Bar-B-Q at Valhalla Pure: Scouts and Pathfinders fundraise for epic trek to Esmerelda Peak
By Suzy Hamilton, The Nelson Daily
Some things don’t change in the Kootenays and the thrill of bagging a peak is one of them.
This August, 20 members from the 1st Nelson Cub Scouts and Sweet Pine Pathfinders will head to Esmerelda Peak (9154 ft) in Kokanee Glacier Park to recreate the epic trek that the 1st Chapman Scouts (Kimberley) made in 1927.
The 2013 version is called the Youthful Yeti Challenge.
The 1927 trek was made memorable by Malcolm C. Watson’s account of the ascent entitled, “No Pass Too High,” and the book is the bible for the young scouting adventurers.
“This will rekindle excitement back into our youth for the Scouts and Pathfinders and the outdoors,” said organizer Jim Garth.
“Participants will learn more about mountaineering, glaciers, backpacking, and lots about forest and mountain ecology.”
The commemorative backpacking trip leaves August 28 for five days. On their way the group will place a handmade plaque at the Slocan Chief Cabin, add their expedition to the Mountaineering log, as did the 1st Chapman scouts, and place a geocache there.
“The youth will have a chance to earn the special Adventure Award for this expedition and hopefully gain a new desire to continue through life with the urge to go backpacking in the bountiful mountainscapes that our areas boasts,” said Garth.
Scouts and Pathfinders are honing the skills they have learned,and a lot about the enjoying the outdoors, such as lightweight packing, basic mountaineering, and physical exercise through group hikes in preparation for the trip, he said.
The gear may be different, but the physical endurance will be as rugged, as the trekkers follow the 1927 route.
“The Chapman group spent a night at the Slocan Chief cabin in1927, but that is no longer an option,” said Garth. “So, too bad we have to stay in the modern chalet!”
But this is more than a commemorative hike. One of the goals of the expedition is to fundraise enough money to permanently outfit trekkers in years to come.
Community support has been fantastic, said Garth.
For example, Valhalla Pure Outfitters finagled deals with their suppliers on about $15,000 worth of gear and then added another discount so the expedition can have all new camping gear, stoves, sleeping bags, mountaineering gear for the glacier, just about everything needed except their boots and clothing.
“It’s really important that we promote outdoor hiking and get the kids away from the video games,” said Valhalla Pure Outfitters owner Sam Baio. “We’re glad they are buying everything local, it has brought in other leaders and parents and is a great situation.”
Fundraising events include a Bar-B-Q in front of Valhalla Pure on Baker Street, on Saturday, July 13, and a beverage and burger night at Finley’s Pub on July 26. As well, there will be an ongoing bottle drop off Tuesday evenings between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Scout Hall at 320 Cedar Street.
Bottles can also be dropped off for donation at the Nelson Leafs Bottle Depot with a mention that they’re for the 1st Nelson Scouts account.
Other supporters include the Nelson and District Credit Union, Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, Columbia Basin Trust, RDCK Area F and the City of Nelson.
“The gear used for the Kokanee Glacier Trek will be used for many years to come for similar treks,” said Garth. “Our focus is keeping our youth involved with backcountry adventures at least twice a year.”