Gretna Venture Crew 363 recently returned from a high adventure trip to Oregon in mid July.
The six Scouts — Caleb Prince, Caden Prince, Collin Graham, Henry McQueney, Alice McQueney and Garrick Wilson — along with three leaders — Rich Beran, Tori Winter and I —venture flew to Medford. We rented a van and camped at the local Scout Council.
The next morning we had to find fuel canisters for cooking and a new backpack to replace a pack that split at the seams. We also organized our backpacks for the next three days. Each pack weighs anywhere from 34 to 50 pounds. This year, two of the Scouts were new to the Crew and had never backpacked before. They quickly learned lighter packs are better. A pack should weigh no more than 1/3 of the person’s body weight, which is hard to do.
The Crew finally got on the North Umpqua Maidu trail mid-morning. That first day was the hardest. We hiked nine miles up a 2,000-foot increase in elevation during the heat of the day. There were a few glitches — a pack that needed some adjustments, a water bladder that leaked and couldn’t be used, a very dusty trail and a lot of fallen trees on the trail to maneuver over. By mile seven, half the group was pretty tired. We finally reached the first lake (Lucille) at mile nine and decided that would be our campsite. At dark, we hung our bags of food and anything with a scent in the trees so bears could not get them.
On Thursday, we took it easy and some slept in. We hiked an easy one mile to Maidu Lake. The Scouts went swimming and decided to swim across the lake and back. We hiked back to our camp and played cards the rest of the day.
On Friday, we got on the trail by 9 a.m. to backpack down the mountain. We made it in just under four hours. We drove to Annie Creek Sno-Park just outside of Crater Lake National Park and set up camp by the creek. We filtered water from the creek. The parking lot had a community lodge where we hung out, played cards and met other campers.
Saturday we hiked a strenuous 2.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet to the top of Mount Scott. This is the only spot where you can view the entire Crater Lake. Afterward, we drove the Rim Road circling the lake with several scenic stops. We learned the founder of Crater Lake decided to name features at the park with mysterious names in the hopes that it would attract visitors. We saw Phantom Rock and Wizard Island although the boat tours to Wizard Island were cancelled due to COVID. Back at our camp site, we decided to stay up to star gaze. With no city lights, the night sky is brighter with millions of stars.
On Sunday we slept in, then packed up and drove back to Cleetwood Cove back in the park. It is the only place in the park you can access the lake. We hiked a steep trail 1.1 miles down to the water. We found a rock to jump off 20-25 feet into the royal blue COLD water. It was a lot of fun! The hike back up was not as bad as we expected but the rangers said it was like climbing 65 flights of stairs. Then we drove to Crescent City just over the border into California on the coast. We took a slight detour through Howland Hill Road through a redwood forest, which was amazing. The trees were over 300 feet tall and 2,000 to 3,000 years old. It was mostly a one lane road through several miles of this serene giant forest. We got to our campsite at a “civilized” campground — Del Norte Redwood Forest at Mill Creek. It was a very nice campground where each campsite felt private due to the redwoods and growth of the huge bushes.
Monday we got on the road early to get through a construction site on Highway 101 on the coast before the road closed. There was a massive rock/mud slide the end of June so the road closed from 8 a.m. to noon and then again from 3 to 7 p.m. We drove on a scenic drive which had a great overlook of the ocean which was beautiful even though it was still foggy. The end of the drive had a big meadow which was full of elk. We stopped to do a short hike of 1.1 miles to see CorksCrew Tree but we didn’t look at the map well enough and it didn’t loop like we thought so we ended up turning around and hiking a total of 3.5 miles.
We drove to Gold’s Bluff Beach. It was still foggy and only 60 degrees but that didn’t stop Caden from running completely in. We walked the beach for a couple of hours and decided to head back north to get through the construction before the road closed. As it was, we still had to wait 30 to 45 minutes. We went to Crescent City but there wasn’t much for shopping so we checked out a small lighthouse. It was low tide so we searched the tide pools and found starfish, sea anemones and lots of hermit crabs. We celebrated the end of our trip with our “greasy burger” meal at Seaquake — on the ocean. We headed back to our camp to organize our gear for the trip home.
Tuesday we drove to the airport and boarded the plane at 12:45 p.m. We arrived in Omaha at 11:30 p.m., a very tired Crew!
The Venture Crew is a co-ed Scouting organization for youth ages 14 to 20. Every year the young adults choose where they want to go and what activities they want to do. They plan the trip and coordinate fundraising to pay for the adventure.
Check out our Facebook page: facebook.com/VentureCrew363. Anyone interested in joining the Crew can call Cindy Mefford at 402-310-5183.