For its third year running, the Pony Express 50/20 in Eagle Mountain has taught boys to do hard things. This strenuous over-night hike happens during the weekend of the first full moon in September, and pushes Scouts to their physical and mental limits.
What is a 50/20 Basically it’s a 50 mile, but unlike overnighters, this hike is to be done in under 20 hours. It’s called the Pony Express because it generally follows the Pony Express Trail in Eagle Mountain.
Starting at 6 p.m. Friday, the Scouts head out from the Eagle Mountain Stake Center in the Ranches to Fairfield, head 6.5 miles down the Allen Ranch Road before turning west over the low hills to the Vernon Road, then back over Five Mile Pass to Fairfield, ending at the same start location by 2 p.m. Saturday.
But wait, this is no taped-off-highway marathon – the route consists of dirt roads and rocky trails mingled with some bike paths in the back hills of Eagle Mountain’s terrain. Utah’s unpredictable weather can also be a factor in the toughness of this hike. Last year’s event was wet and windy, making it the hardest trek yet.
For safety, aid and resupply stations are sprinkled approximately every 3 to 4 miles. A medical station is also set up in Fairfield –the 10 and 40 mile point in the hike. Troops and teams man the stations and provide food and support throughout the hike. In addition, some leaders drive “sag wagons” all night long to pick up hikers who are spent and bring them back to the start.
Last year’s stellar and challenging event was organized and led by Bryan Bassett from the Eagle Mountain district.
“This event is great. I love how boys have an opportunity to do hard things and feel proud of meeting the challenge,” Bassett said.
Scouting gives boys opportunities to push themselves physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. A 50/20 hike might just be that sort of opportunity.
Dave Pack, Utah National Parks Council Scout Executive wrote in the previous article “Why I love 50-Mile Hikes,” “When we do and teach hard things, we bring young men to a level of competence and confidence that prepares them for the future—the opportunity to serve an honorable mission, be successful in school, become a worthy husband and father, and do other things the Lord expects of them.”
Organizers are already planning the fourth annual Pony Express 50/20 for September 12-13, 2014. Opportunities are also available for shorter hikes of 5, 10 and 20 miles as well. We will post more about 2014’s hike when there’s more information.
Author: Melany Gardner | Marketing & Program Assistant, Utah National Parks Council