The Famous Trip to Yosemite

In the summer of 2006, the troop decided to take on a huge challenge… to go to Yosemite!  The mechanics behind the trip and all the various side adventures are worth a post in themselves (and you can look over hundreds of photos we took by visiting this page), but I’m going to limit this “yarn” to just be a reprint of what my son, Matt, wrote about the trip.

As webmaster, I asked everyone that went on the trip to provide me with a couple paragraphs about their experience.  I was overjoyed when Matt went above and beyond. He commented later that once he started writing about it, he couldn’t stop.  His original post, and the posts from the other people, can be found with this link, but I’ve brought in the full text of his note below.  Matt was 17 when he went on this trip.

OK here we go… the Yosemite trip was just pure bliss!! Every part of the Yosemite Trip was filled with adventure, fun, and many memories that I hope will last with me for a very long time. However when I talk about my trip to Yosemite, I tend to bounce around from one cool topic to another, which makes my story very incoherent! So, instead of me trying to restrain myself from blabbering about one thing and then another, and in the process leaving the reader very confused, I have decided to list the top 3 things that I want to talk about the most! By doing this, I am hoping that you will not be as lost about what I am saying. So here we go, we will start where most list do, at #1!

1. The Beauty of it all

I am sure that you are already aware that Yosemite is very big, awesome, spectacular, colorful, and many other adjectives. But no matter how many photos you see or how many stories you hear, you will never fully understand how awe-inspiring Yosemite truly is.

A few years prior to this trip, I went up to Niagara Falls. I remember having expectations about just how cool the Niagara Falls was going to be, based on the photos and stories I heard about it… However, when I saw Niagara Falls I was surprisingly disappointed to see that it did not live up to my expectations. But this did not happen with Yosemite… Even after reading many pamphlets and seeing many photos of Yosemite, I was in a continuous state of appreciation and wonder throughout my whole stay in Yosemite. I loved every thing in Yosemite and I was never let down…

2. Everything was bigger

It is very true! Big trees. Big waterfall. Big valley. Big rocks. Big pine cones. Everything was just bigger! Whenever I try to explain this to people, they think I am making up how big these things truly are. I don’t blame them considering how I must sound… But the pine cones were the most unbelievable! First off, they were cartoon-ishly big… It took me awhile to get used to how silly their size was… However, what I couldn’t get used to was when I would be hiking along for a couple hours straight with a 30 pounds on my back and then I would suddenly encounter a grassy knoll covered with hundreds of these mutant pine cones!! It was unbelievable! I had to actually step over these things like I would with wet stones in a river. I knew that if I stepped on one of these monsters it would slip from underneath my feet and I would fall to the ground (which happens to be covered with these things)! Oh and to top it all off, these things had thorns on them! I kid you not! They had these little gnarly spikes on the edges of them… So of course being bored and being guys, we decided that throwing these things at each other would be fun… We soon found out that it was not fun at all, but we still continued to throw them at each other… *sigh* … Ah yes, then of course these things were actually illegal to smuggle out of the Yosemite National Park!!! … Like I said, those little pine cone-things kept on amazing me.

3. Fooood!

As with most Boy Scout trips, food was extremely important. I noticed that food was a main theme throughout the trip. I will show you what I mean…

The night prior to our flight to Yosemite, we decided to hike down to Walgreens at midnight and buy some healthy snacks (ice cream and energy drinks). Then in the morning at the airport we all decided split and quickly hunt down some food. Brian and I decided we wanted some healthy food… so we chose Burger King as our food supplier. I do not remember what Brian got, but I remember ordering 5 double cheeseburgers. Sadly they only had 4 left, but the lady gave me some complimentary free fries, so yay for me…

Now, I was actually pleasantly surprised at the base camp to see that they gave us moderate sized portions of tasty food. Although this was the case, we still ate semi-quickly in order to get seconds, but overall food shortage was not a problem… Up to this point in the trip we were actually in paradise with food when compared with other camp outs we normally have, but this paradise did not last forever.

The status of our food changed dramatically when we went on our 30-mile hike. It was like going from a buffet to war rations. All of the food that we could eat on our trek was put into this dinky black plastic container. Now, I think I would have been fine with the amount of food there was in this container if I was some sort of lethargic sloth… But I was a 17 year old with a 30-pound backpack hiking all day! The food portions were simply not large enough!

Oh, now don’t get me wrong, as far as freeze dried food goes, it was actually very delicious. But you know that there is not enough food when you start licking out the package that it came in after eating your dinner!!

Now along with the freeze-dried food packages we had for our meals, we also had some nutritious snack bars, candy, flavor packets for the water, and cheese and crackers (which turned out to be sooo delicious *yum*). Now, since the actual meals were not big enough portions, I couldn’t help myself from practically eating all my food in the first two days… This was a major problem for me… However my daddy was nice enough to spare me some of his food. (Oh on the a side note for those who did not know, there were these energy bars that were called Tiger’s Milk that were very delicious on the trek. Anyways, my father got me two cartons (60) of these things for Christmas! I have had many flash backs of Yosemite while eating these things… I love them… Anyways, back to Yosemite)… OK, so after my crisis with food and two more days hiking, we drove back to “civilization”. I put the word civilization in quotation marks because the town that we went back to had a population …

 And then it abruptly ends, but you get the idea.  🙂

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The Dog Leg (Brrrrrrrrr!!)

Somewhere in Brookfield, in a spot lost to memory, exists the “Dog Leg”, so named by Smokey Elmer because of its location just beyond a sharp bend in the road. The Big M.L. (an affectionate nickname referencing Smokey’s first and middle names, Malcolm LeRoy) used to hunt there and he saw fit to take the Troop there on many weekend campouts, always during the winter. Always.

And we never were fortunate enough to camp there during tolerable winter conditions: it always seemed to be storming and the mercury invariably dipped to single digits or below.

The Dog Leg is not particularly scenic: it is all on state land and tall pines predominate. There is also a fine little spring which never freezes.

We probably last camped there in the mid-90’s. Once, while I was settled for the night in one of our old Voyageur canvass tents, I heard what sounded like a beast howling through the woods. The sound would get louder, then fade until finally the great beast was upon us! It was the town snowplow traveling the steep and windy roads near our camp. When the driver came around the “Dog Leg” he came to a screeching halt; he wasn’t expecting to see our cars parked  on the side of the narrow road.

I heard him mutter, “Damn Boy Scouts”, he backed up a bit then continued his travels.

I remember we had zitis for dinner at the Dog Leg about 1989; you haven’t lived ’til you’ve eaten Tr 14 zitis when the mercury is pegged just a bit above zero. Anyhow, the experience was too much for one of our younger scouts (who went on to become an Eagle Scout); he threw up in his tent, didn’t say anything ’til morning whereupon I observed a perfect formation of frozen ziti on the tent’s floor.

Maybe we’ll return to the Dog Leg one day. After all, kids today are just as tough as they were years ago, right?

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Troop 14, A Brief History

The Troop was chartered in the late 30s and our sponsor has always been the Messiah United Church of Christ. Since 1972, meetings have been held at the present location. In my first year as a Boy Scout, we met in the old church, located about a quarter of a mile north on the opposite side of Oneida Street. I remember a few things about the old meeting locale: we met in the basement, there struggling over the bowline for the first time (alas not the last) and my brother’s 1971 Vega getting stuck on the short but steep driveway one wintry Monday.

My name is John Koslosky. As near as I can remember, I joined Troop 14 in either late 1970 or early 1971. We came from a part of New Hartford where boys usually joined Troop 4, which met at Clinton Rd Elementary School (now Myles, named after Robert Myles, my elementary school principal). My brother, William, was the first Eagle Scout in Troop 4 but owing to a disagreement with its Scoutmaster, he sought another Troop to serve as Assistant Scoutmaster when he turned 18. He joined Tr 14 based on the recomendation of someone on his paper route who had sons in the Troop.

I have been a member of the Troop straight through to the present and have served as Scoutmaster since December 1985. I was Assistant Scoutmaster from Feb 1978 when I turned 18.

Upon joining, I met a man who would come to have a tremendous influence on me, Malcolm “Smokey” Elmer, my first Scoutmaster. Smokey WAS Troop 14 in my eyes. He brought it back from oblivion in the late 50s (our Charter lapsed for one year when a former Scoutmaster “absconded” (Smokey’s description) with the Troop’s treasury leaving the Mohawk Valley for New Jersey.

Smokey remained an integral part of the Troop until his death in 2004 at the age of 81. He had two sons, Terry and Ron, both of whom were in the Troop.

I will write more about “The Big ML” in other posts.

Other Scoutmasters during my tenure include Bud Lloyd (he had two sons who were scouts, Bill and Dan), Smokey’s son Ron, an Eagle Scout, my brother William and Ken Showalter, also a Tr 14 Eagle Scout.

The Troop’s primary summer camping location has been Cedarlands, located in Long Lake, a 5000 acre reservation owned by the Council since the early 60s. There, our primary camping location, until the Council closed the site to week-long camping in the 80s, was Windy Beach. Although closed to all-week summer camping, we have subsequently made many excursions to Windy Beach. We were last there during one of our winter 2012 campouts when we walked across the lake from the old loj site (we were staying in the Alder Creek cabin located near the old loj; the loj burned in either the late 70s/early 80s).

Besides Cedarlands, we have been to summer camp at Camp Russell (first in 1972 then again in the late 90s for a few years), Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 1981, 1983, 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1999, Blue Ridge Scout Reservation in western Virginia in 2009, Pax Naval Air Station in Maryland in 2008, a Los Angeles Council scout camp near Yosemite National Park in 2006, Yellowstone National Park in 2010 and Sea Base, run by the National BSA, in August 2012.

Presently, we are planning trips to the Maine National Canoe Base next year and Germany and perhaps Austria and the Czech Republic in 2014.

A non-camping highlite came in 2010 when two of our scouts, Brian Fee and Dale Raar, were awarded Scouting’s highest lifesaving medal, the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms, before approx 300 people in the NH High School auditorium. This is Scouting’s rarest award as fewer than 300 have been authorized since the medal’s creation in 1924. Parts of the ceremony are on YouTube. Brian and Dale were featured in a full-page “Scouts in Action” segment in a recent edition of Boys’ Life magazine, the official magazine of the BSA.

The Troop has been blessed with tremendous adult leaders: all our Scoutmasters, Tim Halligan, Mario Scalzo, Jr., Eric Torgersen, Glen Amrhein, Bob Byrnes, Dave Astafan, John Ivory, Sam Russo, Mike Fitzsimmons, Jim Derrane, Cliff Rose, Bob Decker, Brian Pratt, Rob Bedell and Dave Dwyer. Many other parents have made significant contributions over the years as well.

Smokey always mentioned Hump Roberts, a man who gave a lot of time and effort to the Troop even though he didn’t have a son (he had daughters); our Campership is named after Mr. Roberts.

Of course, we’ve had many great young men in Troop 14 over the years. We’ve got a few good ones now too!

We started this page as a way for current and former members of the Troop to share their Scouting memories. I hope this will make for interesting reading. Please post/comment!!

As Smokey once said, “No one ever had a worry around a campfire.” let’s bring that same spirit to this page!

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Getting things going

John Koslosky came to me with a wonderful suggestion… how about a creating a mechanism that would allow him and other Troop 14 alumni/leaders to create their own posts; place to share old stories and remembrances.  These pages are the result of that request.

We’ve set this up so that anybody can read the posts, but you have to have a valid log-in to be able to create new content or comment on other people’s posts.  How to you get a log-in, you ask?  Simple.  Just send either myself or John a quick email.  It’s that easy.  🙂

Enjoy.

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