Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author and Speaker, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director
One of my previous blogs introduced the Fun, Adventure and Romance of Scouting. In that blog I quoted one of my BYU Professors who liked to discourse on this Subject. “Adventure,” he said, “Is when you do something for the first time. “Fun” is when you repeat the adventure and still enjoy it. And “Romance” is the Spirit of Scouting, the classy experiences that tie you to the program. Romance keeps you coming back for more fun and adventure.” I decided to write about a recent activity that I participated in with my wife and youngest daughter. One could say that it was “all in the name of high adventure”.
Our adventure began the day after Christmas. My wife and I were both off of school for a couple of weeks. We left our home in sunny Arizona (65 degrees) and headed through Utah and Idaho to take our youngest daughter, Larissa, up to attend college at BYU-Idaho. I don’t know if taking the daughter to college was an adventure or fun by the above definition. It was not the first time for such an event. She was the seventh child that we have sent off to college. And we have sent off the same number of missionaries. And I might add that it doesn’t get any easier sending the kids off – even with the numbers. (As a side note: one son graduated from Dixie College in St. George, one son graduated from Ferris State University in Michigan – and four daughters maintained a very strong tradition as they all followed their mother to Snow College. Another son also attended college – but he went to Arizona State University close to home. Four children have B.S. degrees and two daughters have A.S. degrees – so far.)
The adventure came more because of the weather. It was kind of crazy for an old Arizona desert rat. In another previous blog, I shared information about the Crazy Arizona Weather. You might enjoy reading that blog if you haven’t already – so you’ll know where we were coming from. December weather in Arizona is usually pretty nice and this year was no exception. And while we were enjoying our winter, we sought out the extended weather report for Utah and Idaho. My wife was very meticulous in this task – almost to obsession. She checked all of the possible routes – including Highway 89 which we generally prefer (through Flagstaff and Jacob Lake).
Our trip to Utah and Idaho soon grew into an adventure. I am not sure that it would be classed as fun – and I am certain that it wasn’t romance. It wasn’t fun – doing something for the first time – and it was not an adventure that was still fun. But, we pressed on. We were able to go up our chosen route and got to see our son and his wife and children in St. George en route for a couple of days. The trip on to Salt Lake City was pretty pleasant and “normal”. The snow that hit with a vengeance on Christmas Day had kind of stabilized – though we saw results of it everywhere we went (including in Flagstaff and Jacob Lake) but the roads were still passable and okay.
The true adventure (if that is what you would call it) came as we traveled in the darkness on Interstate 15 toward Idaho Falls (where we would stay with a daughter and her family). As we pulled into Idaho Falls early that night we saw the snow banks everywhere and rejoiced that the roads were still clear. And we were in complete shock as the temperature was a chilly seven degrees. We survived the trip and made it safely to our daughter’s home. We were glad that they had reserved us a space for our car in their garage – since we wondered if our Arizona car would survive otherwise.
As we traveled the freeway toward Idaho Falls that night, Lou and I (almost simultaneously) both began to remember back to a former day – and a true winter high adventure – or a couple of them – along the same route. And both of these were Scouting adventures. (I don’t know what happens to the “adventure” when “high” is added to it. Does that talk of altitude or added exhilaration in the adventure?)
Anyway, the first winter high adventure outing happened just three months after Lou and I were married (back in the dark ages). In those days the Lake Bonneville Council (Now Trapper Trails) sponsored a winter high adventure “super activity” up at West Yellowstone (Montana). This was for Explorers or Venturers and even Varsity scouts. Traditionally, this was staged on the days following Christmas and through New Year’s Day. And with the Scouts, there was often room for some adults to join the party. So, Lou and I were able to tag along for the ride.
Again, my journal records the details of that high adventure trip:
… We continued north through wind and snowy roads to West Yellowstone Park. We will be snowmobiling from here tomorrow. Delose Conner – the Camp Loll Director – and his staff were already there – after riding all day today. We spent the night in the “Three Bears Lodge”. (I had served with Delose as his Assistant Camp Director that summer – a few months before – so I knew all of these Camp Loll staffers and they were my friends, too. We had a wedding to attend yesterday or we would have been on the machines with them today.)
We ate breakfast this morning at the “Three Bears Restaurant”. At 9:00 Am we met in the parking lot and were assigned our snowmobiles. We were dressed in three or four layers of clothing – including a snow suit. We wore knitted face masks – plus a sock cap. We also had our own gloves inside the large mittens which were given to us. LouDene and I rode together on machine #157 – a Pantera – made by Arctic Cat.
We could only take driving for a short time so had to keep switching places. It was at this time right at 50 degrees below zero – when accounting for the “wind chill factor”. [I am surprised that we could still be alive in that kind of weather.] While on the back, our hands could get relatively warm (but that is an interesting statement).
We saw two herds of buffalo, many elk herds and a very large bull elk. The trees and everything was snow-covered and the sky was overcast. We stopped at Madison Junction for a few minutes to warm up at the fire and to use the restrooms. We continued onto Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. We saw the Old Faithful geyser spout off steam and water. We stayed in the lodge for nearly two hours warming up and eating out box lunch. A girl from post 97 (in my Mt. Ogden Scouting District) had back problems to this delayed us. The post advisor and I knelt in the corner and gave her a priesthood blessing. She improved greatly and rode back on the snow transport.
Lou Dene was driving the machine and hit a bump wrong. The machine dumped us in the snow and then kept going for about 40 feet. It ran into a tree and dented the front grill on the machine and broke the front windshield.
We didn’t get back until after dark. We enjoyed the trip – despite the cold. We traveled a total of 60 miles by the machines. It was quite the trip. It was ONLY 10 degrees below zero when we returned. We were happy to go to bed at 8:30 PM after eating dinner in the lodge.
The temperature this morning was 51 degrees below zero. Our truck would not start because our battery and gas lines were frozen for a few hours. [And this was the case for probably every vehicle in town. So, the mode of the few automotive places in town was to tow vehicles to their garages and where they could sit for a while to warm up. Such was the case with us. We had to wait our turn to get towed.] So, we stayed in the motel room for a few hours. LouDene watched TV and I read a few chapters from 1 Chronicles. We just about froze ourselves each time we went outside. Finally Tim Chamberlain, of the council staff, towed the truck to the service station with the council van.
The men at the station were slower than molasses so they didn’t get the truck going until about 7:00 PM. They put it in the garage – which warmed up the oil, gas lines, etc. and connected an electric battery charger to it and then it started right up. [So, then we had a choice to make. It really was too late to be starting a long trip – in the snow – toward Ogden. But, if we stayed overnight, then we would likely face the same kind of day tomorrow. We finally opted to go for it. So, we ate dinner and then departed south – even though it was late and was still snowing. We drove to the home of Lou’s sister in Pocatello and spent the night – although they were gone at the time.
As if that trip was not enough high adventure we decided to make the trip two winters later. (Probably gluttons for punishment – but we did it.) This time I recruited or invited volunteers from my Mt. Ogden District to join us on the adventure. And many folks were intrigued and signed up to go with us. Again the journal details the adventure:
LouDene and I and our daughters – Jackie, a 15-month old toddler, and Jenae, a 1-month old new-born – left Ogden at 7:00 AM and met Ron Smith, Bill, Clara and Larry Larsen, Russ Myers – with his wife, Barbara, sister Laura and LeDeen Bartshchi – at the 31st Street freeway entrance. We caravanned together to West Yellowstone, Montana. Tim Chamberlain (formerly on the Ogden Scout staff) rode with us as far as Idaho Falls. It was fun to talk to Tim again. He is always an interesting talker. He drove a lease car to Ogden and needed a ride back to his current home in Idaho. We ate lunch in Idaho Falls. We arrived in West Yellowstone about 2:00 PM. We got checked into the “3 Bear Lodge” motel. Others of our district met us there and they included Wade and Eulalia Combe and their son, Robert, and daughter, Jana, Rich Ordyna and his wife, Phil and Dionne Halverson, and Wyatt and Karen Pectol. We all plan to go snowmobiling tomorrow.
We ate a nice meal at the lodge restaurant. We then had an orientation meeting and then had the rest of the evening free. Lou and I watched a movie – called “The Mating Season”. The movie had a couple of bad inferences but was basically pretty good. All of the time we watched the movie we tried to get the girls to sleep. Jackie thought that there was too much action for sleeping and Jenae was quite sick and had trouble breathing because of her cold. I gave her a priesthood blessing in hopes that this would help her to rest better.
There is hardly any snow here and the temperature is warm – not at all like the trip we made just two years ago. That trip was a real joke – with snow everywhere and 50 degree below zero weather.
We ate breakfast at 7:00 this morning. After an hour or so we were ready to head out on the snowmobiles. It took a few minutes to warm them up and then we headed out for the day. LouDene stayed at the motel with the girls since we didn’t have anyone to leave them with. I rode with a kid named Rob Godfrey. He just returned from a mission to Japan and is on the trip as an adult with the boys from the Ogden 55th Ward (also from my district). There was an add number of people in each of our groups so they had us go together. Ray Chase, of the council staff, was the guide on our trip.
We headed south with Two Top Mountain as our destination. We traveled all morning making occasional rest stops. Rob and I traded off driving throughout the day and it worked out quite well. We visited along the way also. He was a sharp kid. [I say “kid” but I was only age 26 then myself.]
We stopped for a box lunch at Idaho Big Springs Resort. Several people from Morgan – including Bob Peterson, Jerry Betournay and Larry Newton were there. We then went to Two Top Mountain. The trip was beautiful. They let us go on our own for a half hour or so. Rob and I went up and down the mountain several times. He was a good driver so could go quite fast. We did hit a small tree and were worried that we had damaged the machine. We were very lucky and didn’t hurt it at all – since any damage that we did we’d have to pay for ourselves.
From Two Top we could see about 200 miles in each direction. The Teton Peaks were visible to the South were really beautiful. The snow had banked and froze around the trees and this was also beautiful. We could not have had better weather. It was sunny and very warm. I didn’t even have to wear gloves most of the day. (This was markedly different from the last time we were here.) All in all, the trip was really super.
We got back to the Three Bear Lodge about 6:00 Pm after traveling about 75 miles. Lou and I and the girls then headed over for dinner at the restaurant. And since it was New Year’s Eve, we decided to have a little party with everyone who came with us. We went to the conference room in the Tipi Lodge. Everyone but the Larsens came for a while. We played “Aggravation” and “Uno”. I spent some district funds and bought all kinds of crackers, cookies, candy and pop. We all ate until we could eat no more. We managed to stay until about 10:45 PM. Everyone was too tired to go until the new year.
We ate breakfast at the Three Bear Restaurant and said goodbye to everyone. We then packed and made preparations to head for home. We decided to again travel with Russ Myers and his three-woman harem. The drive south was beautiful. We saw Two Top Mountain where we went yesterday. The sky was clear and blue until Malad where we hit dense fog. We had bad fog until Ogden. We could hardly see in places. We arrived home about 4:00 Pm. We really enjoyed our trip. It was fun! I was glad that we went up there. (But I felt miserable with an aching back – from my snowmobiling, a splitting headache, and a cold – so we went to bed at the unheard of hour of 8:15 PM.
Wow! Those trips were real “high adventure”. They truly were!
I close this blog with a high adventure story from my own mother – and which I have often quoted. Dad always took me and my four brothers (and sometimes the two sisters) up deer hunting. We went in Utah and in Arizona – often in the same trip. And our Hunt family hunted in the same grounds – south and a bit west of Enterprise, Utah for 6 generations and 45 years. (I just went along for the marshmallow roast but those were grand times!) Anyway, this one year as we headed to Utah, the weather was projected to be really bad – and it kind of was. We had this neighbor lady who had nothing else to do but worry about what was going on with the Hunt family across the street. And so, as we were gone, she would come over every few minutes to visit with my mom – and each time would give her an updated and even worse weather report – adding the thought, “What if they …” Finally my mother needed to silence her. She called her by name and said, “Mrs. L., if they didn’t think that something like that MIGHT POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO THEM, they wouldn’t have gone at all.” My mother had vision. And she was a super Scout mom too! And she looked good flying those five miniature Eagle pins in flight formation on her shirt!
Oh, and we did make it back from our recent adventure trip (or whatever it was) from Idaho. We did have to leave a day or two earlier – because my wife learned about the projected snow that was coming. We had snow in Idaho and clouds in Utah – but the roads were clear. And we were successful in getting our daughter up to College. Larissa is used to adventures – even Scouting adventures. She was on staff with us at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp in Colorado and literally flew out from the camp for her mission to Minnesota (where she had an adventure with the snow, ice and cold). She spent this past summer with us at Scout Camp New Fork in Wyoming – as our climbing director and It was Quite the Summer at Camp New Fork 2016. And so now, she begins her own new adventure … and maybe some fun … and who knows … maybe some romance (but she is in bit of a panic about that first kiss)! And this time we – now just Lou and I – did return home via Las Vegas – since snow really was projected for Flagstaff and Jacob Lake. It was not surprising but wonderful that we came home to beautiful blue skies. (Kind of rough … but I guess someone has to do it!)
Ah, the “fun, adventure, and romance of Scouting!” Yes, … Scouting high adventure! The opportunities are endless! Let’s get all that we can! It can really put the “high” in Scouting for all of us!
Best wishes on your own Scouting [high adventure] trails …
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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