Something Lost

There is a local site on the Internet that covers all things outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.  Everything from trail reports to equipment to politics to history of the outdoors.  If you have an interest in hiking/camping or anything outdoors that involves our corner of the world, it is a neat site.  I was reading the recollections of a former scout about his trans-Olympic hike led by hikemasters from Camp Parsons in 1965.  This is interesting as we knew that there were Olympic hikes sometime during the 60s but we do not know when they stopped.  Based on reading this trip report, I think the treks ended in 1967.....but that would be a guess.  When I joined the staff, we still had a hike shack outlet in the old dining hall (when the kitchen was on the east end of the dining hall) and an equipment shed behind the SMG.  However no one could recall when the last hike took place.  Regardless, the trip report this gentleman put together based on his recollections is fascinating and a little disheartening in the fact that it would be unlikely we could do this type of hiking today as a result of regulations.

The hike that was described was very much like those from the 20s-40s; a two week trek with re-supply from tenders that brought food in on mules to rendezvous at some point in the Olympics.  This particular trek started up the Hoh river valley taking the same route that one would if they wanted to climb Mt. Olympus.  Now this trek was over two weeks, so I will paraphrase the route and objectives.  The trek went up the Hoh to Elk lake then onto the blue glacier of Mt. Olympus.  It skirted to the east side of the glacier with plans of ascending Mt. Olympus, but due to weather that came rolling in they could not.  They proceeded over Humes glacier and then down into the Queets basin.  From Queets basin they made their way over to the Elwha valley to Chicago camp where they were re-supplied.  From the Elwha valley they ascended the ridge to Hayden pass between Sentinel Peak and Mt. Claywood.  They went down the Sentinel col and then up Mt. Anderson summiting that peak.  From there, they went back to the Sentinel col and eventually out the Dosewallips for pick-up and a short ride back to Camp Parsons.  Now, if you have ever hiked the peninsula before, that is one heck of a hike with a good portion of it cross country.  The trip report was full of day to day adventures including some that were life threatening including being stuck near blue glacier for almost two days in a Pacific storm that came charging off the ocean and was causing hypothermia, then almost running out of food before re-supply.  The crew made fires for warmth and cooking, a big no-no into today's park and the size of the party was not an issue.....there were no size limitations during that time.

Today, with rules and regulations from the Forest Service, the National Park Service and the BSA, you are lucky if you can even get out of the car to hike now a days.  Even though I fully believe adventures like this really build self confidence and are at times a life changing experience I have had concerns in the past about some of our hikemasters going off trail to do some cross country hiking.  I am not as concerned about their skills as much as I am the scouts that they take along with them.  I trust my guys but I also know that the allure of the outdoors can sometimes blur common sense and decision making.  Still, hiking has been and should be a large part of the Camp Parsons experience if not also the scouting experience.  Why should that be?  Although there are many avenues of exploration today, hiking into any untouched wilderness by a young person for the first time brings a sense of wonderment and awe.  You have found something that you really could not imagine as you have never had any other experience to compare that to.  That is exploration; you discover something that is indescribable yet has an incredible impact on you.

In my research about the founders of the scouting movement in Seattle I stumbled across the fact that Professor Edmund Meany was a huge Rudyard Kipling fan.  There were lines from Kipling's "Lost Poem" that intrigued him tremendously and when he wrote to Kipling to inquire where the poem was published, even Kipling could not remember which poem it was, although he knew they were his words.  Because of his admiration for Kipling, Meany is the one who had that quote placed on a sign that has hung in all of the CP dining halls from the beginning; "Something hidden.  Go and find it.  Go and look behind the Ranges.  Something lost behind the Ranges.  Lost and waiting for you.  Go!"  This challenge of exploration has served scouts at Camp Parsons well for over 93 seasons and goes beyond the ranges in the wilderness but the drive to continue to explore beyond our knowledge.  Whether it be the wilderness, our families, our profession, our lives; there is something always hidden and it is waiting for us.