Troop 868 in Action

BEAR WALLOW (March 2008)

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God especially blessed our March 2008 visit to Bear Wallow near Nashville, Indiana.  The previous weekend featured a 12-inch snowfall and bitter cold winter weather, but the following week brought true spring weather and few traces of the snow remained by the time we arrived at Bear Wallow to camp the following Friday night.  In fact, the weather was so nice, that the scouts elected to dispense with setting up tents and all the boys slept under the stars.  The Louisville/Shepherdsville area had steady rain all day on Saturday, but 100 miles north at Bear Wallow we had mild temperatures and dry skies for our hike of the Yellowwood Trail.

Following the mandatory pre-hike orientation that all hikers are required to hear, we had to drive several miles to the trailhead.  The Yellowwood is the oldest trail at Bear Wallow and the only one that doesn't both start and end at Trail Headquarters.  It was shortly before 10 AM that we actually got started hiking.

Like all the trails at Bear Wallow, the trail was well-maintained and well-marked.  While there were some hills, the terrain was moderate to easy.  A large portion of the first half of the hike was across the top of a long ridge line that provided some beautiful views of the valley below.

At several points the trail emerged from the woods and followed paved back roads for varying distances before re-entering the woods.  We estimate that about 80% of the total distance was dirt foot path and the remainder on asphalt.  We encountered very few automobiles.  The drivers that passed us were generally friendly and waved, but few bothered to slow down very much --- so scouts did need to hike single-file at the edge of the roadways. 

We completed the 11.2 mile hike and arrived at Trail Headquarters in just over 6 hours.  We thought the trail was a bit over 20 miles.  We learned that the original trail started at a different point and was 20 miles long, but many hikers had complained and it had been shortened.  There is an optional 8 mile extension that starts and ends at Trail Headquarters, but having arrived "at base" made it difficult to convince the younger scouts to agree to hike the additional 8 miles. 

Bear Wallow is a great place to camp --- clean and very convenient.  But the check-out process at the end of the hikes is very slow and requires one to have the patience of Job.  The fellow who runs Bear Wallow earns his living from selling trail patches.  This is fine and good.  His prices are very reasonable.  But he insists on talking to each scout individually to do a very soft sales pitch to each and every hiker.  This means that it can easily take an average troop of 10~15 boys at least an hour to check-out.  If your unit happens to be 4th in line (like we were), it took us 4 hours to get patches after we finished the hike. 

Nick, Trey, Connor, Ethan, Gabe, and Cody in our campsite on Friday night waiting for dinner to cook. Trail Headquarters operator Ted Tuxhorn gave scouts the pre-hike orientation talk on Saturday morning.
Stephen, Cody, Tim, Ethan, Nick, Gabe, Trey, Connor, and Mr. Guzman pose for the traditional photo at the beginning trailhead. Cody and Ethan (foreground).  Nick and Tim (middle).  Assistant Scoutmaster Waldo Guzman bringing up the rear.
Trey and Tim. Ethan watched as Gabe checked out a rope swing they encountered along the trail.
Stephen (seated on ground), Gabe, and Cody admired the view during a rest stop while waiting for other hikers to catch up. Connor, Gabe, Cody, and Ethan sat together during the lunch break at a public shelter near where the trail crossed the road.
Nick, Tim, Cody, Mr. Guzman, Connor, and Trey were ready to resume hiking after the lunch break.. Gabe, Stephen, and Tim checked out an old well with a hand-operated water pump.
Coming up the last hill back at Trail Headquarters. Stephen, Trey, Tim, and Nick shared a table at a Ponderosa Steak House in Scottsburg, IN en route back to Shepherdsville.