Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout takes years of hard work and completion of an all-important community project. For 13-year-old Daniel Leas, that project means bikers and hikers in Helena’s South Hills have a much improved route on a popular trail.
“I’ve been in scouting since I was 5 years old, and I always wanted to become an Eagle Scout,” he said. “All my uncles are Eagles Scouts, and so is my dad.”
Leas approached Prickly Pear Land Trust about some needed trail work. A section of the Pinchot Trail on Rodney Ridge quickly became the focus.
“The goal of the project was to rebuild the trail where it was really steep and eroding,” he said, adding that some previous trail work provided valuable experience.
Leas began calling businesses for donations and persuading volunteers to help.
The project began at 8:30 a.m. last Saturday, with flagging the new route and blocking the old trail before more than 100 volunteer hours digging by hand completed a quarter-mile of new switchbacks. The work went smoothly, and they wrapped up ahead of schedule, Leas said.
The project makes the trail more user-friendly for both pedalers and hikers.
“Several of the boys who worked on the trail are excited to try it out this week. It looks like a great ride,” Leas said.
Leas has a few more requirements to fulfill before he formally earns scouting’s highest honor. He does not plan to stop there, wanting to attend the national and world jamborees and stay involved in scouting for the foreseeable future.
Backpacking, biking and climbing mountains top his list of interests outside of scouting.
Leas begins his freshman year at Capital High School this fall. After high school he hopes to pursue a career in biology with outdoor research, such as working for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.