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Gearhart Mountain and the Moose Call

Story ID:7175
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.
Memories of my youth...

Gearhart Mountain and the Moose Call
Chuck Dishno

Gearhart Mountain and the Moose Call
Chuck Dishno

Shortly after my 12th birthday on August 4th, 1946 I joined Troop 19 of the Boy Scouts in my hometown of Bly, Oregon. This was the ultimate goal of most Bly boys.

The minimum age to be a Boy Scout was 12 so several times each year boys took simple tests to see if they were qualified to join the ranks and when they had passed they were assigned the rank of Tenderfoot. This was not unlike the military and Buck Privates or Boots. I can’t remember of anyone failing the tests though.

After a few weeks the boy had to stand before a review board and prove that he had memorized the Scout Oath, The Scout Laws and Boy Scout Motto. Failure was not an option.

The Bly Troop consisted of three patrols, Eagle Patrol, Tiger Patrol and the Pine Tree Patrol. I was assigned to the Pine Tree Patrol.

This started a phase in my life that, I think, made me a better person although the jury is still out on that topic.

The greatest thing about Troop 19 was the scoutmaster, Spike Armstrong.

Spike was the District Forest Ranger and was perfect for the job. He had a vast knowledge of many subjects that he incorporated into our weekly meetings and especially on our campouts.
He taught us boys the value of things in life.

Spike had a love for all things living and taught us to love nature. He even taught us the scientific names for all the animals and plants. I remember him teaching us how to identify the various trees by the number of needles in a bundle, the shape and size of the cones and even the smell of the bark. These are memories that have stayed with me for over 50 years.

Our troop went on many camping trips and always spent two weeks at Camp Makualla, a scout camp on Crescent Lake.

The things I remember most though were the weekend campouts where we practiced our newly found skills such as knot tying and campfire cooking.

Most of the campouts were on Gearhart Mountain near Bly.

Gearhart Mountain is only a few miles from Bly and has an altitude of 8,364 feet.

This brings me to one of my fondest memories and a great physics lesson.

As usual, each patrol had to cook their own meals and these included baking bread on a Dutch oven and boiling beans. The latter is where the physics lesson came in. He told us that water boils at a much lower temperature the higher up you are.

On this particular campout we were camping at about 7,500 feet on the shore of Blue Lake.

My patrol decided we would get an early start on the beans and built a large fire as soon as we got up in preparation for the evening meal.

One of the boys went to a nearby stream and scooped out several buckets of water. In those days we didn’t worry about drinking creek water as long anything dead was at least 100 yards up stream.

Upon returning to camp the water was poured into a large pot suspended above the fire. As soon as the water started getting hot, several pounds of beans were added. Now the job was to keep the water boiling all day and hopefully by dinnertime the beans would be done.

We took turns tending the fire and occasionally some boy would bring in a freshly caught squirrel that had been cut up and these chunks of meat were added to the bean pot.

Apparently what we didn’t take into consideration was the fact that the beans should have been soaking overnight to give them a head start. This combined with the low boiling temperature was a mistake in physics that we had not thought of.

We thought all was going well when Spike strolled thru the campsite late in the afternoon to check on the progress of our upcoming dinner.

We were proud of the rapid boiling bean pot when Spike decided to try a spoonful of this potentially explosive mixture. He grabbed a spoon, reached into the pot and extracted a large mouthful. After a few minutes of chewing we realized we had made a mistake as we could hear the beans crunching and popping in Spikes mouth.
This didn’t deter Spike though as he swallowed them then bent over to try another spoonful. As soon as he bent over one of the beans broke loose and a loud report echoed through the camp, across the meadow and bounced off the hill behind the camp. Someone said that it sounded like a moose calling for its mate.

Spike immediately stood up and said, “Hey, those beans are not bad, and they’re quick too”. We took this as encouragement and after a few more hours of boiling we had a great dinner.

Spike has gone to that great Scout Camp in the sky now and sometime when you are outside you might see a couple of puffy clouds floating by I encourage you to stop and listen for the distant sound of a moose call. It just might be the old scoutmaster.