Troop 868 in Action
Knobstone Trail Backpacking
(October 14~16, 2011)

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Our initial backpacking trek of a section of the Knobstone Trail back in July was poorly attended and hampered by unseasonably hot weather.  Only 3 scouts felt up to that first challenge.  Afterward, the PLC felt that some scouts may simply have been scared about backpacking because many had no experience doing it.  So a second hike of the same sections of the Knobstone was planned for October when the weather was cooler and the outing was promoted as a "learning experience" without the pressure of hiking an aggressive distance.  Five adult leaders made the trek and vehicles were staged at multiple trailheads to give us a great deal of flexibility to be able to leave the trail at any of several points.  Scouts responded to the plan and we had an excellent turnout of 13 boys.

We arrived at the Spurgeon Hollow trailhead about 11 PM on Friday night.  Since the trail rules prohibit camping within one mile of any trailhead, we began hiking by a combination of flashing and moonlight.  Since it was a full moon, most of the group chose moonlight, using flashlights only to check blazes or for areas where the ground was more rugged.  We hiked for a little over 2 hours and covered about 3 miles, stopping to establish camp for the night about 1 AM on top of a ridge near mile marker 40.

On Saturday morning, Mr. Meek let the group sleep until 7:30 since they had gotten into bed so late.  Since this was a first backpacking experience for most of the group, it took us nearly 2 hours to cook breakfast using lightweight trail stoves then get packed up to hit the trail again.  This was OK, because the goal of this trip was to teach and have fun.

Some hikers had brought along way too much gear and the weight of their packs was challenging for them.  Others didn't have their packs properly adjusted.  Fortunately, we only had to hike about 3 miles to reach the Oxley Memorial Trailhead where several hikers were able to lighten their packs by leaving excess gear in one of the leaders' car.  We ate lunch at the Oxley Trailhead, adjusted several packs during the break, and re-supplied ourselves with water before continuing on toward the Elk Creek Trailhead.

We set up camp by a combination of flashlight and moonlight.  It was amazing how good the camp looked in the sunlight on Saturday morning.  
Tyler helped Brixton pack up his tent. Spencer and Kraig helped younger scouts get their tents taken down and rolled up.
Mr. Moore gave Preston a hand with his pack. Mr. Hagerman packed his gear.
Looking at the large packs on some of the boys' backs, one might wonder how they could carry them ... but looks were deceiving and most were of a very manageable weight.  The group lined up to make sure everyone was ready before moving out from our Friday night campsite.
Mr. Moore and Mr. Canchola helped Dylan with a pack adjustment. Mid-morning on Saturday, the group paused for a photo.  Everyone was in good spirits and moving along at a good pace.
For most of the trek, hikers kept close together and walked single file.   Tyler, Spencer, Chase, and Kraig at the Oxley Memorial Trailhead during our lunch stop.