Tag Archives: Boy Scout backpacking

A Palindrome of Scouts

Palidrome header

A few weeks ago a small group of scouts (only 5!) from our troop, along with 4 adults, headed out for an overnight backpacking trip to Agua Caliente Creek.   We noticed that we could make a palindrome of the boys’ names, with Evan in the middle (a word palindrome for the grammarians out there, I realize Evan would have to be Eve for it to be a true palindrome).  So that meant we had a palindrome of scouts.  I know that scouts usually come in troops, along with apes, baboons, buffalo, gorillas, kangaroos, and monkeys, but for this post a palindrome of scouts they shall be.  I’m not sure the official namers of groups of things, the same squad that came up with a murder of crows, a flamboyance of flamingos, a congregation of alligators, a flutter of butterflies, a wake of buzzards, a pounce of cats, a romp of otters, a zeal of zebras, a wisdom of wombats, a hover of trout, a scurry of squirrels, a parliament of rooks, a prickle of porcupines, a pandemonium of parrots, an implausibility of gnus, and a bellowing of bullfinches would agree with my categorizing them as such, but it’s my blog, so it’s my rules.  (For a more complete listing of animal group names (yes, there are more!), ask The Almighty Guru.)

So off we set.  Mo, Rob, Zek, Michelle, and our palindrome of scouts shouldered our packs and hit the Pacific Crest Trail, just past the small town of Warner Springs, California.  We hiked north 3.6 miles to a charming little grove of trees nestled alongside a creek.  We had great weather for our hike (overcast and cool).  There isn’t much shade along the trail until you hit the creek, so this was perfect weather as far as we were concerned.

We arrived mid-morning, and didn’t have much of an agenda for the rest of the day.  The boys climbed, prowled, dug, played, splashed, caught, released, and sang the afternoon away.  The adults waved to hikers heading to Canada on the PCT, read our books, chatted, and every now and then did a head count.  Usually we knew where everyone was.  It was a great trip.  Check out my photos (double click on them to get a close up view), and videos.  Here are a few final thoughts to send you on your way…

Now ere we nine were held idle here, we nine were won.

A man, a plan, a canal — Panama

 May a moody baby doom a yam?

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Hiking in on a cool Saturday morning.  The first mile or so runs through golden meadows dotted by oak trees.  The boys are pointing out the Pacific Crest Trail marker.

Hiking in.2

Zek and  Michelle, the happy backpacking couple.  Sam and Matthew, the dramatic backpacking pair.  As the trail climbed, we moved into bushy, rocky terrain.  I love manzanita trees with their rich, red bark.  We also saw lots of moss and lichen, and came up with a mnemonic device to remember what a lichen is made up of.  “Hi, I’m algae, and I lichen fungi”, since a lichen is a composite organism made up of symbiotic algae and fungi.  In case you were wondering.

Aqua Caliente Creek

Two views of the tranquil Agua Caliente creek.  It burbled and babbled, just like a good creek should.  It was full of frogs and bugs and plants, and eventually Boy Scouts.

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The view we saw on our way out.  Lovely flowers by the creek.  A gurgling mini waterfall.  Boys in a tree.

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What do free range boys do when they are released into the wild?  Play cards and slam pixie sticks.  Create a city in the sand.  Catch frogs.  Release frogs.  Finally, make a super delicious dinner with Jet Boils and Mountain House.

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Remember earlier how I said the creek was eventually full of Boy Scouts?  First they fell in and got their feet wet.  Then Evan fell all the way in.  We built a small fire and dried pants, boots, and socks on a rotisserie made from Rob’s hiking poles and a stick.  The fire was nice to hang out by after dark.

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We were up in the morning and on the trail early, heading back to San Diego.  Overall I think the trip was – wait for it – FUN E NUF!  Oh yeah, got in one last palindrome!

Check out these videos below from our trip.

The Great Frog Release

Agua Caliente Creek

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I Walked on an Ancient Sea Bed, and Didn’t Even Get My Feet Wet

At one point on our hike, we climbed up a cliff that was once the bed of an ancient sea.  The ground was littered with invertebrate fossils.

At one point the ground was littered with fossils, lying on the bed of an ancient sea.

Fall has returned to San Diego, and that means the season for desert camping in the Anza Borrego Desert has also returned.  On our latest adventure with Sam’s Boy Scout troop, 27 boys and parents set off on an overnight backpacking excursion to the Domelands in the Coyote Mountains Wilderness.  The hike in was 5 miles (we went the long way and had a lovely walk through desert washes and along ridge lines), while the hike out was a leisurely 3 mile trek.

Our destination was the New Wind Caves, which are ancient fossilized sand dunes that rise up from the desert floor.  Wind and water have carved out caves of all sizes, some large enough to sleep a dozen scouts!  Our troop calls this trip the New Wind Caves, to distinguish it from the Wind Caves, another area we camp at nearby (see my post A Desert Sunset, Moonrise, Moonset, and Sunrise).

Besides being a beautiful desert and badland landscape, this area is renowned for the many fossils that can be seen, literally littering the ground.  About 5 million years ago what is now desert was covered by the warm, tropical Imperial Sea, which was full of abundant and diverse marine life.  By about 1 million years ago, after the sea disappeared, the land was dotted with lake, grassland, and stream environments.

The Domelands are an amazing place to observe the remnants of this life, though collecting is prohibited.  Some of the fossils we saw were cemented into fossilized reefs, while others, such as sand dollars the size of your palm and other invertebrates like oysters, scallops, clams, snails, mussels, and sea biscuits, were scattered loose on the ground or embedded in sandstone.   A photo gallery of our trip is below, full of inspiring views, astounding fossils, tenacious plant life, and adorable Boy Scouts.  And some crusty parents too!  Click on the photos to get a better view.

Our group of 17 scouts and 10 adults looking fresh.  Not for long.

Our group of scouts and adults looking fresh. Not for long.

A line of hikers heading into the desert.

A line of hikers heading into the desert.  Our packs are full of delicious snacks and refreshing water, while our eyes are full of panoramic views of the surrounding desert.

We continue our trek.  Some desert plant life, which survives with almost no rainfall.

We continue our trek. Plant life in the desert, which can survive with almost no rainfall, has my undying respect and admiration.

Down in the washes and canyons we began to find our first evidence of fossils.  On the top is a fossilized reef, while boys hold fossil clams and oysters.

Down in the washes and canyons we began to find our first evidence of fossils. On the top is a fossilized reef, while boys hold fossil clams and oysters they found on the ground.

After heading down washes for awhile, our fearless leaders decided we needed head up, so we did.  We scurried up a loose hillside, the kind where it is a good idea to keep going forward so you don't start slipping down!  Oysters anyone?

After heading down washes for awhile, our fearless leaders decided we needed head up, so we did. We scurried up a loose hillside, the kind where it is a good idea to keep going forward so you don’t start slipping back down!  There was a nice breeze and great view at the top.  Oysters anyone?

Rest stop

After several hours of hiking we found a nice little rest stop, complete with fossils (of course!), caves, and even some patches of shade. We rested, ate, and explored while Mr. W. and Mr. M. ran ahead to get a feeling for how much further the caves were.

Ancient sea bed

Time to move out!  As we hiked out of the canyon where we had rested, up another ridge, we were captivated by the number and diversity of fossils right under our feet. We were climbing up an ancient sea bed. When I mentioned how cool this was, Evan replied that he wished he was an ancient fish so he could swim up the sea bed to the top of the ridge.

The view from the top.

Desert view.  Washes are below us, more ridges above.

I know it seems like we keep having to climb up ridge after ridge, but we are intrepid scouts!  This really was the last one though.  You can see my Sam up there waving at me.

I know it seems like we kept climbing up ridge after ridge, but we are intrepid scouters! This really was the last one though. You can see my Sam up there waving at me.

When we arrived at the Wind Caves we hunted around for a nice spot.  Sam and I found one that was shaped like a bathtub, and was pretty sheltered from the wind.  Fossils are lined up on a shelf in another cave.

After we arrived at the Wind Caves, everyone hunted around for a nice spot to settle in. Sam and I found one that was shaped like a bathtub, and was pretty sheltered from the wind. Fossils are lined up on a shelf in another cave.

Home sweet home, for a night.

Home sweet home, for a night.

Night falls fast and hard in the desert in November.  We had a few hours to relax and explore, before we got out the Jetboils to make our delicious ramen.  Nolan works on his shadow puppetry.

Night falls fast and hard in the desert in November. We had a few hours to relax and explore, before we got out the Jetboils to make our delicious ramen. After dinner Nolan worked on his shadow puppetry.  Sam and I snuggled down into our cave at about 7:30!  Good thing I brought a book.

We were up with the sun, and the wind that started to blow pretty hard the night before was still at it.  It made for a hazy, dusty, blustery hike out.  It made us appreciate the crystal clear weather we had on the hike in.

We were up with the sun, and the wind that started to blow pretty hard the night before was still at it.  We had a quick breakfast, packed up, did a head count (we are supposed to come back with as many scouts as we start out with), shouldered our packs, and hit the trail.

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The windy conditions made for a hazy, dusty, blustery hike out.  It made us appreciate all the more the crystal clear weather and gorgeous views we had on the hike in.

Sam and Mo, Mo and Sam.  We had a splendid adventure with our scouting friends, and are eagerly awaiting our next trip to the desert in December.  Until then, the pictures and memories will have to carry us through...

Sam and Mo, Mo and Sam. We had a splendid adventure with our scouting friends, and are eagerly awaiting our next trip to the desert in December. Until then, the pictures and memories will have to carry us through…

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Making Like Tortoises, With Our Houses On Our Backs

Blog header.PCT

This past spring Sam’s Boy Scout troop went on a few backpacking trips.  This post chronicles our May trip to Caliente Creek, along part of the southern leg of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Fifteen scouts and 9 adults backpacked a total of 7.2 miles on our 2 day, 1 night trip.  This was a backpacking training event for the troop, and for 5 of the scouts it was their first backpacking trip, and for several others it was their second trip.  We were all treated to a lovely hike through the back country, to our campsite near the burbling Caliente Creek.  The oaks were big and green, the creek was full of frogs, and most important of all, the Starbuck’s Via coffee was flowing on Sunday morning.  Pictures of our excellent hike are below.  There is also short video of the creek, complete with water striders and a little waterfall.

Caliente Springs map

Our Scouts

Now that we see where we are going, and who is going, let’s head off…

(click on the photos for a closer view)

We assembled on Saturday morning at the Von's parking lot, and the younger scouts have their packs checked to be sure they have all they need, and to be sure they haven't packed half the house!

We assembled on Saturday morning at the Von’s parking lot, and the younger scouts have their packs checked to be sure they have all they need, and to be sure they haven’t packed half the house!

More pics from the hike in.  As we went further in, the meadows disappeared and were replaced by scrubby hills.

We pulled off on Route 79, shouldered our packs, crossed the highway (step lively!), and entered the back country. Some views of the hike in.

More pics from the hike in. As we went further in, the meadows disappeared and were replaced by scrubby hills.country.  Some views of the hike in.

More pics from the hike in. As we went further in, the meadows disappeared and were replaced by scrubby hills.

After hiking a little more than 3 miles, we camped at a little clearing by Caliente Creek.

After hiking 3.6 miles, we camped at a little clearing by Caliente Creek.  Here are 3 views at different parts of the creek.

Speaking of the creek, here is the troop filtering water.  It is really nice to have water at your destination, so you don't have to pack as much in with you.

Speaking of the creek, here is the troop filtering water. It is really nice to have water at your destination, so you don’t have to pack as much in with you.

Camp cooking.  We all made excellent use of our Jetboils and other lightweight stoves.

Camp cooking. We all made excellent use of our Jetboils and other lightweight stoves.

Me and my guy.

Me and my guy.

Camp life.  Adults hanging out, boys playing cards, surrounded by big oaks.  This is the life!

Camp life. Adults hanging out, boys playing cards, surrounded by big oaks. This is the life!

I love to check out the plants, so here is a nice selection.  From the top left: sycamore, oak down the middle, sage flower, thistle flower, a yucca I think, and California fucshia.

I love to check out the plants, so here is a nice selection. From the top left: Sycamore, Oak down the middle, Sage flower, Thistle flower, a Yucca I think, and Indian Paintbrush.

More cool things I took pictures of.  A boulder encased by a branch, and a manzanita tree up on a cliff.

More cool things I took pictures of.  A boulder encased by a branch, and a Manzanita tree up on a cliff.

I mostly made up this panel so I could throw in some gratuitous photos of my Sam!  He's awesome.

I mostly made up this panel so I could throw in some gratuitous photos of Sam. He’s awesome.

The scouts and the adults, just before we set out for home.

The scouts and the adults, just before we set out for home.

Heading back to civilization.  Another great adventure with Troop 985.

Heading back to civilization. Another great adventure with Troop 985.

As promised, here is a link to a short video I took of Caliente Creek.

As you can see from the screen shot below, it only has 13 views.  Sigh.  Not exactly Nyan Cat. If you go to our YouTube channel (click on my name to get there when you are in YouTube) you can also check out the Lego Land Shark video Sam made for his Cinematography merit badge.  That one has 1,822 views.  Now that’s more like it!

Caliente video

 

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