Burning Phoenix Camp 2012

20 Burning Phoenix students met for a weekend of camping July 13-15. The plans for this second Burning Phoenix Camp (the first taking place in 2011) included 3 hikes, campfires, and lots of food. The camp was headed by Mr. Gemmell, with general organization and management by Mr. Ray and Miss Bunch.

The campers met Friday for a tribal dance and hamburger party at a picnic site near the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon, where we were mostly rain-free although we didn’t avoid the soot (well, that was self-applied). We were joined by Mr. and Mrs. Fermont and Mrs. Gemmell, who would not be camping but came to enjoy the meal with us.

Following dinner, the campers drove all the way to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon to our beautiful and lucky-recently-gained campsite at Albion, near the trailhead for Cecret Lake*. There are so many wildflowers and chipmunks, and the view was fabulous. We were even lucky enough to see a couple of bull moose on our second day.

After unloading and setting up tents in the dark, we slept to the sound of rain and howling birds, and awoke to a fresh new morning. The campfire was welcome and warm as we breakfasted through several courses, then we packed up and set off in the bus for our first hike.

Burning Phoenix was a bit soggy during this Stewart Falls hike. The rain did not cease on the muddy trail to the falls, and once it let up, we voluntarily threw ourselves under the falls for awesome-picture-time. Everyone was soaked and freezing (except perhaps those who wisely abstained from the plunge), but the falls were beautiful, it was a fun experience.

The hike down had significantly fewer mud puddles, and out of the rain the photographers took each opportunity to catch images of mountain peaks, butterflies, and the beautiful flora.

The day ended with a cheesy nacho dinner and delicious baked desserts around a nice warm campfire.

“[W]e had a fun evening eating, roasting marshmallows, and hanging out. Mr. Gemmell led us on a night hike to Cecret Lake, which is really just a pond with ambition.” (Ms. Bunch)

So, the night didn’t quite end there. Once some had gone to bed, and night had really fallen, Mr. Gemmell suggested a night jog up to Cecret Lake. It had been on the itinerary but not likely to happen, so those more adventurous (or foolish?) followed him up the 1,000 vertical feet to the lake. There we sat at 10,500 ft. enjoying light bracelets (courtesy of Mr. Gemmell) and long-exposure photography (courtesy of Mr. Chavez).

Day 2 was pack-up and a wonderful hike to and through Timpanogos Caves, joined by Mr. Grey & party. We were lucky with the weather again, as it rained little, and only on the way down. The way up was steep but full of great sights, and the tour of the caves were generally enjoyed. I could have spent couple of hours staring at the formations, and when I asked Miss Athena Gemmell which her favorite cave was, she replied “I liked them all a lot!”

“The hike to the caves the last day was fun, but brutal. And you REALLY didn’t want to look off to the side while hiking, unless heights don’t bother you.” (Ms. Bunch)

We took our last meal at a park not too far down the canyon, which we were fortunate enough to find unoccupied and with covered benches.

A last ride in the bus took us to our destinations, and thus ended the Burning Phoenix Camp 2012.

Please find pictures [here once they are posted].

Camper Remarks

Melanie Bunch: I enjoyed how well we were able to adapt to the fluid situation. Friday was pretty “touch-and-go” with the sudden lack of campsites, but we adapted and overcame. Those of us sitting around and the day use area amused ourselves with chatting, painting ourselves with soot from the fire, and of course the now famous “Ring of Fire” pattern that I’m still the only one who can remember the whole thing.


*Cecret Lake, according to this source, may come from a misspelling of ‘Secret’ after the ‘Secret Mining and Milling Company’, and is one of many names for the lake.

Stewart Falls

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