Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scouting memories

With Caiden starting up with the Scouting program, I've dug up some old memories in my brain about some of the best times I had as a scout. By far, my favorite was going to Camp Winton, which was in the vicinity of where I lived, but far enough out to make it a good 2 hour drive to get to (maybe even 3 hrs??) It was located in the high Sierra Nevadas and along a lonely highway (Hwy 88).

Camp Winton was located on the South Eastern edge of Lower Bear River Reservoir, which oddly enough, doesn't show up on Google maps, but it's a HUGE reservoir. Across the reservoir (on the North side) was an LDS owned girls camp called Camp Ritchie, which I recall my mom spending a lot of summers there when she worked with the Young Women's.

The Camp generally ran for a week. We arrived on a Saturday and loaded whatever we couldn't carry on our backs, into a boat (you could only access the camp via boat or on foot). They would then drive us to a trailhead for the "GASP" 1.5 mile hike into the camp (when I first went to the camp at 13, I thought that was a LONG hike, hehe).

The camp was fun. There had to be 300 plus scouts there at a time. Each troop was assigned a campground, which was usually on the side of the mountain (which reached up from the shore of the lake). There were a bunch of merit badges we could work on through out the week. I remember taking water skiing, wilderness survival, astronomy, basket weaving (yes, basketweaving), archery, canoeing, and a few others that I can't remember.

I have great memories too. Even though it was the hot summer, the nights got cold. For our last night of wilderness survival we were taken out away from our camps to a desolate spot (about a mile away) with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We could not bring food, or a sleeping bag. They fed us a small meal and then we had to partner up and build a shelter out of the surroundings. A guy from my ward, Sean Smith, was my partner. I remember building an A-frame type of shelter between two trees. We then covered it with branches and thick pieces of bark. We thought we were so smart. We had TONS of room inside. Later that night, we understood what they meant when we were taught to make it really tight-fitting. We were both SOOOOO cold. Our teeth were chattering all night and Sean said I was saying something about me wanting my mommy. I don't remember that, but I remember him making the suggestion that we should rub our bodies together for warmth. I was desperate, but I was also a little homophobic, so I pretended like I didn't hear him. Nevertheless, we made it through the night.

Another great memory was an over-night trip our troop made to the upper reservoir (it was above the lower reservoir, dammed up). We got some canoes and loaded food and our sleeping bags in and canoed up to the foot of the dam. From there we carried our stuff to the top via a trail, then went back down and carried our canoes to the top. From there we canoed out to an island on the upper reservoir to set up camp. It was seriously awesome. We spent some time taking the canoes over to the Western shore of the upper reservoir and hiking up a dry fall and across the top. It was here that I think I had my first real brush with death. I remember climbing up a steep rock face above the falls, but the further I got, the steeper it became and I knew I wasn't going to make it up and I could feel my body wanting to slide back down. If I had slid, I know my momentum would be too hard to stop and I would have for sure gone over the edge of the dry fall. Of course, as a 13 year old, you're embarrassed to admit you need help, so I just kind of attached myself to the rock, like a spider, but eventually I started to slide and I asked someone for help. I just remember feeling an arm reach out and grab me and pull me into the upper water run-off ditch and like that, I was alive. I remember looking back at the cliff face I almost fell off and it was a good 60' tall. That would have sucked.

I have good memories of really learning to water ski there too.

I wonder why this reservoir doesn't show up on Google Maps? I mean, I can find it on google maps with the satellite map showing, but that is about it.

Either way, here is a picture of the Lower Reservoir

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Here is a picture of the Upper Reservoir

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  1. I'm so jealous that you get to go to his banquet tomorrow night and see him in his little scout outfit! I wish I could be there too. Love hearing about what a stud you were back in the day too : )

  2. Mom & Dad Root10:23 PM

    I'm glad I didn't know about your crazy hike up the dry falls until now! Always wondered what you guys were doing on the other side of the lake!

  3. Actually, that dry-falls area was on your side of the lake, but obviously on the upper lake. I think all us boys had some hope that we were going to run into the YW while hiking around that area. It never happened :-)

  4. I've been up there too. It's awesome. Do you remember the home movies that Dad filmed of you and Russ at scout camp? Was that at camp Winton? Those were funny because Dad was narrating everything you guys were doing.

  5. actually, that was at a scout-o-rama somewhere in the sierras closer to georgetown or somewhere out there (maybe icehouse lake??). Those were still great times. Dad is awesome with the camera in his hand.