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Pathfinder Hike to the SS Kakapo

Due to my recent investiture into the Pack as an APS and a pact made with certain Scouters in the group, I have made a vow to become more hike fit this year. I also hope to increase the hike activity within the Pack, so need to become more familiar with the local trails. When our ATS, Meagan Richards, kindly invited me on the "beginner" hike up to the SS Kakapo Shipwreck with the Scouts, I was happy to accept. I want to get my Cub niece, Kathryn, more involved and interested in hiking as I feel that it is the first step to an adventure-fueled life. Saturday 8 July saw Kathryn and I packed and ready for our day hike and waiting patiently for everyone at the Sea Scout Base. I decided to leave for the beach early as I quickly realised that Kathryn was slightly under-dressed in a hoody and jeans and that she would definitely need a windbreaker for a beach walk. This was a very sound decision on my part, as when we arrived at Long Beach parking lot, we were greeted with a rather melodramatic scene as apparent in the pictures below.

Dark, brooding clouds hung low in the sky with the impending promise of rain. A strong, icy wind gusted angrily across the expanse, ensuring that hoods would only remain on heads if securely fastened. The sea was a cacophony of large, crashing waves that broiled and seethed in anticipation.

With some spattered grumbling here and there, we were undeterred. A group of some of our toughest Scouts, 1 x Cub, 1 x soon-to-be Chum, 2 x Scouters, 1 x brave parent, and a dog, set off on our trek to the Shipwreck. Three of our junior Scouts worked on their Pathfinder Badge and were teamed up with 3 of our senior Scouts who demonstrated impressive leadership skills on the walk. They were provided with a list of tasks to complete on the journey to the wreck.

On our way, we encountered a washed up, half-eaten Puffer Fish. There was consensus in the group that this was the work of a particularly fierce shark. Next up we came across a dead seal that had washed up onto the rocks. A gaping hole in its side made for a mystery that we tried to solve with imagined scenarios. A quick snack break ensued on an old cement pipe that was a perfect spot for some balanced seating. As is the tradition, my question of, "How far is it?" was dutifully answered with, "We're nearly there".

As we came around the final corner, the landscape was reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic scene from some unknown date in the future. A wide expanse of sand glimmering in the sun, loose sand blowing across the plains, a spray of mist from the crashing waves hanging suspended in the air and a shipwreck far in the distance all lent themselves to the dystopian imagery. The silhouette of horse riders on an outride standing at the shipwreck in the distance added the final touch. It was at this time that we encountered an obstacle (namely a small stream) that obstructed our path. The youngest among us simply hopped across some well-placed rocks, while a handful of Scouts attempted a (literal) leap of faith, with some going so far as to use Meagan's hiking stick as a pole vault, with varying degrees of success. A hike is never dull with Scouts around as they even managed to dig up a truck tyre and roll it about 100m to the shipwreck.

Once we arrived at the skeletal remains of the ship, our group huddled in the rusted shell of the boiler room, while Meagan regaled us with the story of the SS Kakapo and its short-lived life at sea. If you are interested in the story, join us next time! She also tested the skills of the three aspiring Pathfinders, while the rest of us snacked on our packed lunch.

On the journey back to the car, we had the privilege of meeting two Irish Wolf-Hounds. These dogs definitely look like they belong in an epic fantasy like the Lord of the Rings! We were also entertained by the wild antics of a few Kite boarders who had braved the weather to take advantage of the wind. One or two managed to jump as high as 20 feet into the air to a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" from our group. We were all somewhat relieved to reach the car park and get shelter from the howling wind but agree that it was a hike to remember.

Thank you so much to our Assistant Troop Scouter, Meagan Richards, for cultivating a love of hiking within the group and providing us with opportunities to stretch our legs. Her drive and confidence, as well as her willingness to develop the skills of our group is an inspiration to us all.

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