Local Boy Scout troop spends week hiking Zion National Park, Grand Canyon

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For the third time a group of Switzerland County Boy Scouts has participated in a hiking and exploration adventure. Boy Scout Troop #741 has taken trips to the Grand Canyon area and to Mount St. Helen’s in the past.

This time, a group of eight scouts and three chaperones spent a week in Zion National Park in Utah; as well as exploring the Grand Canyon and touring the Hoover Dam. Scouts participating in the trip included: Clay Meyer, Tanner Ross, Tray Meyer, Josh Hon, Corey McFarland, Quinn Meyer, Mikhail Cole, and Luis Alcocer. The scouts were chaperoned by troop leader Bob Meyer, Danny Hon, and Eric Cole.

After a day of traveling, the troop spent its first day in Zion National Park exploring an area known as, “Angels Landing”.

The scouts undertook a climb that took 2-3 hours, reaching a height of 2,500-feet. Once at the top, the scouts moved out onto a rock formation known as “The Wedge”, which had a 2,000-foot drop off on both sides.

“It was pretty dangerous,” Bob Meyer said, “But if you’re smart, you’re safe.”

The next day the troop remained in Zion National Park, this time maneuvering their way through an area known as “Subway”.

True to its name, it was a narrow canyon that had been cut out by water.

“The canyon actually comes back on top of you as you descend,” Danny Hon said. “The surface temperatures were hot, but it got very cold as we got down into the canyon.”

This was also the troop’s first technical climb – something that the boys had been practicing and preparing for by training during the past four months. Starting in the trees at the home of Bob and Debbie Meyer, the boys worked their way up from 20 feet to 40 feet at the top of the Meyer’s barn. After mastering those skills, the scouts also trained on some cliffs in the area, working at heights of about 100 feet.

In “Subway”, the troop used ropes to descend down into the canyon, and once at the bottom they worked their way around cliffs and creeks and waterfalls.

“The hardest part was the cold,” Clay Meyer said. “Once we got wet down in the canyon, you couldn’t get warm.”

Day three at Zion took the troop to an area known as “Fat Man’s Misery”, which turned out to be a very challenging hike.

“It was hard to find, so the boys had to use their maps and compasses,” Bob Meyer said. “We had to be very careful to get in the right canyon, because there were others nearby that we’d wouldn’t have been prepared for. It’s not a walk in the park.”

The scouts spent the day on a 13-hour hike, bringing all of the supplies that they would need for the entire day on their backs: food, water, ropes, and other supplies. What they found was an area of scenic beauty unlike anything they’d ever seen before.

“It’s probably the most beautiful scenery that I’ve seen in there,” Bob Meyer said.

But about halfway into their day-long hike, the local Boy Scouts would have to put their years of training to the test in an emergency situation.

At the very furthest point of their hike, the scouts were using their training to move their packs of supplies across some water using lines. The area featured some very slippery rocks, and as leader Danny Hon was walking across with two backpacks over his head to keep them dry, he slipped and fell on the rocks.

The fall caused Danny Hon’s shoulder to dislocate, which created an emergency situation for everyone – scouts and chaperones.

“We didn’t know if we could make it out of there,” Bob Meyer said. “Danny couldn’t climb with his arm out of socket, and we couldn’t carry him and get him up out of the canyon.”

Bob Meyer said that he was also keeping an eye on the daylight, because it was important not to try and move the scouts at night. Keeping to the motto that “When it gets dark, you stop,” Bob Meyer and the others assessed their options. Each scout had brought 12 hours of drinking water, and that was running low, so some decisions had to be made.

“We really had two choices,” Bob Meyer said. “We either had to leave Danny there and hike out and bring help back the next day; or we had to put his shoulder back in socket.”

A couple of other hikers happened along, but instead of being any help, they couldn’t stand to look at Danny Hon’s shoulder, and simply continued on their way. If something was to be done, our local Boy Scouts were going to have to do it.

“We teach these guys first aid, which is one of the cornerstones of Boy Scouting,” Bob Meyer said. “We do that because these boys go places where if something happens, there isn’t a doctor nearby. They have to do things themselves. I was very proud of the way the boys handled themselves in the situation. They were ready and they were prepared.”

As the boys gathered the essential materials that they carried to make a shoulder sling and other emergency materials, the chaperones braced and put Danny Hon’s shoulder back in place.

With the pain instantly gone, the entire team was able to get out of the area before nightfall.

Day four was spent at an area known as “Keyhole”, and it was also a day where a great deal of teamwork was involved. All of the scouts had to rely on one another, as their repelling skills were put to the test.

“We did 6-8 repels that day,” Tanner Ross said. “The hardest part of a repel is stepping off of the edge.”

Not only did the troop handle several repels, the day was spent almost entirely in water – which again caused some cold conditions.

“Our day at Keyhole was the hottest day we had there,” Danny Hon said. “But it was the coldest day we had once we got down in there. We got down and got wet and we couldn’t get warm.”

Repelling into water that was sometimes over their heads, the scouts worked their way through the three-hour hike and climb by using the knowledge that they had gained during their training, and by relying on each other.

After their time in Zion National Park, the scouts then packed up and headed for two days at The Grand Canyon, where they did some sightseeing as well as taking in several stops along the canyon rim.

The boys also had the opportunity to tour and explore the Hoover Dam, which created Lake Mead – named after Elwood Mead, a native of Patriot.

The scouts had the chance to see the turbines and generators that create the power in the dam, and also walked through caves that were used as bypasses for the river while the dam was being built in the 1920s.

They also had the chance to tour the museum inside of the Hoover Dam that houses equipment that was used in the construction of the dam, along with equipment used today.

“Overall it was an outstanding trip for the boys and for the chaperones,” Bob Meyer said.

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The funds needed to take the trip came from the hard work of the scouts and also through the generosity of the community.

The scouts, through their troop sponsor Spring Branch Baptist Church, received a grant of funds from the United Fund of Switzerland County that was a big help in securing the equipment and travel needed to undertake such a trip.

The scouts also held a dodgeball tournament as a fundraiser, and had sponsorship help from Belterra Casino Resort and Spa; Markland Shell; Vevay Shell; Noble Romans; CVS Pharmacy; Family Dollar; Dollar General; MainSource Bank; Friendship State Bank; SuperValu; Kroger; G.G.’s Grill; Mo’s Steakhouse; Roxano’s; and Showtime Video.

Funding was also provided for the purchase of repelling equipment by the Harold Hickman Memorial Fund.