Kicking-off a new year in classic California style: cold nights, stars, no rain.
We were just coming off the back of 2-3 weeks of some of the heaviest downpours and storms in recent years; multiple trees were down; power had been out; paths were flooded; access roads closed. This required some nimble classic T260 maneuvers as we shifted from our original plan of Joseph Grant day walk + overnight, to an in-overnight-out at Chesebrough (thanks Dylan at the office for squeezing us in at late notice).
As this is coming into the second half of the activity year, we amped up the challenge a little – walking through Castle Rock SP first, before connecting to the roadside trail and down into Chesebrough. Once at Camp, we hung around until all was quiet, careful not to drink from the drowned-squirrel water, before setting up camp. Human Fusbal and some volley ball kept us moving and warm.
The Old Goats got a fire going on attempt #2 [tip: wet wood and a high sided fire ring with no air holes – avoid]. The hardy scouts that stayed up past dark were rewarded with some fire for warmth and some campstove cooked fresh brownies (eat your heat out Mark Cahn!)
We stayed above freezing, and headed back the shorter way [only ~ 6 miles] on Sunday making a total of 14 miles. Nice stamina and spirit from some of newer/less-experienced packers [Cruze and Joshua].
The troop has a tradition of going to a private range in Mt. Umunhum every fall, for a weekend of shooting and archery. I’m glad to say that this year, we got to follow the tradition of the iron chef challenge (last year, we were unable to do it, because of the stormy weather).
After a calm evening at camp on Friday, we went up to the range on Saturday morning for a firearm safety briefing. The rest of the afternoon was fantastic, as scouts were able to handle various types of firearms, with the proper guidance from range-masters (thanks Mr. Ray & Mr. Nic).
On Sunday morning, we had our iron chef challenge! Each patrol went head-on to cook a meal for scoutmaster judges, while on a short time crunch and limited equipment (shout-out to the dragon patrol, which won for their breakfast burritos)!
Another fantastic backpacking trip with the troop!
At Point Reyes, a National Sea Shore north of the SF bay, we were able to experience everything, from lush forests to the coast to misty (and then stormy!) weather.
After a ~1mi hike to camp on Saturday, we hiked downhill to an awesome cove, where we were able to see dolphins. Even though it rained heavily in the night, the trip was filled with fantastic and variable sceneries, and everyone had a great time.
We started our 1.5mi hike to the campsite, at around 8am. The trail was extremely scenic, as we were surrounded by tall and majestic redwoods. We arrived at the campsite and set up camp around 11am…
Later in the afternoon, a group of scouts went down to a nearby stream to draw water, and played tag by parkouring around the stream 🙂. The weather during the trip was extremely pleasant, and many people decided to sleep under the stars!
We flew to the northeast for our 2022 50-miler: This time in the placid (no pun intended!) lakes of the Adirondack Mountains.
The troop voted almost unanimously for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in New York as the location for the 50-miler, and after nights of diligent planning, the trip became a reality!
We departed from SJC on Saturday July 16th, and got to the Albany Airport motel later that day. After spending the night at the motel, we headed to the Meadowbrook campground, and received our gear. The outfitters were amazing, and supplied everything from tents to meals and snacks.
Some noteworthy experiences from the trip are mentioned below!:
Games & Concentration
The scouts had great fun playing card games and Ninja at the Meadowbrook campground. Several packs of cards got soaked after that though (because of the rain), but they still had a great time playing other group games like Concentration: The main idea was to go in a circle and name items of a certain category in rapid succession, without hesitating. This was ideal to play when it was raining outside, by a fire, or at meal stops.
Rain& sporadic storming:
On the morning of the 18th, we could see storm clouds rolling towards us. We split into two groups, and after a quick lunch at the canoe launching site, we started canoeing in the rain, on Long Lake. During the first three days, it poured on and off (Group A got especially lucky: They found available lean-to’s when the storms were at their peak, every time!).
The portages were a feat of strength, and it was surely something to solo carry canoes and barrels up muddy slopes! During portages, we had to carry group gear like food barrels, canoes, paddles, and pfds, in addition to personal gear (dry bags). After the first portage, we learned that multiple trips, even if it may take longer, is the most effective way to get that amount of gear from shore to shore.
Green undergrowth & lush campsites:
The surrounding forest was lush, and wildflowers and fungi enveloped the landscape. Narrow passes and shallow areas were dotted water lillies and tall grasses. There were also fire pits at most campsites, which made cooking and camping even more enjoyable! Large amounts of undergrowth caused the ground to be so soft that stakes often didn’t stay in the ground!
After 5 fantastic days of canoeing, we regrouped, returned the gear to the outfitters, and returned to the motel. On the 23rd, we got back to SJC (with a quick stop in Chicago), safe and sound.
A massive thanks to the planners and leadership, who made the trip an extremely special and memorable experience. The learnings, the skills that were improved, and the memories that were created will be treasured by us all.
We went up to Pinecrest Lake for our May canoe trip, as a visit to the area before Camp Hi Sierra in June! The paddle was fantastic, and the views of the surrounding forest were pristine.
On the drive up, we stopped by two gas stations because the food mart wasn’t open at the first one, and arrived at Pinecrest Lake by 10:30am. We unloaded the canoes by 11am, and paddled on the circumference of the lake, which is just under 4mi. We then stopped for lunch at a picnic spot- some scouts waded to a nearby island to enjoy their lunch, while others stayed by the lakeshore picnic tables. After lunch, we paddled back to the dock, and spent some time practicing steering strokes (C, D, & J strokes + ruddering), in preparation for the upcoming 50miler. Then, we loaded up the canoes, paddles and pfds, and headed to our campsite.
Our campsite was none other than an area near aquatics, in Camp Hi Sierra! Scouts and adults got to experience the camp in a different way, as we were the only ones there. Everyone set up camp and cooked their food (we drew clean water from the bathroom sinks), and scouts enjoyed playing several rounds of the card game “go fish!” before sunset.
We drove back in the morning, and finished unloading and washing the canoes by lunchtime.
This weekend, Allison completed her Eagle project at Martial Cottle Park. After advertising and gathering materials, Allison led a group of volunteers to build and extend a compressed gravel path leading to a nearby pavilion, for Our City Forest. Volunteers were split into groups, and put gravel into wheelbarrows, cut and screw the wooden edging for the path, and dug the path.
Allison has been with the troop since 2015, and is a former PL, current ASPL, and soon-to-be eagle scout. The project had an amazing turnout (~36 volunteers!), and also inspired Our City Forest to improve the rest of their paths. Well done Allison, and congratulations!
This year’s yard sale was a major success! We enjoyed a great turn out from both scouts and families, and fundraised approximately $1500!
On the previous night, we brought in items to sell, and the next morning, we set up and organized everything. Some scouts also made signs and dressed up in bright costumes, so that people who passed by could see us. 🙂
The money we fundraise during our annual yard sales helps directly fund and support our high-adventure activities. Along with winter wreath sales, the spring yard sale is one of our main fundraisers.
Thanks to everyone who showed up and made it happen!
Our March canoe trip was at Lake Sonoma. Because of the short canoeing distance, scouts and adults got to leisurely practice their strokes and skills!
After unloading canoes from the trailers and cars, we canoed for about 3mi (with a lunch break in between). We unloaded pretty early (around 2pm) at a lush and treed spot, and scouts and adults had plenty of time to set up camp, play games, and cook- One scout had even brought along flame colorant (thanks Isabella!), for a multi-colored campfire.
Mr. Calzia has been an amazing scoutmaster for several years. He will be stepping down this May, and this was his last trip as scoutmaster. On our paddle back, we all rafted up and held out paddles to the sky, as a sign of gratitude for his leadership and service.
We arrived back at the dock at about 10:30 and loaded up the canoes, paddles and pfds. After stopping at a nice shaded area at Olompali State Park for lunch, we got back to SJC and finished unloading by the late afternoon.
During our last few meetings, some scouts have being working on building a knot machine for the troop. After weeks of working to build it, they finally finished the knot machine on February 14th, and the rest of the troop got to try it out!
Modeled after Camp Hi Sierra’s knot machine, our knot machine now serves as a great tool to help scouts learn different types of knots like bends, hitches, and loop knots. It’s a more interactive and engaging way for everyone to master knots, and a bonus is that we can now have knot tying competitions 🙂
Big kudos to scouts Aidan, Matthew, and Harris, and ASM Mr. Clark for putting the knot machine together!