? You must be made of money. Only backpacking special tents are that light.

 

Oops... that should have been 1 pound, 7 ounces.  That is for a Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 with footprint split between two people (total weight 2 pounds, 14 ounces).  You can leave the inner tent at home and just go with the fly and footprint for a total weight of 1 pound 4 ounces.  Or I have a BearPaw Designs tarp with flaps that uses my hiking poles and a sheet of Tyvek - around 1 pound 8 ounces for two people which only cost around $150.  A Kelty Salida 2 tent is only 4 pounds 9 ounces or 2 pounds 5 ounces per Scout and retails at $149 (before an easily found 20% off coupon).  

 

 

Having worked as a ranger at Philmont I can tell you you never get someone hitting trail with a pack under 30 lbs unless they are a super, ultralight hiker with VERY specialized gear. 

 

 

How about 8.5 pounds?   https://backpackinglight.com/philmont/

 

The key is a lightweight mindset.  If you start with the premise that 30 pounds is the lowest, you've already lost.  If you start with the idea that you base weight (before food and water) should be below 20 pounds and take every opportunity to reduce your base weight -- you will suceed.

 

Also, it doesn't have to be more expensive to be ultralight.  My 2 pound 2 ounce pack costs as much a a 4 pound 4 ounce pack.  The key is educating Scouts and their parents BEFORE they go out and purchase gear.  i do a backpacking gear presentation every year for the new Scouts and their parents with the goal of educating them how to spend their money wisely so that their sons ENJOY backpacking.

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