Updated June 12, 2010
Hiking and backpacking the Appalachian Trail, Southern Pennsylvania, June 4-6, 2010
The drive over to Caledonia State Park on Friday night got a little treacherous as we drove through a storm that included a deluge pea size hail and a torrential downpour. Checking the weather radar we realized that the storm was moving east and we were heading west and would be out of it in no time. We arrived at the campground and met up with our friends from Troop 83 whom had arrived at camp a bit earlier.

There were two ability groups: one for less experienced Scouts that was a good day hike, and one for more experienced Scouts that including an overnight backpacking experience. The hike plan for the overnight group was reviewed: how far, which shelter to spend the night, where to get picked up on Sunday morning and where the hikers could be met up with part way through if necessary.
Saturday morning the boys cooked and ate a hardy breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage before heading out. The backpacking group headed south along the trail toward their destination. The day hike group gathered and examined their hiking options. Caledonia has a series of well marked trails ranging in length from .5 to 5 miles. The group chose a trail named the Charcoal Hearth Trail which is listed as the most difficult due to its elevation change and rugged terrain. Highlights of the Charcoal trial include old charcoal hearths, water falls, and a dam. Bud's joke: "What did the fish say when it ran into a cement wall? There was plenty of time to enjoy nature and have fun.
Evening found the expanded base camp group engaged in games of baseball, fire building and stream exploring. Dinner consisted of trying out the dehydrated trail food.....add 2 cups of boiling water, stir well, seal and let set for 8-9 minutes and enjoy? Nine out of ten of the Scouts enjoyed the freeze dried food, and some even wanted more for breakfast.....Chilli Mac and Beef for Breakfast???
The ground support leaders met the seventeen overnight hikers about five miles from the starting point. There were a seven hikers who were experiencing some foot preparation and endurance issues evaluation it was determined that to continue would make for a very miserable experience. Two were shuttled further down the trail to rejoin the backpacking group when they arrived at the next checkpoint close to the shelter, where they rejoined the overnight group. Five returned to base camp.
The two who met the group further down the trail were able to hike over to Tumbling Run Shelter and hold one of the two shelters for our group, since the trail was pretty busy and other groups were likely to be looking for the same shelters. These shelters consist of very well maintained log style Adirondacks that each slept 8-10 backpackers.
The overnighters were picked up at the Old Forge Picnic Area Sunday, returned to the base camp to clean up and return home. Most are looking forward to doing it again, and groups from both troops are talking about the bike hike in two years Philmont!