It was the morning that the CAP crew had been preparing for since reading the class syllabus on day one, months ago. One by one the students came with all their overnight gear to District 12 at AXL Academy. They had many questions. Where exactly were they staying for the night? How long of a drive would it be? And perhaps most importantly, what was for lunch and dinner? Before loading into the van and starting the trip, the CAP crew had to be outfitted with the right gear. They put clothes, sleeping bags and sleeping pads, tents and other items into 55 L backpacks and loaded into the van.
After driving through the canyon road up to Estes Park, the crew disembarked, put on their backpacks and started the quarter of a mile hike down the road to Camp Cheley Outpost. At the campsite they were greeted by the sounds of a nearby river and birds that they had never heard before and the smell of trees and fresh mountain air. Hardly worn out after the light hike the crew was eager to get to work. They took out their gear and worked together to put up the tents. It was not long before tents and sleeping bags were set up and the crew was having lunch and learning about Leave No Trace principles. Feeling ready to conquer the mountain they set off into the woods on a hike to an overlook.
Halfway up the mountain the crew found an abandoned lodge, complete with do not enter signs. Feeling rested and not wanting to test their luck and avoiding any ghosts, they continued up the mountain to the overlook. The view was amazing! They were surrounded by snow covered peaks. At this point they needed a break, so they stopped to take pictures and learned about being stealthy. They learned to use their five senses, how to hide in broad daylight, and then dominated a game called Camouflage. Getting back to camp the crew practiced making fires using flint and steel strikers. Making fires from sparks without synthetic igniter fluid was not as easy as they thought but persistence paid off and small fires were made. Burnt, golden brown, and lightly seared marshmallows, every crew member had a favorite kind of marshmallow for s’mores. The stars lit the sky and it got very, very dark and slightly cold. Atlas, the fire was put out and the crew headed off to bed.
Waking up just past 8am, it was cold and overcast but the AXL crew didn’t let it dampen their spirits, a hot breakfast later they had warmed up! Taking down the tents was easy, but getting sleeping bags into stuff sacks was a lot harder than taking them out the day before. Afterwards we enjoyed a game of improvised tennis ball and stick baseball and a round of Ninja. The crew were taken one by one to a spot where they could sit and get a chance to immerse their senses in their surroundings. They listened for the sounds of the river and birds, the smell of trees and felt the breeze. Each member of the CAP crew now had a sensation and a memory to take home with them. Before leaving they practiced their Leave No Trace skills by picking up trash and leaving the site undisturbed. We jumped in the van and headed home eager to enjoy the comforts of a hot shower and a soft bed.
Written by CAP Instructor, Ronald Cole
See more photos from our trip here!