Troop 868 in Action


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For the first few days of school Spring Break 2008, the troop took a leisurely 4-day canoe trip down the Green River, principally within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park.  The plan was to begin the trip on Sunday afternoon so that scouts could attend worship with their families on Saturday night or Sunday morning, according to personal faith traditions.

Heavy rain for several straight days the week before had raised the water level several feet above flood stage and the normal 1~2 mph current was flowing 5~6 mph.  However, the section of the Green River to be navigated on this trip is somewhat unique in that the channel is V-shaped and simply gets deeper during flood conditions rather than spilling widely out of its banks.  And because the river is highly regulated by a series of dams, the water level quickly crests then drops rapidly once rainfall ceases.

Rain stopped falling on Saturday morning and the river crested at our put-in location by early Sunday morning.  By 10 AM Sunday morning, the river was high but back within it's banks at our put-in spot.  We launched from a private farm about 4 miles upriver from the National Park boundary.  The banks were muddy and slippery as expected, but we didn't have any real problems.  10 scouts and 2 leaders (a total of 6 canoes) were launched and paddling downriver by 4 PM Sunday afternoon.  Our plan for our first day was simply to reach the National Park boundary and find a spot along the river bank to camp for the night.  A location was selected when 2 younger scouts leaned over simultaneously to push their canoe away from a tree and capsized their boat a few feet from the river bank.  No one was injured and both boys were quickly able to get to dry land.  One boy lost a couple of personal clothing items that he had not properly secured, but all of the food and other personal gear in the boat was sealed in containers that floated and were promptly recovered by other canoes.  The sun was shining, the temperature was in the mid-70s, and both boys elected to simply let their wet clothing dry out on their bodies!

Some scouts elected to bring small, one or two-man tents ... others fashioned lean-to or A-frame style shelters using rope and plastic tarps ... still others elected to simply sleep under the stars.  The weather was warm and dry, so all were appropriate options.  Finding dry ground along the river bank was not a problem ... the challenge was carrying our gear from the canoes up the muddy (and slippery) banks to the dry ground!  We discovered that a "bucket brigade" system worked best with everyone standing in place and gear being passed up the line.  The same system was used to re-load the canoes for launch the next morning.

Ready to launch (L to R) are Dylan, Adam, Tim, Dalton, Jon P., Gabe, Chris, Mr. Harmon, Jon H., Cody, and Nick.  Scoutmaster Meek (as usual) was taking the photo.
The water was high and muddy from all the rain, but within its banks.  The current was swift but rapids were non-existent. Jon and Mr. Harmon paddled along like old pros.
A bit of friendly racing is part of the fun.  Cody and Jon P. enjoy a temporary lead on Dylan and Mr. Meek in this photo. Dalton and Chris were canoe partners for Day 1.  Crews were adjusted each day depending on their wishes and total weight.
The swift current made multi-canoe flotillas practical.  Scouts grouped up, floated together for awhile, then separated many times during the 4-day trip.  When joined together, only the crews on the two outside canoes had to do any work --- and even that was minimal.  The flotillas gave everyone a welcome break and kept the group together.
Tim, being a middle man in the stern, laid back as if to take a short nap. Chris, with paddle, wasn't about to let him rest in peace, however!
The two river swimmers, Cody and Jon P., set up their tent.  Neither boy seemed seriously upset by the unplanned swim. Dalton and Gabe chose to fashion a shelter from ropes and tarps.  OK, who remembers how to tie a timber hitch?

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