It’s been a while – over a year for most of us, and for some their very first time!
Canoeing is back – wooooooooooo.
2023/24 is another canoeing year for the Troop and to make sure that we get every up to speed as fast as possible, whether old hands that are bit rusty, or complete newbies, skills sessions form a key part of the early trips. Shoreline is close by and makes an easy half day trip to do some basics: throw rope rescues, paddles, packing and loading, and some on-water time.
Of course, we also go over BSA Safety Afloat, just like we do at the start of any waterbourne adventure.
After last year’s donut:scout ratio of 15:1, this year, JLT was a much more management 1 1/2 : 1
The scouts listened patiently to some tips and guidance around leadership – and what it means for them, in our troop, and more generally. The morning was peppered with activities and interactive bits too which kept people engaged and reenforced the material we covered.
At the end, the scouts captured their ideas and associated actions for tweaking the focus of the program over the coming years.
This year, the troop voted to go back to the Lost Coast (previous trip in 2018). They had cool and bright weather whilst the rest of us sweltered in a heat wave, and took the time to enjoy the amazing coastline and pristine solitude.
The pics are below for quick access – but thanks to. our Scoutmaster, Glenn Rock, we have a day-by-day diary for posterity immediately following.
Scouts and families met on July 10 for a food hunt – based on the meal planning completed by Bryson and Maanasa , we bought food at 5 stores within 1 mile of each other (thrifty). After food was purchased, all returned to CGS to sort food items into meals, distribute weight evenly, and pack them into bear cans – bear cans required to keep critters out of our food and other aromatic items. More on this later.
Ten participants (6 scouts and 4 adult leaders) met at CGS to conduct a gear check based on the list assembled by Joshua and Pierce (empty backpacks, spread out on ground and have scout and adult leaders review) to assure all personal and group gear was packed. By 9:30am we were on the road north to our planned our chosen staging area – and as fortune may have it, potentially escape the heat. Stopped for lunch and gas along the way where Santa Rosa, Ukiah, and Willits had temps of 106°. As we departed Highway 101 and started our last leg of the drive, hopes for cooler temps were on the other side of the hill. We arrived at Shelter Cove and were embraced by 85° temps and breezy conditions. Breezy = 30 mph gusts throughout the night and little temperature drop until 4:00am the next morning.
To the trailhead we go to experience the route planning accomplished by Matthew, Aidan and Aidan. Up at 4:30am for breakfast and a short, hilly hike over to the shuttle pick-up at Black Sands Beach (yes, it is black sand). While hiking to the start, adults drove backpacks to the pick-up location to help all conserve some energy for later. Shuttle ride was bumpy with a lot of turns as best described by a joke the driver shared, “What side of the road do you drive on? On the right side of the road except in Humboldt County where you drive on whatever is left.” Arrived at the Mattole Beach Trailhead, backpacks on and started the journey – and were greeted by clear skies and more 30mph winds with 50mph gusts – too bad we did not bring kites. Saw Sea Elephants, Sea Lions, and Seals along the way. Backpack fit and boot tying issues started to reveal themselves, yet all made it to Sea Lion Gulch. Chose our campsite and learned quickly that everything needed to be pinned down or would blow away. Throughout the day and night, hats, chairs, sleeping bags, and clothes were beguiled by wind as it tried to seduce them away. Another windy night yet signs of change in the morning with some dew.
Up at 4:50am, hit the trail at 5:30am. Between us and our next destination, Spanish Flat, lies an impassable zone. Impassable at high tide and scouts’ first experience implementing critical strategy – one trail option that opens and closes based upon external forces beyond control. Backpack fit and boot tying challenges lingered as they were not taken away by the winds of the day/ night before. Regardless, we regrouped, picked up our hiking poles, had scouts help scouts and hiked over rocks of varying sizes and shapes over the first 4 miles. We exited the impassable zone with time to spare – good planning by the scouts. A few miles further, we arrived at the shady and wind calm campsite Spanish Flat. All picked their campsites, explored, napped and found opportunities in the creek to wash off (yes, scouts do ‘bathe’, just not at CHS).
Up at 6:30am, oatmeal breakfast and on the trail by 7:00am. A somewhat contrarian day compared to those experienced – marine layer lended a new ambiance to the trail along with bear tracks, tide pools, creek crossings, dry and packed sand, rocky terrain. Backpack challenges continued to linger yet some were resolved through reorganizing the gear. Shoe tying challenges disappeared. Kinsey Creek brought some respite, play and water refill. Ranger provided guidance on the trail junction ahead. Arrived at Big Flat at 12:00pm had selected our campsite for the balance of the day. Marine layer lingered until 4:15 and brought sun for the balance of the day with a spectacular sunset. Exploration of Big Flat into the evening. Deer unafraid of humans were with us throughout the day/ evening. First real opportunity to understand we were the outlier visitors.
2:00am, IT’S A BEAR!!! At least that is what Joshua thought as he woke up Matthew for help. The bear visited others, scouts and adults alike, throughout the night. At breakfast, all bear sagas were shared and collectively determined that the small black bear was the type known as Mephitis mephitis – skunk. As important as determining our visitors I.D., it was invaluable to learn why food wrappers, toilet paper and the like are stored in bear cans. After swapping stories and collecting gear, all moved across Big Flat Creek to Miller Flat – about 200 yards. Good rest day on the shadier side of the creek brought sightings of more deer and a family of river otters scurrying up the creek.
Up at 4:45am and on the trail at 5:30am. Adventure brought another impassable zone to navigate on our way to Horse Mountain Creek. More large and small rocks to move around and over – some wet and slick, others not so. Arrived at our camping destination and broke out food to assemble brunch (aka use up as much food as possible). The campsite was fully exposed with 12 hours of full sun exposure in our future. Adults options with the SPL – stay or finish the hike early by hiking to Black Sands. After brunch SPL discussed with each scout – unanimous vote was to finish. Backpacks on with the final destination visible in the distance. Push to the end had Pierce and Bryson in the lead, Joshua in the middle and Aidan, Aidan and Matthew in sweep. Sweep seemingly wanted to relive and enjoy the trip as long as possible as they finished that last 1.5 miles walking backward. Together, scouts and adults finished the last climb to the parking area together, All returned to Shelter Cove campground for one last night and a successful trip – 10 entered and departed without injury and many stories to tell.
Up at 5:30am – breakfast final pack and return day. Three Little Bears visited the campsite overnight. Lesson learned (again) – don’t leave food or other aromatics outside a bear can. Mr. and Mrs. Moffatt drove up to help with transportation back to San Jose. Caravan assembled and the trip back was uneventful – except for thinking about the next outdoor adventures.
Camp Hi-Sierra was another amazing week of merit badges, Treagle, overnight adventures, sausage songs and… dust. The water was cooooold this year, so those that managed their swim test at camp deserve some extra kudos!
With ASM Denver as Camp Scoutmaster, supported by a number of parents, Troop 260 had another strong showing with multiple youth either on Staff or as Counsellor-in-Training.
T260 was back at Scout-o-rama with a blast this year after a few years absence during and just after covid. We left our traditional piazz-dilla’s behind and instead turned up with some some outdoor gear on display.
The canoe and backpacks attracted people over; Isabella’s marketing hooked them in with pics of the scouts in action; and then an improvised game of “toss/cornhole” but using bear cans kept them engaged – and coming back.
There’s nothing like the goal of trying to splat a scout with a sponge… 🙂
Finally, after 8 years of Coe trips where China Hole has either been too low (and stinky) or way too flooded to get in for a paddle, April 2023 was the time: great wet winter left waters flowing well, but the April sun was still warm enough.
After having to take our boots off to ford the river on the way down, it was fabuos to cool off (following BSA Safe Swim Defense of course!). However, after cooling down, it was time to heat up again as the troop took the short-sharp path up to Manzanita for the night.
A quick walk back out in the morning has every home before lunch (which given this was pre-exam and extra homework season, was just as well).
“What did you do at Spring Break?”, “Got my Eagle Scout Medal – what about you?!”
We recognised Allison D today, another of our original intake of female youth, at her Eagle Court of Honor. Sibling of existing Eagle, Tristan, and accompanied by Assistant Scoutmasters Emeritus, Phil & Kathy, a great turn out of current and former scouts, adults and wider family and friends turned out to celebrate.
High impact landscaping service at our Charter org
March Court of Honor
We welcomed our two newest scouts – Isabella and Emily. Great to have the join, and also for making life easy for the Assistant Scoutmasters by having the same names as current scouts 🙂
Scouts presented our in-flight plans for the summer 50-miler to Lost Coast: trip route and meal. We’ll be sure to have enough calories and great places to camp
Our Charter organisation is essential to the Troop: we are officially a program under their legal entity; they provide space for our storage shed; use of the hall at now cost; a place to meet and hold events. In turn, it was great to be able to help them out. T260 turned up on force to make short work of some tough landscaping work, doubling the area the Church had hoped to cover in 2/3 of the time!
Delayed after having to cancel the previous weekend due to a CA state declared State of Emergency, a depleted force set-off to get those miles in. With (mostly) full packs, and a 2:1 adult:scout ratio, we enjoyed glorious spring weather as we romped around a 10-mile loop in Joseph D Grant (thanks Ram for planning). It was still very wet underfoot at parts, providing novel experiences for scouts used to hiking through extended years of drought – but strong ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ vibes for those raised backpacking in Scotland.
Kudos to Katie for contributing to the story quote with a full slip+fall in the mud (alas, not witnessed by the rest of the Troop).