The troop planned for a high-altitude Sierra backpacking trip in June, but the deep snowpack this year meant that our intended route was still buried in the white stuff. So instead, we headed a bit lower in elevation to the beautiful Golden Trout Wilderness in the southern Sierras.
We had a light turnout (too many boys burned out from the end of the school year?), but our intrepid scouts had a great time camping under the stars next to a roaring river in the Sierra Nevada wilderness. After base camping on Friday night, bright and early Saturday, boys hiked about 5 miles from the Jerkey Meadows trailhead down to the horse bridge over the Little Kern River. The scenery was exceptionally beautiful, though the river was too swift for successful fishing (maybe next time). On Sunday, boys tackled a long day hike deeper into the wilderness until they reached the Trout Meadow area for a lunch stop, before returning to break their first camp and move on to the next one at Jug Springs. Monday’s hike out featured even more fabulous scenery and solitude. This was the first of four backpacking treks required for the backpacking merit badge. All scouts are encouraged to join us for the next one in September, a trek in our own backyard into the San Gabriel Mountains.
The troop came out in force for this exciting day of whitewater rafting on the Kern River. The river was raging and freezing cold, due to a record snow melt this year. Scouts ran Class II and Class III rapids, then got right back on the bus and did it over again, all day. Based on the nonstop cheering, it was clear that they were having a great time. Our Eagle Rafting guides for our four six-person boats were excellent, and the day on the water was a good lesson in working as a team to get through tough situations. And unlike other rafts on the river, Troop 147 escaped with no men overboard (aka “swimmers”) and piloted through every rapid smoothly.
On Sunday, scouts enjoyed a quieter day of side trips of fishing, a visit to a local ghost town, and a drive up to the cold and snowy Sierras to hike through a grove of sequoias in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. In recognition of Memorial Day, the scouts also preformed a solemn flag retirement ceremony at the campfire on Sunday evening.
The weekend was capped off by training of the new scouts by the senior scouts. Three new scouts earned their “Tot’n Chip” card, which grants them the privilege of carrying a pocketknife and using the saw, hatchet, & axe. They also earned their “Fireman Chit” which provides the rights (along with the responsibilities) of using fire-starting materials, building fires, and working with camp stoves. Well done!