Boy Scout Troop 75 consists of three adult leaders, left, and four young Boy Scouts, right. All photos provided by Steven Kroll
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DELMAR — When members of the town’s Boy Scout Troop 75 found out that their long-awaited trip to the Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico was canceled, their disappointment quickly inspired them to craft a new adventure, one that was physically much closer to them, by exploring the Adirondack Mountains instead.
Each year, between early June and late August, the Philmont Scout Reservation attracts thousands of Boy Scouts nationwide to navigate its 214-mile radius of challenging trails and peaks.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 75, which offers coming-of-age programs and activities for boys ages 11 to 17, had anticipated taking the trip for the last two years.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of the nearby Ute Park Fire — which lasted from May 31 through June 19, burning more than 36,000 acres — was deemed too hazardous, resulting in the wide-scale cancelation of backcountry treks at the reservation, including the one scheduled for the Delmar troop.
Nevertheless, four scouts and three leaders affected by the trip’s unexpected cancellation, decided to persevere and develop plans to have a trekking and backpacking experience right here in the state.
When the troop was informed about the cancellation of their Philmont trip in July, some members quickly began planning an alternative trip to the Adirondack Mountains, just over a two-hour drive from Delmar, for the start of August.
Max Palat, 14, one of the four participating Boy Scouts, said he was initially “pretty disappointed because we put a lot of work into raising money to go [Philmont], but when I saw that we were going to plan an alternative trip, I was happy we were doing that.”
He recalled that the group gathered “at someone’s house and we sat around a table and discussed our ideas, plans and the route we wanted to do.”
David, Max’s father and one of the troop’s adult leaders, said it was apparently the first year that treks in Philmont had been cancelled since sometime in the 1940s.
The adventure was officially dubbed the “Adirondack Wilderness Lemonade Adventure” with the term, “lemonade,” referring to how the team “made lemonade out of lemons,” creating a new “combined backpack and canoe trek.”
The planning phase was somewhat challenging as “the boys were all scattered, some were at other camps or were doing other things for the summer. So, any chance we got, we got together and confirmed plans and ideas, while having a map of Adirondacks.”
According to David Palat, it was the Boy Scouts themselves who truly planned the trip; the adults merely supervised.
“While we help them in terms of logistics, we really want them to plan the meals, and as much of the route as they can,” he explained. “We definitely support them but they led us in the trail. But in times where the trail gets too sketchy or when determining its mileage, we try to help them and reorient them.”
Over the course of five days from Monday, Aug. 13 to Friday, Aug. 17, members of Boy Scout Troop 75 first climbed Hurricane Mountain in Keene Valley then paddled along Lower Saranac Lake. Having been trained and prepared with the appropriate gear, they then traveled south to Long Lake where they loaded their canoes with their necessary belongings, including backpacking tents, sleeping bags and food.
David, a skilled and well-experienced hiker, said that the food was always packed in bear-resistant canisters, which unfortunately could get heavy and run out of room, as they were also used for trash storage.
Troop members also explored Raquette River, Cold River, Pine Point and the Northville Placid Trail. One particular location on their itinerary was encountering the remote wilderness hermitage of the late Noah John Rondeau, who lived there in solitude from 1912 to 1950. He had been called, the “Mayor of Cold River City, population 1.”
On the trip’s last day, they retraced their steps and even paddled the last 12 miles on Long Lake, while enduring rain and barely making it out of there as a lightning storm loomed in. Overall, they traveled just a hair over 65 miles.
“The boys may squabble at times since it was very physically demanding and lots of work, but they persevered and ended up just finding tons of beautiful places to camp in and explore,” David said.
David also thought that the Adirondack adventure was an apt reminder that “we live in a place that has this immense wilderness in our backyard. We’re just so lucky as a group to take advantage of that to hike, backpack and canoe, which are all important activities.”
Enjoying the trip, he also asserted that he would do the Adirondack trip again before hopefully going to Philmont eventually. Max said that his favorite part of the adventure was “when we went swimming because it was really refreshing after all the work with either hiking or canoeing. And also, we did about 30 miles of hiking and 35 miles of canoeing.”
The group still hopes to eventually visit Philmont.
David brought up how there is a lottery to get a spot in, the application process of which is two years ahead of the desired arrival time.
“There is a lottery for 2020 again,” he said. “But the groups here like us that got cut out this year would get first priority in that lottery. I think we may go, but it’s just so hard to plan two years in advance again. I think for now, we are tentatively planning to go or at least some combination of us.”
Max also echoed his statement.
“We really wanted to do Philmont but when it got canceled, we wanted to do something else that was also an adventure,” he concluded. “We wanted to stay active! But we’re still considering going to Philmont in 2020.”
For more information about the group, including details about its activities and weekly meetings, visit www.delmartroop75.org.