Box Lake, McCall Idaho

Box Lake is a great destination out of McCall, Idaho. It is about a 3.5 mile hike, steeply up a ridge and down the other side.

I used to teach a backpacking class at BSU, and one year Box Lake was our destination. On that particular class my friends Bryan Wilkins and Josh Edvalson accompanied the class. On many of these trips one or more of the students would distinguish himself by doing something unusual or stupid. On that trip we had a student who earned the nichname “Poops in Stream.” To give some context to him earning this nickname. The class met for 6 evening sessions, 2 per week, during which we talked about layering, stoves, tents, sleeping bags, sanitation, and disposal of wastes. The particular student was a young man about 28 years old, a nursing student.

We hiked in to Box Lake and set up tents before the fisherman headed off to catch some fish, as it lightly rained. One student basically disappeared from camp, but he was a veteran from the Norwegian Army, and had survival training, so I wasn’t too worried about him. Around a campfire that night, the Norwegian rejoined us, and showed us what he had brought for food. He had carried a tin of canned ham, in a big metal can. He cut off a few slices and fried them, as others were frying up their fish.

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The class was in the Fall, so it got dark quickly, and it was raining, so we all headed off to our tents to spend the night. The next morning, we got a fire going and used stoves to heat up water for coffee and breakfast. My favorite breakfast was (is) a bagel toasted on both sides in butter, in a fry pan, To that is added a slice of toasted Canadian bacon, and a slice of cheese. My daughter Deah came up with that recipe, which we all love, and its very filling. The Norwegian fellow showed up for the warming campfire, and wanted to show me where he had slept. I went with him in the woods and he showed me a shelter he had made, out of green fir branches. I thought my head was going to explode, after all the time we had spent talking about leave no trace. I gave him a talking to, and he explained that stuff like that is common in Norway. I think he realized that it was a big no-no in these woods, and I made sure that he dismantled and spread the tree branches around the area.

We all started hiking out after breakfast, and on the way out I came around a bend in the trail, and found a fellow squating for a poop in stream gravel about 3’ from the stream!
I came unglued on the guy, who should have known better. We had 12 hours of lecture before the hike, and we had amply discussed the rule that human waste had to be buried 6” deep, and located at least 200’ from water sources. And he was a nursing student! I had him remove the scat to a point 200’ away, and bury it 6” deep. Hence, he will always be “Poops in Stream” to me. On other trips I met such infamous hikers as “Pig Boy”, “Goat Boy”, “Suds”, and a few other interesting fellows. These experiences helped me when my son and I started scouts, to never assume a Scout was fully using his brain, and to emphasize again and again certain rules of backpacking, such as:

no trash is to even hit the ground – the final sweep for litter should turn up absolutely nothing if you have been doing it right.

don’t strew your gear around the camp (how rude!)

define where the bathroom area is located, and where it is not located

discuss how to bury our digestive deposits: 6” deep, 200’ from water sources or camp

discuss how important it is no leave no trace, especially of bathroom activities

no taking off on private trips without telling the authorities where you are going

before taking off on private trips, get out the food and gear needed by your cook group or patrol for dinner

everyone is to participate in cooking duties; don’t make your fellow campers hunt you down so they can feed you (who do you think you are?)

get packed up promptly in the morning, so the whole group does not have to wait for you (how rude!)

helping with group chores (cooking, cleaning dishes, gathering wood, pumping water) has a higher priority than personal play time. If you can’t finish your food, you have to carry it out. No burying garbage

no soap is to enter lakes or streams, even if it is biodegradable soap.