Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trip details
As promised, here are a few details from our backpacking trek last weekend along the shores of Baker Lake...
Joseph and Collin were on their first backpacking trip as Boy Scouts! After about 1/2 mile of hiking with loaded packs, we heard a few (mild) complaints about the way the packs were riding. Stopping to take a closer look, we realized that both boys' packs needed some adjusting to fit properly and distribute the weight correctly.
Along the trail, Joseph and Collin spotted Trillium Ovatum plants, which gave them cause for great joy. For years we've been hiking with Collin in the hills very close to our home(s). The Trillium plant is one of the very first to bloom in the forest in spring, and as such earns special recognition. Joseph and Collin started keeping track of the number of Trillium they spotted. Their total number was 361, but they gave 5 points for any Trillium which had turned from white to purple, so the actual Trillium count is not known. The best part about the Trillium counting was that it completely kept their attention off of the burden of hiking with 1/4 of their body weight strapped to their backs!
We were able to teach our new Scouts basic map & compass skills, which they used at several way points on the trail. There is a First Class requirement for map & compass requiring a 5 mile hike, so we took an extra 1.3 mile hike after dropping our gear at the 4-miles-in campsite. On this weight-less hike, we found an enormous hollow cedar stump which was cavernous inside. Perfect place for 2 young explorers! It could have been a nice emergency shelter, should we have needed one...

Joseph planned the menu and served as the head cook, and was able to use his new camp stove and cook set for the first time. Zachary instructed him in the fine art of lighting the camp stove, noting that, "a brief soccer ball sized flame is normal," during the ignition process.
Learning to cook outdoors using the principles of Leave No Trace is tricky! Every scrap that falls to the ground, every spilled tid-bit is to be collected and packed out. The level of detail in back country cooking takes some getting used to. But the boys caught on fairly quickly, and were soon policing each others' messes. They helped hang the bear bags to keep all scented items and every bit of food up high and out of reach while we slept.
First thing in the morning they eagerly attempted to start a campfire. Their tenacity was admirable, but the damp cedar bark hindered the fire starting process. With adult instruction on finding drier sources of tinder, and lots of patience (and a least 2 boxes of matches!) their morning fire dreams became reality!
For the amazing views of Mt. Baker and the serenity of living in such solitude and simplicity (if only for 2 days)... for the opportunity to get to know Collin and his parents better, for the love of Scouting as a family~ we give thanks!

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