Category Archives: Boy Scouts

QOTD: On the Demise of the Boy Scouts (BSA or Boy Scouts of America)

One happy camper

I was a Boy Scout. My son was a Boy Scout. My grandsons, if I’m blessed with any, will not be Boy Scouts. Because the organization won’t exist then.

From the comment section at the Vox Popoli blog:

By Mister Excitement…The adult leadership actively betrayed the Scouts. The President of the Scouts that did the final surrender to this madness was none other than a member of the Bush Administration, Robert Gates.

The Boy Scouts allowed this man to become its President knowing what he had done as SECDEF.

“Gates announced in February 2010 that the Defense department would lift its ban on women serving on submarines.[62] Gates also prepared the

armed forces for the repeal of the don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Since the repeal in 2010, homosexuals are able to serve in the military openly.[63] In service of that goal, he announced in late March 2010 the approval of new regulations that would make it more difficult to kick gays out of the military. Gates called the guideline changes, which went into effect immediately, a matter of “common sense and common decency” that would be “an important improvement” allowing the Pentagon to apply current law in “a fairer and more appropriate”

“On May 21, 2015, Gates stated that the “status quo [ban on gay adult leaders] in [the BSA] movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained” and that he would no longer seek to revoke the charters of scout units that accept gay adult leaders.”

By The Deplorable Podunk Ken Ramsey…


Ironically the main driver to all of their woes is money. That was always the lever used. The fight over the gays was driven by CEOs (including Rex Tillerson prominently) who threatened to withhold corporate contributions unless the scouts caved on the secular, progressive agenda. This was always, always cited as the strongest and most decisive explanation for why things ‘had to be done’.

Going to SCOTUS repeatedly and winning was not enough. Standing up against all the social pressure from the left was too hard, especially given the lure of all that money.

So they took the money and for what? Now they are looking at bankruptcy. Sad and foolish. Everybody in scouting leadership knew the wrong moves were made and many loudly said so and many picked up and left over it. They can’t say they didn’t know they were making a deal with the devil.


Hike: Northern Region of McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Corral Trail: This is so green only because of the recent rain

Corral Trail: This is so green only because of the recent rain

This was another training hike in preparation for Troop 131’s 20-mile hike in March. Over the course of four hours and 10 miles yesterday, we covered much of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve’s northern region.



We started at the tail end of 24 hours of drizzling rain and the sky was still overcast. There were very few others on the trails. Our course was fairly flat. All the trails are very well marked and are mostly gravel. Take a map or you’ll get lost.


They call this “Balanced Rock”



I carried a 10-lb dumbbell in my pack to enhance my workout.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Details: We started at Brown’s Ranch Trailhead, taking the Upper Ranch Trail to Corral Trail, then Dry Gulch Trail, a detour up to Cathedral Rock, then
Cholla Mountain Loop Trail to Balanced Rock Trail to Powerline Road #2. Then 118th Street Trail to Latigo Trail back to the Brown’s Ranch Trailhead.

Update Feb. 3, 2013:

The day after this hike, I was mildly sore in my hips, thighs, and legs. I like that because it’s proof I stressed my body, which is a necessary for improved fitness. Also, I’m impressed by how sore my feet were during the last three miles of hiking. I hope I can toughen them up. The 20-mile walk is starting to look intimidating!

This bedrock metate was used by Indians (aka Native Americans) for grinding maize, acorns, and other foods

This bedrock metate was used by Indians (aka Native Americans) for grinding maize, acorns, and other foods. Rainwater fills this 4-inch deep rounded depression in granite.

The Amphitheater (all natural)

The Amphitheater (all natural)

Hike: Marcus Landslide Trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve


Yesterday I started my training in preparation to tackle Arizona’ Mount Humphries in June. I and about 20 people from my son’s Boy Scout troop hiked the Marcus Landslide Trail. Near the end of that trail we created a loop by hitting the Boulder Trail, Pemberton Trail, and Rock Knob Trail. Total hike was 5.8 miles in 60-68° F weather.

It’s a mostly flat course and an easy walk. It was no physical strain at all at the time. But I had some muscle cramps in bed last night and some soreness around my hips and thighs today. The soreness is a good sign. I’m embarrassed I’m not in better shape.

The scouts are doing a 20-mile hike in March for the Hiking merit badge. I’ll be right there with them, Lord willing.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Cholla cactus

Cholla cactus

That vertical rock formation in the center is called a mushroom

That vertical rock formation in the center is called a mushroom

My Grand Canyon Hike

Steve Parker MD, arizona, colorado river, grand canyon

Me and my Merrell boots, about 3/4 of the way down to the Colorado river

Twenty of us from BSA Troop 131 hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, then back up and out two days later on a recent weekend. It was a trip of a lifetime for me.

If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, you need to see it in person. Photos don’t do it justice.

We descended to the Colorado river on a Friday via the South Kaibab trail. This is about seven mile long and drops 4,800 vertical feet. I was glad to be using trekking poles to take some of the strain off my knees. After four hours hiking, we crossed a bridge over the river and were in Phantom Ranch. By this time, I had been awake for 25.5 hours straight, so I was exhausted.

Phantom Ranch is a collection of cabins that house roughly 40 guests, nestled along Bright Angel Creek. They serve meals at a cantina. So we didn’t have to carry in tents, sleeping bags, or food. The cabins are air-conditioned and have hot/cold running water, toilets, and showers. These must be reserved many months in advance.

We rested and explored the canyon on Saturday, then hiked out on Sunday starting at 7 AM. To get back to the rim, we took the Bright Angel trail, which is about 10 miles long. I hiked out in five and a half hours, ahead of most of the other adults because I had to be at work in the hospital at 6 PM the same day. Everybody was out of the canyon in six and a half hours or less. Some of the scouts made it out first, ahead of me.

As you might imagine, this is not a trip you do on a whim. All of us had been doing training hikes for the previous four months, including at least two that were 10 miles in length. One of those covered 2,400 vertical feet of elevation.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was seeing my first wild ringtail, a mammal about the size of a house cat that has a body that moves and looks like a squirrel and has a a ringed tail that’s longer than its body.

Our troop seems to do this trip every other year. Lord willing, I’ll be back in the canyon in 2015!

Many thanks to Cindy M for leading us!


Steve Parker MD

You can appreciate how wide the trail is, which indicates this is close to the rim, where day-hikers tread

Steve Parker MD

South Kaibab trail. Not for you if you have a fear of heights.

Steve Parker MD

Switchbacks on the South Kaibab trail

Steve Parker MD

Colorado River as seen from South Kaibab trail

Steve Parker MD

Phantom Ranch is nestled in the greenbelt in the upper right corner

Steve Parker MD

View from South Kaibab trail, closer to the rim than the river

Steve Parker MD

One of two bridges over the Colorado river quite near Phantom Ranch

Steve Parker MD

The 10-bed dorm I slept in. Cramped, but you spend little time here.

Steve Parker MD

Bright Angel Creek within Phantom Ranch. I ate lunch sitting on a rock in the middle of the stream. Spring-fed, undoubtedly.

Steve Parker MD

One of many mule deer at Phantom Ranch. They had little fear of us.

Steve Parker MD, arizona, grand canyon

Bright Angel Trail, close to the rim. Many day-hikers here.

Spring In the Sonoran Desert of Arizona

One of Boy Scout Troop 131’s scouts did hid Eagle rank project at Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, Arizona, a few weeks ago. I took pictures of plants on the trail.

Steve Parker MD, Sonoran desert, Arizona

Strawberry hedgehog

Steve Parker MD, Sonoran desert, wolfberry bush, Arizona

Wolfberry plant, perhaps related to the goji berries of China

Arizpona, Sonoran desert, wolfberry , Steve Parker MD

Wolfberries: the largest are 7 x 10 mm

Steve Parker MD, Arizona, Sonoran desert

Banana yucca. Most years these don’t bloom. Looks related to the Joshua Tree, doesn’t it?

Hike: Tom’s Thumb – Windgate Pass – East End Trails in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

On March 23, 10 or so scouts and adults from Scottsdale’s Boy Scout troop 131 did the headlined 10-mile hike.  It was preparation for the rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike later this year.  Everyone finished in under five hours. I did it in four hours and five minutes, with few stops.  Total vertical elevation was 2,500 feet.  The trail guide says this is a “very difficult” loop.  The difficulty is mostly in the grade (slope) rather than footing.

Steve Parker MD, hiking, Arizona

The north trailhead for Tom’s Thumb trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Tom’s Thumb is in the middle of the horizon.


Close to the top of Tom’s Thumb trail

Steve Parker MD, hiking, Arizona

Tom’s Thumb is in the middle of the horizon; much more impressive when you’re closer than this.

Steve Parker MD, hiking, arizona

Tom’s Thumb trail

hiking, Arizona, Steve Parker MD,

Tom’s Thumb trail

hiking, Arizona, Steve Parker MD

Saquaro cacti reaching for the sky

hiking, Arizona, Steve Parker MD,

A surprising natural spring probably between trail markers 13 and 14 on Tom’s Thumb trail, about 2,600 feet above sea level and 1,100 feet below the peak

Steve Parker MD, hiking, Arizona

These flowers will probably be gone in a couple weeks, only to return next Spring

Steve Parker MD, hiking, Arizona, exercise

River of rocks created by landslide on East End trail

hiking, Arizona, Steve Parker MD

The intersection of East End trail and Tom’s Thumb trail

hiking, Arizona, Steve Parker, Tom's Thumb trail, Windgate Pass Trail MD

Trails are marked well, so you shouldn’t get lost.

Hike: Sunrise Trail, Scottsdale, Arizona

I’m preparing to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in May with a Boy Scout troop, so I’m doing a lot of walking.  I hiked Sunrise trail a week ago.  It’s in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  I am blessed to live near such a gem.

We started at the Ringtail Trail parking lot on 128th St., walked the 1,000 feet of vertical elevation to Sunrise peak, descended to Sunrise Access Area, then turned around and walked back to our starting point.  So a total of 2,000 feet vertical elevation over the 10-mile trip taking 4.5 hours.

It’s considered “difficult” according to the trail guide.  If you do it, wear good boots with stiff soles.  Much of the trail is rocky, with 2- to 4-inch diameter stones underfoot (my least favorite footing).

Steve Parker MD, hiking, hike, exercise, Sunrise Trail, Scottsdale Arizona

Scottsdale subdivisions, with Phoenix far in the distance.  You might recognize Camelback Mountain on the horizon: an iconic Phoenix hike.

Steve Parker MD, hiking, hike, Sunrise Trail, Scottsdale Arizona

View to the north, from the peak.  You can see the thin line of the trail coming in from the left.

Steve Parker MD, Sunrise Trail, Scottsdale Arizona, hike, hiking

The desert is green like this only for a month or two in the Spring, if we get enough rain.

Steve Parker MD, hiking, exercise, Pinnacle Peak, Scottsdale Arizona

Bonus picture unrelated to Sunrise Peak. Pinnacle Peak Trail. My sister and her husband and I walked it recently. Popular with young women who like to jog it.

Steve Parker MD, Scottsdale Arizona, hiking,Sunrise Trail, Arizona

Looking northeast from the peak

Troop 131 Snow Campout at Camp Raymond

Snow Campout Location West of Flagstaff, Arizona

Snow Campout Location West of Flagstaff, Arizona

Our Boy Scout troop had its annual snow campout at Camp Raymond this last weekend.  It was the first snow camp for me and my son, Paul.  Most of us camped Saturday night although four campers came up for Friday night as well.  Seven adults and 11 scouts participated.

Camp Raymond is at 6,700 feet above sea level and roughly 20 miles west of Flagstaff.  It’s in a Ponderosa pine forest.  The Camp had received a good amount of snow over the last month although none within the last week.  Still, we had a base of six inches of snow and ran across drifts 2-feet deep.  Recent daily high temps have been in the 40s (°F) and the lows in the teens or less.  After the sun goes down, you’re at freezing or below.  The low temp Sunday morning was 13.

Paul On His Sled

Paul On His Sled

I’ve been in temperatures close to zero before, but never camped overnight below 25°.  Knowing that the temp would be in the teens was intimidating.  Paul and I had decided to wimp out this year, but then he changed his mind after hearing that a snow campout (or simply cold-weather?) was necessary for the camping merit badge, which in turn is necessary for Eagle rank.

After arrival on Saturday, one group of us took a hike up a hill while the others explored Camp Raymond and played around a frozen lake.  Later, the boys had snowball fights with each other and another group of scouts.  The adults sat that out.

The key to surviving the cold temps is to come prepared.  In particular, it’s important to stay dry.  Once your feet get cold and chilled, you’re starting to lose the battle and will be miserable until you turn it around.  Wool socks and other clothing may be ideal, if you can afford it.  You need specific cold-weather gear:

  • multiple pairs of socks (you always want a dry pair available)
  • multiple pairs of gloves (if you plan on getting your one good pair wet)
  • thermal underwear
  • good cover for the your head, neck, and face (a balaclava may be ideal)
  • coats and sweaters
  • boots (ideally waterproof; best to bring two pair in case one gets wet)
  • snow pants like skiers wear
  • something to keep you off the snow when you sleep (some of us had “thermal pads,” others didn’t)
The Balaclava: Thermal Protection for Head, Neck, and Face

The Balaclava: Thermal Protection for Head, Neck, and Face

If you attempt a cold-weather campout, do your own thorough research beforehand or you could die.

You’ll want to dress in layers.  For instance, during the sub-freezing evening, I had on thermal underwear (top and bottom), a non-cotton T-shirt, a cotton long-sleeved knit shirt, a sweater, a balaclava, and a coat.  My lower half had the thermal underwear, my  scouting pants, then snow pants.  For my feet, I like a thin “liner sock” (non-cotton) under a thick wool or wool-blend sock.

The problem with cotton is that it loses it’s insulating property when it’s wet with sweat, rain, or melted snow.  This is where wool shines.  Don’t get wet if you can avoid it!

My Three-Season Tent From REI

My Three-Season Tent From REI

You can buy or rent winter-grade tents, but we just used our usual tents.  Theoretically, a smaller tent might retain more heat than a larger tent.  With our thin-walled tents at 13°, I question whether that works.

This was an expensive trip.  We spent several hundred dollars acquiring clothing that would keep us alive with all our fingers and toes.  I’m sure we’ll use this clothing again.

I slept in a synthetic-material mummy bag (rated for zero degree weather) which I had put inside a rectangular bag rated for 30–40 degrees.  Furthermore, I started out with most of my clothes on.  By morning, I had removed my thick socks, snow pants, and sweater.  Turns out I just needed some socks, thermal underwear, my scouting pants, a cotton knit long-sleeve shirt, and a hat that covered my head and ears.  I slept on a 4–inch thick air mattress, which was fine.

Steve Parker, Happy About Surviving 13 Degrees F.

Steve Parker, Happy About Surviving 13 Degrees F.

It took me at least an hour to fall asleep, and I woke up every hour or two.  Maybe slept three hours for one stretch.  This was a typical pattern among the four adults I surveyed.  My problem wasn’t the temperature.  I think it may have been the altitude, wearing too much clothing, or anxiety about freezing.

A camp caretaker told me she had seen bear tracks recently; a female adult and juvenile are in the area.  So much for hibernation.  An experienced hunter with us said the bears would be bedded down at night at these temperatures.

The only interesting wildlife we saw on the trip was a bald eagle eating roadkill.  Saw plenty of elk tracks.

It was a great trip and I’m proud of the scouts for facing and overcoming the challenges.


Sunday Morning Sunlight Filtered Through Campfire Smoke

Sunday Morning Sunlight Filtered Through Campfire Smoke

Campout at Burro Cove at the end of Butcher Jones Trail, Arizona

Scottsdale’s Boy Scout Troop 131 completed an overnight backpacking campout last weekend.  Six scouts and four adults participated.  Our original destination was Aravaipa Wilderness Area, but we cancelled due to the threat of rain and life-threatening flash floods in that canyon.

Burro Cove campsite is small.  Everybody had one-man tents.  You could probably squeeze another 4-5 onto the site.  About half way to Burro Cove, we easily spotted another potential campsite on a small peninsula.  We’re not sure, but we think a trail lead to the area.  I bet some campsites here are accessible only by boat.  You need back-up plans in case your spot is taken by others.  Butcher Jones Trail has few flat spots where you could set up 10 tents.

The scouts did a super job hiking with their packs.  I heard no complaints.  One scout carried a 56-pound pack!  Mine was 37 lb; my son’s was 20 lb.  Most packs were probably in the 20-40 lb range.  The Scout Handbook says to limit pack weight to 25% of body weight, in general.  I’m impressed with modern backpack design that distributes pack weight to your pelvis, not your shoulders.

Backpacking teaches you how to survive, even thrive, with minimal modern conveniences.  You have to carefully consider every ounce you carry.  You just need shelter, food, water, clothing, and a degree of physical fitness.  When you return to civilization, you appreciate it even more.


Algae-covered rocks in Saguaro Lake


We had a great view of Four Peaks, which had a light dusting of fresh snow


Burro Cove campsite on Saguaro Lake, Arizona

One happy camper

Eureka Solitaire 1-man tent I rented from Arizona Hiking Shack

Boy Scout Campout at Cave Creek Regional Park

Scottsdale’s Troop 131 had our annual overnight “family campout” at this large park immediately west of Cave Creek, Arizona.  All scout siblings and parents are invited.  Twenty or thirty were in attendance, a good turnout.  A few headed back to town late in the evening rather than stay the night.

We stayed in the group camping area, which had restrooms, hot and cold running water, and showers.  The park is clean, well-run, and safe.

Trailhead at Cave Creek Regional Park

A tradition with this campout is that the boys cook dinner and breakfast for the adults.  Usually the boys cook for themselves, as do the adults.  Thank you, scouts!

We arrived on Saturday AM, Oct. 20, and set out on four-mile hike, a loop involving Go John and Overton trails.  Nice scenery and a little altitude gain.  I’d call it an easy hike; you could do it in sneakers but I was glad I had hiking boots because of the rocks underfoot.  We shared the trail with runners, a few of whom were doing a 50-km (31-mile) endurance run!  In 90° F weather (32.2° C).

U.S. Flag

After skits around the campfire, the scouts did a U.S. flag retirement ceremony.  Most Americans these days don’t know that you aren’t supposed to simply throw a tattered, faded flag into the trash.  It’s disrespectful to the soldiers and patriots who have sacrificed their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in the name of American ideals.  The Boy Scouts of America and a few other organizations do a solemn ceremony during which we review the symbolism and history of the flag, then it’s incinerated in a small fire.  The boys retired 21 flags, most of which had been collected by Congressman Dan Quayle.  If you have a worn-out flag, your local Boy Scout troop should be willing and able to retire it for you.  Thanks to Chris Raines for helping the boys with the ceremony.

As usual, the Arizona weather was great.

The Orionid meteor shower was a bonus for this trip, although most folks slept through it since it peaked between midnight and 5 AM.  I got up around 2 AM and watched the sky for four minutes.  Saw one meteor emanating from Orion and another unrelated straggler.

Everybody survived the campout, and no one got hurt.  Thank you, God!

Steve Parker, M.D.

View to the north from Go John trail

Overton trail

Go John trail overlooking Cave Creek or Scottsdale