LIMA — Last month, a group of Boy Scouts and scout leaders from Troop 84 out of Gomer had to go to “Plan B” after their initial plans to explore the back country at Philmont Scout Ranch was canceled due to wildfires. In fact, Philmont has canceled activities for the rest of the year due to dry conditions and active wildfires, forcing many other Boy Scout Troops to find their “Plan B.”
The group of three adults and five youth instead went on a road trip they’re likely to never forget. They coined the phrase “Phil-Not” for the trip.
The Scouts and their gear packed into a rented 15-passenger van and made their way to locations like St. Louis, where they saw the famous arch, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Pike’s Peak. At Colorado Springs, the group went whitewater rafting.
They put 5,000 miles on the van before returning home last week.
“It was ‘Plan B.’ We scrambled in about a week-and-a-half time frame to try to get something together. The thing we had going against us this time of the year was that it was the top tourist season, so even being able to try to get a campsite in Rocky Mountain National [Park] or Yellowstone, we were just faced with all kinds of obstacles because everybody was booked. So we didn’t have a lot of time to do the preliminary planning that you would normally do to get all of those things in place, so for some of it, we just kind of had to show up and see what was available,” said Chad Bryan, assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 84. “We had a planned stop in Kansas City at a Rotary Youth Camp. We stayed there, did a service project and then we went through and probably the first landmark we saw was we went to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.”
From there, the trip began in earnest for the scouts.
“We went to the summit of Pike’s Peak and tried to do a lot of tourist-y things — Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Devil’s Tower. When we got to Rocky Mountain National Park, we were able to get a campsite, but it was only because their precipitation levels had been low, so there wasn’t as much snow this year. So we hiked 10 miles into the Rocky Mountains at an elevation above 10,000 feet,” Bryan said.
“It was really cold up there because you were so high. There’s still snow sitting on the ground and we were so high that wind was just blowing across with nothing to stop it and you would get chilled so quickly,” said Dylan Bryan, Chad’s 15-year-old son, who is a Life Scout.
Dylan Bryan says the trip was pretty good for a Plan B.
“Most of it was things that otherwise we might have never seen because a big trip that far west and that prolonged is not something we usually do. It was such a large amount of things in a short amount of time,” Dylan Bryan noted.
“I think honestly, if this had been the trip that we advertised that we were taking originally, we probably would have had more people take it because Philmont would have been a lot more strenuous. We didn’t probably cover the 73 miles of hiking like we originally planned. I could easily say we were at least 50-some miles that we did cover with our up and down in the Rocky Mountains, with our 20 miles in the Tetons, plus all of the side hikes,” said Chad Bryan.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.