I’ve talked about some of our hikes around the metropolis of Sunflower, Arizona. We also liked to climb to the top of the majestic “Four Peaks”.They tower high enough to be seen for miles in the Phoenix Salt River Valley below them.
I had grown up seeing these peaks every day, and they held a special enigma to me. I was in awe of them and had always wanted to climb them.
So, with this in mind, I was delighted when the troop decided to take a trek up to the top of the north peak.
We camped down below the peaks in a beautiful saddle (an area with tall “Quaking” Aspen and oak trees, green grass and flowers) and then started for the top the next morning. We really had to work to get through high brush, rocks and cliffs but eventually we made it.
The exhilaration of the view visible to us from the top was worth the whole climb. There is nothing like the feeling of being on the tallest mountain peak in an area and looking down to the earth in all directions.
We took long drinks from our canteens, basked in the view, and returned the hiker log to the metal case. We looked once more at the vast world below us and left the peak to the thousands of lady bugs who would remain behind us there.
That hike was a great experience. I could go on and on – but perhaps I’ve shared enough with you to help you get the picture of all the fun that is out there for you as you move along your trail from Gnubie to Eagle Scout.
We actually made this trek a couple of times. It really is a great outing. It is a bit traumatic, however, to make the climb up the face of the cliff – with all of the rocks, etc.
Climbing Four Peaks reminds me of a similar outing – to climb up Pinnacle Peak south between Phoenix and Tucson.
I didn’t discover this one when I was a Gnubie. In fact, I was much older. But, the places had a lot in common. At Pinnacle Peak, one generally camps the night before in the State Park where the Peak is located. The view of the Peak is a bit deceiving. It looks as if the journey starts slightly mellow – not traumatic. But, the climb the next day is actually pretty straight up after going around the mountain from the campground. One ascends up through narrow places and over a lot of rocks. And a “highlight” – if you can call it that – is crossing some “bridges” made of chains. You get into a panic mode going over these. But if you don’t look down, you can usually make it across.
And now that I think of it, there is yet another place that has some pretty crazy hiking. I enjoyed hiking Mooney Falls (located in Havasupai Canyon) at the southwest corner of the Grand Canyon.
I have blogged about Havasupai, but I didn’t mention going down the falls. I say “down” because this is one of the rare places where you start hiking at the top and then go down. The hike begins up on top and the view of Mooney Falls below is fabulous. One has to hike down narrow “caves” with chain ladders and narrow spots on the rocks. It is kind of intense, especially with full backpacks on.
I ventured on the Mooney Falls trip as a Gnubie – and again a couple of years later – when I was no longer a gnubie. Anyway, after getting down the cliffs, the Falls are pretty spectacular to look up at. The pools make for good swimming. Some people swam back behind the falls, and some even crazier people would jump off of the falls. I truly would not recommend that kind of action – not at all brilliant.
Though not at all a swimmer, as evident in my recent blog about my attempts to get my Lifesaving Merit Badge, I did actually swim behind the second falls (names Havasu Falls) at Havasupai on my Gnubie hike to Havasu canyon. This was kind of a freaky experience, especially for a Gnubie. We swam back behind the falls.
Once you decides to make this trip, it’s basically “all or nothing”. You really have to keep going and going. There are only a couple “resting spots”. I decided to take a little break from swimming and put my hand up to hold onto a small rock outcropping – only to discover a prickly pear cactus there to grab hold of. (See my blog about Arizona flora: at https://thescoutingtrail.org/2016/05/09/arizona-a-regional-guide-part-2-flora-more-than-just-beautiful-cacti/(See another blog about Arizona Flora). So, that added some extra excitement to the thrill of the moment! At one point behind the falls, there was a small cave where you could sit and look out front to the giant waterfalls pounding down into the water around us. Looking back now at that adventure, I am really surprised that I was able to make it.
Well, I guess by now you have realized that we had some pretty crazy times in Troop 155. We-had-great-gnubie-hikes-in-our-day/. Of course, we enjoyed every minute of them! We did have great times together. And you are probably having some great Scouting times yourself. I hope so. That’s what it is all about. What a great game, this Scouting business! Isn’t it fun to be a Gnubie? (And note that I have talked of my Gnubie hikes in Arizona. I am sure that if you do a bit of searching – or talk to hiking enthusiasts, you can find beautiful and exciting places to hike in your area.) Great memories are to be had wherever you go. Make the best of them. Write about them, and take a lot of photos. A few years from now, you’ll be glad that you did!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”, and others at his Scoutingtrails website. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read!
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Author: Kevin Hunt | Scouting historian and camp director in Mesa, Arizona