ENCHANTED ROCK BACKPACKING CAMPOUT: Administrative and Equipment Information
ELIGIBILITY: Scouts 13 years old and older…OR younger with a parent accompanying. Reason: This is not a stroll in the park. We’re carrying everything we need ON OUR BACKS into the primitive sites at the back of the park, BEHIND the granite domes. For most of our Scouts it’s a long walk under a heavy load and would be problematic for most of our Scouts under 13 (and some over 13). But if a parent wants to accompany a younger Scout, to take on some of his load or stay behind and nurse him along onto the trail, that option is open. This is regrettable but necessary so we don’t spend the better part of our only day at the park dealing with delays—or even turn backs—that are easily anticipated based upon previous experience. Not a Bataan Death March, but not the stroll most of our boys are familiar with and some have struggled with.
DATE: Saturday, 30 April to Sunday 1 May. Sorry. I reserved these sites in Nov and it was already too late to get anything on our usual mid-month weekend. Enchanted Rock is the state’s most popular park in the Spring…for good reason.
SIGN UP: Go to the event calendar on the Scoutlander website. Click on the event to open it and sign up if you want to go. We have only 16 spaces. When they fill up, the campout is closed unless someone drops out. IF YOU SIGN UP AND THEN DROP OUT, HAVE THE COURTESY TO INFORM ME SO I CAN OPEN IT FOR SOMEONE WHO MAY BE WAITLISTED.
Time: Meet at 6:00 am at the Church back parking lot. We will leave when everyone arrives but no later than 6:15. Anyone showing up after that will need to find his own ride. We leave early because at this time of year the park fills quickly and there will be a line of cars waiting to get in before the park opens. We want to spend our day exploring and having fun, not waiting in the car outside the park for a couple of hours after we arrive. We will probably be back by noon on Sunday.
COST: $8 per camper. Since each brings his own food, we only need to cover the cost of the campsite.
FOOD: All campers will bring their own food. Scouts must provide a menu to an adult leader for approval no later than the meeting on 11 April. The food they bring will match the menu they get approved…PERIOD. There will be consequences for submitting a reasonable, nutritious menu (which is what it must be to get approved) then showing up with a bunch of junk food. “A Scout is TRUSTWORTHY.” Bring 3 meals, Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday breakfast, plus any supplements (snacks during the day or for Saturday evening). See the end for further guidance and menu suggestions.
Uniform: Travel in Class A without neckerchief. Remove Class A shirt to shift to Class B before hitting the trail. Uniform shorts to be left in the vehicles.
Special Note: If a Scout shows at the Church without a hat or any means for carrying water, we will call his parents to come pick him up or drop him at his house on our way to Enchanted Rock. A hat and water has been a basic requirement for every outdoor activity since day one of his experience in Troop 2010. A Scout that can’t meet that most fundamental requirement isn’t ready for this campout.
Pack: A true “backpacking” pack has a frame (external or internal) and wide, padded waist belt for cinching against the hips to redistribute weight from the shoulders to the hips. This will be important given that we will carry EVERYTHING we need on our backs. Assume approximately 30-35 pounds, perhaps more, depending on how careful/selective one is when packing, weather conditions, menu choices and tolerance for living without some amenities on the trail. I have TWO extra backpacks for anyone who wants to use them. They’re built for durability, not lightweight, but they will serve the need.
Shelter: The troop’s tents weigh too much and take up too much space in a pack to be practical on the trail. Appropriate choices for backpacking shelter are a one man tent, lightweight two man tents (or a bivy sack for the real Spartans). Two-man tents are really a reasonable size for one person. They’re a very tight squeeze for two (sardine level of intimacy). Also, BRING A MALLET for hammering tent stakes. Academy has sturdy, lightweight plastic mallets for this purpose. If you don’t know what a bivy sack is read on. If you’re familiar with them, skip the rest of this paragraph. A bivy sack is a waterproof sleeping bag cover (typically made of Gore-Tex) that provides rain protection for those who choose to sleep “under the stars” instead of in a tent. It doesn’t provide a sheltered place to change clothes or lay out gear for easy access. Thus some sort of waterproof cover for the backpack (which everyone should have anyway) is even more essential for the bivy sack camper.
Stoves: Ground fires are prohibited in the primitive area campsites, so it’s Jet-Boil stoves for meals. You can bring your own OR share one of the troop’s backpacking stoves. We will distribute them in the parking lot at the park before we hit the trail. These stoves are not for actual “cooking” per se. They’re for boiling water to re-hydrate freeze-dried foods, soups, coffee, etc. Anyone who intends to do actual cooking will need to carry the necessary pot/pan and requisite cooking utensils. These would also have to be washed—and that will be a challenge since we won’t be near a water source for washing. Thus, pot/pan cooking is typically not done on the backpacking trail and is NOT recommended for this campout. Keep in mind; the water vessel on a Jet Boil stove is for boiling water only. It’s NOT for reconstituting instant oatmeal or soup. It’s for boiling the water that you pour into another container for the soup/oatmeal or into the foil pouch that a freeze-dried backpacking meal comes in. So if making instant oatmeal or soups, bring a separate cup or other container to put them in. If bringing your own stove, you’re obviously free to use it any (safe) way you choose.
Water: Everyone must carry at least two liters of water for the trail to begin with. We will be filtering water from Moss Lake for sustainment. If a camper wants to use the gravity feed filter system that I will bring for communal use, he also needs to bring the means to transport “dirty” water from Moss Lake to pour into the gravity feed system (no one gets water “out” if he doesn’t carry water to put “in”). They can also choose to hand pump water directly from the lake into a “clean” container. We could be up to a mile from the lake, so I would advise bringing plenty of containers for transporting DIRTY water to minimize round trips to the lake (I would advse at least three liters). Mark these containers “DIRTY.” These can be rigid or soft/collapsible. It should have a wide mouth to facilitate scooping water from the lake. The advantage of collapsible containers is that they are flat and take up virtually no space in the pack.
Personal First Aid Kit: They made one for 2nd Class rank requirement with band-aids, moleskin for blisters, Neosporin ointment, etc. See the handbook if you need to reconstruct this. I will bring a more complete kit for more serious injuries, but if a Scout has a minor cut/scrape, he should have the means to treat that himself—on this and on ALL campouts.
Toilet paper: Bring a small roll.
Garbage Bags: Bring at least TWO (kitchen size). A couple of the small plastic shopping bags that the stores use are a good idea also. Everyone carries his own garbage out. Put any food that is not vacuum-sealed into a small bag that will go into a larger bag which that we will hoist into the air for protection against animals. Note that minimizing waste/trash is a factor to consider in meal selection.
General: The rest of the usual needs for a camp out apply: Flashlight/head lamp; hygiene items, hat, sunscreen, bedding, at least one change of socks (two pair recommended), rain gear, additional clothing as dictated by weather/temperature
Ground Pad: I have a couple of Thermarest self inflating pads I will loan to anyone who wants one.
Stool/chair. Think about a lightweight, compact “backpacking” type campstool or breakdown chair. It’ll get uncomfortable standing the whole time in camp or sitting on the ground—especially if the ground is wet. There are lots of choices. $22 for a one-pound, fold-up tripod stool at REI. Academy also had tripod stools last time I looked.
Daypack. Once we set up camp, we’re going exploring: climbing the big dome and the smaller one, into the caves, walking the loop, etc. You need to carry water, first aid kit, flashlight (for the cave) maybe rain gear. You also need a way to carry that “dirty” water to the campsite for purifying. You don’t want to carry that stuff in your hands all day. You can get VERY thin, minimalist daypacks to stuff into the backpack to break out and use once camp is established. As always, REI can hook you up, but there are other alternatives for a small, light, simple, and CHEAP daypack.
Water flavor enhancer. Mio, Crystal Light and others. These make water much more palatable, especially with a meal and MOST especially if the water is warm. These are a definite plus for staying hydrated and simply adding a lot of “quality of life” for nearly no weight or space penalty on the trail.
Cup. I recommend bringing a cup to mix the water flavoring with water rather than flavoring a whole water bottle. The cup is also good for reconstituting instant oatmeal and soups, though a bowl works for that as well. A collapsible cup can be slipped into pants cargo pocket and is always there for making a refreshing flavored drink.
DON’T BRING A HAMMOCK. We cannot tie things off to the trees in the park.
Thoughts on food. Freeze dried backpacking meals are always a good and usually a tasty, filling choice. They can be reconstituted right in their own pouch (no plate/bowl to clean). They’re lightweight and flat for packing but they can also be expensive. You might go with them for all three meals, or only one meal (dinner) or two—or none. Other choices. Tuna or chicken salad. You can get them in a can or in a pouch, which is lighter and easier to pack than a can; great for lunch along with flatbread to make sandwiches (flatbread packs well without crushing). Also canned potted meats, Vienna sausages, baked beans, etc. Fresh or canned fruit; fresh carrots; fruit cocktail, pudding or jello in individual containers; instant oatmeal or soups in pouches. Military MREs are another choice. These are complete meals with snacks in a single, (but bulky) package and also not cheap. They can be bought online. Don’t forget about a snack for during the day and/or at night. Cookies, candy bars, energy bars, trail mix, etc.