Boy Scout Troop 152 Trek
Summer 1961 and 1962
by Bill Finch

A little more than 50 years ago, a dozen scouts, their scoutmaster, a pony, and a kid goat made the first of many annual hikes from Mineral King to Cedar Grove. All but one of them successfully completed the hike. More about the casualty later.

Luke Fritz, scoutmaster and motivator extraordinaire, challenged his troop of scouts to become Life Scouts. He promised the troop that when a decent number of them attained the rank of Life or Eagle, he would take them on a hike they would never forget. When a dozen or so of the troop made the rank, he began planning and preparing for the promised hike. The troop had always been a hiking and camping oriented troop, so all of the scouts had most of the skills they would need to make the journey. Not one to leave things to chance, Luke and the troop planned and executed a couple of shakedown hikes to test equipment and procedures. A nanny goat and her kid accompanied the troop on the shakedowns-the nanny for her milk supply and the kid for a mid-hike feast.

Dressed in dark green coveralls, Troop 152 assembled at the Franklin Pass Trailhead. The nanny had proved to be more trouble than she was worth, but the kid, Jesse, made the cut. In addition, a Welsh pony named Wooly carried some of the gear and supplies. Atop Franklin Pass in the early afternoon, they descended into Rattlesnake Canyon where they made their first camp.

On the second day, they continued down Rattlesnake Canyon and eventually into Kern Canyon. They walked up the gentle trail in Kern Canyon and made their second camp at Kern Hot Springs where everyone was able to enjoy a warm bath.

The trail continued up Kern Canyon to Junction Meadow where the troop turned east and ascended Wallace Creek. They camped at sites near the creek and next to the John Muir trail.

The next morning, packs were left at the Wallace Creek camp and the troop made their way toward Mt Whitney. Without heavy packs, they flew up the trail past the backside of Whitney and were on the summit by midday. They returned to the Wallace Creek camp, none the worse for a 25 mile day.

The next day, day five, they hiked to the headwaters of the Kern River, viewing the Kaweah Peaks and the Great Western Divide on the way.

The troop spent several days at a small lake on the Kern River which Scoutmaster Luke dubbed Rendezvous Lake. They did a little swimming and sunbathing and built some fine rock structures including a table and a stove. They caught and ate dozens of golden trout. Although they had come to love Jesse, their kid goat companion, his time had come and the scouts were looking forward to fresh meat. Jesse was slaughtered and roasted and became the center piece of a feast which also included fresh dinner rolls.

With almost empty packs and fully rested, the troop hiked over Forester Pass and down Bubbs Creek in a single day. They were met a couple of miles up trail from roads end by fathers of many of the boys. The dads packed in sodas and steaks for a last dinner on the trail.

The next morning after a couple of miles on the trail, the boys packed into waiting cars and returned home from the trip they would remember for the rest of their lives.

Fifty years later, the scouts met again for a reunion in a camp ground near Cedar Grove. Many of the photos in this report, all of them taken by Luke Fritz, were part of a slide show that was enjoyed by the scouts and their families at an evening program that followed a potluck feast.

PS - After several of my trekmates read this report, they made me aware that the photos and memories appear to be a blend of two trips, 1961 and 1962. This is true. I would write a report for each year if I could, but the two trips are blurred together. This is the best I can do 50 years later.



21 November 2012