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Seven youth ages 13-16 and two adult trip leaders signed up for this trip. We didn’t have a lot of time for advance planning - teens and their families tend to have crushingly busy schedules - but fortunately everyone had been on at least one mountain trip with Camp Fire so we all had a pretty good idea of what to bring and what to do. Backpacking “The Bowl” in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is more challenging than most of our trips because of some steep elevation changes, because there are no water sources in the high country, and, in spring, because of potential rough weather. This story is how a group of young people met these challenges. Mistakes were made, but overall everyone did very well and we all had a good time on the trip.

Cast of characters: Mina’s kids are all grown up but she continues to volunteer for Camp Fire Central Texas, coordinating the backpacking program and helping to lead some trips. Chris is a program dad and volunteer trip leader. The kids on this trip, four girls and three boys, ranged in age from 13-16 and varied in experience. Camp Fire makes an effort to encourage kids, and parents if so inclined, to get out on the trail for personal growth and deeper involvement with wild places. Everyone is welcome in our programs.

On Saturday we drove in Chris’ sedan and Mina’s minivan from Austin to Guadalupe Mts. NP, with a picnic lunch at a rest area on I-10. We made good time but not good enough to get a campsite at Pine Springs, the main campground for this increasingly popular national park. At park headquarters we got a map to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camp area in New Mexico, approximately the same place we’ve used on previous trips. We still had time to hike around the Smith Spring Trail from Frijole Ranch. The kids chose a social trail that wandered out on the desert on the other side of the ravine for part of the route, just to see how far it went. We had plenty of time, nice to explore.

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