Troop 868 in Action

KNOBSTONE TRAIL (November, 2007)

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For our November outdoor activity, Troop 868 revisited the Knobstone Trail in southern Indiana.  It had been 2 years since our last hike on this challenging 58-mile trail.  This time out we base camped at the northern-most trailhead (Delaney Park) on Friday night in order to get an early start hiking on Saturday morning.  After unloading our gear, we shuttled the troop bus to our ultimate destination at the Leota Trailhead so that it would be waiting for us when we finished our planned 20-mile backpacking trip on Sunday afternoon.  Overnight temperatures dipped below the freezing mark on Friday night and scouts were a bit slow rolling out of their sleeping bags on Saturday morning, so our "early" start hiking ended up being more like 9 AM.

Saturday quickly warmed up and the afternoon high reached the low 60's.  Most hikers were comfortable in our troop tee-shirts most of the day.  Our route took us from Delaney Park to the Oxley Trailhead and continued south to the Elk Creek Trailhead where we had staged water on Friday night.  Scouts did a good job of sticking together in 2 groups throughout the day.  Unfortunately, the lead group missed a turnoff at one point and took an unplanned "detour" before realizing their mistake and backtracking to get back on the right trail.  They ended up walking a total of about 2 extra miles and lost 60-90 minutes of time as well as their position as the lead group.  Yes, fellas, it really is a good idea to watch for the blazes!

The "turtles" also lost time as they stopped and waited for the "jack rabbits" to radio that they had re-acquired the trail.  Nightfall overtook both groups but the "turtles" only had to hike about a half mile by flashlight to reach the water dump at the Elk Creek Trailhead.  Mr. Meek and Mr. Guelda then hiked back to meet the "jack rabbits" who were still about a mile behind and very tired, but kept pushing forward.  After linking up and supplying them with water, they soon arrived at the campsite established by the "turtles." 

Scouts shared a small cooking fire and either set up lightweight trail tents or fashioned overnight shelters using tarps and ropes.  Saturday night wasn't as cool as Friday night had been --- for which everyone was grateful.  After 14-plus miles of backpacking, everyone slept well.

On Sunday morning, several hikers had blisters, so we decided to complete the remaining 6~7 miles without packs.  We had to come back to Elk Creek to retrieve our water jugs, anyway.  This turned out to be a wise decision since several of our newer scouts were struggling.  But, with encouragement, everyone finished the trail as a group about 2 PM on Sunday afternoon.

We had left water and Sunday lunch on the bus, so eating was the first order of business!  We then conducted a worship service before driving back to the Elk Creek Trailhead to retrieve our packs and water containers.  We then drove back to Delaney Park to take down the tents and other gear we had used on Friday night before heading home to Shepherdsville.

The weather had been almost perfect for this activity.  We backpacked 14~15 miles on Saturday then hiked another 6~7 on Sunday.  Everyone had a good time and felt a sense of accomplishment at the end.  The Knobstone Trail is not easy, but it is a beautiful trail that is well-marked and well-maintained.  We highly recommend it.

At the Delaney Park trailhead where we started on Saturday morning.  (Back Row, L-R): Tim, Adam, John, Connor, Cody, and Nick.  (Front Row, L-R): Jon, Collin, and Stephen. Backpackers started the hike bundled up for temperature in the mid-30s.  Leading the way were Tim, Connor, and Adam.  Nick and Cody are also visible.
Stephen, Connor, John, and Asst Scoutmaster Tom Guelda paused to check the map at a confusing fork in the trail. Scouts stayed together in 2 or 3 groups the entire hike and never let the slowest hikers get too far behind.
At the overnight stop along the trail, campers shared a small fire to cook supper in their personal mess kits. Scouts each choose what to bring for dinner from among several options.  Ramen noodles were the most popular choice.
For breakfast the next morning, instant oatmeal and pop tarts were both popular. Adam, Stephen, John, Tim, and Connor posed for a photo.
Upon reaching our intended destination at the Leota Trailhead, eating lunch was the first order of business.  Pictured here are Adam, Collin, and Cody. Not much talking among the hungry hikers!  (L-R): Mr. Guelda, Tim, John, Stephen, and Connor.