History Teacher here planning a backpacking trip for my students to Death Hollow......

John Kerby

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So, I teach at a local public high school. More or less an inner city school for my area. GREAT kids, have already had a couple of club meetings, and have a good group of kids wanting to do it. I have shown them power points of my trips to death hollow, and they are excited.

Ha, how crazy is this? These kids are all 16-18, they are great kids, no drugs, alcohol, or craziness. Responsible kids. I am going to spend most of the school year helping them get equipped, train them, and teach them some outdoors skills before we set out.

I pretty much have my heart set on Death Hollow, the Boulder Airstrip to highway 12 hike. I know its long, but I know it well now, and I feel if I have students with me, I want to take them someplace I know well and am comfortable with. Not to a place thats brand new to me. Is there anyway of accessing Death Hollow without starting at the airstrip and doing that walk in? THAT'S the worst part of the hike to me. Little water, in the sun, and steep. I know my kids can do it, but I was curious if we have any other options for getting in? I was in Death Hollow last may with a group of guys, and we met several groups who talked about another entrance that avoided that 6-7 mile hike in from the airstrip. If real, where is it?

And to answer the liability question, I am going to set up a venturing post through the Boyscouts of America, and each student will become a member, and as long as they clear and back the trip, they will insure it for me. The local leader told me they RARELY turn down trips for kids, and generally the trip has to be blatantly dangerous for them to say no. The guy already told me Death Hollow would easily pass.

I am also trying to get surplus military rucks donated, as these kids would have a hard time buying expensive civilian packs. I am thinking marine ILBE's, as they were designed by Ark Teryx, and are pretty good for $50-60. Am already fund raising, have raised $310 bucks for this, hope to hit $1500-$2000.

Also, am I wrong, or are groups in Death Hollow limited to 8? Or was it 12? I was hoping this could be a group of 6-8 kids, and 4 adults.

Thanks guys!
 

steve

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Ha, how crazy is this?

If it's their first backpacking trip in their life, I think it's slightly crazy, mainly from a liability standpoint. I'm the first person to argue that kids should get outdoors and experience nature and life away from the city. But when it's another person's kid, and the responsibility lies on my shoulders instead of their parents', then I make sure my bases are covered legally.

I think the key to a successful trip is 2-4 quick overnighter backpacking trips before this. If you get your 4 adults to 8 kids ratio that will be very good. Who is the medic and how well qualified are they? How many adults will you have with you? Are there any special medical conditions with any of the kids? How fit are the kids? How prone to horsing around are they?

Make sure you understand the BSA's rules. They are more than an insurance agency to cover group camping trips. Even with the BSA's insurance, you could still get sued as a leader. You'll need training and you'll need to abide by their rules. I've worked with the BSA my entire life and a trip like that would make me nervous, especially with first time backpackers. The BSA has specific rules about the leader to kid ratio, they have rules about training, vehicle insurance, seatbelts, who sleeps where, etc. I don't want to discourage you, I think it's a fantastic thing you're doing. I'd just continue to encourage you to do all the research you can first (just like you are here).

You have to think about things like kids' allergic reactions, prone to heat stroke, heart attack, ability to follow directions of leaders (hey, get away from that ledge), ability to use tools like knives, fire, hot boiling water, etc.

What time of year are you going?
 
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steve

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And to answer the liability question, I am going to set up a venturing post through the Boyscouts of America, and each student will become a member, and as long as they clear and back the trip, they will insure it for me. The local leader told me they RARELY turn down trips for kids, and generally the trip has to be blatantly dangerous for them to say no. The guy already told me Death Hollow would easily pass.


Here are a few articles about BSA troops where the leaders (not just the BSA) were sued. i don't tell you this to scare you, I tell you this to be aware and realize that the BSA's insurance won't cover everything.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1995-04-22/news/1995112052_1_canoe-scout-leaders-boy-scout

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/20...chael-sclawy-adelman-boy-scouts-judith-sclawy

http://www.parentdish.com/2011/01/20/florida-parents-sue-boy-scouts-over-hiking-death-of-their-son/

http://www.sdtn.com/company/sdtn_bl...ted-death-lesson-learned-tragedy#.U_tj9_mwLsY
 
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slc_dan

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I'm also a history teacher, and think it's great you are going to try and do something like this. On that note, it's not something I would ever try. I hope I don't scare you away, but the logistics are just way to much imo.
 

John Kerby

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Fair enough. I understand your concerns, and would not take the Death Hollow trip without complete support from the BSA. I will say that Death Hollow can easily be done in 2 days, and I plan on taking 3 so the kids can enjoy it more and take their time. I also know how important water is out there, and the kids will be well prepared beforehand on dehydration and the requirement to constantly drink.

Frankly, my biggest concern is rattlesnakes. But, I have been there three times, never seen one, and have been told its a rarity. PLUS, the bottom of Death Hollow over memorial is not going to be anywhere near 100. Hack, last May when I was there, it barely got into the low to mid 80's. Paradise. Yes, there are worries and concerns, and risks. But I feel like with the proper training, they can be mitigated. Problem is there really is no place around wichita ks thats all that nice. I want them to see and experience something new. I am listening, so keep the concerns and ideas coming. Any single night hikes in the escalante area that are easily accessible and worth it?
 

John Kerby

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I am not trying to come across like I am not valuing your concerns. I just know how dedicated I am to attempting this. Other thing is, deep down, I do not believe I will have more than 5-6 kids. Not that many will be able to pay the $300 required. As such I believe it will be a smaller, more manageable group.

Also, on youtube, I have seen vids of fairly large groups of kids on supervised trips doing it. One video has a group of about 10 8-10 year olds who are swimming in pools in the death hollow canyon, even doing back flips into it. I would not allow that, and would not be even cool with kids jumping into pools. Too dangerous. The kids interested are AWESOME kids, NOT troublemakers, the type who respect authority and who would not be as much of a risk for trouble. If I had trouble making kids, I would not even be thinking about it.

I am looking around for a nurse to go along, but have not found one yet.
 

steve

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Practice backpacking trips that won't cost $300.


http://www.backpacker.com/october_2001_destinations_best_backpacking_kansas/destinations/2565

I don't doubt your dedication or the integrity of the kids, they sound fantastic. Just know that the bsa can give you their full support but that doesnt mean theyll send legal representstion for you. You can still get sued in the end and I'd hate to see that happen. Those links above had the full support of the bsa with waivers and tour permits.

Dont get me wrong, I think the world needs more awesome teachers/mentors like you and fewer sue-happy parents.

To be honest, the reason I'm not in scouting anymore is because I'm not willing to be sued to help these kids have a good time.
 
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John Kerby

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Fair enough. I get the feeling this trip will likely morph into a trip where I take 10-15 to Moab for 2-3 days, then I and another adult take 4-6 kids to Death Hollow before going home. That would add a bit to the trip. But we'll see.
 

Nick

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I don't know anything about the BSA, liability or any of that, although I can't believe it could be worthwhile to pack them up from Kansas and go to Escalante. There are so many better options for getting kids into backpacking between here and Kansas. Moab would be great. That is the kind of stuff that gets kids fired up and into the outdoors. Big bang for the buck there. The DH route is a long, difficult hike - you know this as well as anyone. There is no better way to make a kid hate the outdoors then to put them on a death march that they may not be ready for. No pun intended.

Now back to the subject of Death Hollow. I think it is absolutely, positively inappropriate for scout troops or any other group with a large number of people. There are very few campsites (maybe 1?) in the entire canyon that can actually accommodate a large group without harming the landscape. Yes, people do it. No, that doesn't make it a good idea.

Also, there are some significant problems developing due to the increased traffic. I spoke to someone recently who had encountered a group of 17 boy scouts in the canyon. Graffiti, trash, illegal campfires and human waste are getting out of control. :( They just did a massive clean up in Lower Death Hollow. They had to pack in forest service portable power sprayers to remove graffiti. Sad stuff.

But I get the draw. Death Hollow is a nice canyon. I did it a lot when I first started backpacking, especially due to the dog friendliness. But even with the smaller group - try something new! There are soooooo many amazing hikes to choose from with great campsites, clear flowing water and scenery that is just as good or better, and probably with a lot less pain to get in and out. I'm not saying that because I want to keep people out of DH. I'm saying that because you're wasting amazing experiences doing the same hike over and over. You've got the bug now, but once you start to expand your circle a bit, it'll really become an addiction.

Here are about 351 backpacking trip reports to inspire you. :)
http://backcountrypost.com/forum/forums/backpacking.20/
 

John Kerby

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Ok, I want to take them to the escalante area. Any single night trips? Or, shorter 2 nighters that are less walking, that would be more leisurely?
 

John Kerby

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Graffiti in Death Hollow? Really? Wow......Gang inspired? Or just simply moronic by itself? Work at an inner city school, can't stand the stuff.
 

steve

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Did you say your timeline was memorial day 2015? How many days can you spend in the area? I assume you're wanting a desert landscape vs mountains and trees and forest? Are you wanting swimming opportunities?

Here are some of the BSA rules:
http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss01.aspx

Nothing too surprising in there. If it's going to be a coed trip, you'll need an adult female as a leader as well
 

John Kerby

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What do you guys think of skipping the first 8 miles, and just hiking death hollow from the end in? Say, start at the end on highway 12, hike into the canyons for 1 night, maybe 2, and then hike out? We could always explore the canyons, swim, relax, then hike out. It doesn't require them to do the first part which is, in my opinion, the extreme part. The hike from the airstrip to Death Hollow can be brutal.
 
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