Big Sur Camping Trip by Jonathon Weakliem

Day One

On March 29th, 2015, 19 scouts and 4 adults met at Big-5 at 7:00 am for the Big Sur camping trip. We would car camp at Plaskett Creek for 1 day, then backpack for 2 days at Upper Cruickshank Camp, and head out on the fourth day. After loading up the 4 cars, we headed out on a 3 ½ hour drive to Plaskett Creek.

After a few hours, we stopped at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center for a short break. The scouts got partners to explore. There was a gift shop, a “movie theater”, and a few areas with great views. Soon up the road we stopped at the Piedras Blancas rookery to eat lunch and watch the elephant seals. They were huge! Fun fact: We visited the rookery during the molting season, where there are mostly molting females, juveniles, and “weaners”. Weaners are the elephant seals born this season who teach themselves to swim and hunt before heading out to the open ocean.
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Once we arrived at Plaskett Creek and set up our tents (most of the ground was very sloped), we decided what to do with our spare time. We split up into 2 groups. One group headed straight to the beach, and the other headed to Jade Cove first. The beach at jade cove was covered with tons of little pieces of serpentine. People go there to collect jade from a vein in the cove.

After getting back from the beach, we had a hot dog dinner. A few older scouts played slave (a card game). We had friendship bread by a campfire and went to bed.

Day Two

After packing up camp and having a quick breakfast, we drove down to the trail-head. Mr. Swider (one of the drivers) went back to Santa Barbara. Once we got there we went on a 3 mile hike to the Upper Cruickshank Camp. The first mile was very steep, with lots of switchbacks. We were also out in the sun, but we had a good view of the ocean. After that, the trail became a little more flat and headed into some trees. The camp was more roomy than our first night’s site but had a few bunches of poison oak and was a bit cramped.

Later in the day, the troop went to check out Villa Creek, which was ½ mile from camp. Although the trail was short, it had lots of switchbacks that made it annoying to hike back on (I don’t think the older scouts cared.). A few scouts swam in the water, and some others went to explore farther up the creek. We stayed a little longer than expected though. A few trail workers needed to close off the trail back for about 30 minutes.
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After having dinner (which varied widely between cook groups) we all went in our tents to rest up for the next day.

Day Three

Day 3 was the day of our main hike. After breakfast, the scouts packed their day packs and split into 2 groups: a Philmont group (faster group) and a younger group.
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Soon after passing the Villa Creek Camp, it became apparent that the trail hadn’t been worked on recently. It was impossible to go through the hike without getting poison oak! There was also a place where you could barely see the trail! Even though the trail was bad, the hike had some pretty good views of the ocean and mountains.

After 4 miles of hiking, we reached our destination: Alder Creek. It was overgrown with poison oak, but luckily, we found a lot of mug-wort, which will sooth poison oak effects. Some scouts made a cream, while others just rubbed the leaves on their skin.

After eating lunch and a few people dunking in the creek, the Philmont group headed out. The younger scouts hiked out after getting some filtered water from Mr. Johnson.

While we were hanging out in camp, a branch of relative size and weight fell on a tent. The end of the branch hit where a scout’s head would have been during the night. The rain fly and tent were torn, but luckily, nobody got hurt

Later two scouts, Max J. and Eric S., went with Scoutmaster Johnson and Assistant Scoutmaster Brown for a 3 mile round trip hike to Buckeye Vista (about 2400 ft elevation, for an elevation gain from Upper Cruickshank Camp of 960 ft).
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At 8:30 pm Mr. Johnson took the younger scouts to the meadow about 100 ft away for an astronomy lesson. The sky was clear, and it was nice and dark. We saw lots of stars, identified constellations, and looked for planets. After that, everyone went to bed.

Day Four

Day 4 was the last day of the trip. By 9:00 am, we had all packed up, eaten breakfast, and cleaned camp. Soon we were on the hike back to the cars.

The hike back was downhill, downhill, downhill. We had a few good views, and ran into a few people. One person had 2 dogs! It took us less than an hour to get back to the cars! Mrs. Randall was a bit late getting there due to a flat tire. She was going to drive some scouts home since Mr. Swider could not stay for the whole trip. We stopped at the rookery again to have lunch on the way back. Soon we were back at the church, and the end of our trip. A small side note: Many younger scouts worked hard on various sign-offs on this trip

The trip was attended by the following scouts: Jarrison, Wesley, Jeremiah, Jason, Nicolas Z., Timmy, Sam, Max, Nicholas S., Kellen, Ben, Jonathan, Cooper, Connor G., Connor S., Alex, David, Eric, and Paul. Adults included: Mr. Johnson, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Goeden, with Mr. Swider and Mrs. Randall as drivers.

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