30? 40? 45?! I think we lost count as the scouts and family members piled in to our canoe skills day at Shoreline Lake, Mountain View.
We ran three stations, led by an experience adult and scout combo and everyone cycled round: paddles and strokes; packing and launching; safety and rope throwing. The focus was on getting on the water.
We’ve had a great batch of new scouts and adult members joined over the past few months and they were universally excellent – from both a skills and energy perspective. I think some of the older goats might be getting left behind this year 🙂
2 years since the canoes were last rinsed, and stacked up at Doc’s. In that time some have accumulated a fair bit of dirt and the Troop has gathered a new batch of scouts and family members.
Time for a deep clean, inventory and loading practice session as we kick off our 2021/22 canoeing season.
We ended up with 12 canoes all ready for the water, all PFDs and paddles checked and counted. And a ‘raft’ of new troop members skilled up on carrying, loading and strapping down the craft. Bring on the water!
18 went in; 18 came back with a wealth of memories: another superb Troop 260 50-miler.
This year’s 50-miler was a planning challenge: as the pandemic progressed we had abandoned our 2020 plans for backpacking in Lassen NP and we sought to pick them up again for this summer. Sadly, the increasingly frequent and more extensive wildfires we are facing triggered the Dixie fire (now the largest by area in CA history) which ended up coming right up to where we had planned to hike.
With only 1 week to go, Lassen NP was closed and after some heroic re-planning we headed for Emigrant Wilderness (north of Yosemite NP and only 15 mins drive past Camp Hi-Sierra). We maintained the planned two groups and after a lovely day acclimating at Pinecrest Lake we said goodbye at the trailhead and went our separate ways for 5 days.
The skills we honed, the experiences we gained, and memories we built, will be cherished by us all. Some highlights of the adventure are noted below.
Seriously, if you need some heavy landscaping done, call the USFS and ask for their trail volunteer department. 8,000 feet up, and 15 miles from anywhere, you will suddenly come across a section of granite steps that looks like something the dwarves build in Moria. Astounding.
The extreme drought CA is in is less visible at altitude. Whilst some creeks are dry or almost dry, we were able to hop from lake to lake, splashing and wading each day. We could pump water readily and enjoy lush green stretches of vegetation in between exposed granite and twisted pines.
Cowbells? Is this Switzerland? Nope, just USDA land. Near Camp Lake there was the background ding of cow bells and the splats on the trail to keep us company. Further in, we saw several horse trains bring supplies in to remote locations, or returning after a run (and always accompanied by 1 or 2 healthy happy working dogs). A possible option for an extended adventure (or for any retired scoutmasters!).
On day 3, as Group Z was heading down from Deer Lake there was much delight when from the direction of Piute Lake most of Group Y appeared around a corner! The scouts were thrilled to see each other and we headed to Gem Lake (where Group Z dropped packs and Scott had a quick dip). Everyone went them back to Piute (1.5 miles and 800 feet descent further on) to have a few hours of being all together, before Group Z headed back to Gem.
[and then Ram and Donald had to do the entire Gem-Piute commute once again to retrieve a left behind water pump! (33 minutes back for the record…)]
Several inspired Lionel Ritchie poses (including a full-reverse Lionel, and a semi-aquatic Lionel) [keep you eyes peeled when looking at the photos]
It’s hard to be disappointed in the Sierra, and once again we were treated to majestic views. There is nothing like walking with all you need on your back, to connect with the fundamentals of what we really need and with the natural world.
As ever, huge thanks to our cast of volunteers for making this year happen: our trip lead planner and lead ASMs (Glen, Phil, Donald); our other adult leadership (Scoutmaster Scott, ASMs Kathy and Marion, Denver, Ram); and our scouts for showing superb commitment, good cheer and allowing the adults to nap in the afternoon 🙂
After 16 hours over two days, James took 9 adults (Marion, Phil, Kathy, Stan, Gavin, Glenn, Ram, Tristan and Scott [CPR only]) and 5 scouts (Alia, Bryson, Aidan, Pierce, Maanasa) through their wilderness first aid and CPR course.
Policy requires us to have a WFA trained adult on any high-adventure trip. As a troop we like to #BePrepared and have several.
The training was highly relevant and relatable for the activities we do and risks we may encounter. A sampling of memorable facts below:
HAFE (high-altitude flatus expulsion) – or Excessive farting – or may be a sign of altitude sickness
It’s over for another year! It’s been 2 years since the troop’s ‘annual’ visit to CHS. We had 20 scouts this year, along with seven adults providing coverage through the week. It was a hugely successful event with all scouts gaining screeds of merit badges, 6 Saga rank advancements and 5 specially nominated awards (4 Honor Patrol black beads, Dope Cope Rope climbing honor).
It is with mixed feelings I report that Troop 260 regained its traditional place of a complete no-showing in the camp wide games leaderboard (knots aside – we monstered that one). But, as always, we competed with tremendous heart and had fun!
Throughout the week, in between the dust clouds, the lost water bottles, the misplaced scout shirts, ‘lost’ backpacks, and occasional sliced finger, much fun was had. Our youngest scouts made great progress on advancement through their early ranks, along with gaining new skills and their first merit badges. Our more experienced scouts undertook some service projects, and helped other scouts review and complete requirements, and navigate CHS roles.
We had one of our largest continents ever at the polar bear 6:00 a.m. swim (the water was MUCH warmer than 2019 probably had a lot to do with this). Our stewards of the day set the table, cleared food, and ensured everybody was well fed.
You can see the many pictures below that tell the story better than I can here.
Thanks must go first to our scouts for putting their energy into the program and all the achievements they gained and experiences they had. Supporting them are large list of people:
all our adult leadership at the camp during the week – Donald, Cheryl, John, Vince, Kathy, Phil, Sarah).
our scoutmaster Scott, and Carolyn Calzia who planned and admin’d the trip
All of our drivers (Denver, Richard, Tiffany, Ram, Sudha, Glenn, Whitney, Amie, Dave, Phil, Kathy, Cheryl, Ivo, Kelli, Sarah, John) especially the ones who drove up and down in a single day!
John and others for attending many of the CHS briefs and safety protocols evolved over the past 6 months
and, of course, all the amazing CHS staff under Bruce, Nate and Conover for making this happen; they are truly amazing.
We leave behind 2 scouts who are joining 2 already there as Counsellors in Training (Emily, and Richard joining Niko and Enzo). And 1 staff member (Harris).
Troop 260 has signed up for week 1 of camp in 2022 – June 26 to July 2. Mark your diaries now!
Less than an hour’s drive took us to the trail head, and from then we took it easy with the steep climb up to Boyd Camp about 2.2 miles in. We made it in a bit over 2.5 hours and enjoyed loads of time at camp to loaf, relax, climb trees, play ninja and cook up some food.
A bunch of us then took an afternoon hike down to William’s Gulch – a short ~1/2 mile but with 500 feet of elevation gain. oof. Lots of water was drunk on the way back up! We found a lovely shaded gulch and some gently moving pools at the gulch and caught a glimpse of the onwards trail to Stewart’s camp.
The scouts were up at 0600 for an 0700 departure and we were back at the cars barely 1 hour later!
This weekend was made even more special as it was a double first:
first time for the Troop (if recent history) backpacking on this part of the Ohlone Trail
first time with one of our female youth leading trip (thanks Acting SPL Emily C!)
For reasons they may yet come to fully understand (!) the entire graduating webelos class of Pack 259 joined Troop 260 yesterday – w00t.
All 9 (Ben D., Bobby B., Cruz S., David M., Josheph M., Jaden P., Santiago B., Xavier G, Joshua A.) will find new patrols and a new adventure on the next stage of their scouting journey. Welcome all and their families – adventure awaits!
The perfect ‘rona-safe set of activities for T260 concluded last weekend with our final scheduled Pix-in-Parks challenge: Coyote Lake Harvey Bear. (Those of you with keen eyes that also attended Jimmy’s Eagle Project will have spotted the used fishing line disposal tubes placed along the road along the lakeside)
Despite being close enough to civilization to hear the 101 at times, this 3.5mile loop also offered some lovely forest, and the chance to see deer, birds, cows and even a coyote. We went on a cloudy morning which cleared but still left the skies looking good for some great photos!
For those of you that have done all the Pix-in-Parks “magnificent 7” for 2021, go here to claim you t-shirt of bandana.
A new park for a quite a few in the Troop (and a potential candidate lake for us to do some basic canoeing skills next year), Calero is set in the rolling hills and scattered oak tree landscape that is quintessentially California.
It seems like most of the Troop was out on Saturday morning this time – maybe going early to avoid the forecast hot weather at the end of the day. We had sightings of wild turkeys, snakes, funnel web spiders and a host of birds.
Great views from the higher sections, rounded things off to make this ~3.8mi loop an excellent start to the weekend.