Last week a few of the scouts and ASM’s met together for a quick backpack shakedown. They quickly learned that some had packed more equipment than was needed to be safe and comfortable. As a result of combing through the backpacks and ditty bags, they were able to shave off pounds from some, and only ounces from others. All in all, the average pack weighed in at about 17 pounds (base weight). Everyone did very well with bringing only what was necessary for safety and comfort. We also went through and paired down a few excessive supplies cutting the weight and volume of some kits by half! I think it is safe to say that every scout and adult was happy with their pack weight on the trail as well as their comfort level on the trip.
We met at the parking lot of Chantry Flats at 3:45 PM and began last-minute shakedowns and divvying of crew gear. Once the last scout arrived, we pointed our shoes down the road and began our 2-mile trek into Hoegees Campground. After about an hour of multiple stream crossings and moderate switchbacks up Winter Creek, we arrived at camp. It was now dusk, just in time for the scouts to choose their sites and set up camp. Only one other camper was at the campground.
Once the tents were set up, the scouts worked on stove skills, food preparation, bear bag hanging techniques and campfire starting. Some scouts needed their 2nd Class requirements; demonstrating how to build a fire and set up a lightweight stove. The more advanced scouts were able to use the EDGE method with some of the less-experienced scouts.
Once the stoves were hot and ready, they boiled water from the stream and in no time were enjoying hot lasagna! Of course with freezer bag cooking, there is no cleanup and no mess! After dinner the scouts enjoyed Oreo cookies for dessert.
Due to last week’s rain and snow, the wood and kindling around camp was saturated, as was the ground. The scouts each tried their best at lighting a campfire using BSA methods. They got real close to success but eventually yielded their efforts to our resident Eagle Scout and ASM. Within minutes—using techniques handed down from his father—he had a roaring fire, of which we all enjoyed while telling stories, jokes and playing games until 9:30 that night.
Saturday morning came quickly as the scouts emerged from their tents rested and ready to take on the day. That night, temperatures got down to 38° but the scouts were warm and comfortable. For breakfast the scouts boiled water and enjoyed a Pop-Tart appetizer and then freezer bag oatmeal.
By 9am the boys had packed their sleeping bags, tents and clothes and were ready for the 3-1/2 mile hike down the hill. The boys lead the ASMs through multiple crossing and trail junctions until reaching the Upper Trail. The pace was moderate with water breaks and plant ID opportunities along the way.
The hike down was fun and full of scout stories until we reached Chantry Flats parking lot, 15 minutes before our scheduled time of 11am.