08/17/08 — Local Boy Scout helps build Wyoming trails

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Local Boy Scout helps build Wyoming trails

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 17, 2008 9:44 AM

Brandon Hill is back home in North Carolina this week after making a trek out West this summer as part of a national Boy Scout effort to repair eroding hiking trails in the Grand Tetons mountains.

The Wyoming project was one of five across the nation involving Scouts who have been accepted into the Order of the Arrow. The Scouts worked with the U.S. Forest Service to improve trails and structures in several national parks and forests.

Hill, 18, a graduate of Charles B. Aycock High School, is headed to East Carolina University. He said the week in Wyoming was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"It's amazing how 1,500 people can come together for one program and not worry about news, politics and the weather. We were just there for one issue, and that was to help better the environment," he said.

Each day, the Scouts had to hike four miles up into the mountains to the work site, and then hiked back down in the evening.

The work was tough, he said, but satisfying.

An Eagle Scout, Hill learned about the project, called Arrow Corps, during a banquet at Camp Tuscarora in November.

After accepting an invitation to go, the next step for Hill was to raise the $1,200 that was needed for the trip. The Tuscarora Council provided a $500 grant and friends helped Hill hold a barbecue chicken fundraiser to raise the rest.

He traveled with a group of Scouts from Greensboro.

"The contingent members I was with were the best group of people I've ever been around," Hill said. "The experience prepared me for the Air Force ROTC in the coming years at East Carolina University."

Hill said he hopes one day to be a pilot.

He arrived at Jackson Hole on July 26 with the contingent from Greensboro. They erected a "tent city" on the campus of a nearby high school.

Work started early each day, with the Scouts rising at 5:30 a.m.

Hill was selected to lead a squad that helped move boulders, shored up eroded sections of trails and created rest areas along the trails.

Besides the altitude, the dry air posed a problem.

"I was responsible to make sure they had enough water and didn't get dehydrated," he said.

When the groups finished their work, the Forest Service installed signs naming it the Arrow Trail.

"It was an awesome experience," he said. "There was still snow on the tops of the mountain. Maximum elevation was 14,000 feet."

Hill said he already misses the rugged Wyoming landscape, but he has had little time to reflect. He will move to Greenville this week.