Opinion

Verbatim: Boy Scout Troop 1492 (via leader Mike Cobb)

Scouts in Boy Scout Troop 1492 — from left, Brandon Grow, Michael Klein, Kevin Klopfenstein, Hayden Crane, Kyle Klopfenstein and  Dylan Perreira — take a respite in day two of their 56.5-mile backpacking hike.  - Submitted photo
Scouts in Boy Scout Troop 1492 — from left, Brandon Grow, Michael Klein, Kevin Klopfenstein, Hayden Crane, Kyle Klopfenstein and Dylan Perreira — take a respite in day two of their 56.5-mile backpacking hike.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Among other activites, Boy Scout Troop 1492 holds it annual Scout fruit fundraiser. The fruits are all organic, including peaches, pears and nectarines available for pick up late August with apples and cider available for pick up in early November. Order at scoutfruit@gmail.com or 504-1960.

One of the troop’s annual activities is a 50-miler-plus hike. Here, leader Mike Cobb describes the most recent hike.

When we formed Boy Scout Troop 1492 in December 2007, our goal was to press our limits. Our troop T-shirt says, “No Limits” on both the front and back. We gave pressing those limits our best last week when eight of us got into two cars and headed for the Emigrant Wilderness in Northern California for a 56.5-mile backpacking trip.

The troop — including Scouts Hayden Crane, Brandon Grow, Michael Klein, Kyle Klopfenstein, Kevin Klopfenstein and Dylan Perreira, ranging in age from 11-17, with leaders Michael Cobb and Debbie Crane — hit the road early in the morning on July 3. Only two of the Scouts and both leaders had been on 50-milers before so it was a fresh, young and inexperienced group.

We reached our first stop at the Rogue River near Medford, Ore., that night. We car-camped and headed out early Friday and reached the trailhead at Kennedy Meadows high on Sonora Pass on Friday evening.

The planned trip started at Kennedy Meadows and ended at Bell Meadow so we wouldn’t have to cover the same ground twice. That meant the two leaders had to ferry cars around to have one at the start and the other at the finish. It was about 10 p.m. when we had the cars strategically parked and the packs ready to go.

Then came a big decision: Do we set up camp and head out in the morning or go for it in the dark? The trailhead was clear and the moon was nearly full … time to hit the trail.

We hiked a couple of miles into the wilderness and found our campsite near the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River. We had a pretty set itinerary for the trip with a planned arrival at Bell Meadows in the early afternoon of July 11.

For our first full day of hiking we hoped to reach Long Lake later on Saturday afternoon but we only covered about eight of the planned 11.3 miles that first day.

I had hopes of an 8 a.m. start the next morning but it ended up being more like 10:15 a.m. Our planned destination for day two was Upper Buck Lake, another 8.7 miles down the trail. It was a long day but we made it and set up camp next to the lake. Our troop has been to Buck before via another route and it was a welcome sight. We spent the evening and the next day at Buck. We got in a little fishing and had fish tacos for dinner

Monday morning had us up and packing for our next destination – Huckleberry Lake – one of my all-time favorite mountain lakes. Huckleberry is one of the largest lakes in the Emigrant Wilderness, covering about 200 acres. It’s both a fisherman’s and photographer’s dream, with loads of rainbow and eastern brook trout, dozens of granite islands and ringed with evergreens. Mosquitoes can be an issue but this year’s crop was light to moderate – nothing a good coating of DEET couldn’t handle.

We stopped at Emigrant Lake a few miles into the hike and took a swim. In the early afternoon we continued our hike to Huckleberry. Our rule was to wait at any fork in the trail or stop instantly if you lose the trail. The Scouts were good hikers and good at map and compass and getting lost was never an issue. Some of the trails on the granite surfaces were a little tough to follow but the Scouts navigated them flawlessly. We passed a few really picturesque lakes along the way.

Tuesday morning we took a day hike up to Kendrick Twin Lakes right on the edge of the Yosemite wilderness. We had considered hiking into Yosemite on our previous trip to the Emigrant Wilderness but didn’t make it, so this time getting there was a priority. The first of Kendrick Twin Lakes was amazing. Perched at just under 9,000 feet elevation with a sand bottom for the first 100 or so feet, it screamed, “You must swim in me.” How could our sweaty, dirty selves say no to such a command? The water was cold but worth every shiver. We headed off to Black Bear Lake and completed our 9.6-mile loop back to Huckleberry by 6 p.m.

The next day we headed for Louse Canyon, just under 10 miles to the west in the direction of our exit point, Bell Meadow. Louse Canyon was carved out by the west fork of Cherry Creek, but in this dry year little carving was taking place. On our hike to Louse Canyon we had to climb two ridges: one out of the Huckleberry Lake basin and the second out of Cow Meadow. In the 50 years I’ve been hiking in the Emigrant Wilderness this was definitely the driest year. No snow, few flowing creeks and the lakes were considerably lower than usual. Despite the absence of lots of flowing water the place was stunning – just as beautiful as my last 10 trips there.

We were threatened, though, with a lightning and thunder storm on our way down into Cow Meadow. It passed to the northeast of us but we saw some smoke from an apparent lightning strike and reported it to a CCC trail maintenance crew with a radio.

On our final evening out, some of us decided to dispel with our tents and sleep under the stars. Just before crawling into our bags the sky clouded up and as I drifted off to sleep I felt the first drops of rain. We jumped up and rapidly put our tents up and got our gear stowed. The rain didn’t last more than 10 minutes but I was then gun-shy and decided to stay in my nice dry tent.

On our final day we packed up and hit the trail by 8 a.m. – it was a miracle. There was no complaining and the 7-plus miles melted away rapidly and we were at the Bell Meadow Trailhead about 1:30 p.m. All the Scouts were in great shape and I think they might even have been a little sad the hike was over. The leaders sure were – plus we had enough food for another three or four days out. Not sure how we ended up with extra food — I guess the fish tacos helped some.

What a great adventure and a great troop of Scouts. They had fun, worked hard, slept hard, helped each other and ate very well. The physical demands of an eight-day, seven-night backpacking trip were significant, but the Scouts rose to the occasion and said they planned on doing another 50-miler next summer.

I think we might look into a trip across the Olympics next year, saving 2,000 miles of driving and a couple of hard days at the wheel. The mountains call and the adventure will continue.

 

Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at editor@sequimgazette.com.

 

Boy Scout Troop 1492’s adventure by the numbers:

Hiking area – Emigrant Wilderness in the Stanislaus National Forest

Mountain range – Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains

Closest town/medium size – Sonora, Calif.

Elevation range – 6,500 to 9,000 feet

Average daily temperature – 80-85F

Average water temperature – 60-65F.

Typical daily hiking distance – 8-10 miles

Typical daily elevation change  ± 1,000 feet

Typical weather – sunny and warm/hot

Average Scout age – 15 years

Driving miles - about 2,000

 

 

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