It was pitch dark and spitting snow when I got up this morning at 6:00 a.m. By 8:00 a.m., the Scouts taking Hiking Merit Badge were gathering for the latest ten-miler. This time, we were heading down below Paoli, IN, for the Young's Creek Trail. This is a dual-use trail, much beloved by horsemen. Not that we saw any horses today; in fact, we didn't see another soul in the woods, which was fine with us.
Seven Scouts and two Leaders braved the cold. Four Scouts and one Leader were ten-miler rookies; three Scouts and one Leader were continuing on in the quest for their Badge. It was a pretty young crew, which told in terms of stamina. We were all pretty well beat up by the time we finished, though the real telling point was the time it took: just over seven hours, all told.
The high today was 32 degrees, though as long as the sun was shining, the day was fine. Snow drifted down most of the day. The woods were lovely. Toward the end of the day, we saw a couple of hawks, but otherwise no wildlife.
Marshall was our crew leader, and he did a fine job on the first part of the hike, but lost energy as the day wore on. We began to have difficulty keeping the crew together, as stronger boys wanted to push on at a quicker base, and the younger boys found it more difficult to keep up (particularly Marshall).
Finally, I took up the lead, mainly because the day was getting on and shadows were lengthening. I was concerned about getting everybody off the trail in daylight; indeed, the last mile or so as the sun was setting was bitter cold. (There's a reason the Ninth Circle of Hell is the Lake of Ice.)
Kudos to everybody for keeping up their strength and doing lots and lots right. Extra praise for Doug and Bryan, who showed real Scout spirit, especially as Marshall showed a propensity for dropping things. (Toward the end of the day, he lost his water bottle. We stopped for a half hour as the sun was sinking while a couple of Scouts went back to look for it, to no avail. Said water bottle was then found in Marshall's backpack at the next stop. My comment was that I regretted that he didn't have any chest hair, because I'd like to duct tape his water bottle to his bare chest, and then rip it off him whenever he asked for a drink. Back home, his mom understood completely.) That said, I commend Marshall for his stick-to-it-iveness, and his consistent cheerfulness. He's a great kid to have along on a trip through the Winter Wonderland -- as are they all.
We arrived back home, safe and sound at 7:00 p.m. I'm absolutely drained, but slowly recovering. Thanks, everybody, for your prayers.Pix are behind the cut. Click on a pic to enlarge.( Collapse )