Gretna Venture Crew 363 takes Colorado adventure trip

The Gretna Venture Crew 363 recently returned from a high adventure trip to Colorado in mid-July.

The three Scouts — Addie Horst, Sam Snyder and Emery Prusmack — traveled to Glenwood Springs via the Amtrak train along with three leaders: Duane Horseman, Justin Horst and Cindy Mefford.

Originally, we planned to go to Yosemite National Park in California, but because of a new permit system, we were unable to get the backcountry permits for the trails we wanted. So we went to plan B.

We decided to go to Colorado via the train and do some hiking, backpacking and rafting. We boarded the Amtrak in Lincoln at about 12:45 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. The teens enjoyed the train because they could move around whenever they wanted.

We spent most of our time in the observation car playing games and watching the beautiful scenery in the mountains. The train passes through a section of mountains that is inaccessible to cars and has over 26 tunnels!

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Once in Glenwood Springs, we picked up the rental cars and drove to a Bureau of Land Management site west of town to set up camp at no charge. We crossed the road into a park to eat our dinner and soak our feet in the cold lake.

On Thursday, we went white water rafting and due to the high water, experienced exhilarating Class IV rapids on the Colorado River! After lunch, we went back on the river and we could choose to navigate the Class III rapids in rubber duckies (inflatable kayaks) or stay in the raft where our guide, LJ, shared his expansive knowledge of the river and the area. It was a blast! None of us went “swimming” (i.e. upset our kayak/raft).

Afterwards, we drove to the Conundrum Creek trailhead near Aspen. We planned to backpack in about 1 to 2 miles and set up camp. This is called “dispersed camping.” The rules are that you have to set up camp 100 feet from the trail and from the water.

Unfortunately, it was a narrow valley, and we could not find a suitable site. After 2 miles and night quickly approaching, we decided to head back.

Once we got back to the trailhead, we made our dinner of dehydrated food. While eating, a black bear walked up within 20 feet behind Mr. Horst and Addie and gave them quite a fright! Most black bears are scared away if you make noise or shout, and the yelling probably scared the bear as much as it scare them.

We drove to the Maroon Bells area and tried to find a campground that had open sites. No luck. Finally, we pitched our tents in the dark on the edge of a parking lot.

On Friday, we decided to go to the Maroon Bells and hiked not quite 4 miles around some scenic loops that took us around Maroon Lake and a smaller un-named lake. We stopped at the ranger station and were able to secure two campsites for two nights.

The ranger told us about a swimming hole so after setting up camp, so we went to check it out. The water was so cold but also very refreshing, and it washed off the sweat and dirt.

Later, we hiked to Crater Lake and had dinner. We saw moose, a fox, a pica and lots of deer. The hike totaled about 4 miles. We went back to our campsite and taught Emery, our newest Scout, how to start a fire with no matches. With great determination, she did it, and our reward was s’mores.

Saturday, we slept in and played cards for most of the morning. We went into Aspen and checked out an art fair. We saw a lot of beautiful pieces that were definitely out of our price range.

We drove back to Maroon Bells and reserved our camp sites were for another night. We went to our swimming hole again for another exhilarating swim. That evening, we played more cards and then, because our chocolate and marshmallows sat in metal bear box all day in the heat, we had marshmallow goo for dessert.

Sunday was our big challenge day. We got up at 5:30 a.m., ate breakfast and got on the Conundrum Creek trail at about 7:15 a.m. Our goal was to hike about 9 miles to the top where there was a natural hot springs.

The trail was beautiful with lots of wild flowers, river crossings (either across logs, man-made log bridges or stepping on rocks) and, in one crossing, we had to ford the river, which was about shin deep.

We got to the hot springs about 12:45 p.m. The water was warm and felt good until you got out and the breeze chilled you. We found a small snow field and laid down in the snow and then got back in the hot pool to warm up. We saw a beaver near the springs sunning himself.

We headed back down about 3:30 p.m., and it took a little longer than we expected. When we forded the creek, it had risen and was about knee deep. The swift current made it tricky to keep your balance. We got back to the trailhead about 7:45 p.m. It was a long, challenging day. We hiked a total of 18 miles with an elevation gain of 2,888 feet. The teens (and the adults) did great!

On Monday, we packed up and headed back to Glenwood Springs. We went to Iron Mountain Hot Springs, a commercialized one. It had about 18 mineral pools with temperatures varying from 91 degrees to 108 degrees. It was very relaxing, and we got a proper shower!

We set up camp at Ami’s Acres in the 98 degree weather and then drove to Hanging Lake trail. This was a very popular, very steep, rocky trail. The trail was about 3.1 miles round trip, but you climbed 1187 feet up in that 1.5 miles.

The lake at the top was pristine and heavenly. It was a beautiful turquoise color because of the travertine mineral in the water. A big, fat beaver came out to get his photo taken. We hiked up the side of the lake and went behind the falls, where the mist felt wonderful!

After hiking back down, we had dinner by the creek. On the way back to our campsite, we stopped by an ice cream shop and enjoyed a cold treat.

On Tuesday, we relished in another shower. We went downtown and went to Doc Holiday’s museum, which was in the basement of a western store. We found a restaurant near the train station and had awesome burgers and French fries, which always tastes especially good after a week of dehydrated food and granola bars.

We boarded the train about 12:30 p.m. and arrived in Lincoln about two hours late at about 3:20 a.m. Another successful trip in the Venture Crew books!

The Venture Crew is a co-ed Scouting organization for youth ages 14-20. Every year the young adults choose where they want to go and what activities they want to do. They plan the trip and coordinate fundraising to pay for the adventure.

Check out our Facebook page at Anyone interested in joining should call Cindy Mefford at 402-310-5183.

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