Backpacking: Boulder Creek Scout Reservation

Backpacking BCSR

The Hike

Loop trail, 3.5 miles total, about 600 feet of uphill to the campsite and returning.
Camp in a spacious redwood grove. I prefer the Upper Redwood campsite to Lower Redwood or Meadow. Meadows are lumpy and cold. Upper Redwood is just a little nicer.

Continue reading

Backpacking: Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin

Backpacking big basin 2

The Hike

From Big Basin State Park Headquarters, hike the Skyline to the Sea Trail to Berry Creek Falls, then hike up the Berry Creek Falls Trail past Silver Falls and the Golden Cascade, then continue on to Sunset trail camp. The closest water is at Berry Creek, so fill up there before hiking to the camp.

This can be turned in to a two-night trip if you start by camping at the Jay Trail Camp in the Big Basin headquarters area.

Continue reading

Backpacking: Angel Island State Park

Backpacking angel island 3 adj

The Hike

First, you take the ferry from Tiburon, so there is some driving and coordinating with the ferry schedule. Once you are on the island, your campsite is a mile or so away mostly on paved roads. Hiking all the way around the island is five miles, so you can’t go too far.

You’ll want to hike to the the top of the Island, Mount Livermore, but do that when it isn’t shrouded in fog. I’ve been to the top in the fog and it is amusing, but the views aren’t that great.

Continue reading

Backpacking: Coast Camp at Point Reyes

Backpacking coast camp 1

The Hike

Two mile easy hike through tall brush. The highest point of the trail is halfway there, about 300 feet higher than the start or end. The last time I was there, I realized I left something in the car, so I just hiked back and got it. That was a year after my knee surgery and I wasn’t in great shape, so yeah, easy hike.

You want to park at the Laguna Trailhead, but that parking lot fills up often. Don’t be surprised if you end up parking a quarter mile away along the road. It is still an easy hike.

You can also start at the Limantour Trailhead, but check the tide tables for your hike in and hike out times, because the beach portion of the trail can be soggy or underwater.

Continue reading

Backpacking: Sunol Regional Wilderness Preserve

Backpacking sunol 1

The Hike

The hike is hard enough that everyone will feel like they’ve accomplished something, and at the end there are nice campsites with a lovely view of the valley.

This can be a “split route” campout, with the older Scouts taking the more challenging McCorkle Trail. Both trails leave from near the same parking lot and both end up a the entrance to the backpack camp area.

The campsites are spread out enough that other campers are out of sight and hearing, unless you meet at the water spigot or latrine.

You will probably be in Eagle’s Eyrie (10 people) or Star’s Rest (30 people). Those sites are at the highest elevation, both with great views.

Continue reading

Windshield Survey: A COVID-Friendly Emergency Service Project (E. Prep. 7a)

Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge requirement 7a is “Take part in an emergency service project, either a real one or a practice drill, with a Scouting unit or a community agency.” How do you do this while Scouting at home?

A standard part of our city emergency drills could be adapted as an emergency service project. In a disaster, our emergency volunteers quickly collect information about damage with a “windshield survey” or “windshield damage assessment”. That information is collected centrally.

Continue reading

Koss SB-45 vs Yamaha CM500

My Yamaha CM500 headset finally died last year, so I tried the cheaper Koss SB-45. I hated the Koss. Sent it back and bought a new Yamaha CM500 headset.

The Yamaha headset sits around my ears, the Koss on top of them. The Yamaha grabs my (big) head fairly lightly, but the Koss was a head clamp. The Koss headset was immediately uncomfortable, then I gave it another try and it was still uncomfortable. It smashed my ears painfully against my head.

Continue reading

Scouting @ Home: Virtual Camping

Is virtual camping a real thing in Scouting? Well…it can be.

Update: On April 13th, BSA national published guidelines for completing rank requirements up through First Class while maintaining social distancing. See the question “Q: What changes have been made to rank advancement/camping requirements given the need to maintain social distancing during this time?” in the BSA COVID-19 FAQ.

Update 2: The FAQ has been updated with this statement: “No, virtual camping will not count toward the 15 nights camping required for membership in the Order of the Arrow.”

Continue reading

Backpacking Meal Planning: Sources for Ingredients and Meals

Tired of the same old mylar packet of freeze-dried stuff? Here are some sources for tasty prepackaged meals and for dehydrated ingredients so you can make your own. As I write this, a lot of the dehydrated ingredients are out of stock, likely due to new converts to emergency preparedness during the pandemic. I’m sure they’ll be back in stock by the time we are ready to go backpacking again.

Continue reading

Scouting @ Home: Cooking Merit Badge

You cannot complete Cooking merit badge at home, but you can make a solid start on it. Plus, your parents will be thankful for you taking care of several meals.

Cooking

Cooking is a core life skill. Our younger son was in Scouts before this merit badge was required for Eagle, but he learned to cook in our kitchen and on campouts. Later, he taught it to younger Scouts in his patrol. When he moved off campus in college, he was cooking for the seven people in his house, and teaching one of them to cook instead of serving expensive take-out.

Continue reading