A Story from Visitor Lars Mohler

Mapping Is Easy

Greetings and salutations. My Name is Lars and my story is as follows…

In my youth, some 35 years ago, I was a member of a Boy Scout troop. It was located in Pasadena and held the distinction of being the oldest troop on charter. It was Troup #2 sponsored by the Elks Lodge of Pasadena.

One Friday afternoon our Scoutmaster, Mr. Shining, dropped us off at the transmission towers of Mount Wilson. With little hesitation he said, “If you learned anything about mapping from what I taught you, then I’ll see you at Adams’ Pack Station in two days.” He disappeared in his old Ford van with a puff of bluish exhaust smoke and I and five other scouts hit the trail. I for one had no idea as to where we were going or even as to where we were standing. Dwight Kroll (the troop leader) and Mike Nickum (our mapper) broke out the map and compass and after a few whispered comments and some posturing with compass in hand, Dwight took point and said, “this way”.

Without question we all donned our packs and led off down the trail. After some time we were called to a halt and told that we were at camp. We pitched out tents, made dinner and slept. It was an “ordeal extraordinaire” for me as I was a city boy and had been sent to a privet schools for most of my youth. Sleeping outside and navigating by map was new and almost magic to me.

The next day we broke camp and struck out on the final leg of our journey, destination: Adams’ Pack Station. This leg of the trip was quite adventurous as I recall. There were several stops to take dead reckoning readings and land mark sightings. After a few miles it was announced that we were lost. The troop master, Dwight and our mapper, Mike were at odds as to our location and destination. The map and compass was then turned over to the troop for a general consensus. It was now up to us to determine our location, destination and the path we needed to take.

For a 15 year old city boy to come to the realization the he was lost in the mountains with no provisions for another day was to say the least, horrifying. For some strange reason I looked forward to being able to go to school on Monday. After 20 minutes of looking, pointing and pondering, it was agreed that the trail we were on was the rite trail and our destination was only a mile away… or so we hopped. The next two hours seemed to take all day. We stopped almost every 300 feet to check the map. The fold lines on the map became worn as we opened and closed it to check our location. With little hope in my heart that I would ever see my family again we rounded a corner which we had hoped would be our last and there it stood, the first sign of civilization, Adams’ Pack Station. Rustic though it may be it was, at that moment, a welcome sight, a comfort, a castle, a monument to man and mountain. Parked out in front was the old Ford Van, a sanctuary for my tired feet and legs. We had made it! Mapping was easy.

In retrospect, the assertion that we were lost was only a farce. Dwight and Mike knew where we were all the time but in order to put our newly learned skill to the test a “trial by fire” was implemented, and we were victorious.