50 Miles in 4 Days

As a kid I was part of a well organized Boy Scout troop. Our leader was an experienced outdoorsman (more like mountain man) and we learned a ton from every campout and outing. 

One Summer we planned a 50-miler to achieve one of the patches Scouting offers. We earmarked 4 days where we could travel along a route in southwestern Montana. The route included mountain terrain, rolling hills, forested sections, grassy knolls, and water features. 

We prepared for weeks before the packpacking adventure. We did pack checks to make sure we brought the right gear, we planned light weigh food and water rations, we planned for blisters and other first aid needs.

We set out on the trail. Each day the column of boys would stretch out as some boys would pace ahead and others would lag behind. As we reached the pre-designated camp sites each day we'd stop, get a fire started and wait for everyone to arrive. 

We'd explore our new site, rest from the day's travels, repair blisters, cook food and more. It was very satisfying to log 10-15 miles per day. It was great to shed the backpack weight at the end of each leg of the route.

On the second to last day we were nearing our camp spot and one of the boys yelled out, "Hey, is that a bear?!?!"

We all looked over and saw a black bear charging for a herd of sheep in a little valley.

20 12 21 13 22 12 original 600x600 first aid kit   compact

First Aid Kit - Compact

Standard, Portable IFAK First Aid Kit

Buy on Amazon
20 12 21 13 22 51 original 600x600 bear spray

Bear Spray

Primary self defense method against animals and people

Buy on Amazon
20 12 21 13 23 00 original 600x600 hydration bladder

Hydration Bladder

2 Liter leak proof hydration bladder for trail daypacks and backpacks

Buy On Amazon
20 12 21 13 20 24 original 600x600 gps garmin

GPS - Garmin

High sensitivity TOPO GPS device for trail adventures

Buy on Amazon

We all paused to watch the scene about to unfold. We were all expecting something akin to a Jurassic Park predator/prey scene and we were morbidly captivated. Suddenly the sheep saw the bear as it crested the hill but it was too late. They began to scatter but the bear was so close they had no chance.

Just as the bear was about to reach one of the ewes we heard a distant crack in the air and the bear tumbled to the ground. We looked toward the sound of the crack and saw a sheep herder standing with his lever action 30-06. He had seen the bear coming and just at the right time saved his herd. 

We hiked over to him in disbelieve. He was a salty old man. His camp was rustic. We asked how long he'd been in this site and he mentioned he'd spent a month there camped out. 

As a kid I'd heard my grandpa tell stories of the old sheep herders but I'd never seen one in action. It was amazing how acurate he was with this rifle and how he could spend so much time in solitude with his herd.

Somehow, meeting the old herdsman made sleeping in our camp a little easier. I felt 'sheepish' to have complained about sleeping on the ground for the past few nights.

Popular Outdoor Products