COSTA MESA — Anyone would think just completing 80 miles in eight days culminating with climbing Mt. Whitney with about 55-pound packs would be special enough.
Not Boy Scouts Aaron Schott, 17, Michael Williams,15, or Jack Donnell,15.
The three each snuck their dress uniforms and an American flag into their packs, to do something special — and possibly never done before — at the top of Mt. Whitney.
Aaron, dressed in his Sea Scout uniform, Michael in a Venture Crew uniform and Jack in a traditional Boy Scouts uniform, hastily performed a flag ceremony in front of the dozens of people trying to beat the black storm clouds coming their way at the top of Mount Whitney.
"This country has given us all so much," Aaron said.
The flag ceremony was the finale of a backpacking trip in August with a group of 15 of their fellow scouts and fathers from Boy Scout Troop 90, which meets at the Newport Sea Base in Newport Beach.
The ceremony was about paying tribute to troops serving abroad, but it also meant more for each of them.
All three are leaders in the troop — Michael serves as Senior Patrol Leader and is the Venture Crew vice president of communications, Aaron is Venture Crew president and purser of the Sea Scouts, and Jack is Assistant Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 90 and the Venture Crew's vice president of activities.
"Being three of those top leaders, we thought it would be good to represent our troop," Michael said, adding it was also a chance to show everyone on top of Mt. Whitney what the Boys Scouts do and what they stand for.
It was also about showing the three branches of Scouting accomplishing a feat together, Jack said.
"We were trying to tell our other fellow Scouts that anything is possible," said Michael. "You have to put in a lot of work and you have to be inspired.
The trip took them through the forest, the Kern Hot Spring and huge mountains — scenes they will never forget, Michael said.
It was the views from Mt. Whitney, though, that the three couldn't say enough about.
"It was probably one of the most beautiful places on Earth," Aaron said.
The boys trained hard for the trip, climbing other mountains, doing backpacking trips and climbing hills at the beach with heavy packs on their backs.
The trip, though, isn't out of ordinary for the troop — described as a high-adventure, backpacking troop — that has allowed them to have extraordinary experiences.
"I probably would have never even backpacked even if I wasn't in Boy Scouts," Jack said.