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Fri, Oct. 18

From the mountains to the canyons: adventures of Williams Boy Scout Troop 138

The Scouts reach the Supia sign, from left: Tod Skinner, Skylar Rullman, Howard Jackson, Brandon Smith, Raven Christiansen, Caleb Burlington, Gary Smith, Payce Mortenson and Cooper Heap. Submitted photo

The Scouts reach the Supia sign, from left: Tod Skinner, Skylar Rullman, Howard Jackson, Brandon Smith, Raven Christiansen, Caleb Burlington, Gary Smith, Payce Mortenson and Cooper Heap. Submitted photo

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Williams Boy Scout Troop 138 head out on annual weeklong camping trips each summer.

These campouts are usually at official Boy Scouts of America camps like Camp Raymond, 15 miles southeast of Williams. This year the troop decided to organize its own camp. The theme for this camp was "From the Mountains to the Canyons" and it became the best summer camp program we have organized as a troop.

The adventure began June 24 in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness at Mount Humphreys. The task was to hike the high mountain passes and canyons within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Area. There were three base camps the Scouts found by using their orienteering skills with maps and compasses.

The Scouts began at Snow Bowl Road accompanied by two adult leaders and navigated their way to the first base camp located at Shultz Pass.

At camp, other adult volunteers prepared Dutch oven meals that rivaled any restaurant, put on merit badge classes and activities and evening programs.

The next morning the Scouts hiked to the next base camp located at Lockett Meadow. The boys hiked through some of the most beautiful high altitude alpine country in Arizona. The Scouts hiked at 10,000 foot elevations through forests of aspen, Douglas fir, blue spruce, oak and Ponderosa pine. They walked through carpets of fern and occasional patches of snow. The views from this elevation were spectacular. The final hike on this adventure was to Aubineau and Bear Jaw Canyon trailhead. 

The Scouts hiked an average of 10 miles from base camp to base camp. 

Upon returning to Williams, the Scouts had time to kiss mom, wash-up, attend Church and pack their gear for the second part of their adventure.

The second part of the adventure began June 29  at the Havasupai Indian Reservation, 3.5 hours from Williams on the Seligman/Peach Springs road to Indian Road 18.

The Hilltop trail head leads down steep switchbacks for several miles then flattens out as the red wall canyon closes in.  Hikers must watch at any every bend on the trail for pack horses or mules galloping up the canyon with riders in tow. These pack animals are used to collect riders, equipment or sundries for the village at Hilltop trailhead. It is an eight-mile hike to Supai Village, where everyone checks in at the visitor center and takes a needed rest before continuing to the campgrounds another two miles into the canyon.

It is now late morning and the weather is hot and the trail is dusty. The scouts follow the creek along the way. The water is clear and inviting. 

The trail takes hikers past two major falls, Navajo and Havasu on the way to the campground. These falls range from 30 feet to 100 feet high carved out of red wall cliffs.  The campground is green and shaded with the creek flowing through it. 

The Scouts put to use inflatable float tubs abandoned by previous campers, they floated the creek through campsites and under foot bridges. The troop visited all four major falls - Navajo, Havasu, Mooney and Beaver.  The view from the top of Mooney falls is incredible.

The troop decided to enjoy the view from the bottom of the falls - this requires a 100 foot descent through tunnels, chains and iron stakes, natural foot ledges and wood ladders. It's a little spooky if you're afraid of heights, but worth the trip. Both Havasu and Mooney falls are natural amphitheatres caved from eons on water flow.

The Scouts hiked another two miles downstream through thigh-deep creek crossings, travertine pools and carpeted wild grapevine to reach Beaver Falls.  The efforts were well rewarded. Beaver Falls was just as beautiful as the other falls in Havasu Canyon. 

At twenty feet high, Beaver Falls is wide with large travertine pools below.  Perfect for jumping and swimming.  Needless to say, the entire three days at Havasupai was spent in water. 

The next evening, the troop departed the campground for a hike out at 6:30 p.m to avoid the sun's heat. The group arrived at Hilltop at 2:30 a.m., passing another group of hikers on the way down. One of the adult leaders suffered a kidney stone and was flown out by helicopter the following morning.

The Scouts hiked more than 50 miles on their adventure from the mountains to the canyons.

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