Three high school students and two ICO leaders pause during backcountry trail work in Montana.

This summer two of our ambitious ICO Leaders took three Southern California High School students to the Bob Marshall Wilderness to do backcountry trail restoration. Nancy, the Leader of the trip wrote,

The three ICO students selected for this special trip are all graduates of the Inspiring Leaders Outdoors (ILO) program. By this point, we’ve had two cohorts of ILO graduates who successfully demonstrated they can prepare and go on a backpacking trip. Our ILO backpacking trips are usually one night backcountry; I knew this one-week Bob Marshall Wilderness service outing would be a challenge for the students, but I also knew these students could handle the challenge.

Before beginning their work trip, the two ICO Leaders took the students to Glacier National Park. There they observed wildlife such as marmots, ground squirrels and even a mountain goat!

Hiking in to a basecamp at Pyramid Lake, students met others volunteering to fix issues such as fallen trees, filled water bars, and removing other hazards. In 2017, a wildfire ravaged part of the trail. The students learned to safely use trail tools, including a cross-cut saw, and the necessary communication norms for working with others when using dangerous tools. In addition, students had the opportunity to cowboy camp under the stars, learn fly-fishing and hear stories from the other adult participants.

ILO Backcountry Team sawing downed trees

We are so proud of our ILO students for their hard work and willingness to meet this challenge and experience something new. Thanks to the Leaders, Nancy and Afrodita for volunteering their time, energy and care to plan and lead this unique trip. ICO looks forward to planning many more trips like this as the ILO program continues to build strong youth leaders with outdoor skills.

ILO graduate checking a water bar before maintenance

Here is a quote from Emilio about his experience:

The snacks and food they gave us was top notch, even accommodating the meals for vegetarians and those with food allergies. I was able to use many tools while cutting burnt trees and digging new paths. I learned about many things from the experience from the older folks on the trip, and I was even able to learn how to fly fish. Cowboy camping was also a new experience for me. Getting to sleep under an infinite number of stars is an experience I will never forget. Overall the trip was amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Leader Nancy put together an article about the trip. The full article will be available to read as a PDF soon.