Jamie Bone calls it her “escape from Guadalupe Peak.”
While her life wasn’t in danger, Bone’s wind-whipped, rain-soaked experience in this West Texas national park was plenty harrowing.
In March, Bone had planned to climb to the highest point in Texas and spend the night about a mile from the summit. But when bad turned to worse, this solo hiker from Kansas relied on the kindness of strangers.
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending, due in large part to one simple fact: These strangers were a bunch of Scouts.
“Over and over, I thanked these gentlemen for their kindness and support of their fellow hiker,” Bone says. “They simply responded, ‘It’s what we do.’”
Today, we’ll hear from Bone and the heroes themselves. I tracked down Todd Boyles, assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 615 of Arlington, Texas, for his take on what happened.
”The boys’ interaction with Jamie showed the importance of being kind and friendly to others — as the Scout Law dictates,” Boyles says.
Meet the hiker
Jamie Bone had scoped out the perfect spring break location: a backcountry campsite 1 mile from the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas.
“I’d hike to the site, set up camp, and see the sunrise at the summit the next morning,” Bone says. “But Mother Nature, as usual, would have different plans.”
During her hike up the “seemingly infinite switchbacks” on the way to her campsite, Bone met the Scouts from Troop 615. They were completing a practice hike for a Philmont trek later in the year.
Bone learned that they’d be campsite neighbors once everyone reached their destination.
“We got to know each other as we passed each other back and forth on the trail,” Bone says. “After hours of switchbacks, I asked them, gasping for air, ‘How far away is this blasted campsite?’ Todd grinned and said, ‘It’s just around the corner.’ I smirked at Todd’s apparent sense of humor.”
Continuing the climb
When she arrived at the campsite at last, Bone set up her tent despite a “violent wind that was blowing tents and gear in every direction.”
With her stuff secured in the tent, Bone placed heavy rocks over each tent stake and set back out on the trail. Just one more mile and she’d be at the summit.
On her climb up, Bone again encountered the Scouts. They had already reached the summit and were headed down.
”We saw that Jamie was still heading to the summit and we told her that we would see her at camp,” Boyles says. “Shortly after seeing Jamie, the wind really started picking up, and it began to rain.”
Bone took her victory photo at the summit and hiked back to camp.
Back at the campsite
As she neared the campsite, Bone saw something that concerned her. The Scouts and leaders were waiting for her.
“Was this a courtesy?“ Bone remembers thinking. “Much more likely, something had gone wrong.”
Indeed it had.
“When we reached camp, we saw that two of the other campers at the site’s tents had blown down,” Boyles says. “One of which was Jamie’s. We secured their tents to prevent any damage to them from the high winds.”
“They helped me move the tent to a more sheltered location and restake it,” Bone says. “Unfortunately, during the collapse, my sleeping bag had gotten soaked in the rain.”
The Scouts helped hang Bone’s sleeping bag to dry, and one of the leaders loaned Bone his sleeping bag liner.
Learning from each other
The Scouts invited Bone to join them for dinner.
Bone taught the Scouts about cold-soaking food when backpacking. That’s the process of adding cold water to a dehydrated meal and letting it sit for 30 minutes or more while you hike or do something else. It’s passive cooking with no heat required.
“The boys and I were impressed by the ease of cold-soaking food,” Boyles says. “Cooking while you hike is a great idea.”
Next, they shared stories about their backgrounds. The Scouts learned that Bone is a pianist from Lawrence, Kan., who loves to hike and travel. Bone learned that Todd is an engineer and his fellow leader, Kirk Larson, is a nurse anesthetist.
“But on their time off, they’re Scout leaders, and I’d rate their skills a 10 of 10,” Bone says.
The next day
The next morning brought a pretty nasty storm. Waiting out the storm gave Bone time to reflect on her trip.
“I realized how much more fearful I’d be if I’d been there alone instead of with a troop of Scouts and their leaders,” she says.
After two hours, the storm passed. The Scouts shared their breakfast with Bone — Pop-Tarts! — before packing up and making their descent.
She met up with them one more time at the trailhead, where they exchanged high-fives.
“Over and over, I was inspired by these Scouts and their leaders,” Bone says. “They showed true altruistic instincts to a fellow hiker in need. I’ll be sure to use them as role models on my hikes from now on.”
Bone also told me how she wished she could’ve been in the BSA as a girl.
”I fully support the Boy Scouts of America becoming coed,” she says. “If this opportunity had been offered to me as a youth, I could have learned a lot of my outdoor skills from leaders such as Todd and Kirk instead of the internet.”
Some great Scouts
Let’s hear it for the Scouts on this trip, who showed remarkable kindness and courtesy to a stranger.
The Scouts were:
- Michael B., 15, Star Scout
- Brian L., 14, Life Scout
- Chad L., 14, Life Scout
- Andy Z., 14, Star Scout
- Tim N., 14, Second Class
- Affan H., 14, Second Class
- Keegan V., 14, Life Scout
Boyles says he was grateful to have met Jamie and incredibly proud of his Scouts.
”I think the boys impressed Jamie since the oldest boy that was on the trek just turned 15,” Boyles says. “They showed her that preparation and not panicking will make your mountain hikes fun — even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.”