The group going to Philmont Scout Ranch next summer has begun their training, crew building, and backpacking proficiency. This weekend was the first of the training hikes that will be done to get everyone prepared for the 11 days backpacking in New Mexico. We were blessed with perfect weather, actually a little warmer than we are used to.
We gathered at WCA at 6am Saturday morning and packed the pickup and van. Off to the Appalachian Trail, we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast. Uneventful except for the yellow jacket sting I received on my recently injured thumb. Luckily it wasn’t a sign of things to come. We headed off to Three Forks, a campsite just 4.3 miles down the trail from the beginning of the AT at Springer Mountain. Once we arrived, we took time to fill up on water and talk about the ways of treating water on the trail: filters and chlorine tablets. Then it was off to Springer Mountain. The scouts made great time, exceeding the 2 mph goal while doing the 4.3 miles, up hill all the way! We had lunch on top of the mountain where some of the scouts were introduced to new foods like SPAM and pepper jack cheese. They will get to experience several more trail foods as we do more hikes!
We made it back down the hill, another 4.3 miles, in what seemed to be record time. The scouts did great working as a group. We even received a compliment on their manners from a group going in the other direction! Once back at camp, the scouts had some time to explore the area, put their feet in the creek, and learn about hanging a bear bag. The bear bag eventually came down when another unsuspecting group decided to camp underneath it. Well, we all have to learn! Dinner was more trail food, but dehydrated beef stroganoff tastes good at the end of the day.
Everyone retired to their tents before 8pm as it was getting dark. A mostly quiet and uneventful night ended at 6am. The scouts packed up in the dark and headed to the cars. A winding forest service road drive led back to breakfast filled with biscuits and gravy or omelets or pancakes.
We were back at WCA before noon with some good experience, areas to work on, and a good start to our training. Many thanks to Tom W and Jamie S for driving.
Scouts attending: Drew C, Tristan M, Stephen P, Pierce S, and Tanner W
Adults attending: Robert P, Jamie S, Tom W