Scouts back from trek into Ariz. canyon

August 23, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Water was a big factor for a group of Washington County Boy Scouts on a recent trip to the Grand Canyon. First, there was too much and then, not enough.

But true to the Scout motto of being prepared, the six Scouts and three leaders from Troop 62 in Chewsville adjusted their plans, changed some hiking routes and got used to carrying a gallon of water each with them wherever they went.

"We've been planning this for months," said Andrew Ditto. "It was all set that we were going to the North Rim and hike to the South Rim, a distance of about 20 miles."

But just before leaving July 17, there were freak storms in the area, causing minor streams to swell into raging floodwaters. Because of this danger, the area the Scouts were to hike became off limits.


Matt Giles said the hike was changed to the South Kaibob Trail, which was about seven miles to hike per day.

"We had one other Scout with us from Wisconsin - Mike Horsch is the nephew of our scoutmaster, Chris Horsch," Ditto said.

Also on the trip were Brandon Rethemeyer, John Horsch, Tom Hams, and Brandon Light. In addition to Chris Horsch, the other leaders were Guy Rini and David Rethemeyer.

The heat on the trip was incredible, Ditto said. One day in the canyon, the temperature reached 115 degrees. "There wasn't much humidity but there was also no breeze either."

Giles said the heat forced the hikers to begin in the wee hours of the morning. "Some days, we would start at 3 a.m. or earlier because by 10 in the morning, it was too hot," he said.

After adapting to the changes forced on them by the heavy rains that preceded their arrival, the Scouts found themselves again at the mercy of water.

But this time, it was the lack of water, not an abundance.

"We got rid of everything that was too heavy to carry," Ditto said. "We saved only the water, the food, a change of clothes, the gas stove and gas bottle."

The trip wasn't all hardship. For two days, the group got to "explore" Las Vegas, a trip that was to Giles' liking more so than Ditto.

"What a contrast!" Ditto said.

Another pleasure came at the end of the long, hot hike in the canyon when the scouts encountered Bright Angel creek. Giles described soaking in the 70-degree water as a reward.

Ditto's high point came repeatedly as he enjoyed the kinship between hikers and strangers they encountered on the Grand Canyon trail. "It was great, all the sharing and the talking," he said.

All in all, the "vacation" was everything the Scouts had hoped for, despite the changes in plans. "We learned how to deal with things... It was an amazing trip," Ditto said, noting they flew back to Hagerstown July 25.

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