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Canoe Campout (September 2010)

With almost 14 miles of water behind us, the troop completed an extraordinary adventure this past weekend. Our group started out Friday night in a timely manner, with a sunset arrival at the Narrows LCRA park. Camp was set up quickly, followed by the PLC, with which the Saturday schedule was established. The evening wound down with a 'cracker-barrel'. Mohammad staked out a baited jug line for the evening in hopes of catching a fish for breakfast. We had the brightest moon I have ever camped under. I woke every hour, thinking it was already sunrise!

Saturday morning got started on pace with camp packed up, quick breakfast (oatmeal, apple fruit grain bars and Slim Jims) and rundown of the activities for the day. Mohammad noticed his jug line was missing, nowhere to be seen. While the adults arranged the vehicle shuttling, the scouts sorted the canoes and gear, picked out canoe mates and Dr. Schmidt provided a safety talk for water and canoeing. The canoes were packed with all the gear we would need for the weekend (additional water was waiting for us at our evening destination). With the return of the adult shuttle team, the troop launched the armada.

Within about a 1/4 mile, Mohammad and Victor caught sight of a bottle floating on the water, it looked like the jug line. Upon an attempt to retrieve it, the jug evaded capture - Fish on! With some lively herding and wrangling, the wiley jug was captured. On the other end of the line was a 30 1/2" long nose gar. With that early excitement behind us, the tightly clustered armada quickly strung out to a line winding down the lake for 2 1/2 hours.

We then reached our lunch destination, much to the relief of the armada. After eating peanut butter, graham crackers, pop-tarts and beef jerky and relaxing in some shade, we again launched on our journey. Full bellies,  the sun, and perhaps a little fatigue seemed to have slowed down the group towards the goal. Around 2pm, we reached our destination for the day, Grelle Park.  Jude and Mrs. Jackson met us at the beautiful park. After walking around the camp and stretching our legs, we saw a storm brewing, so we all hurried and set up camp before it hit. Well, the dark clouds came, the cool breeze came, a slight short sprinkle was all the came from the clouds.

We were still left with plenty of time for working on the canoeing merit badge training and skills, headed up by Dr. Schmidt. The scouters and scouts worked together and got through almost every aspect of the merit badge during this campout, which is saying a lot! It was 6:45pm by the time we finished up and we had a lot of hungry campers! Mr. Hackett worked his grubbing magic by providing a chicken / lentil chili that was very satisfying after a long day's work. The scouts built an actual campfire.  The adults did another vehicle shuttling. We returned to find some scouts and adults missing from camp. They were actually nearby, looking up in a tree, where Seth had found a pair of ring-tailed cats (a close relative of the raccoon and coatimundi.) We looked and took some pictures, rare and cool! Our scouts had a campfire service and prayer, headed up by Harrison. With full stomachs, reverent thoughts and tired bodies, we all went to our tents for a needed sleep.

A few of the adults got up early to test the waters for fish, we were skunked! BUT, the sunrise was glorious! The rest of the troop awoke to a fresh Sunday morning. We all packed up camp, ate some oatmeal, an apple and jerky. The canoes were packed and we were off for Muleshoe Bend. Short of a minor, rather humorous foul hooking incident, this trek went without problems. A few fish were caught by various folks during the paddle, finally! This trek was the longest "short" paddle I have ever taken! Our fatigue and  the solid head wind took its toll on our energy reserves. We finally rounded "the bend that would never end", sighting Mr. Brown's superb pull out marker! Mr. Payne was there to greet the weary travelers.

The armada had arrived at it's final destination, Muleshoe Bend.  Mr. Payne took Mr. Hill up to retrieve the trailer. Once the entire ragtag group had arrived, most of the adults loaded up into Mr. Payne's sedan (like clowns in a car, or frats in a phone booth) and headed up to the park entrance to pick up the trailer and van. There was a lot more room in the van! We shuttled the remaining vehicles down to the water, loaded up and headed off to Opie's BBQ. The food was all we had hoped for! It was off to the church for circle-up, led by Mohammad, summarizing our great trip.

Special thanks go out the the following:
Mr. Swenson - for picking up the trailer and canoes from Lost Pines
Mr. Hill - for towing the loaded trailer to and from our destinations.
Dr. Schmidt - for being the well prepared Professor of Canoeing Merit Badge University
Mr. Hackett - for masterminding the role of Troop Grubmaster Extraordinaire
Mrs. Jackson & Mr. Collins - for staking out a claim at Grelle
Mr. Brown - for bringing firewood, assisting with the canoeing merit badge training and a most excellent pull out site marking
Mr. Payne - for helping with a unique shuttling service worthy of many future tales!
And everyone else who assisted and whose names escape me at the moment!

Please take a look at the accompanying pictures on our photo site, to help support this seemingly far fetched tale, and see your friends and loved ones!

ASM Neal Hagood