Ledford to lead troop in New Mexico; Group prepares for 12-day hike


     After graduation senior Matthew Ledford will be doing something he has wanted to do since he was 13 years old. He says that hiking has always seemed awesome to him because  he gets “to go out and survive with just what’s on [his] back.”

   Ledford is traveling to Philmont, New Mexico, which is “the largest scout reservation in North America.”  He adds “My little brother just joined this troop. and he just got old enough, so he breached over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.”  The senior explained that the troop needs adults to go, and since he turns 18 in July, and the trip is late that month, he’ll be able to be a supervisor by then.

     He says this trail is not “really” a trail, but a track that is 12-15, which means it is track 15 being hiked in 12 days. The group going is a total of about 50 people, and they break down into crews of ten. Ledford says “you eat, sleep, and hike with your crew, but we’ll fly down as a group.”  The group is flying to Denver and then getting a bus to New Mexico, according to Ledford.

     He continues, “We’ve had shake-down hikes which are hikes where you test out gear and see what you absolutely need to carry.  It’s how you pick your equipment that you need and everything in that pack I have to carry for twelve days.”   He added that it is important to do things like “break in some good boots, because you don’t want to wear fresh boots for the first time you go out. I’m borrowing Timmy Saltzer’s backpack and sleeping bag, and the sleeping bag is a pound and a half.”

     “Everything we need for that entire 12 days, we have to carry. Like the food and water, tents, and there’s nowhere to shower unless you find a stream,” he continues.

     Ledford says, “my least favorite part is going to be how exhausted I’ll be at the end of the 12 days, and you’re going to be done and you’re not really going to enjoy it as much. The best part is it’s going to be memories that you hold with you for the rest of your life.”

     His biggest fear while accomplishing this track is dying, but he says “they had to make sure I had a will, which I already had at the firehouse. I mean, the whole dying thing I’ve come to terms with as a possibility due to the career I want to do as a firefighter, but I am confident in my abilities.”