I would say that I have a more varied experience with the CSM than most. I entered as an open tourer in 1986, loved it, then tried for my CdeB Bronze the following year, but failed miserably. Dial forward a decade. A couple of ski buddies pull me onto the Safety/First Aid team. It’s a fun and cheap way to experience the CSM. It combines skiing, helping and interacting with people, and playing with ham radios. It doesn’t really get much better than that.
I have many dozens of wonderful memories of the people I’ve encountered on the trail. But the one that stands out most was a Section 4 sweep (forward year, ie. long!) about 5 years ago, pushing a mother and daughter team, the girl was maybe 11 or 12. Sweeping means following in the last people on the trail. Her mother wanted them to quit, it was way past sunset, cold and dark. On the Safety team we have radios and can get people pulled off at road crossings. The girl was quite insistent (AND being a bit bitchy with her mother about it) She was going to finish! So we pulled out the headlamps and did it. The girl was a trooper. As a sweep, we can “arrange things”. So when we saw the checkpoint lights in the distance, I dropped back and radio’d in “prepare the welcoming party!” When we got to the finish, there were sirens wailing, lights flashing, spoons hammering on pots, lots of screaming volunteers and a cupcake for that little trooper.
In spite of trying for my Bronze again this year, and having great memories of “almost” becoming a CdeB, the memory of that little girl will be hard to top. But maybe in 2014 I will have a new CSM memory to top even that one.