Monday, July 2, 2012

Scouting Adventures on the Mormon Pioneer Trail

My daughter (the rescue party) at Echo, Utah on the Mormon Trail
Now it’s a total of three adventures I’ve taken unexpectedly from the East Fork of the Bear. The first was a few years back when I was up here with some Varsity (14-15 year old) Scouts. One kid, whose mother always fed him nutritiously at home, tended to gorge on forbidden items when out with the Scouts. Hot dogs and marshmallows aren’t so great coming back at 3 o’clock in the morning.

My own boy who was the Varsity Team Captain came to wake me in my tent. He told me that the guy had gotten sick and he took care of it the best he could. It was bitter cold that year, certainly below freezing because water was. My boy’s strategy of taking care of the other boy who woke up and said he was sick, was to advise him to puke into his sleeping bag. Not a bad strategy all things considered, especially considering the plan to keep using that tent along with the other boys not wanting to be puked on.

When I got to the tent, the sick boy was standing on the outside in the bitter cold holding his sleeping bag of puke. Of course it was all over him too, so we did the best we could in cleaning him off with ice cold water and wet wipes. We stuffed the bag in a black plastic garbage bag and with no way to clean it, I thought it best just to take the boy home. I took him to my van and started it up to get the heater going. Then I went to the tent of the other adult leader and told him what was up. My boy gathered all the other equipment of the sick Scout and I took him down the road knowing I had to go a few miles before I could even get cell coverage. Just outside of Evanston I connected and we arranged to meet in Morgan which was about half way between us at that point. Mission accomplished, I turned and headed back up to Evanston and south into the Uintahs, the trip from Henefer to Castle Rock up Echo Canyon being part of the Mormon Pioneer Trail as I watched for the attempts of dawn creeping in from the East.

The second adventure was just last year when I was on Woodbadge staff at this same Envision camp. We had recruited three families from our local unit. The one guy up here without any family because he had some very small ones at home and a wife who apparently didn’t want to camp with them, was near me on the road when a pickup pulled in from the other camp. There was a message for him that his four-year-old little boy had fallen in a swimming pool and was taken to Primary Children’s Hospital. The message included the additional point that he was “OK,” but my friend didn’t know what that meant with regard to the first part of the message that hit him rather severely. I was glad to be there as sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time inspired by influences beyond earthly power. I comforted him in his shock and said I would drive him in his vehicle as he was in no shape to drive. I suggested his vehicle with the idea that once we got down to phone coverage, he could either get enough news to relieve his severe reaction and I would not have to drive him all the way to Salt lake trusting that I could find another way back to camp. He was determined to go one way or the other. I left word to tell the leaders of Woodbadge (my group) and Family Camp (my wife) we were leaving and we headed off.

On the seven-mile dirt road just to get to the paved highway, we came to our senses enough to realize there would be a land line at the Bear River Lodge. So, getting there we asked to use their phone. They had a standard fee to charge for such requests, but seeing that it was an urgent situation, they waived the fee. My friend got ahold of his mother-in-law who gave him all the details that the boy had been revived at the pool and taken to Primary for observation where he appeared to be just fine. Cathartic release calmed his shock and anxiety as we sat for a few minutes with a soda to be sure he was collected enough to drive down to Salt Lake.

Once he was off, I then began my own adventure to get back to camp. They let me use the phone again as they were glad to hear the good news about my friends’ situation. Knowing that the camp had somehow received the urgent message earlier, I knew there must be a way to get a message back in, but I couldn’t find a number for the camp or anyone who could give it to me. I thought maybe it had come in by radio. So, thinking on my feet again, I called my teenage boy at home (the same one who had helped me take care of the sick Scout above). I told him my situation that I had to find a way back to camp and asked him to call the camping people at the Scout Office to relay a message back to camp to send someone to come pick me up. Meanwhile, I would start walking and see how many of the seven miles I had to go before a relief party found me.

After the call, the people at the lodge had picked up enough of the info that they said they would be glad to offer me a ride – in an ATV – back to camp or until we met someone from the camp on the road. I accepted and sat in the passenger seat thinking that anyone coming from camp would surely see me in my Scout uniform. I don’t quite understand the attraction of ATV’s. From my government perspective I knew they were highly controversial with their ability to degrade the attractions of the open lands by chewing up the very landscape supposed to be enjoyed. But there we were cruising along an established Forest Service road with lots of ATV traffic – and lots of dust. I just don’t see the attraction.

We never saw anybody coming from camp, but we did come across a civilian in a pickup who was asking for directions to one of the Scout Camps. I told him that’s where I was heading and could show him. I thanked the guy from the lodge and headed off in the pickup. Arriving at camp I checked in and started to get these comments from people that I had caused quite an incident as they had a message come in from National in Texas that a lost Scouter named Vaughn, somewhere between Evanston and camp, was in need of a ride. My boy in figuring out whom to call with my message had gone on-line (which I guess I had suggested) and ended up calling National Camping HQ instead of the local council. The great irony there was that, off course, the guy he talked to in Texas knew my wife and had a good chuckle. And as typical in the game of telegraph, once you send a message through a few people, especially if one is a teenager, it tends to come out a little garbled. I was embarrassed and went to apologize to our local Council Executive, who, with his wife, was graciously and humbly serving as nursery leader for Family Camp. He had a good chuckle too.

The last adventure was just last night. Working hard to set up camp to begin this morning, and after our LDS Church services, my wife became concerned because she hadn’t found a box of craft supplies desperately needed for the program. Of course she had a printed list of everything in the box and a description of the box as one of those apple fruit boxes with the top that slides down over the bottom of the box. I told her we had loaded two, maybe three such apple boxes from the stack in the garage when we loaded the camp trailer. She had missed part of that loading so she hadn’t been able to check off all the boxes on her list. I didn’t even know there was a list. After searching all through camp, she became more and more convinced that we had left that box sitting in the garage. I was doubtful, but began the challenging process of finding cell coverage that cut in and out from the highest elevations in camp. I had found that if you stand on the hill with the new showers and leaned against an outside wash basin just right, you could keep a connection long enough to complete a call – well, maybe with one or two call-backs. I texted and talked to three of my kids and had them check with another – no apple box anywhere. I got my BYU daughter to take a look thinking that she might be more thorough than her younger brothers (daughter-like-mother sort of thing). I was all prepared to drive to Morgan again to meet her. I figured maybe I could stop by McDonald’s in Evanston on the way back for some fries and wireless.

Having relayed and received several messages, I finally got one from my youngest son, “found it.” His older sister had indeed found the box in a pile of her college boxes as she is staying with us for the summer. And, it was a pear box – not an apple box. So the boys naturally missed it and the list was only slightly off. But then I got to take my late evening adventure down out of camp to the Mirror Lake Highway north crossing the Mormon Trail at the Bear River then past Evanston down Echo Canyon picking up the trail where it comes in past Cache Cave over the ridge from Yellow Creek and the Needles.

I had cell connection with my daughter just south of Evanston where all the Verizon bars finally solidify – and, she was already in Morgan. It makes sense since that is about half-way from home to Evanston and that’s where I was first able to contact the sick Scout’s dad. I asked her if she could go farther, say, to Henefer. And that’s where we made another decision. (“Decision at Henefer” you know I had to work that in somehow). Once she was there (or thought she was) she called again and I was only the other side of Evanston. So I asked her to cross over the freeway and take the old highway up to the gas station in Echo. She soon called said, “Should I be on a dirt road?” I told her, “No,” and told her to just go back to Henefer so I could find her.

Verizon coverage in Echo Canyon seems to have its weak spots, so we weren’t always connecting. I realized my mistake in not describing things well. She had likely taken the first exit that said Henefer, still a ways off from the actual town. So I called again and not connecting, left a message that she hadn’t yet arrived at the actual town of Henefer (not that there’s much there, but there is a real town more than just a farm building or two). She called me back without hearing the message and said that she had found the real Henefer, figured it out, and was on the road on the other side of the freeway. I told her to just continue up that road until she got to the gas station at Echo. I couldn’t remember if it was still in business, and it was Sunday. She found it just fine as evidenced by the photo.

So she gave me the “pear” box, plus another with craft supplies my wife had forgotten about completely, along with the card table I had requested of her because I forgot to load that when specifically requested.

I was actually glad to have escaped from camp. The Woodbadge tent pavilion they had attempted came crashing down in the wind. They naturally took over the nicest, newest space in camp (with the wi-fi) that was intended for the family camp nursery. The nursery had to move to the camp director's cabin. And the long drive recharged my INFP spirit. I get inner-strength internally, something hard to do when you are never alone at camp. Besides, I'm always one for a Quest.

On my way back up Echo Canyon I saw two moose at Castle Rock just sauntering along the edge of the hill not far off the freeway. I wondered if they knew they were on a Mormon Trail adventure.

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