High Sierra Backpack 2012

Wednesday, July 11th – Day 1

After a four-hour drive in 100° heat, and a few welcomed thunder showers, the scouts arrived at Horseshoe Meadows Campground above Lone Pine, CA.

Everyone unloaded their packs and began setting up camp. Dinner was prepared the day before; Mountain House Chili Mac and instant pudding.

Everyone turned in early around 8:30pm. Mr. Z told us to drink at least a quart/liter of water to help prevent altitude sickness. I think most of us did okay.

We woke up at 6am and boiled water for coffee and breakfast; packaged oatmeal. The morning was cool and cloudy. Camp tear down was a little slow as the scouts were getting used to the equipment and the altitude. Mr. Z did a shakedown for the boys and was able to shave of a fair amount of weight while keeping the boys safe and comfortable.

A pre-hike shakedown helps scouts better understand what is best to take, or leave behind.

By 8:30am we were packed and ready for the trail. The morning was cool and overcast; perfect to hike in. As we made our way through the meadows, we took a few breaks to adjust, including a foot check for anyone hot spots.

The trail was a nice easy grade and packed with beautiful sights. Mr. Z, Isaac and I took the lead while Dave and Mike assumed the roles of Sweep.

Isaac navigating through one of many meadows throughout the hike

Mr. Z kept a moderate pace, perfect for the boys. Some of the group would stop to adjust, putting them a little behind. Rather than stopping to wait for every pause, we continued only stopping at junctions or landmarks.

Making adjustments on the trail

Finally, after a few hours and 5-1/2 miles of hiking, we arrived at South Fork Lake in the Cottonwood Lakes basin. Mr. Z and I scouted the sites and found a spot overlooking the lake camp. This would be our camp for the next two days.

As it began to rain, the scouts made a rain fly from a silnylon poncho using the lashing and knot skills they learned.

It was shortly after 1:30 PM and it started to rain. All of us took to our tents until the rain stopped. Then everyone continued working on their fishing merit badge.

That night we had lasagna and it was delicious!

All of us turned in at 8:30PM.

Day 3

Up at 6:00am, the boys boiled water and helped make couscous for breakfast.

That day we decided to climb New Army Pass. It was a projected 3-mile hike.

The trail leading up to New Army Pass

Another beautiful view as we inched our way up the mountain

Mr. Z and Isaac enjoying the view from atop New Army Pass

We reached the top at 12, 310’ and all enjoyed the 360° views on top for about 30 minutes.

The scouts liked the hike down better than going up; it was steep, but much easier than the climb up. During our way down, it started raining again. Eventually, the rain was coming down enough to put on our rain gear.

The view of our camp with the boys fishing for golden trout

At camp, everyone decided to all go to our respective tents and take power naps while it rained. The air cooled, which made it nice outside and not too hot inside the tent. After an hour, the scouts went back to fishing for the treasured, golden trout.

The scouts later had golden trout for dinner. We were told it was delicious!

The rest of the day was spent fishing and relaxing around the lake.

Day 4
Mr. Z and Mr. Emerson got up early to fish while the boys slept in.

The ASMs fishing in the morning

It didn’t take long to break camp and dial in our packs. We had a little time to experiment with pack loading options to help make the loads more comfortable.

Mr. Z helping the boys with map and compass skills during one of our trail breaks

We were on the trail again by 9:10am. We took a cross country route which followed a stream down the mountain and through meadows.

“Hikin’ Ike” tries on Mr. Z pack for comparison.

Just for fun, ASMs Mr. Emerson and Mr. Taylorson trade packs at the end of the hike.

The boys all did great. We ended the trip around 11:30, loaded our packs in the truck and headed for home.