Death Valley Summary by Andrew D.

[gss-content-box]This post was written by Troop 26 Historian Andrew D.[/gss-content-box]

Saturday January 18th, Martin Luther King holiday weekend morning, bright and early at 5 am twenty five scouts and ten adults met at the Big Five parking lot loaded up their cars for a three day camping trip. Even though it was a winter morning the weather was clear and the everyone was excited for a great trip.

Usually the scouts bring backpacks but on this campout the scouts brought duffle bags. The scouts were dressed in their class B uniforms and had a sack lunch for the ride. After a couple hours of driving we stopped at a McDonalds for breakfast where each scout was given six dollars for breakfast.

After breakfast we headed up the Owens Valley on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Which had a very light coat of white snow on the high peaks. Most scouts and including me slept most of the way, considering we had an early start.

Driving into Death Valley is like driving into a giant hole, seeing that Death Valley is the lowest elevation in America. A little bit after noon we arrived at our first destination, the Slot Canyons where scouts poured out the cars stretching towards the sky and squinting.

A slot canyon is a tall, deep, narrow canyon that has been eroded with flash floods for many years. The canyon was about three feet wide and twenty feet tall. We could have gone farther into the slot canyon, but it was a dangerous climb and some of the scouts and adults thought that we should turn back and load into the cars and head towards our campsite at Furnace Creek.

One of the most impressive features of Death Valley the size of the park, it is the largest National Park in the United States. The drive to our campsite at Furnace Creek from the Slot Canyons took about an hour, we arrived around 4 pm.

On the drive there we saw the beautiful Furnace Creek Hotel. Our campsite was very crowded and there were many other Boy Scout Troops there enjoying the beauty of Death Valley. The campsite was also very dry with a few bushes here and there. In the summer the temperature can reach well past one hundred and twenty, but on a very nice winter night the temperature stayed around sixty.

During the day the weather was very mild and all the scouts enjoyed it. As the sun moved lower on the western horizon the mountains really showed their true beauty with colorful mineral like purples, blues, reds and oranges.

Once all the tents were set all the scouts helped in making spaghetti for dinner. The way the scouts cook is with shifts.

First we have PREP, second we have COOK, third we have CLEAN and finally we have STOW. The PREPS’ job to get every essential that cook would need to use.

The COOKS’ job was simple, cook. And CLEANS’ job was to clean everything that was used by the cooks. And lastly STOWS’ job was to put everything away into the cars or into the boxes that sat out all night long.

This system is great because no one can complain about the food quality, because everyone helped in the making. James T. was in charge of making sure that our delicious peach cobbler didn’t get burnt and stayed nicely heated. Some scouts passed the frisbee, when others got ready for bed.

A few scouts including myself went light painting, which is when you paint with light with a camera for a long period of time. And many other scouts played a card game called Slave. Everyone was in bed around 9:30 pm awaiting a great next day.

Our plan was to get out of the camp and out to our next destination by 9 am, but we got delayed with breakfast so we got out of camp around 10 am and off to our first destination. Once we got to the first amazing viewpoint overlooking Death Valley, everyone that had cameras pulled them out to take pictures of the fantastic view.

Some scouts got a kite up into the air that stretched a hundred feet. Then Mr. Pinner distributed the walkie-talkies and the blindfolds for our next activity, orienteering.

We drove 30 minutes blindfolded in cars based on our patrols, and got dropped off near a road. They gave each patrol a drop off destination and a map and said, “meet us at Zabriskie Point.” Each patrol hiked from the drop off destination towards where they thought was Zabriskie Point.

The adults decided that the Fox Patrol should have to the hardest hike, because they were boasting about how good they are, and how they are going to be first, which didn’t happen. Once everyone arrived at Zabriskie Point we had lunch overlooking Death Valley.

After lunch we drove over to Devils Golf Course where scouts were very interested in the natural salt formation that occurred naturally. We spent about thirty minutes exploring the formations in search of salt domes that have been formed by released gases.

After we left we went back to camp and made tacos for dinner. The scouts did all the cooking again and it turned out great. After dinner and a few adults drove three scouts including me back to Zabriskie Point to get pictures of the stars.

Mr. Wong had his very nice camera and got some amazing shots of the Milky Way lighting up the stars. We then returned back to camp and hit the sack. In the morning we awoke at 7 am and cooked breakfast.

After breakfast we broke down the camp and got out of the campsite around 9 am, which was great because that was what we were shooting for. We then drove thirty minutes to the Mesquite Sand Dunes.

Most of the scouts were amazed with the view because they had never seen sand dunes that tall. We took off our shoes and headed out for a mile hike to the tallest sand dune that could be scene, dragging our sleds behind us.

Once we got there most of the scouts were eager to go down. We spent about an hour having fun going down and having a great time watching people come back up the sand dunes.

We then had lunch there and hiked back to the cars where we started our journey back to home sweet home. We had dinner at a pizza parlor and then arrived at the church around 8 pm where each scout got picked up by their parents.

All in all it was a great trip and everyone had a lot of fun!

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