- 3.62 miles hiked
- 1 hour 30 minutes hiking time
- Camped at Wood Lake 4836′ elevation
We awoke on day four to a beautiful sunrise at Clear Lake. The weather the whole trip was wonderful, I don’t think we could have had any better conditions.
We started the day with breakfast and got packed up. We did some extra cleanup around the camp and gathered firewood for the next campers. We wanted to do a service project as part of this adventure so the scouts decided to gather firewood. We also brought some rocks from the slide to help protect the shoreline just adjacent to the campsite.
We did our daily morning scripture study right before we hit the trail.
The shoe cooking seems to be a tradition among Troop 202. I’m not sure how well the shoes fared but they surely got warmed up!
We made a short walk and soon were on the world famous Pacific Crest Trail. It didn’t seem much different from the other trails we’d traveled but it was notable nonetheless.
This day’s hike was fairly level, we expected that as we reviewed the contour lines on our topographic maps and on my GPS. Today was probably the day we were most grateful for the GPS as you’ll soon understand. We continued along the Pacific Crest Trail at a fairly good pace.
We passed one unnamed lake that looked very inviting. We talked about our hopes for the water and campsite at today’s destination, Wood Lake. We passed all the landmarks and features we expected based on our maps, then came to the turnoff to Wood Lake.
We drew a big arrow in the trail for the rest of the group and headed down the turnoff. We quickly came to snow and a small pond covering the trail. We ventured through the snow and around the pond to a small knoll and waited for the whole group to come together.
That’s where the day’s challenge began. We were hiking on a north facing slope so there was more snow even though we were at a lower elevation. I turned to the trusty GPS and fortunately this trail was on it but not completely accurately. We would find traces of a trail in between the snow patches and then we started following some florescent orange streamers on small pine trees that “surely” were trail markers! As we meandered toward Wood Lake that was supposed to be less than a quarter mile away, we held a pow-wow and decided to go cross country and trust the GPS. We finally spotted water! I saw a promising looking spot across the lake. We walked half way around the lake, crossing a small outlet creek that cascaded down about a hundred feet over a cliff. We followed a faint trail and came to our best camp site yet! Wide open with a fire ring with logs, plenty of flat ground, close to the lake.
The scouts were anxious to get in the water to get rinsed and cooled. We set up our tents and a big clothesline as the sun was out, there was a gentle breeze and we wanted to get everything dried and aired out.
Most of the scouts and leaders got in the water and had a great time cooling off, a few of us even got a little pink in the sun.
A few of us swam to the far side of the lake. The water was so clear you could see to the bottom even when it was 15 feet deep. The temperature wasn’t too bad either. It was chillier if you swam deeper but it was otherwise quite pleasant. I would estimate lake water temperature around 61 degrees. At the far side of the lake, we found a large, dead tree that was fallen in the lake. We pulled it back to our side of the lake and had fun with some games and floating on the log.
At our camp site was one lone patch of snow about twenty feet in diameter. The scouts had a great time throwing snowballs at each other and for distance into the lake. They also skated around on the snow and some ran around barefoot and even made snow angels in their bathing suits! It was great fun.
Throughout the afternoon, we did some finishing touches on merit badges. Scouts made survival bracelets and leather pouches and talked about Indian Lore.
One of the most gratifying things we witnessed on this journey was the brotherhood and camaraderie between everyone on this adventure. We witnessed scouts talking one-on-one with others who we never thought had anything in common to talk about. The young men started a game of “Ninja Destruction” that went on for an hour or more and EVERY scout participated and appeared to be having a great time. No one was made to feel excluded, everyone encouraged others to participate.
The scouts went out of their way to invite and include others to join in. It was good, clean fun away from the pretenses imposed on them by society and the superficial “popularity” of cell phones, iPods and designer clothing. Each of the leaders recognized this and we discussed this wonderful phenomenon. It was a wonderful experience as the youth didn’t appear to be trying to impress one another or one-up the next guy.
As the sun began to set on this wonderful day, Will and I wandered off to see some sights. We spotted the sun through the trees.
We also slowed down to see things we sometimes just step over or on.
Or we looked up and saw the sights that are bigger than life, tinted with a little pink sunset coloring.
As the day wore down, the activities slowed. We hung out around the campfire, gathered firewood, explored and talked.
We finished up the night as I shared a few stories woven together as a spiritual thought with the hope of touching some of the young men’s hearts. Prayers were a frequent part of our days after our daily morning scripture study and before bed. We also sung hymns like the Star Spangled Banner and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The youth, once again, were down and out pretty quickly after a day of exertion, excitement and activity.