McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

March 18, 2014

Stranded: Backpacking trek by Boy Scouts affected by weather

Area Boy Scouts on a backpacking trek last weekend were stranded, while others faced evacuations after storms filled a river near their campground in Arkansas.

Boy Scout Troop 262 Scoutmaster Russell McLain, of Mooreland, said Cimarron Boy Scout Council organizes the annual Ouachita Trek in the Ozark Mountains. He said there were 80 participants from a number of troops, including Enid, Woodward and Stillwater troops.

“All but 10 of us got pulled off (the trek) Sunday morning, but the river had come up so we had to wait till Monday for the river to go down enough we could come across. We just hung out and enjoyed the snow,” McLain said.

The other 70 on the trek were able to be taken off the trail and base camp was moved, McLain said.

Brian Randall, of Fairview, was part of the evacuated group. He had hiked about six miles with his son and a group of Scouts on Saturday.

“We crossed a creek that evening and set up camp and it started raining and didn’t stop until about noon on Sunday. The little creek we crossed was a raging river, so we decided to hike back to base camp,” Randall said, adding gear was wet and the weather forecast showed 20 degree temperatures for Sunday.

On their way to the base camp, the group encountered officials who moved them to a different campground.

“It was a learning experience for the boys. A lot of them are going to change how they pack for wet weather,” Randall said.

Meanwhile, the stranded group had to wait until around noon Monday to cross the river with assistance. McLain said the 10 had backpacks, gear and enough food to last for a few days.

“The park rangers down there wanted us to get off because of the flooding and to get everybody out of danger,” McLain said. “We had a river on one side and a mountain on the other side so we just had to wait it out. We made a camp up in the mountain and hung out.”

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