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Scouts' monthly outing yields an unexpected challenge

By Harry Short

Dec 2, 2006

Boy Scout Troop 379 went on its monthly outing Nov. 18-19 and wound up completing a major and unplanned cleanup project in the Eastern Superstition wilderness area.

Fifteen Scouts and 10 fathers hiked from the remote Rogers Trough Trailhead on Saturday to Angel Basin, and camped overnight.

Near the end of the hike, a few hundred yards above Angel Basin, the troop arrived at a campsite with two three-person tents, each including tent flies, poles, stakes and bags, two heavy vinyl mattresses, three cans of food, two flashlights with batteries, a can of bug spray, a day pack, assorted clothing and assorted trash.

The tents were collapsed with broken poles, and both the tents and mattresses were quite dirty and had several tears.

Based on dirt and leaves in the torn up tents, it was clear that the equipment had been abandoned several weeks earlier.  The boys and even some dads assumed an emergency, such as the campers being injured or scared off by a bear or lion, had caused their quick departure.

The scouts are responsible for furnishing their own camping equipment and could not imagine another reason someone would abandon theirs.  (Unfortunately it is more likely that the long-gone campers simply did not want to carry it out, and did not make a return trip to retrieve it, a situation seen occasionally in Grand Canyon and Havasupai campgrounds.) 

The men and boys gathered everything up and cut the tents and mattresses into smaller pieces.  Every Scout and dad packed up and carried out a portion of the trash on Sunday via the long and scratchy JF Trail over Tortilla Pass to the Woodbury Trailhead. 

Trails in this area are overgrown with catclaw (aptly named), barberry, mesquite and manzanita. 

Trash taken out filled three 30-gallon trash bags and weighed 35 pounds; it trash was disposed in the church trash bin upon returning to Tempe. 

The two-day backpacking trip covered 11.4 miles and included an archeologist-supervised visit to the Salado ruins near Angel Basin.

Troop 379 is sponsored by Desert Cross Lutheran Church. Troop members meet from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays and go on overnight outings monthly.

South Tempe resident Harry Short serves on the board of directors of the Rotary Club of Kyrene Corridor in addition to his role as a Troop 379 father.

The picture shows the Scouts and most of the trash at the Woodbury Trailhead before it was bagged and weighed. 


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