Troop 116

The adventures of 116

Some of the adventures of the Troop and Crew on weekend trips and summer epics (as told by Assistant Scoutmaster Reid Bramblett on his website and his Weight Watchers blog—hey, don't laugh; Weight Watchers actually pays him to write this stuff.)


Canoehead - Portage (por-TAHSZ) - A French-Canadian curse word describing the feeling of putting a 65-pound canoe on your head, 90-pound pack on your back, and hiking through the mosquito-infested swamps and leech-filled ponds of Ontario's back woods.... More

Whitewater Kayaking in Canada - It takes a certain degree of patience to remain upside down, underwater, the lower half of your body strapped into a 45-pound whitewater kayak, and simply sit there, holding your breath and waiting. OK, so you’re not just waiting. If you still have your paddle, you can attempt a C-to-C roll—bend over the prow; grip the paddle with both hands alongside the boat then swivel up the front end and ratchet the blade across over your head while simultaneously flicking your hips. In theory, this flips you around and out of the water. In practice... well, it’s a bit trickier than it sounds... More

Trail magic - It's called being a Trail Angel. You show up along some major long-distance trail and do something nice for any hikers that happen by—provide fresh (non-trail) food, offer rides into town, whatever. Audrey is the female leader of the 116 Venture Crew, a high adventure, co-ed branch of Boy Scouts. She became a leader after 116 adopted her on a short A.T. hike last fall, inviting her to share our dinner when she set up camp nearby... More

The Philly bike trip - If you are planning a long bike trip for a large group—say two dozen people ranging in age from just-turned-12 to pushing 60—keep one thing in mind: you will only be going as fast as your slowest companion... More

How to plan the perfect first backpacking trip - Last weekend, we took a Scouting Venture Crew of young women—mostly aged 15 to 17, plus a few moms—backpacking on the Loyalsock Trail in northern Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains. A few of the Crew had done day-hikes before; a handful had been car camping... More

On the proper use of snowshoes - There are a few tricks to snowshoeing. The first is remembering to put the snowshoes on your feet. They do not do you much good if they remain on your pack. See, when we started up the trail to Mt. Tremper above the Catskills town of Phonecia, there was not even any snow. So, naturally, we did not bother putting on our snowshoes.... More


Rocky Mountain high - Four months shy of my 40th birthday I summitted my first 14er. Its name was Mt. Missouri—which, according to some in our Boy Scout group, should be pronounced M-I-S-E-R-Y—a 14,067-foot monster in the Sawatch Range of Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks Wilderness... More

Thrashing the Great Sand Dunes - You wouldn't expect a national park to be the place to practice your carving, hand plants, and ollies, but Great Sand Dunes isn't your usual national park. This slice of the Sahara snuggled against Colorado's Sangre de Cristo mountains, five hours south of Denver, is a sea of dunes spread over 30 square miles and rising up to 750 feet into the blue skies... More

Low rider, white water edition - Riding Class II and III rapids on the Colorado River is way more fun in a duckie than it is in something larger, less responsive, and more boringly stable like, say, a raft. What’s a duckie? It’s an inflatable kayak. They key word here is “inflatable,” because if a boat is inflatable, it is also deflatable. This crucial flaw in your boat is important to remember if there are Boy Scouts in the vicinity who love nothing more than to try to dunk, capsize, and otherwise play pranks on their adult leaders... More

How to camp for free on federal ground - Three nights ago, I slept without a tent under the stars and a full moon in a natural amphitheater of red rock Utah mesas, lulled to sleep by the rushing of the Colorado River a few yards away. Two nights ago, I staked my tent in a clearing at 10,000 feet surrounded by evergreens cloaked in mist high in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Nearby was a swiftly flowing creek that, downstream, becomes known as the Rio Grande River... More

The hike up Slide Mountain - The trail logs an impressive 3,620 total vertical feet of elevation as you summit three of the Catskills' highest peaks: Wittenberg (3,780 feet), Cornell (3,860 feet), and finally Slide Mountain, at 4,180 the tallest peak in the Catskills. It also comes with a few hairy bluff climbs made hairier by the presence of my buddy's dog, Muttlee... More

I took the long way home - I learned something last summer about the merits of engaging in intense exercise, day after day, for hours on end. Not that I had much choice. The end of the Black Forest Trail was 42 miles away. The only way to get back to the truck was to spend several days walking... More


Fishing Alaska's Resurrection Bay - I should note, right off the bat, that I'm not an angler. I've fished a few times, but so infrequently I'm always sneaking glances at my neighbors' tackle and reels to see if I'm doing it right. However, when you're Alaska—home to The Deadliest Catch—and your buddies decide to charter a 42-foot boat to go fishing in the open waters of the Pacific, you put on your best "great idea, guys!" smile and then excuse yourself to go buy Dramamine in bulk.... More


A Pow Wow in South DakotaFake Cowboys, Real Indians - I want to get one thing clear: I did not spill my frybread burger on an Indian princess. It was a frybread taco, I spilled it on myself, and she wasn't technically a princess. Miss Oglala Nation 2006 was merely dressed as an Indian princess... More

A Pow Wow in South DakotaRafting in Montana I was probably underwater for only 45 seconds, but it felt like five minutes. Partly this was because I was unable to breathe, and partly because I was unsure if the violently churning water would ever stop battering my body against the rocks and spit me out of the 18-foot-deep sinkhole at the bottom of Tumbleweed rapids... More

Hiking the Continental Divide in British ColumbiaThe Unsung Parks of Western Canada - "You guys want to take the shorter, easier trail over that low pass, or the longer, harder one straight up that way?" As soon as I asked, I knew I had sealed my fate. Also, John Agnew's. No way six teenage Boy Scouts were going to let their adult leaders take the easy way over the Continental Divide... More

On the Rocks - Hiking the Appalachian TrailOn the Rocks - Every time we stopped, it began sleeting. Sometimes, it became tiny hail or freezing rain or fat snowflakes, but in any form it was marvelous incentive to keep moving down the Appalachian Trail... More


Tales from the UndergroundTales from the Underground - It felt as if an hour since I had last drawn a full breath. I was on my belly, arms outstretched to pull myself forward with clawed fingers, head turned sideways to fit through the ever-narrowing horizontal crack between two layers of rock... More


Sailing the Florida Keys Sailing the Florida Keys - Somewhere on the far side of midnight I awoke to the unexpected sensation of flying horizontally through the air... More


Unusual travel suggestions (a.k.a.: how Reid got sucked back into the troop) - Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." Great quote. I'm a big believer in making detailed travel plans (that is, after all, a big part of my job). I'm also a big believer in giving yourself permission to toss out your plans whenever a new opportunity comes along... More

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