Thursday, August 02, 2007

Climbing adventure

Our monthly scout campout was last Friday and Saturday. We were supposed to head up to Mount Yonah to work on our climbing merit badge. The weather was looking a little bit unpredictable so I changed our destination so the guys wouldn't have to schlep all the gear up the access trail just to get rained out. There is this cool little rock climbing area just over the state line in Alabama. I used to go there at least twice a month but lately it's been more like twice a year. The rock is nice, especially for beginners, but the "local flavor" leaves a lot to be desired. At about 3:00am Saturday morning I sent the following email to my wife from my Blackberry:

Good morning.
Well we've had an exciting night so far. We pulled into Sandrock at about 8:00 and set up camp. Not too many people up here . Just a couple of climbers and one group of rednecks off in the woods.
At about 1:30 I get woken up to the sound of the scouts yelling "forest fire!"
So I got dressed and grabbed the water jug and started over towards the flames that were going 40 feet into the air. Somebody had set fire to the jiffy johny that the Climbers Coalition had paid for and it was spreading to the trees around it. I quickly realized that this was much bigger than I could take care of so I called 911.
I did my best to control the perimeter with the little water I had. My biggest concern was the trees that were burning 30' above me. As I continued to do my best to keep the perimeter, which was now about 50' across, under control I noticed that several places got worse when I put water on them. This was a gas fire. Somebody had put gas in the john and set it on fire. The whole time I was doing this I had one shirtless, missing a few teeth, redneck shadowing me insisting that I not call the police. When I told him that they were already on there way he got defensive and even accused me of starting the fire. To which I told him, "You might want to go back to camp and lay low for a little bit. When the firemen show up they'll see me, sober and trying to contain this and you, drunk, just standing around and they'll draw their own conclusions." He threatened to kick my @$$ a couple time but his slightly less drunk buddies convinced him it wasn't a good idea. I had 8 scouts standing around who were pretty sure that there was gonna be a "tussle". I think one had actually placed a bet on it. Nothing came of it. I just kept assuring then that I hadn't accused anybody of anything. I just wanted to get the fire out before it got any worse.
After about 20 minutes of my futile efforts the local volunteer fire department began to show up. First on the scene was a good old boy with his two young daughters who showed up in his Camaro. I was a little concerned until I saw that he was wearing his turn-out gear. In a matter of minutes there were three firetrucks on the scene and about twenty of Sand Rock's finest quickly got it under control. I told them what little I knew about how it could have started and they said they'd send up a deputy to make a report. I shook all their hands and thanked them for getting here before it got any worse. So far I haven't seen a deputy yet.
Conspicuously absent from the last half hour was my inebriated friend and his buddies. Perhaps picking a fight with the one guy who was trying to put the fire out wasn't such a good idea now that there were so many firemen on the scene.
Oh well. That's the excitement so far. I'll call you in he morning and give you a full report. Hopefully our day of climbing will not be marred by the event.

The day did get better. We never saw a deputy but we had a full day of climbing and the guys had a great time. We set up a few top ropes on the begineer wall and then went down to work on a taller route. I think the hardest they did was maybe 5.6 but they all got he chance to get up in the air and see what this "climbing" thing is all about.
We didn't finish the merit badge but I had a few scout come up to me and ask to go again. I since got on a discussion board and pledge the troop's support in helping to clean up Sand Rock at the next Climber's Coalition trail day. Now that they've seen first hand the effects of people abusing the land it'll be good to expose them to another group that cares for and actually takes stewardship of this world that we have to enjoy.
Here are a few picures from the weekend.

1 comment:

  1. granny sue10:47 AM

    Georgia's Hidden Treasures was on Channel 2 this week and many of the places you frequent with the scouts was shown and many more that I would like to visit. Hopefully more people will see the beauty all around our state.