Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wet Klondike Derby

Another Klondike Derby has passed into history. As predicted, it was wet and unseasonably warm. I checked the hourly forecast before heading to the camp yesterday afternoon. As the evening progressed, the temperature and precipitation tracked the Internet forecast very closely.

Around 7:30 pm we stood under clear skies looking at the constellations. By the time we wrapped up the campfire program around 9:15, no stars could be seen due to the cloud cover that had moved in. It was about 35°, which is pretty warm for that location at that time of day and this time of year.

About 300 people attended the event. In the early morning hours light rain began to fall. Those that were prepared did OK. Of course, some got rather wet. But the temperature was still hovering around 35-37°. So it wasn't bitter cold.

The adults in charge of the event stood around under a bowery with a corrugated metal roof discussing how to proceed. The metal roof made it sound like it was raining a lot harder than was the case. Some suggested cancelling the morning events and sending everyone home. The forecast, after all, called for the rain to switch to snow. Some were concerned about getting vehicles up the slope and out of the campground area, given that the road was already slippery.

We gathered at the flag pole at the appointed hour and held flag ceremony in the rain. The man in charge of the event then gave the campers two options: go home now or move ahead with the games. He asked the senior patrol leader of each troop to indicate whether they were staying or going. Most campers enthusiastically shouted out that they wanted to participate in the games. So the games went ahead, despite the doubts of some of the adults running the games.

As I made the rounds and spoke with the event masters, almost every one of them had assumed that the events would be cancelled. Most were surprised at the boys' insistence on holding the games in drizzly weather.

This is a common dichotomy that I have observed throughout my adult scouting years. Boys tend to be far more willing than their adult advisers to engage in adventure. Maybe that's to be expected. After all, the boys only have to worry about how they are faring individually, while the adults have to worry about the safety of all of their youth and the amount of additional work that will be required.

Not long after the games started, the rain switched to snow. Big wet and fluffy, densely patterned flakes fell on the competitors. This didn't seem to dampen their mood. Many seemed to quite enjoy themselves. The games were a success. However, the crowd thinned out rapidly after about an hour and a half. I watched vehicle after vehicle make its way up the slippery slope toward the main road.

After cleaning up, I headed home with my crew. It was snowy for the first few miles. Then we drove through rain mixed with snow. The pass I wanted to take was blocked by a sheriff's deputy due to some hazard, so we had to take another route. As we drove down the canyon toward the city we ended up in rain. I eventually got home and took care of my wet gear.

It has been raining here at home since I returned. Just a few minutes ago the rain switched to big fluffy snowflakes that are rapidly building up on the surfaces outside. Later on I will ponder whether to go out and clear snow or to let it melt off, since the forecast suggests that it may be warm enough tomorrow for that to happen.

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