This is the time of year Troop 514 heads up the alpine country above Anthony Lake. We go up on Saturday via a long hike, set up tents, cook, and then rock climb on Sunday. This year, the rain forced us to cancel the climbing, but the boys tested their skills and fortitude in the rain. They were not as well prepared as we had warned them to be, so it ws an excellent learning exprerience. Most importantly, they stayed “cheerful”, one of the requisites of the Scout Law.
Every other year, Troop 514 travels to Salem, OR to open a House of Representative’s session with a flag ceremony. This year we also also met with our State representative, Greg Barreto, toured the Capitol and visited with a justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. The Scouts are both serious and excited by this opportunity. I always enjoy watching how well disciplined the scouts are as they first practice, and then perform, this call to the colors and pledge of allegiance ceremony.
This past weekend, six scouts from Troop 514 and three adults drove to Pittsburg Landing on the Idaho side of Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in the United States. From there, we took a Forest Service jet boat six miles up the Snake river to the Kirkwood Ranch, an old homestead that dates back to the late 1800’s. Our “payment” for this ride was a service project in which the scouts cleared brush and branches from an ATV trail that leads to the ranch from high above the canyon.
The boys enjoyed examining the history of this sheep and cattle ranch and were awed by how these rugged ranchers survived so far from civilization. They did a great job of cooking dinner and breakfast from scratch with food they had brought in. After breakfast on Sunday, we packed up and hiked the six mile trail back to Pittsburgh Landing.
The jet boat that took us to the Kirkwood Ranch
The landing at the Kirkwood Ranch
Our campsite at Kirkwood Bar
The scouts enjoyed the pioneer farm implements at the Kirkwood Ranch
The hike out
Balsam root wildflowers along the Snake River canyon
Eighteen Scouts slept in their snow shelters last Friday night up at the Anthony Lakes area of NE Oregon. Their gear was appropriate to the weather conditions–18 degrees and light snow–so they enjoyed a comfortable night. Many of these boys were barely eleven years old, yet their enthusiasm lasted the entire time, and they were most proud of their accomplishment. And I, at the other end of the age spectrum, enjoyed sleeping out in a tree well inside a bivy sack, underneath the tree boughs.
Saturday morning they competed in Scout skill events, as well as fun challenges based on a medieval knight theme–a catapult to knock over buckets, a jousting where they held a long light pole to thrust through a small hole as they were being pushed on a sledge, a bridge to knock their opponent off of.
We had enough scouts for three patrols. One patrol finished first, so naturally there was extra excitement. These opportunities are unique skill and confidence builders–lessons and memories to last a lifetime.
BSA Troop 514 spent this past Saturday and Monday constructing snow shelters at Mud Lake, opposite the ski area at Anthony Lake, OR. We had 16 Scouts hard at work on both days. Many of them had just joined the troop in January, and were only fifth graders, but their enthusiasm, stamina and work ethic was outstanding. The snow was not too deep, so we had to forgo building our usual snow caves. Instead we made trenches with sleeping platforms and covered the trenches with tarps. So, we are protected from the weather, but need to dress warmly for the cold. We will sleep in them this Friday night, and then participate in the annual Klondike Derby on Saturday.
Troop 514 recently enjoyed its annual rock climbing event. We leave early Saturday morning and drive to Anthony Lake, a delightful alpine lake less than an hour distance. We then backpack up to a higher lake where we camp. The boys day hike and then cook a variety on one pot meals as patrols. In the morning, under the guidance of experienced climbers, the Scouts enjoy excellent rock climbing and rappelling, The first time Scouts are usually a bit tentative in their approach to the granite wall, but after they try it once, they are exuberantly head up again, pleased with their new self confidence and sense of adventure.
Anthony lake, Union County
Troop 514, learning to rappel
Troop 514 rock climbing
Troop 514, finding traction
Troop 514, climbing wall above Anthony and Hoffer Lakes
Strawberry Lake sits in a basin surrounded by colorful, eroded andesite, a mile and half from the trailhead into the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Five Scouts from BSA Troop 514 in La Grande just spent a delightful weekend there. Four of the scouts were young and new, carrying packs that challenged their stamina and energy. Yet, they remained cheerful. They worked quickly and efficiently to pitch their tents. They played in the water, and then we hiked up to Strawberry Falls. They cooked a one pot meal of couscous and chicken on a one burner stove, and in the morning made up blue berry pancakes.
Their enthusiasm for working together and for learning new skills was excellent. I think I am becoming younger on each outing!
The seasons of Scouting continue. Over Presedents’ Day weekend, Troop 514 from La Grande Oregon traveled up to our local ski area, Anthony Lakes, to build snow caves. This preparation is part of the annual Klondike Derby. Troop 514 will go up and sleep in these snow caves Friday night, and then compete in various winter skill events on Saturday morning.
We dug a long, deep trench on Saturday, and then dug out snow caves into the trench walls on Monday. I started an igloo, but did not have time to finish it this year.
We took the Scouts up to Little Alps, the old ski area that nearby Anthony Lakes replaced. We practiced winter skills such as fire starting, snow shelter construction, travel, and clothing. And, most importantly, the Scouts enjoyed the great fun of coming down the old rope tow hill in sleds and an inner tube, hitting a bump, and then sailing into space. Great fun was had by all!!
I am thankful for the enthusiastic spirit the Scouts in Troop 514, La Grande, show on outings, and I am thankful I still have both the health and the joy in joining them on many of their outings. This past weekend, we camped at Bird Track Springs, a USFS campground about a thirty minutes from here. The weather was quite cold, fourteen degrees overnight, but the boys did not flinch or complain. They pitched their tents, lashed several projects, including a flag pole, cooked dinner dutch oven and stove meals from scratch, and pancakes and sausages over the fire for breakfast. The boys respectfully retired a flag after our flag ceremony Sunday morning. They like each other, support each other, young and old. Scouting continues to instill practical skills and leadership opportunities. The boys are as fun and exciting to work with as they were thirty years ago.