Archive for the ‘Boy Scouts’ Category

Mistletoe Scouts

A couple of days before Christmas, the boys were out selling mistletoe as part of a Boy Scout activity.

There were quite a number of generous individuals, with many donating additional amounts for the benefit of the troop.

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We just got back from a weekend of camping and hiking in Yosemite.  Nikhil, Vikram and 12 of their boy scout troop joined in the fun.  I had arranged the camp sites and pre-ordered the half dome hiking tickets last February.  This is a strenuous 21 mile hike (from Upper Pines Campground via John Muir Trail) with 4800 feet of elevation gain and took us over 12 hours.

We started our hike at 5:30 AM and started up the John Muir Trail.  Here we are at our first break about an hour into the hike.

Vikram and Shree at Nevada Falls

We were fortunate to see this rare sighting of a bear cub at about the 10 mile mark.  Vikram snapped this shot and we moved along quickly just in case the mother bear was near.

Here is a great shot of the approach to Half Dome.    If you look closely, you will see the trail of people.  The lower half is a rock scramble up the mountain, the upper half is the famous cable hike.

Half Dome Cables

Here we are at the hump right before the cable section.

Finally, we reach the top.   I had all the boys harnessed into the cable with an Alpine Bod harness,  runner and carabiner.

The hike back down the mountain was a bit quicker and had some glorious views of Nevada and Vernal Falls (below).  We had all carried up over 4L of water per person and yet nearly all of us were running out at the end! Once again, it amazes me how many unprepared people we saw along the way with a bottle or two of water in 90 degree heat!

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Yesterday, I took the boys and their Boy Scout buddies for a training hike up the San Juan Trail in San Juan Capistrano.   It was a 13 mile round trip with over 2200 feet of elevation gain.

Here are the boys at the beginning of the hike:

The first few miles are a series of switchbacks carved into the side of the mountain.

Here is Vikram taking full advantage of one of the few places with 4 bars of AT&T cell phone coverage.  We don’t get this kind of coverage at our house!

The boys conquering a rock halfway up the trail.

Here we are at the top of “Cocktail Rock”.  Appropriately named because after 6.5 miles of hiking I felt like having a couple of cocktails.

Finally, here is what we had to look forward to going back down to the trailhead.  It was almost 4 hours up and 2 1/2 back down.

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Boy Scout Hike

On Saturday, I took Vikram and a few of his Boy Scout buddies on a 10 mile hike into Santiago Oaks.

Here we are at the start of the hike.

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Scout-O-Rama 2010

Today the boys taught the Fingerprinting Merit Badge for their Boy Scout troop.

Here is Vikram the “teacher” directing the younger scouts.

The event was a huge success.

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This weekend, I took the boys camping at the plush new Outdoor Educational Center.  This is a new $30 million, 160 acre camping facility on Irvine Ranch land.   The weather was nice but a bit chilly in the 40’s and 50’s at night.

Here is Vikram in the morning.


Here is Nikhil with some of the other boys in his scouting troop.


The boys got to participate in a new high ropes course.  Here is Vikram on one of the ropes activities.

First the climb up the telephone pole.


Here he is up about 30 feet tethered by a belay line.


Here is a view of the ropes course from the campsite.



No fear whatsoever!


On the first night we made smores on a open firepit (which was powered by gas).  No logs to light, no mess to clean up and no danger to the environment.  All of the campsites are raised and groomed making it easy to pitch the tents.  The bathrooms are tiled and spotless.

This is the equivalent of the Ritz Carlton for camping!  Thanks to James Irvine for creating this wonderful facility.  We’ll be back soon.


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Cycle Merit

This summer, I have been taking a group of boy scouts on a series of road rides to enable them to earn their Cycling Merit Badge.  We started with a series of 10 mile, 15 mile and 25 mile rides – two of each.  Last weekend, we capped it off with a 50 mile ride thru Tustin, Irvine, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach – and back!  We rode along the beach for parts of it and also enjoyed the Back Bay on the way back.

Here we are at the half way point in Huntington Beach at the Dairy Queen.


This is a view of the Back Bay.


It made for a very long day, but we all did it in about 5 1/2 hours.  Pretty amazing!

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This week, I took the boys with their Boy Scout troop up to Yosemite for 5 days. On one of the days, we hiked up to Half Dome. This was a difficult 18 mile round trip from our campsite at Upper Pines. It took us about twelve and a half hours to complete the hike.

We started promptly at 5:30 in the morning while it was still dark.

About an hour into the hike, the kids had a dry cereal breakfast.

Here they are on another break.

At about the 6 hour mark, we near the staircase and cables part of Half Dome.

Here is a picture up the staircase. It is some basic rock scrambling. At the top of this 1/2 mile section is the cable portion. Only four of the boys remained for this last section.

Here we are right before the cables. You can see the cable ascent to the top of Half Dome in the picture below. The cable portion is 400 feet and is rated as a Class 3 climb.

I did not get a picture of it, but to keep the kids safe, we had them all wear a harness and clip themselves to the cables. In case they slipped, the harness would keep them safe.

There were some people that should not have been up there. We saw people in flip flops, people with one or two bottles of water and other accidents just waiting to happen. One of the boys said, “if you don’t know what you are doing, you will die”. We saw so many people that fit this category! In fact, the Park Service reports that there were three fatal falls last year alone.

Finally, we made it to the top! The peak is at 8842 feet of elevation and rises about 4700 feet off the valley floor.

The descent down the cables was a bit easier but still quite challenging.

After the cables, we started back down the mountain. Even though it was all down hill, it was still strenuous with difficult terrain to navigate.

One last shot of the numerous waterfalls on the way back.

Vikram said he “found his guts” on this trip. I would also add that it totally impressed me that these 11-14 year olds were able to accomplish such a feat at such a young age. I am proud of them all.

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On Sunday we went for a long hike into Blackstar Canyon. We started at the trail head and after a short walk through the shady canyon we started climbing up some switchbacks. After a few miles we hit a level plateau before climbing for a few more miles.

Here are some pictures from the hike. Note the bullet holes in the sign!

Here are the boys in front of a big rock.

At about 7.5 miles into the hike, we neared the giant Doppler Radar also known as the “Death Star”.

A little bit further up the trail there were some more strange rock formations that looked like they had been pulled up from the bottom of the ocean to about the 4500ft level we were at.

From here it was a long way back but at least it was all down hill! Fifteen miles in total. I think we are ready for Half Dome.

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Mt. Baldy Warmup

The boys and I are going to Yosemite in a couple of weeks. To prepare, we went on a hike last weekend up to the top of Mt. Baldy. Doug E and his son Adam joined us as our official tour guide. Mt. Baldy is one of the tallest peaks in So Cal at about 10,100 feet. We started at about 6200 feet and climbed up and back down in about 7 hours.

Here are some pictures of us along the way.

Here we are about half way up. There is a cabin with a nice stream running by it.

Here we are near the top. Note the change in the terrain as we are well above the tree line. Still another 1000 feet of climbing left.

Here we are at the top of the mountain!

The walk back down went a lot quicker. A couple of more long hikes and we’ll be ready for Half Dome!

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Last week while I was out of town, the boys graduated from being Cub Scouts to full fledged Boy Scouts. As part of their graduation requirement, they earned the Arrow of Light award.

Here they are receiving their honor.


The ceremony is a “crossing over” and at the end of it, they become Boy Scouts.

Here is Vikram “crossing over” and his new troop members welcoming him to the troop. Note the new hat and bandana!


Here is a picture of their whole cub scout pack that graduated to the new Troop 1518 at Pioneer Middle School. You can read more about the activities they will do in the coming years. In two weeks, we will be going on a camping trip to the desert and try our hand at sandboarding. More on that later.


Finally, here is their proud mom with Vikram!


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Last weekend, we went to see the Harlem Globetrotters at the Honda Center in Anaheim with our cub scout den. Anjali and I had seen them 16(?) years ago in Long Beach and they were up to the same old antics – water in the stands, confetti, and playing with the kids and the fans.


Here is Annika enjoying the antics.


Here is Vikram with his friend Michael.


It was a fun evening!

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We just got back from a 1 night camping trip with me and the boys and pack 541. We camped out in Tonner Canyon about 30 miles from here. The campsite is owned by the BSA (Firestone Camp).

There were about 20 kids in the pack and several hundred that were part of the Camperall.

Here are the boys at 6:15 when the bugler woke up the boy scouts.


Here is Vikram entertaining himself riding on a dirtboard.


Here are the boys with their pack.


They participated in group sessions that included rope tying, first aid safety, fire building, knife and axe safety, compass training, backpacking and a bunch of other stuff.


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Last weekend we went on a 2 night campout in the high desert in a town called Valyermo. The weather was warm, day and night. The campsite http://bigrockcreekcamp.com/ was a former movie star hangout during the Prohibition period and is now used as a family campsite complete with olympic size swimming pool, tennis court and other recreational activities. The 15 or so scouts and families participated in a rope walk, high altitude zip line, tomohawk throw, fishing, BB guns and hiking. Their favorite was the scary stories and smores around the campfire.

Here is Nikhil going down the Zip Line. It is 480 feet to the bottom:


Here is Vikram climbing to the top of the launch pad:


Here is Annika navigating the Low Ropes course:


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