Storm Danger Foils Scout Trip


Beck Chambers

Boy scouts on a hike

Beck Chambers, Staff writer

Troop 246’s annual Boy Scout trip to Yosemite ended with an evacuation on January 21 due to high winds, leaving some scouts disappointed.

The evacuation was ordered by the Yosemite park rangers in the afternoon due to the danger posed by toppling trees. 2 female campers were killed previously this winter season by trees knocked down in violent winds that accompanied recent storms.

According to Scoutmaster Robert Ullrich, the “snow campers” had done significant planning and preparation preceding the trip.

Some scouts began their trip on Friday night, January 21, staying in a hotel in Merced.

Once the scouts reached Yosemite the next day, their stay was brief due to the rapidly changing conditions.

Eagle Scout Derek Nelson said, “It got pretty wet because the snow melted on the tarps, but we managed to set up the tents pretty quickly, and we set up under a tree and the snow was falling on us and we had to hit the tent to knock the snow from the tent.”

Tenderfoot scout Joel Koffman said, “I got there, I set up a tent, went on a hike, and left.”

The call for evacuation was received by Ulrich as the group returned from their first hike. “I put the call on speaker phone so everyone who was hanging around could hear. The Park Service had decided to close the campground due to expected high winds and continued snow fall. Their concern was trees being toppled or broken from the overloaded condition, and crushing a camper underneath,” Ulrich explained.

After the phone call to evacuate was received, Ullrich said, “Much groaning was heard by all – trees and campers alike, and disappointment was very strongly felt.  The troop struck camp, and loaded the vehicles, with the first wave ready by 3:15, and final truck out by 3:45pm.”