• Event announced at Troop meeting, followed by email to all.
• 9 Scouts signed up: 1 experienced backpacker, 1 with 1 trip, and 7 with no previous backpacking experience.
• Appointed crew leader. Met with crew leader to set planning meeting agenda.
• Initial Crew Meeting and planning session: 6 scouts showed up. Reviewed LNT, Trek Safely, back country etiquette, and the route. GL discussed personal and crew gear, assigned buddies, assigned crew gear, made duty roster. Personal and Crew Gear lists are abridged versions of the NCAC BCOLS class list.
• I pre-hiked the route with my son 12-13 April: Tuscarora Trail from Elizabeth Furnace to Signal Knob. Found several nice campsites about 1 mile from the parking lot. Clean water nearby. Plan to camp there Friday night on Scout trip. We hiked about 5.5 miles with 1200’ elevation gain, reached the Massanutten Trail (about 1.5 miles short of Signal Knob), and decided to spend the night there. Discovered that we both love the taste of Knorr Cajun Dirty Rice and Spam washed down with a few oatmeal cream pies.
• Originally scheduled for Monday. Moved to Tuesday b/c of conflict with 3 scouts’ religious education class. Moved to Thursday b/c of my work travel schedule.
• All scouts who came to the planning meeting came to the shakedown. Repackaged food, and packed it into gallon zipper top bags. Distributed food and all crew gear among scouts. Hiked 1.5 miles. After the hike, did a gear check of each pack. Common packing problems: too many clothes; full mess kits (recommended just bowl, cup, and spoon) including heavy, steel folding spoon-fork-knife thingys; poor weight distribution.
• Saturday Breakfast: Instant oatmeal, Pop-Tarts, Hot Chocolate
• Saturday Lunch: Tortillas, Peanut Butter, Jelly
• Saturday Snacks: Beef Jerky, Oatmeal Creme Pies
• Saturday Dinner: Knorr Cajun Chicken Rice, Spam and other meat packs, Instant Pudding
• Sunday Breakfast: Pop-Tarts, Instant Oatmeal, Hot Chocolate
• Sunday Lunch: Tortillas, Cheese, Pepperoni
• Sunday Snack: Little Debbie cakes
• Other – Gallon bags, Quart bags, Coffee, Snickers, Nuts, Dried Fruit, M&Ms
Friday, 24 April 2009
Departed my house at about 5:00pm. Encuntered heavy traffic on Rt. 66 west of the beltway. Arrived at Elizabeth Furnace parking area about 8:00pm. It was already dark, as we were on the eastern side of Massanutten mountain. Geared up quickly. Crew leader appointed a navigator. Scouts hiked west on the Tuscarora trail. After about 0.5 miles, they stopped at the Massanutten trail intersection as planned and waited for the adults. Hiked another 0.6 miles to campsite near Little Passage Creek. Scouts set up camp, got 5 gallons crew water from creek, treated it, hung bear bags. Beautiful night: 60 degrees, starry sky. Clouds rolled in around midnight.
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Awoke. Packed. Boiled water for coffee, hot chocolate, and oatmeal. Scouts set off at about 10:30am while adults finished their coffee. Today’s plan is to hike 3.5 miles with about 1300’ elevation climb to the top of Meneka peak, then 1 mile and 300’ down the other side of the mountain to a creek feeding the Strasburg reservoir, and camp there. Everybody drank at least 1qt water at breakfast and carried 2qts. Beastly hot. Temperatures in the mid 90’s, and no trees on leaves to block the sun. Stopped for water at a spring about 1 mile from the peak. Scouts went strong until the spring, and hiked well ahead of the adults. They all stayed within sight of each other today. After the spring, they took breaks every 5-10 minutes until we got to the top. Ate lunch at the top, cleaned up, and hiked down to the next creek. Scree covered trail. Scouts careful, nobody slipped. Scouts glad to be going downhill for a change. Got to the creek. Set up camp. Played in creek. Scouts cooked dinner at about 6:00pm and cleaned up. They were amazed that 9 people ate 3 meals and only made 2 gallon zipper top bags of trash. Campfire. A few brief thundershowers.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Broke camp, ate, washed up, drank, refilled water, and on the trail by 8:30am. Reversed yesterday’s path. Scouts separated into buddy pairs today. 2 fast hikers out front, 2 in the middle, and 2 slower hikers in the rear. Crew leader set times and landmarks for lead pair to stop and wait for everybody else. A little bickering between fast hikers and crew leader while they worked out an arrangement that made everybody happy. Arrived at cars about 12:00. Packed up, did a Start-Stop-Continue, hit the road.
Our troop formed in September 2008. We currently have 26 registered scouts. This was our troop’s first backpacking trip. Every scout who went said they want to backpack more, and considering that three-fourths of our PLC went on this trip we should be able to make that happen. There was not a single complaint from any scout about the trail, or the heat, or the weight of their gear.