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Troop 11: Backpacking & Spelunking at Colorado Bend SP

Colorado Bend State Park is one of the gems of the Texas hill country, offering amazing scenery and a wide variety of activities that we’ll take full advantage of. This is really two trips in one: a mid-adventure backpacking trip for those that want to put in some miles and an exciting cave exploration day for everyone else.

Signup deadline is Monday, December 19. Maximum is 48 people. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/troop-11-backpacking-spelunking-at-colorado-bend-sp-registration-30007212380

The park is a long drive from Houston, so we will break it up by staying overnight at Tellepsen Scout Camp near Navasota on Friday night. We’ll be on the road just after the sun comes up on Saturday morning so that we arrive at the park for lunch.

Backpacking

After lunch on Saturday, the backpacking crew will start their 9-mile trek on trails that vary from steep and challenging to easy and shady. Along the way, the crew will see Gorman Falls, a hidden rock bowl formation, and the Colorado River gorge before arriving at the group site before dark, making camp alongside the cave crew, and eating backpack-style meals. On Sunday morning, the crew will head out to complete a loop of the park with another 8 miles of hiking that includes spectacular overlloks of the pools and waterfalls of Spicewood Springs.

Spelunking

After the backpacking crew starts their trek, the cave crew will drive down to the group site and make camp. In the afternoon, small groups will take a shuttle bus to spend an hour and a half getting dirty in Turtle Shell Cave. Explorers will get a helmet, headlamp, kneepads, and elbowpads before going underground with a professional guide for an exciting expedition. On Sunday morning, the cave crew will break camp and load the trailers in time to meet the backpack crew back at the park headquarters.

Advancement 

Most of the requirements for the hard-to-earn Backpacking merit badge will be covered. We will try hard to set up the program so that Scouts can complete it this spring. Doing both legs of the hike will also meet the Camping merit badge requirement of a 15-mile trek. (It might qualify for 1,000 foot elevation change too.)

Packing lists

Check out the “Weekend Backpacking” tab on our Packing Lists for Camping page. Remember, we’re camping in central Texas in mid-January — it could be hot or it could be below freezing. Highs are usually around 60 degrees, lows are around 35 degrees. There will be a lot of discussion about this at troop meetings.

Preparation

This will be the first of two backpacking treks this spring, so everyone will participate in the backpacking prep course the troop has prepared for the troop meetings leading up to this trip. This includes gear discussions, how to hike safely, foot care, and trail cooking.

Troop meeting on Monday, December 12

  • Review compass, maps, navigation, what to do if lost
  • First aid, blisters, hypothermia
  • Footwear discussion
  • Crew decides roles and does meal planning

Troop meeting on Monday, December 19

  • Registration deadline
  • Establish and record buddies for tents, food, stoves
  • Backpacks distributed and fitted
  • Packing lists distributed
  • Packing techniques demonstration to illustrate packing list items (water, food, clothing, weight ratios/target dry weight, other gear)

Backpacking crew meeting on Saturday, January 7

  • Weigh-in with complete packs
  • Tents distributed
  • Dump gear for review, list of what hikers need/don’t need
  • Short shakedown walk with gear
  • Test tents

Troop meeting on Monday, January 9

  • Low-impact camping, leave no trace, Wilderness Pledge
  • Food, stoves, fuel distribution and packing
  • Review plans and schedule
  • Cave exploration program for those not backpacking

Trip Schedule

Friday, January 13

  • 5:15 p.m. All participants arrive at Scout Shed
  • Load trailer(s)
  • 5:50 p.m. Sunset
  • 6:00 p.m. Depart shed
  • Stop for dinner near shed
  • 8:15 p.m. arrive Camp Tellepsen
  • set up tents
  • Bed

Saturday, January 14

  • 6:30 a.m. Wake up
  • Break camp, load up
  • 7:28 a.m. Sunrise
  • 7:30 a.m. depart Camp Tellepsen
  • eat no-cook breakfast in vans
  • 11:00 a.m. arrive Colorado Bend State Park
  • eat no-cook lunch, discuss safe hiking while we get signed in to park
  • 12:00 noon depart park headquarters (either hiking or driving)
  • Backpacking crew hikes 9 miles
  • Cave crew sets up camp at group site, then goes on tours in small groups
  • 5:50 p.m. Sunset
  • Backpacking dinner
  • Evening program
  • Bed

Sunday, January 15

  • 7:00 a.m. Backpackers wake up
  • 8:00 a.m. Backpackers depart camp
  • Backpacking crew hikes 8 miles to park HQ
  • Backpacking crew eats breakfast on the trail
  • Cave crew eats backpacking breakfast in camp
  • Cave crew breaks camp and drives to park HQ
  • 12:00 noon Two crews meet at park HQ
  • Depart park
  • Pizza lunch in Lampasas, TX
  • 6:00 p.m. Arrive Scout Shed

Registration

All participants should use this Eventbrite invitation to register and pay (if applicable.)

Adult training required to participate

The troop and the BSA require participating adults to have completed several training courses prior to attending troop activities. We encourage adults, both men and women, to be actively involved with the troop’s activities and to spend a few minutes going through three online training courses.

  • Youth Protection Training for Boy Scouts
  • Fast Start Orientation Training for Boy Scouts
  • This is Scouting for Boy Scouts

If you are interested in becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster, additional in-person training is required. Speak to any adult leader to find out more.

Directions to the Troop 11 Scout Shed

4400 Town Plaza Drive, Houston, TX 77045

(Important note: There are NO restroom facilities at the shed)

  1. From 610, go south on South Main to the Hiram Clarke Road exit.
  2. Go south on Hiram Clarke Road for about a mile
  3. Turn left onto Town Plaza Drive.
  4. Turn left into the second driveway (into the warehouse complex)
  5. We’re the second-from-the-last rollup door on the left side of the middle lane in the complex.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/troop-11-backpacking-spelunking-at-colorado-bend-sp-registration-30007212380