Slip Sliding Away in Oak Creek

Once again, the strategy of sending out a Friday afternoon advance scout resulted in a prime rim-side camp along forest road 237 for our trip to Slide Rock. This resulted in most excellent consumption by T648’s 11 participating members of your National Forest government dollars at work, and upon not a better section of dirt in the state! Arising early Saturday morning, your intrepid reporter gathered a few snippets of conversations around the breakfast huddles:

“I brought my thin sleeping bag – I didn’t think it would be this cold (insert editorial comment – a mere 50 degrees). I put on some sweatshirts at 3am.”

“I was cold, too. I was using my jacket as a pillow until I had to put it on, then I used my pants as a pillow until I put THEM on. Then I had to use my toiletries case.”

“My gourmet oatmeal is vegan gluten-free made in Alaska, and tastes like cardboard!”

“Do I need sunscreen if I can get free skin removal?”

We then learned that at least one scout knows every word of the song ‘Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee’ as we dressed out and made lunch before heading for Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock. This time we were prepared to avoid the problem from 2 years ago of arriving a little after 9AM and finding the parking lot already full and the rangers turning cars away – we headed down after 7AM and were 7th in line at the park gate to begin our water adventure.

In typical Boy Scouts fashion, our young men did an amazing job of work before play by restoring the main wooden plank bridge to its moorings. The bridge had been carried downstream by recent rains, and after our repairs, was well used by hundreds of people the rest of the day. The boys then began the play portion of the day by reprising the famed ‘Arjun Course’ down canyon, including the creek, the rapids, jumping area, and the wide pools at the end. Those of us with time to observe were entranced with the Olympic-like agony of defeat of all ages during the constant sport of red rock sandstone slipping and falling. Other than a number of older folks rubbing wrists or other sensitive parts of the body, luckily no scout first aid was required.

Midday there was an excellent rendition of Jacob’s Folly, as Mr Benyi and Mr Nachtrab executed an east to west land grab to maintain our tenuous hold on shady real estate for our bags and blankets. Periodic slathering helped stem sunburns, but at least one pair of swim trunks and one water shoe did not survive the strenuous activities of the day. After 6 hours of splashing, sliding, swimming, jumping, and otherwise experiencing all Oak Creek Canyon had to offer, a happy bunch of Boy Scouts headed back to camp. While the scouts took the edge off a powerful hunger by devouring a massive cheese and cracker platter before dinner while playing cards, noise from Fort Tuthilll’s gun show spilled into the neighborhood as enthusiastic participants were apparently trying out new toys. But as evening fell, quiet returned as menus turned into masterpieces. There were hot dogs with Mac and cheese, Buffalo chicken, Thursday surprise (reprised for Saturday night), Mini cornbread muffins, bacon BBQ chicken, honey ginger shrimp, and the Nachtrabs’ knockout cherry cobbler. After staring into a crackling fire with heavy eyelids, it was soon time to pack in a most excellent day, and enjoy one more cool night sleeping on the ground before heading back to triple digits.

Look out canyon, here comes T648!
Slathering beforehand beats skin removal after!
‘Mother Hen’ Benyi takes a quiet moment for Tilly’s hat repair
Beginning the famed Arjun Course
Let ‘er rip!
Gliding in for a wet landing!
That poor cheese tray didn’t stand a chance!