Highland Games

Scouts from Troop 353 participated at the Highland Games at Five Islands Park from May 5th to May 6th.

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2017 Winter Freeze Out at Ward Pound Ridge

Saturday December 9 & Sunday December 10

For those of you unfamiliar with the Winter Freeze Out trip, it is an opportunity to experience cold weather camping and backpack camping. We will be sleeping in lean-tos up at Ward Pound Ridge. We will start off with a short hike from the visitor center to the lean-tos. We will have to carry everything we need in our packs. This includes food, cooking equipment, sleeping gear, cloths etc.. The one deviation from the backpacking theme will be that we will have to drive water up to the sites as there is no usable water near our sites.

If you do not have a backpack there are a limited number of packs in our storage room that can be borrowed.

The lean-tos have dirt floors so bring a ground cover to put your sleeping bag on. You should also bring a tarp to hang over the front of the lean-to, this will help you to stay warm.

You should each bring your own food. Make sure to eat breakfast before we leave and pack a bag lunch for Saturday. Bring food that can be cooked over a campfire or bring a personal backpacking stove. Examples of personal backpacking stoves would be Jetboil, MSR Windburner or a MSR Pocket Rocket. We will review this at the next meeting.

Food wrapped in foil is a great option for cooking over a campfire. Here are some examples

Other suggestions

We have reserved sites 1-4 located on Michigan Road.

Scouts Endure Harsh Winter Conditions & Learn Firsthand About “Being Prepared”

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In late October, Troop 353 had the privilege of camping at the beautiful campsite North South Lake. Located in the Catskills, North South Lake is full of beautiful scenery of the mountains and water—but we would not appreciate this until Sunday morning. The troop first arrived at the park early Saturday morning, after a two hour car ride. Eager to set up and go on the hike, the boys began to setup camp under increasingly harsh weather conditions.  As the scouts were constructing their tents, it started to rain and the wind coming off the lake was accelerating. This rain eventually turned into fast falling, ie blowing, snow. Temperatures started to decrease further as the boys scrambled to finish setting up in +20 mph winds while trying to stay dry and warm.  It was definitely much colder than when we left the Tuckahoe Community Center.

After a quick lunch, we drove to the nearby trailhead. We were shocked by the extreme snow storm that was occurring just outside of our warm cars.  The wind was accelerating through a funnel-like formation and blowing as much as 30—40 mph.  Reluctant to get out of the sheltered cars, the boys eventually built up the courage to huddle together and start the hike through the somewhat snowy mountains.

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To the troop’s surprise, the wind and snow wasn’t as bad in the mountains. This was mainly due to the trees providing a nice protection from the elements. The boys stopped at various points in the steep mountains to admire the scenery, but it was near white-out conditions and we had no idea how scenic the viewing points were!   Although barely visible, the mountains and lake looked like something out of a movie–something that could only be experienced in real life.  It was brutally windy and cold.

After the hike, the boys came back to the camp to start Troop 353’s annual golden spatula cook-off contest.  Fire building was the #1 priority at that time as we were wet and very cold!  As tradition, there is a secret ingredient that the scouts don’t know about until they cook. This year’s ingredient was the tomatillo plant, a Mexican plant similar to a tomato. Three patrols took part in this event:  Dragon Ninjas / Wolverine Patrol, Phoenix Patrol, and the combined Sasquatch / Eagle Patrol

There were two parts to the cookout, dinner and dessert. The scouts competed with beautiful dishes such as a fancy macaroni & cheese and a steak plate with fried vegetables and the winning patrol (Sasquatch/ Eagle) topped it all off with a dutch oven cobbler!

After the cookout contest, the boys got ready for the long, cold night that they were about to face. The wind continued to howl and temperatures reached all time lows as the scouts tried to keep warm in their tents. Eventually they made it out alive in the morning. The morning showed hope for the boys as the sun came up and the sky was clear.  We could see snow on the mountain tops behind the park.  Temps were rising, though still freezing, and the wind was beginning to slow.

After cleaning up & packing up, we drove to the next drop off to take another hike along the famous Escarpment Trail. This hike was much more memorable for the scouts as it was warmer than the last one, and the views across the Hudson Valley were absolutely spectacular! Climbing up rugged rocks and terrain, the troop finally made it to one of the more scenic overlooks:  Artist Rock.  The sight was like none other!  Scouts looked speechless at the wonderful sight in front of them. We were at the top of the world looking down at God’s gift. The autumn colored trees topped it off.

In the end, this trip was definitely one of the troop’s best and we learned a lot about “being prepared”.  Scouts had a blast hiking the mountains in the snow and then viewing the spectacular world from on high. This is a memory the boys will definitely not forget!  We strongly encourage you to check out more incredible video clips and photos on this trip, by “clicking here”.

Day 6: One Last (unexpected) Adventure

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As we all awoke on our last day, we were all eager to go home.  The night before we figured out that we needed to get on the water earlier than normal, so that we could hit our destination between 10am & 11am.  It was still cloudy and cool and early in the morning getting in the water was not “fun”.  The only other living mammals up at that hour were the loons!  Now we know where the phrase “crazy as a loon” came from.

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After studying our lake map the night before, we fully expected a short paddle to our pick-up point.  The paddling route seemed very straightforward, we had a short, easy route along the “right” edge of the lake to a river that would lead us up to Saranac Village–our final destination.  Or, so we thought…

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As we slowly made our way towards our desired location, we kept heading into coves instead of the targeted river.  We cut across what appeared to be cove inlets on the belief that the river entrance was “around the corner”.

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A couple of interesting houses diverted our growing weariness as the morning wind began to pick up.  We made our way through the lake, passing by many islands.

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After several stops, it was clear that we were unsure as to where we were and where we were supposed to go.  It was a bit shocking that our confident guide Kelly, whom claimed this lake area as his “home”, was so lost on the water.  After over an hour of paddling, we suddenly realized that we had traveled in a giant circle and were near the canal, where we had entered the lake the afternoon before!   We ended up paddling back and forth for about two hours before figuring out where to go.

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Finally, to get back on track, the adult leaders asked a motor boat driver for direction, while cross-checking their paddling maps & GPS.  The solution?  Follow the easily marked boat lanes…back across the lake…ugghh!      OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The whole morning, the clouds were threatening and as we got across the lake into the beginning of the river channel, we were forced to stop at somebody’s lake garage due to some thunder that was heard.  So, we all took a break, grabbed a snack, and played some more cards.

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After a 45 minute wait, we were cleared to start canoeing again, so we all made the final push to arrive at our pick-up point.   The next portion of paddling seemed to take forever, as we all saw civilization, but could not stop until we arrived at the exact pickup location.  We passed many houses and camps.

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Finally, we reached the pick-up point and though we were over an hour late, we didn’t care, as we could finally stop paddling and this concluded the trip!

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Before we made our way back to Summit Base, we stopped for a quick lunch.  During the long car ride many of us were able to enjoy a well-earned nap. Upon arriving at Summit Base, we were welcomed with a nice lunch & took hot showers before we headed out on our 4-hour drive back home.

In conclusion, the entire experience of this High Adventure Trip was extremely rewarding because of the mileage we were able to accomplish.  Even though we did not travel enough to earn the 50-Miler Award, it still gave us an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.  Not only had we traveled a vast distance in such a short period of time, we had also learned so much more and experienced what “real” camping was like.  Despite the many challenges, it was an awesome and extremely memorable trip for us all!

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Day 5: Canoeing the Lower Locks on the way to Kiwassa Lake

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The next morning all of our gear was packed away and put into the canoes as fast as possible, so that we could have an early departure.  We all knew that today would be a day of extensive paddling, as we wanted to cover about 10 miles before reaching our next and last night on the trail.   Tonight we were heading for a private island in the middle of Kiwassa Lake!  Our actual destination appeared to be a short two hour paddle away, so to accumulate some more miles, we headed in the opposite direction toward Lower Saranac Lake.

For what seemed like several hours, we paddled, passing by many small islands.  The wind had picked up considerably so we needed to stay close to shore.  Our bearing was southwest, but we were paddling into a stiff breeze and we felt like we were getting nowhere fast!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After an exhausting morning, we stopped on the far shore at campsite that had a rock peninsula for a quick lunch and a few pictures. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After lunch, we turned around and headed back to our original riverside campsite, then continued down the river into some of the most remote wilderness of all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Trees were growing out of rocks in the middle of the water and there were many fascinating natural sights.  While we were expecting to see some 4 legged wildlife in this pristine wilderness, the only wildlife viewed were a wide variety of birds.  The peaceful serenity of our picturesque setting distracted us from noticing our aching and sore muscles from paddling.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Suddenly, we came upon an extremely rare sight: a canal.  Due to the presence of different water levels between two lakes, we were required to enter a canal and to be lowered down about 10 feet,  so that we could continue on our paddling journey.  The “lower locks” were extremely fascinating, as this was the first time that any of us had experienced this.

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After what seemed like endless paddling, through connecting channels and across small lakes, we eventually arrived at our desired location!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our last night on the trail was on a very small, semi-private island in the middle of Kiwassa Lake, which was actually pretty cool, as we would be able to claim it as “ours” for that night!  Since we arrived in the middle of the afternoon, it gave us plenty of time to set up camp, explore the island and relax.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On this final night, the scouts were to prepare everything on their own― without the help of any of the adults, including Kelly.  The scouts were expected to build and maintain the fire, cook dinner, clean up, and hang the bear bag.  Let’s just say that given all the practice we had had during the week, all of these tasks were handled very well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the fire, a few “infamous” skits, commonly performed by Troop 353, were presented.  Afterwards, the traditional “Rose, Bud, Thorn” ceremony was conducted, as we all exchanged ideas of what we thought was the best and worst parts of the trip, along with what we look forward to doing.

Meaningful words were later spoken by the adult Scoutmasters and Kelly, as they explained about everything this trip should mean to the scouts and how it should be remembered for being such an amazing experience.  From this, the scouts had embraced the fact that they had all accomplished a lot and learned a whole lot of new things, perhaps more than they thought was possible originally.

As the fire died down, everyone was very satisfied (and very tired) & we made our way to the tents, where we bedded down in the chilly Adirondack air to spent the final night on this amazing trip and easily fell fast asleep listening to wind whistling through the pines.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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