We were all set to blast up to Lake Sonoma, but a rate wet + cold weather front moved down from the North. Either one of these would be fine, but together and with a range of experiences committed to go, we made the call to divert instead to the local Calero Reservoir for a day of skills.
The weather held for almost the hold day as we were further South, and the location proved really pleasant: reeds, wildlife, islands to explore and coupled with some skills and races for practice.
New Canoe Trailer Master for this trip (thanks Bob); we learned about invasive species from the rangers. And noone fell in. Awesome.
A troop canoeing classic destination: Millerton Lake with an overnight at Boston Bar campsite. After some recent rain, the hills were green and the small streams into the lake were running – not a common event these years in California. Compared to our Millerton Trip (marred by brown hills and smokey skies) we all felt buoyed by the lush feel.
The scouts were certainly upping their canoe skills and experience: we got to Boston Bar comfortably before dusk despite a later than usual start. Card games and meal plans unfolded for the scouts, as the adults kept themselves at a healthy distance (and with more healthy food!)
The paddle back was faster (as per usual) with a gorgeous, still water all to ourselves for most of the way back. After loading and an early lunch at the top carpark we were back in SJC and unloaded before dinner time.
The Troop has an annual tradition of doing a weekend of shooting and archery sports at a private range on Mt Umunhum. After a covid break on 2020, the Troop was back on for 2021 (big thanks as ever to Nic and Ray, Troop 260 emeritus).
The day went ahead, despite some bad overnight weather forecast, and it was a cracker. Huge turnout, and a great chance for the Scouts to experience a range of weapons under strict supervision.
The night was… exciting. A rain front came in, and the wind was high up on the mountain. A number of scouts gained some valuable experience:
it’s a good idea to fully close your door after heading out for a pee when it’s raining hard
guy ropes and stakes are useful for keeping your tent in the same place in the wind
layers, rain gear, and hats are a good to have at any time of year!
Given the weather, the Troop packed up early and bailed out back to San Jose. A good experience was had (at least on reflection) and some great stories were made.
Fresh from Canoe Skills training, a maximal group departed WG in one of our largest ever convoys to head for Millerton Lake. Despite very depleted water levels and smokey air from nearby fires, it was great to “on the water” and for new and old paddlers alike.
As our first trip of the new season we didn’t go far and we also not canoe-camping. This allowed us to focus more on paddling skills than loading. After unloading and buddy assignments we headed around the headland for a about a mile where we pulled in for lunch.
Marion and Simi having trouble steering on the leg out, until finally realising just before lunch that they had been paddling their canoe backwards the whole way 😀
Maintenance of our record of at least 1 capsize on an early trip, a triple-loaded canoe of scouts (Nate, Jaden +1) took a dip. (good planning, we were close to shore and got to practice an onshore recovery)
The wind was getting up and so we headed back and used the extra time to give all the scouts a taste of a capsize!
Camping was overnight at the group site on the north of the lake. The ground was rock-hard but the food was plentiful (especially for the Old Goats!) and we had the rare opportunity of a real campfire, with skits and yells and singing.
Thanks for all the great photo contributions to the gallery below.
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