Troop 11 of Marblehead went on a winter backpacking trip to Cardian Mountain in New Hamshire on the last weekend in March. The trip was targeted to introduce younger scouts to backpacking. The group spent Friday evening at the AMC's Cardigan Mountain Lodge. They enjoyed a wonderful home cooked breakfast at the Lodge on Saturday and met the AMC's trail master who briefed them on trail conditions and the best trail to summit Mount Cardigan.
The scouts took turns guiding the group with a topographical map and compass on the way up the mountain. The intent was to learn skills with the map and compass to be able to competently navigate in the wild. At each trail junction, the correct trail to follow was verified using compass headings and the map.
The scouts stayed at the Cardigan Mountain hut, just below the tree line, at two miles from the lodge below. The hut has a small wood stove, but the scouts had to carry the wood to burn in the stove, which weighed more than the tents the scouts would have normally carried when backpacking. Because of the uncertainty of running water, the scouts also had to carry all the water needed to stay hydrated and to cook their meals.
When the group set off from the lodge, it was snowing. The ground generally was bare, until near the top of the tree line, where the trails sheltered from the sun were basically icy skating rinks. Given the steepness and the heavy packs, the scouts bushwacked around the ice for safety.
After having lunch at th hut, the scouts hiked another half mile to the summit of Mt. Cardigan. They also hiked over to the suth peak of the summit. The sun had come out, and the scouts were trated to tremendous views in all directions, including the Mt. Washington Valley and surrounding mountains.
The scouts enjoyed a backpacking dinner and breakfast at the hut. Backpacking meals consist of foods that do not spoil, often dehydrated food, cooked by adding boiling water heated on small backpacking stoves. Some of the dehydrated foods are the same the astranauts and soldiers now eat and the quality and taste is quite good.
After breakfast on Sunday, the scouts hiked back down the mountain, with packs lightened by the burning of wood and the consumption of food and water.