Monday, February 29, 2016

Weekend Activities

  • Picked up some more geocaches in Cardiff and Solana Beach
  • Hike to the Penasquitos Creek waterfall from the east

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Harry Turtledove Foursome

"Settling Accounts" part 1 through 4 - finally finished the "Southern Victory" 10-book series!

Books and Lectures

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

San Mateo Wilderness Backpack

Troop 774 had its first backpack of the season last weekend.  We headed up to Orange County and a new venue for us: San Mateo Canyon Wilderness.
We loaded up at church on Saturday morning then headed up to the Bear Canyon trailhead next to the Ortega Highway Candy Store.  The trail was constantly going up and down the endless canyons.  We walked mainly through very mature chaparral that provided some decent shade but we occasionally dropped into oak and riparian streambeds.  After 3.2 miles, we stopped at Four Corners for lunch.  From there, the scouts decided they wanted to try to bag Sitton Peak.  They headed off while I stayed with the packs.  When they got back, they said the trail up to the peak was very steep and they decided to turn back; a very wise decision.  We then headed the remaining 2.5 miles to our goal.  When we got to Oak Flats, we found a nice little meadow to camp in.  Oak Flats is a beautiful oak forest, the kind that was probably all over Southern California at one time but is now very rare.  We were hoping for water but the springs and streams were all dry even with the recent rains.  It will probably years of decent rain to replenish them.  We all ate dinner and I ended going to bed very early.
In the morning, we ate breakfast, broke camp and headed back the same way we came.  Overall, the hike was more strenuous than I had anticipated and I would rate it as intermediate.  But our younger scouts did great.  I would love to check out Fisherman's Camp and Tenaja Falls in a future hike.
Lunch at Four Corners

Camp at Oak Flats

Canyon View

Ortega Highway Candy Store

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

High Adventure Snow Camp

As part of the SDIC HALT Specialist training, they conduct a trip up to the Sierras for a snow camp. I had completed the class training last year but the trip was canceled due to lack of snow.  So I had an entire year to prepare my gear and clothing.
Early Saturday morning 5 of us headed up to Rock Creek between Bishop and Mammoth.  Rock Creek has one of the few plowed roads that lead directly to snow so it is easy to get to.  At the trailhead, we unloaded and got ready to hit the trail.  We all had pulk sleds to haul gear which made it very easy.  We started snowshoeing parallel to the road in snow that was about 4' deep in most places.  After about a mile, we found a nice open area to camp in.  We all setup our tents and made dinner.  The canyon was quite narrow and steep so the sun disappeared very early.  After getting too cold, I went down to sleep.
The next morning we got up, made breakfast and waiting anxiously for the sun to come over the ridge again.  We then started building quinzhees.  It was hard work and I didn't think we could get them done in time.  After lunch, we took a hike up to Rock Creek Lodge to check out their winter operations.  It was a tough hike and the lodge was mainly deserted even though it was open.  Back in camp, the snow caves got completed.  However, I chickened out and chose not to sleep in them which turned out to be a mistake.
The second night seemed quite a bit colder than the first.  The guys in the shelters were cozy but I was cold at times in the tent.  After a quick breakfast, we tore down the shelters for safety reasons then hiked back to the parking lot.  It was a long trip back to San Diego.
Overall, I had a great time and can't wait to take the scouts on a snow camp in March. 
At the trailhead

Starting to get cold!

Rock Creek

Our tent

Inside the quinzhee