We had postponed this trip two other times because of scheduling conflicts and were on the edge as far as canceling this trip. The weather forecast (as everyone now knows) was not promising but we felt we could get it in before the heavy stuff came down. We ended up with 5 scouts (including The Pudge) and 3 leaders (including yours truly). The Boy was supposed to go but I couldn't get him out of bed and quite frankly, I didn't try too hard. This was just going to be a trip for me and The Pudge.
No one in the Troop had ever been to this state park or done this trail before, so it promised to be an adventure. It was only an hour or so ride and the GPS found it with no problems. So after we huddled up and decided what routes we wanted to take (there were several options), went over some basic map reading skills and discussed safety, we were on our way at about 9:30AM.
The sky was overcast, temps around 50 and the forecasters said it would start raining around noon. That gave us 2 1/2 hours to cover 5 miles - no problem right? Well, we forgot we were in Pennsylvania. The first couple miles were relatively flat, maybe 20 or 30 feet of elevation change and mostly followed the north side of the Skippack Creek. The trail criss-crossed with the horse trails which were rocky and made of brownish clay. The horse trails were well used and pretty sloppy because of the hoof prints and "horse deposits".
The only other people we saw were fishermen who were trout fishing in the creek. We got to a highway bridge that took us to the other side of the creek. Looking at the map, we decided to cross to the south side of the creek and go down about 3 miles to another bridge where we could cross back over. This turned out to be a tactical error on the part of the leaders as I will explain later.
As we followed the creek on the south side, we had a substantial elevation change, maybe 100 to 150 feet. And it was an almost straight drop down to the creek below. No big deal but it was a lot more effort. Along the way we saw this tree and weren't sure if it was woodpeckers or bugs. I'm thinking woodpeckers or some other type of bird.
The boys also found these raccoon tracks. Part of another 2nd Class rank requirement is identifying indigenous animals.
The park boasts that there are a lot of 18th and 19th century structures and ruins throughout the park. We came upon one around 11:30AM and decided this was a good place to eat lunch.
After lunch we continued on about another 2 miles - and the rain started. Nothing heavy but enough that we broke out the rain gear. We got to the 2nd bridge and found that it was - OUT. I mean gone - as in not there - under construction - no way to cross. We looked at the map again and we had 2 options; proceed forward another 2 miles to a bridge we crossed coming into the park and then walk another 4 miles to the cars or backtrack about 4 miles. We chose to backtrack.
As we started back up the higher elevation, we noticed the clay paths were becoming extremely slippery. And I noticed I was starting to get a lot of pain in the groin area of my right leg. But we kept moving along. One scout (Simple J from my Eagle Project post) was having a real tough time keeping up with the scouts and started having a meltdown on us. Fortunately, he's the scoutmaster's son, so he dealt with that.
The rain kept steady but the wind started picking up. The scouts were troopers though and once we got back over the first bridge, even Simple J was in better spirits. The scoutmaster had a GPS that tracked our distance, so all told we hiked almost 8 miles on a trail I would classify as an intermediate level of difficulty. A couple of the younger scouts (and one who just joined the troop with this being his first scout outing ever) who I thought might have trouble doing the trail were outstanding, even leading a good bit of the time with The Pudge, who was the senior scout on the trip. I, on the other hand, didn't fair as well and could barely lift my right leg at trails end and am still in some pain (but getting better) on Monday afternoon.
We huddled up again under a pavilion to review the map and trail we had just taken. We also reviewed some orienteering skills and everyone got the requirements signed off in their handbooks. This state park was in very good shape and very clean. The trails were well marked and very clean. Except for the rain and my crumby picture taking, it was a nice trip and one that we all decided we would like to do again sometime. Maybe a Fall hike.
See Boxer, I'll still post when I have something to post.