On July 30, Boy Scout Troop 1492 of Sequim loaded up two cars with seven Scouts and two leaders and headed south for a 10-day odyssey in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
The excursion included a round-trip drive of 2,000 miles, bisected by a 50-plus-mile backpacking trip in the Emigrant Wilderness, just north of Yosemite.
The drive was long and tedious, (Are we there yet, are we there yet?) broken by a stop near Mount Shasta for a night on the way down and again on the way back. We arrived at the Summit ranger station near Pinecrest, Calif., on Sonora Pass at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 31, to pick up our wilderness permit. With permit in hand, we drove to the trailhead at Bell Meadow (elevation 6,500 feet), made and ate dinner, and got our gear together for the hike.
We originally had planned on an early start on Monday, Aug. 1, but with everyone raring to go, we decided to get a mile or so down the trail on Sunday evening. Just as dusk turned to dark, we crossed a creek on a log bridge and found a great location for our first night of camping — the first of eight great nights. When we polled the Scouts about what they liked best on the trip, swimming in cold mountain lakes, catching rainbow trout and cooking them in tinfoil over the coals, the amazing hikes and sights, and taking their packs off at the end of the day topped the lists.
One item topped the list of least enjoyable aspects of the trip — attacks of the vampire mosquitoes. We timed the trip perfectly to match the mosquito hatch, and depending on your attention to application of DEET, you either avoided the mosquito feast or were the main course.
We hit the trail on a Sunday night and arrived back at the trailhead the following Monday afternoon (eight days). We covered between 50 and 60 miles and camped at three different lakes and one creek. The trip was amazing — there arguably were more waterfalls per mile than anywhere in Yosemite. From our 6,500-foot starting elevation, we climbed as high as 9,300 feet during the week — a challenge to our sea-level lungs.
Our final camp was in Buck Creek Meadow on the way back to Bell Meadow on Sunday, Aug. 7. We arrived at Bell on Monday afternoon with nine very tired Scouts and leaders, but all very self-satisfied at an adventure well worth the aches and pains.
Next year it’s 50 miles along the wild west coast of Vancouver Island — we can’t wait.