|Friday night camp with large White Oak to the right|
of the fire pit.
We started on the Old Hotel Trail Friday evening and only walked slightly over a mile to a campsite I have eyed for years as an ideal overnight location. Surprisingly, we had the campsite to ourselves. I've hiked past this spot several times over the past couple of decades, and always thought how great it would be to camp here. The Scouts were to spend a couple of nights on the trail away from outhouses, and this spot fit the bill perfectly, though it is a dry campsite.
|Will and his patrol mates pump spring water|
for use while hiking
One of the adult leaders is a professional forester and I learned much from him along the trail. We talked a lot about the spectacular White Oak at our campsite - how it must have grown in a field because its branches spread out so far horizontally (one boy climbed the tree by taking a branch that reached the ground and tightroping it all the way to the trunk). And when I asked why the tree was short compared other White Oaks, he observed that it didn't need to grow high to get sunlight.
|Turkeybeard at 3800 feet elevation.|
We all hiked gradually downhill until we reached the Cow Camp Gap Shelter, which is an A.T. thru-hiker shelter. We stopped for almost an hour, pumping water into our bottles and bodies, some of us using the only latrine we would see on this trip, reading the shelter's log book (and some adding their own entries) and having a snack.
Then came the biggest climb of the trip, up and over Cold Mountain. The mile long ascent took most boys over an hour, though we were only going from 3,500 to 4,000 feet.
|Obligatory group shot at the top of the mountain.|
After getting a group shot at the summit, we walked along the meadows back down the mountain to our Saturday night campsite.
|There are few miles of trail in Virginia as glorious|
as the A.T. over Cold Mountain.
Even the boys enjoyed the views along this part of the trail, despite several hauling overloaded packs that they were ready to drop. We hiked down to the road near our original trailhead, then established camp in an old field across the road. On Saturday night we weathered a few rainstorms and had the honor of witnessing a boy receive his Eagle rank. Sunday morning we packed up our wet gear and headed home. Overall, a great way to spend Father's Day weekend.
|Troop 1028's Scoutmaster could not join us,|
but no doubt he will appreciate the single file
line of hikers.