868 in Action
MISCHA MOKWA TRAIL
(November 6~8, 2009)
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The Mischa Mokwa Adventure Trail is a route that follows portions of three other trails (the Gibson Gap Trail, the Ridge Trail, and the Ewing Trail) in the Cumberland Gap National Forest in the southeastern corner of Kentucky. In fact, the point at which the three states of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee meet is located just a short distance from the park visitor's center and the Wilderness Road Campground where we base camped on Friday night.
From Shepherdsville, the drive to Middlesboro, Kentucky is just over 5 hours by bus, so it was midnight when we arrived at the campground. Rather than erect tents, we rolled out sleeping bags and slept under the stars.
We rose early Saturday morning to fix a quick breakfast and divide up the food and troop gear to be carried on the overnight backpacking trip that would end on Sunday afternoon some 20 miles away. Scoutmaster Bob Meek and Assistant Scoutmaster Mike Canchola shuttled the troop bus to the trail's endpoint then stopped by the park Visitor Center to pick up a backcountry tour permit. The group finally hit the trail around 9 AM, a bit later than we had hoped.
Mid-afternoon, at a point about half-way up the side of the mountain, one of our scout hikers reported feeling sick with what he believed was the stomach flu. He chose to press onward, but it was slow-going for the rest of the day as the group paused frequently to permit him to rest. By sunset, we were still not to the top of the mountain and several miles from our designated overnight camping area, so we continued on by flashlight. Then a second boy reported that he was also sick to his stomach. Though certainly less than ideal conditions, it was tremendously impressive to witness how the older scouts encouraged their two ill comrades and one really tired younger hiker. It was a wonderful showing of Scout Spirit and the principles that Scouting strives to teach.
We finally reached the Martin's Fork Campground around 11 PM. We had reserved the small log cabin to have a place to get inside to eat in case of bad weather. Being cold and dark, having the cabin turned out to be a real blessing. Scouts quickly fetch firewood and got a fire going in the fireplace in short order. They then set to work putting up their tents as a couple members of the crew began preparing dinner over the two backpacking stoves we had brought. Dinner was served around midnight and everyone so hungry that we all agreed it was one of the best meals we had ever eaten!
|Webelos Cub Scout Nick in the lead, Mr. Yates is third; and we're not sure who that is between them.||Seasoned Philmont backpackers Jon and Nick prepare to resume hiking after a brief rest stop.|
|Connor (red pack in front), Gabe (at left), and Webelos Cub Scout Nick who was taking his first Boy Scout hike.||Assistant Scoutmaster Mike Canchola, Connor, and Adam.|
|Connor (seated up on the rock ledge), Spencer, Mr. Canchola, Mr. Yates, and Nick.||Adam, Nick, Jon, and Alex with Scoutmaster Bob Meek.|
|Gabe (obviously not feeling well), Spencer, Alex, Adam, Nick, and Jon.||Assistant Scoutmaster Mike Canchola with Drew.|
|(Clockwise from lower left) Nick, Jon, Spencer, Mr. Canchola, Connor, Alex, Drew, and Nick.||Mr. Yates and Jon enjoy a hot breakfast of oatmeal on Sunday morning. Nick and Adam are seated at the table.|
|The cabin at Martin's Fork. We let our two ill hikers sleep inside and used it for dining. Everyone else slept in tents.||(Clockwise from left) Spencer, Nick, Mr. Yates, Drew, Jon, Alex, Mr. Canchola, Nick, Adam, Gabe, and Connor.|