Sunday, May 15, 2016

Backpacking Overnighter to Rudy's Flat

We went on a backpacking overnighter this last weekend to give our younger scouts the experience.  None of them had ever gone backpacking before.  This was an easy 8 mile round trip up a canyon to a meadow where we camped for the night.  It reminded me of when I went on backpacking trips as a scout, you know, when the pack was much larger than me?

Ahh, the memories. . .  Of course when I went I had an old army pack that had a hard belt on it that didn't stay tight so I had to either hold it cinched down tight till my hips felt like they were rubbed so badly they would bleed, or let go of the belt and just hike with all the weight on my shoulders.  

Packs are a lot more comfortable now, which makes the hiking more enjoyable.  In fact, I decided I would try adding weight to my pack to give myself more exercise!  I took a couple backpacking stoves (one MSR Butane/Propane stove, and one Coleman white gas stove), and took a bottle of denatured alcohol because one of the boys wanted to try out their pop can stove.   Then I was still glutten for punishment, so I added 1.5 gallons of water.  That did it, got me up to an even 50 pounds.  That ought to give me some exercise!

Then once I got my pack out of the car at the trailhead, I noticed that my pack was missing the plastic latch that holds the belt together - must have come off sometime!  So I ended up doing the 8 miles either without my belt support, or with me trying to hold the belt strap together - just like when I was a kid!

Oh well, it was good that I did bring the extra stoves and water, as the two water filters I brought didn't work - one was clogged, and one was missing parts!  So the extra water I brought up was what kept us going!  We did get some water from a stream, then filter it through a cloth and boil it for 10 minutes though, so that was a good experience.

Another unfortunate experience was that one of the stoves - the coleman white gas one - didn't work.  We were able to pressurize it, but nothing would come out!  So the MSR stove did all the water boiling.

Unfortunately, my son and I needed to be back in town around 6:00 AM so we got up at 4:30 AM and packed up and hiked back down to our cars.  I hear the rest of the boys and leaders made it out ok.

Here's a shot of the sunrise about 30 minutes into our hike in the morning:
What did I learn?  Check and recheck everything before a trip.  I had used both the filters and the stoves in the last year or so, but I should have checked both right before going up.  Even then the Coleman white gas stove could have clogged while we were up there, so an extra on hand is always a good idea.

The boys did good with the setbacks and I detected a hint of excitement as one thing after another didn't work - this was going to be a trip to remember!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fairview Snowcave Campout 2016

It has been a few years since we've been able to do a snowcave campout because of lack of snow, and lack of a good location to go. We used to go up Farmington Canyon, but now they have a gate at the base that only allows snowmobiles through all winter.  So we had to search and find a new location this year.  Everywhere we checked out we were told we couldn't camp there, or there wasn't enough snow.  Finally we decided to drive 2 hours south to the location my dad's scout troop had just gone the weekend before for their camporee.

Unfortunately when we got there, the parking area was very muddy, and there wasn't much room left to dig caves.  We walked around and checked it out anyway, and were told by a guy there that they were going to have a vintage snowmobile race (with 90 vintage snowmobiles) there the next day, starting at 6 AM.  We decided that wasn't where we wanted to be, so asked if he had any other ideas.  He pointed us to a parking area down the road a bit and suggested we try there.  We checked it out and decided to go for it.

We ended up digging 7 caves right into the snow pile along the edge of the pavement parking lot.  (we had 8 boys and 8 adults)  The digging actually went really well, there was a small section of ice, but other than that, the snow was perfect for digging.

Some things we found useful were:

  • to slide a sled into the cave and have the person digging fill up the sled with snow then push it back out when done.  The person on the outside dumps the sled over and slides it back in.  Then he shovels the snow that came out up on top of the cave.
  • To use hand saws to cut out blocks of snow that were easy to throw out the cave opening.
  • Inflatable, solar powered LED lanterns work great to lighten up the entire cave.
We did stew for dinner, and then ziplock omelets for breakfast.  You make an omelet in a ziplock baggie and then drop that into boiling water to cook.  Then you eat it out of the bag.  I tried a different recipe this time, and used my dad's Apple Omelet recipe.  It was really good!  Here's the recipe:

Apple Omelet:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 apple diced
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Salt
  • Sprinkle some Cinnamon & Sugar in there too
It was a great location for the 8 young boys who were all on their first snow cave campout because they could get off the snow, and the cars were right there (though we never needed to allow anyone inside the vehicles to warm up, they did great!).  Maybe next time we'll find a place to go where we can hike in a bit and really survive.  I enjoy doing that and the boys feel quite the accomplishment from it.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Crystal Hot Springs Campout

Every November our troop does a hot springs campout. Yeah, kind of crazy to go swimming in the winter when it's cold and dark (we either soak in the evening or first thing in the morning), but that's what makes it fun, right?

We've gone to Diamond Fork Hot Springs a few times, where you hike 2 miles to the springs to soak, then have to hike the 2 miles back. (we've done Diamond Fork a few other times, see Here, and Here)

Other years we've done Meadow Hot Springs, where it's more like a 1/4 mile hike to the springs from the parking lot.  It is also a natural hot springs - non-commercial.

This time we decided to go to a commercial hot springs where they have camping as well.  Crystal Hot Springs is great for scout troops, and they are full every November Friday Night (I guess other troops have the same November Hot Springs Campout tradition).

We set up camp and started a fire to get ready for tin foil dinners (yep, we changed the tradition we've had for ages of having beef stew and rolls for dinner).  Everyone liked it cause we had everyone make their own dinners - so they put in it what they would eat.

After dinner and setting up camp, we went to the springs and soaked & played for the next couple hours.  Crystal has two water slides that they run with warm-ish water.  The boys would rush up to do the slides a few times till they froze, then they'd get back in the hot tubs to soak and warm up.

Of course the scouts have to have competitions, right?  This time we challenged each other to who could hold their breath underwater the longest.  I thought I did pretty good with like a minute and 20 seconds, but one of the other leaders got over 2 minutes!  Luckily he wasn't a driver, so we didn't have to wonder if he fried too many brain cells to drive from starving them from oxygen.
Who's going to win?
Unfortunately photos don't turn out too well at the hot springs with all the steam - oh well.

We took a few younger scouts this time (just turned 12) and one of the issues we had was getting them to dress warmer around the camp!  I would think that logically you would put on clothes to keep warm, but some of them I guess didn't want to miss out on what was going around the campfire so they didn't change out of their wet swimming suit till everyone decided to go to bed!  They claimed they were warm, but they were sure huddling around the fire the whole time!  Oh well, they learn eventually, right?