By Brian Packer
One of the most important things I learned growing up was the simple lesson that “I can do hard things”. I learned this from my parents who gave me ample opportunities to work hard, coaches who pushed me to do more than I thought I could, scout leaders who provided experiences like winter camping, 50 mile hikes, and other experiences that can make a young man wonder if he will survive the experience – let alone finish it.
I have grown to believe that this simple lesson “I can do hard things” is critical to the growth and development of youth so that they know they can push through hard days when they leave home for college or to serve in the military or serve a mission for their beliefs. I believe that this lesson translates into better employees, and more successful adults in marriage, parenthood, and citizenship.
To help one of our local our Varsity Scout Groups experience this we planned an adventure to ride our bicycles the full length of the Weiser River Trail from the trail head just below New Meadows all the way to where it officially ends on 4th in Weiser. Yes, it was mostly slightly downhill, but we certainly faced our challenges along the way.
Thursday June 16th, Day 1 – Trailhead to Council High School. It was drizzling rain and cool but absolutely beautiful. Our first challenge appeared less than a 1/2 mile in. One of boys bicycle crank and pedal fell off. We had tools in some of our packs and in the support truck and trailer so after some repair work we made it another 3 miles before the same crank fell off again. Another fix and this time some added magical Duct Tape and voila we were able to finish the rest of the day without the peddle falling off. We had one boy wipeout in a muddy spot but no injuries per se and we had 1 flat tire on day one. The challenge of day one was the last 3-4 miles before entering Council. The trail gets almost level with some slight incline and the rocks are looser. This combined with the already tired legs, sore bottoms and surprisingly tired and sore wrists, hands and forearms from the bumpy ride and those last 3-4 miles became a pure battle of will. We made it right before the biggest part of the storm and thanks to Mr. Dalgleish (Principal/Superintendent) we were able to spend a couple of hours in the Gym waiting for the worst part of the storm to pass before we set up camp, cooked dinner, played games, repaired bikes and got some much needed sleep.
Friday June 17th, Day 2 – Council to Midvale. Warmer day but not too warm. We were really blessed with good weather with days that were not too hot. This is another pretty stretch of trail that follows the river through some very pretty ranch land west of hyway 95. A lot of gates to open and shut and it is important to note here that if you decide to ride this trail, remember that at many points you are basically passing through people’s private lands and to respect their property, their gates needing to be closed (so their animals stay where they are supposed to be) and enjoy the incredible blessing this trail offers without causing harm to the land owners along the way. We drank a lot of water during this stretch, each rider had a pack with a water bladder as well as a bike mounted water bottle and by the time we reached Cambridge many of us needed a refill. The last couple of miles into Cambridge were a little rough as they have new rock on the trail that looks nice but is a bit rough on a bike… but then we hit the asphalt and you could hear the sounds of pleasure as the boys experienced the smooth, non-bone-jarring section of trail in Cambridge that reminds the rider why the Weiser River Trail is not for whimps. Lunch break at Cambridge and on to Midvale where we camped, made use of the wonderful city pool, played games, ate dinner and spent the night.
Saturday June 18th, Day 3 – Midvale to Weiser. The longest stretch with approximately 33 miles to ride from the Midvale park to 4th street in Weiser. We left a little earlier this morning to try to avoid the heat along this stretch and we also knew that this stretch is our most isolated we had been. We couldn’t just radio the truck if we needed it. So, with another morning prayer we sat down on our very painful bottoms that really didn’t want sit on our bike seats again. It’s amazing though, as you start riding you are able to focus on the trail ahead and peddling and loose the focus on your soreness. An important part of the lesson of “I can do hard things” is to just keep going and not to give up. I quoted Dori from the Disney movie “Finding Nemo” but adjusted it from “just keep swimming” to “just keep peddling” as I’d encourage the boys that were struggling the most at the back of the pack. Our strength was evident on day 3. Our bodies had become adjusted to the routine and we made excellent time to Presley Bridge – but about 2 miles before at around mile 13 we hit the head wind that would truly test our metal from there to Weiser. Our bodies were tired, our legs exhausted, bottoms felt like raw hamburger, arms, hands wrists all aching, backs are stiff and now we have the final 11 miles from Presley Bridge to Weiser after lunch break. For most of the trip there had been a slight decline which really helped but for this last bit the ground is mostly level and with the headwind the peddling became more of a struggle than ever but with the promise of all you can eat Pizza buffet at Idaho Pizza and a time frame to beat if we were going to take advantage of that pizza and we pushed through to the end.
I’m proud of these young men. We had our challenges but nobody quit. They each know that they can “do hard things” and that will serve them well in their futures.
List of boys:
Cameron Hagans, Kyler Thomason, Drake Weideman, Eli To’Omalatai, Russel Chandler, Kelvin Price, Garett Rasmussen, Brandon Egbert
List of leaders: Scott Real, Russ Hagerty, Jarom Packer, Spencer Goodrich